By Kap Maceda Aguila

FORD PHILIPPINES is definitely doubling down on a bet that has clearly been enabling it to cash in consistently.

With the launch of the Ford Ranger FX4 Max, the Blue Oval is serving notice that it is not just about to yield the 4×4 pickup crown which it annexed last year (cornering 41% of total segment sales). The Ranger, in particular the Ranger Raptor, continues to be a popular pickup model in the country. Last year, two of every three Raptors sold in the ASEAN region went to a Filipino, revealed Ford Philippines President and Managing Director PK Umashankar. In fact, since its September 2018 launch, more than 10,000 units of the Ranger Raptor have been sold here.

As we’ve previously reported, the Ranger lineup alone accounted for the company’s 9,767 units sold in 2020 — 66% of 14,775 total vehicles moved. In January, 800 vehicles out of Ford’s 1,720-unit take-up were comprised of pickups.

Meanwhile, “(The) FX4 Max… delivers off-road driving capabilities inspired by the Ranger Raptor while living up to the Ranger’s brand of comfort, safety, and versatility,” the company said in a statement.

With the launch of the FX4 Max, Ford now grows its Ranger portfolio to 14 models. If you add the two F-150 variants, that’s 16 pickup offerings that the brand is peddling here. Now that can get a little tricky if you talk positioning, something we asked Mr. Umashankar during an online session with the media.

The way that the Ford brain trust is approaching this challenge is by keying in three distinct tracks for the pickup lineup: Lifestyle, Adventure, and Performance. Obviously, Lifestyle denotes a more all-rounder vehicle, Adventure can give off-road ability, and Performance is a more serious off-the-beaten-track machine. Common to all these is, of course, their workhorse or utilitarian ability.

The FX4 Max takes that Performance role — something that the pickup model’s halo Raptor also banners. Indeed, the accoutrements fitted on the FX4 Max suggest a “Raptor lite” approach. You get the Raptor panache at (for the moment) P300,000 less.

“The Raptor is still our halo brand for the Ranger,” said Mr. Umashankar. “It’s a true performance truck.”

As for the 4×4 segment, yes, the company wants to keep its leadership in that space, while working on its position (second) in the pickup market in general — made possible by a 24% share.

This only gives teeth (and sense) to Ford’s campaign, “Live the Ranger Life,” which endeavors to highlight and celebrate the many ways that the renowned strength and engineering capabilities of the Ranger reflects and support its customers’ personal goals and drive in life, centered around five guiding values: “Up and Over,” (tackling challenges); “Can’t Help But Help,” (assistance to others); “Where There Isn’t a Path, Carve One,” (fearless leadership), “Bring Others Along the Journey,” (family and friends); and “We Make Our Own Fun,” (fun in driving).