Ford Motor Co on Wednesday unveiled the latest addition to its muscle truck franchise - a Ranger Raptor midsize pickup with a 405-horsepower engine and a suspension designed for racing across the desert, made possible in part by Ford's electric vehicles.
The Ranger Raptor, and the rest of the new generation of Ford Ranger pickups, will launch in North America later this year, illustrating how established automakers are shifting their combustion-vehicle lines toward more powerful, higher-profit variants as regulators clamp down on carbon emissions.
For Ford, the Ranger Raptor is part of a broader strategy to develop performance variants of popular vehicles that share 80 % of the parts of the basic truck or SUV, but can deliver an average 30 % more profit margin over the cost of building the vehicle. Ford is expected to highlight this strategy at an investor event on May 22.
Prices for the new Ranger will start at $34,160. But a Ranger Raptor will start at $56,960, Ford said.
"This is a very successful and profitable derivative," Jim Baumbick, vice president for product development and quality for the Ford Blue unit.
Ford is also ramping up production of its Mustang Mach-E, Ford F-150 Lightning and Transit electric vehicles - generating credits that allow it to sell more high-performance, combustion vehicles such as the Ranger Raptor, the Bronco Raptor and the F-150 Raptor.
"We're doing it through a portfolio of products" that includes electric vehicles and a hybrid Maverick pickup, Baumbick said.
Like other established automakers, Ford is using profit from combustion vehicles to subsidise losses on its electric models. How far Ford can push that strategy will depend on consumers, and also government regulators.
This week, the US Environmental Protection Agency began hearings on a proposal to dramatically tighten vehicle CO2 emissions limits with the goal of pushing electric vehicles to 67 % of US new vehicle sales by 2032.
The redesigned Ranger will compete in a global segment dominated by Toyota Motor Corp's Tacoma and Hilux trucks. Toyota will reveal the next generation of its North American Tacoma midsize truck on May 19. Rival General Motors Co added two off-road performance variants of its midsized Chevrolet Colorado pickup trucks last year, as well as more powerful engine options.