Thanks To Federal Regulations, Americans Can Say Goodbye To The Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger has been a staple of the automaker’s light truck line for decades now, but it won’t be available any longer in American markets. Not because Americans aren’t buying it any more – the CEO of Ford said last year that the company would be “nuts” to be rid of the model line – but because the auto company can’t make the vehicle comply with new CAFE standards.

In fact, a heavily-updated 2012 version of the model will be sold in foreign markets. But not in America.

I’ve just discovered that Ford has dropped the Ranger – America’s last compact-sized truck – for 2012. But not from its lineup. Just from its U.S. model lineup. Not only will the Ranger continue to be sold in export markets, the 2012 model will be a heavily updated model which, among other things, will offer a new diesel engine – something you can’t get in any current pick-up in the U.S. that’s not at least a 2500 series behemoth with a price tag well over $30,000. Meanwhile, the Aussies, among others, will get a brand-new Ranger, revealed at the Thailand International Motor Expo last month. …

The only thing I can come up with is… CAFE. The federal government’s fuel efficiency edicts. But wait, isn’t the Ranger more fuel-efficient than the F-truck? Wouldn’t a diesel Ranger be even more so? Yes, and yes. So?

Bear with me.

CAFE is about fleet averages, which are measured based on annual production totals. So, the more of a given vehicle that gets less-than-par MPGs (35.5 MPGs by 2016) the lower a car company’s overall fleet average CAFE score. By getting rid of the Ranger, Ford will produce fewer trucks overall that don’t make the CAFE cut, which will help float the final number.

Ford is not going to drop the F-truck, a best-seller. But the merely ok-selling Ranger is expendable.

So, sayonara.

The Ranger, like the incandescent light bulb, is being taken off of US markets not because they’re obsolete products surpassed by something better but rather because the government has driven them from the market with regulation. Regulation that is so ham-handed that, in the case of the Ford Ranger, is actually taking generally more fuel efficient vehicles off the road.

This is being done in the name of promoting energy conservation, but I’ve never understood why the government thinks that efficiency is something they must enforce with law. Nobody likes expensive electric bills, or expensive fill-ups at the gas station. We all do what we can to keep those expenses as small as possible. But those expenses aren’t our only considerations. Quality and aesthetics and function also matter, so much so that we’re often willing to sacrifice a bit of efficiency for them, but when the government mandates certain levels of efficiency those other considerations take a back seat.

You really have to wonder if we can still be called a free country when we have to choose a light bulb or a vehicle based on what the government deems important, rather than what we deem important.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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