At the same time Ford is unveiling a US plan for profitability packed with cars that we don't want, it’s showing off simple, practical, affordable, utilitarian vehicles elsewhere in the world like this Ford Ranger Max concept.
The concept was just unveiled at the Thailand International Motor Expo and features styling inspired by chunky power tools and the kind of practicality that can only come from a reasonable size and frugal engine. But, this isn’t just a reskinned Mazda B-series, this vehicle is said to hint at what the next generation Ranger could look like.
The official press release follows:
"We know Ranger is tough and durable, and Ranger Max adds to those qualities. The show truck does not follow a trend; it sets a new tough style direction for compact trucks," says Paul Gibson, the chief designer of the Ranger Max show truck.
"Ranger Max is genuinely tough, and it is a truck that gets the job done. This high-impact show truck also has the bold visual presence that looks great on the urban scene."
A team of Ford truck specialists in Thailand worked closely with Ford's Australia-based Asia Pacific and Africa design team, led by Gibson, to create Ranger Max.
Ford's design team incorporated design cues into Ranger Max that may be seen in future-generation Ranger.
"The Ranger Max is not just about creating show excitement," Gibson said. "We have a great opportunity to test design themes that may make their way into production. Ranger Max says exciting things about the possibilities for truck fans in Ranger's future."
Ford Ranger Max ConceptGibson and his team of designers concentrated on exploring the limits of tough style. "Ranger Max wasn't meant to be elegant or pretty. The robust nature of Ranger means that it is the dependable workhorse, and with Ranger Max we wanted to create a show truck that is cool as hell."
They took inspiration from things many truck owners know and appreciate. The distinctive contrast between Ranger Max's hardcore orange paintwork with matte black accents is inspired by the functional design found in some modern power tools – just like those used by many Ranger owners every day.
Ford designers recognize how absolute function and durability inspire these industrial tools and make them more appealing.
Industrial shapes such as the cog-like detailing in the body accents and wheel arch mouldings extend Ranger Max's theme of tough style as the ultimate power tool.
Ford Ranger Max ConceptPushing the power tool inspiration a step further, the Ranger Max design team noted how power tools and similar objects incorporated words into their design to convey instructions or warnings. Ranger Max uses 'words' in this same style to accentuate its robust 'industrial feel'.
Ranger Max is full of details like this, such as the word GRAB‚ imprinted subtly on the bold, black grab handle in the side of the sportsbar linked to the cab.
Every letter is precisely shaped in a 'truncated' font that complements the toughness and utility the overall truck design communicates.
Several power tool brands have inspired Ford designers. Other inspirations for Ranger Max have come from active sports, such as rock climbing, and the tough, technical products used by active sportsmen.
The orange high-energy colour - named Mango Hit - is a creation of Debbie Pascoe, colour and trim manager, Ranger Max design team.
Ford Ranger Max ConceptAdding more dynamism to the profile is the sportsbar, which attaches to the pickup bed and arches across the vehicle. It is shaped to create the visual impression that Ranger Max is always on the move.
"The sportsbar makes a big statement," explains Max Tran, a Ford designer who played a key role in developing the vehicle.
"It adds a feeling of movement and dynamic character, and incorporates some great design details, including twin air scoop shapes on top."
Built into each side of the crossbar is an integral grab handle. Finished in matte black plastic, the grab handle design is all about purpose.
The dark shape of the grab handle visually extends the perceived shape of the Ranger Max side window shape, accentuating the feel of functionality and space of the Ranger side-access Open Cab.
The grab handle is labelled – like instructions on power tools and on aircraft – with the word GRAB. Similarly, the side door of the Ranger Max is distinctively yet discretely labelled AXCESS. These functional callouts also extend to the Ranger Max fuel inlet, which is designed to intersect one of the bold wheel arches, labelled FUEL.
Ford Ranger Max Concept"There's no mistaking the purpose of labels like these on power tools," Tran explained. "On Ranger Max, they fulfil the same role. It's the style of purpose."
For example, the vent on each front fender uses hexagon-shaped details and discrete chrome badging with the word RANGER. MAX adjoins this Ranger badge to reinforce the show truck's name.
Other design details in the Ranger Max profile include incorporating the side repeater lamp into the side mirror. The lower bodyside, with two-piece interlocked sidestep look, was inspired by rock-climbing carabineers and other outdoor gear you trust with your life.
The unique, 18-inch deep-dish, six-spoke alloy wheels – with black graphic funnel shapes to their centres – feature large offsets and are combined with P285/60R18 tires with a chunky tread pattern.
The bold wheel arches with cog-shaped detailing reinforce Range Max's stance and its purpose. Dynamic side graphics on the fenders and lower doors are inspired by the high-impact of shattering glass.
"When you look at the front design, the three-bar grille, the overt nostrils and open mouth, you're looking straight into the face of Ranger's evolution," said Gibson.
"There are design elements we are developing and Ranger Max is one possibility. We've crafted the face of the Ranger Max to explore a new look. Elements from it could evolve into the new identity of Ford Ranger."
The three-bar grille is a Ford hallmark design element, conveying strength and quality, integrated with a proud, large badge of the famous Ford blue oval. Ranger Max adopts dynamic, modern headlamps which angle at the top to communicate energy and movement.
The front end is characterized by the dominating power-dome hood with integral hot-air vent, the corporate three-bar grille which imbeds itself into the lower enlarge air intake and the Ranger branding – embossed in the top of the front grille surround.