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Production underway for the Ford Ranger

Fans who have been anticipating the return of the Ford Ranger to the North American market this year got some bad news and good news this week. First they learned that the Raptor version of the Ranger would not be offered in North America, at least for the moment. But now Ford confirms that North American production of the Ranger pickup has gotten underway.

The new Ranger is being assembled at Ford’s plant in Michigan, which benefited from an infusion of $850 million so that it could produce both the Ranger and the upcoming revived Bronco, set to debut at some point in 2019. This factory, which first opened its door, was where the original Bronco was built between 1966 and 1996, when it was discontinued.

After 1996, and up until 2008, Lincoln’s Expedition and Navigator models were built at the plant; they were followed by the Focus. Now, with the pending disappearance of that model, the return of the Ranger means the company can avoid layoffs at the factory.

Ford has undeniably had a rough time of it since it announced that it was eliminating cars from its North American roster. For one thing sales figures are down, which was predictable. On the other hand, the automaker is hoping to gain momentum by having 75% of the models displayed in its dealer showrooms be new ones by 2020.

And in the automotive industry, new sells, as a rule.

As does nostalgia, clearly. With the well-known and much-beloved Ranger and Bronco nameplates, Ford hopes it has winning cards in its hands.