The internet is full of rumors of new cars and trucks, most of which turn out to be just that. But this is one of the more bizarre stories to pop up in awhile. Automobile Magazine reports that Ford is preparing a new pickup based on the Focus. It could find its way to the U.S. by 2022, according to the magazine.
This compact, car-based pickup would first and foremost be a replacement for the Ford Courier. Built in Brazil from 1998 to 2013, the Courier was based on Fiesta components and sold in markets outside the U.S. It was replaced by the larger, and more conventional, Ranger in 2013. Ford previously used the Courier name in the U.S. for a rebadged Mazda compact truck sold in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The new Courier would slot below the Ranger, which is already confirmed for the U.S., in Ford’s lineup. It will be based on the Focus rather than the Fiesta to meet European customers’ demands for larger vehicles, according to Automobile, but a larger footprint could help its appeal in the U.S. as well.
Ford will offer the next-generation Focus in the U.S., but only in “Active” form (pictured above). That means the hatchback will get extra body cladding and a raised ride height to make it look more like a crossover, similar to the formula of the Subaru Crosstrek. It’s part of Ford’s overall strategy to shift away from cars and emphasize trucks and SUVs to a greater degree than ever before in its U.S. lineup. The Focus Active and Mustang will soon be the only cars Ford sells in the U.S. In that context, a Focus pickup seems more plausible than a Focus sedan.
The Focus-based Courier will also help Ford in its eternal struggle against rival General Motors, according to Automobile. While the Ford F-Series is still the best selling truck line in the U.S., GM actually sold more trucks than Ford overall in the first half of 2018. While the Courier’s unibody construction would make it less profitable than simpler body-on-frame designs like the F-150 and Ranger, notes Automobile, GM doesn’t have a direct competitor to it.
Car-based pickups are nothing new, although we haven’t had one in the U.S. since the Subaru Baja departed in 2006. Automakers have tried compact models like the Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup, Dodge Rampage, and Subaru B.R.A.T. over the years, but none made a particularly strong impression. Ford previously offered the larger Ranchero, which led rival Chevrolet to launch its El Camino.
Ford recently applied to trademark the Courier name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to Car and Driver, but the automaker was noncommittal. A spokesperson declined to comment on the Courier, saying in an emailed statement that Ford is “significantly expanding our North America lineup with all-new vehicles and entering new segments with fresh designs and white-space silhouettes that will position us for even further growth.”