My view of electric cars is skewed, in large part because of where I grew up. In my little college town of Davis, California, EVs weren’t all that uncommon. Hell, I rode my bike past one of the approximately 1,500 Ford Ranger EVs all the time.
The last Ford Ranger keeps popping up in car circles, a kind of shining star for a couple different crowds. From 1983 to 2011, Ford gave us an American-made pickup that was genuinely compact, a meaningful alternative to full-size offerings that the current midsize Ranger doesn’t quite manage.
Every time we write about the humble Old Ranger, we dig up something more to find charming about it since it went out of production. The interesting front suspension sticks out in my mind. And so does the all-electric one Ford built for a few years.
The Ranger EV still sticks in peoples minds, I think, because it was a genuinely useful vehicle, something with a lot more staying power than, say the weaker electric Chevy S-10 GM built, as Autoblog recalls:
The Ford Ranger is just a bit more conventional, but only just. It remained rear-wheel drive like a gas Ranger, but it used an AC motor and single-speed transaxle like the S10, and the whole assembly was mounted at the back. The motor was a bit less powerful than the Chevy’s at 90 horsepower, though the introductory lead-acid battery pack had a bit more capacity at 23 kWh. All the batteries were again packed in the middle of the truck under the body and between the frame rails. The extra capacity came at a weight penalty with the pack weighing in at 2,000 pounds and the payload capacity dipping to 700 pounds. The range was comparable at 50 miles, which, like any electric car, would drop depending on driving and weather conditions. Ford claimed an 80% charge could be achieved in about three hours, just like the S10, though the Ranger charged with a conventional conduction charger, whereas the S10 used an onboard induction system like the GM EV1 and the first-generation Toyota RAV4 EV. The Ranger could achieve a slightly higher top speed than the S10 at 75 mph versus 70. The Ranger also got a nickel-metal-hydride battery option later in its life that increased range up to 80 miles, and was significantly lighter. The weight savings even allowed the Ranger to match the 1,250-pound payload capacity of one of the gas Ranger configurations. The Rangers were, fittingly, built at the Edison assembly plant in New Jersey.
The Ranger EV also has a bit of a mythical element to it; these pickups weren’t exactly targeted at individual consumers so much as they were at fleets, as the Ranger EV owners’ site REVolt recalls:
Probably based on its relatively high price compared to ICE Rangers, government and utility fleet operators were the primary target markets.
This is all to say that you might see a Ranger EV, but you might not know a specific person with one.
And that brings me to my question: did you ever find yourself in charge of a Ranger EV? Did you lease one in California? Were you a fleet manager responsible for a couple? We want to hear from you! I have a sneaking suspicion that these Ranger EVs were better than they had any right to be, but maybe the lived experience tells a different story. Email us at tips at jalopnik dot com re: Ford Ranger EV and be sure to include a picture of your pickup and let us know what it was like!