Detroit - Late last year strong and seemingly well-founded rumours emerged, stating that Ford was working on a new compact bakkie to slot beneath the Ranger, and now the project has been pretty much confirmed by Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley.

Speaking at a conference in Detroit, Farley said that Ford would be investing in more affordable pick-up trucks and that we can expect “new nameplates” below where the company competes today, Automotive News reports.

“We’ll have more details to share about new nameplates in the future,” he added, without giving any further details about the products or when they would be launched.

However, other Ford insiders have previously told Automobile Magazine that Ford was planning to introduce the new sub-Ranger bakkie by 2022.

Those sources also told the US magazine that it would be a unibody pick-up based on the Ford Focus platform.

It certainly won’t be Ford’s first unibody bakkie, South Africa’s Fiesta-based Bantam (and a similar vehicle called the Courier in South America) as well as the Australian-designed, Falcon-based Ranchero springing to mind. Given its Focus underpinnings however, the new bakkie would slot between those two in terms of size, effectively putting it up against the Fiat Toro as well as yet-to-be-launched contenders like the Volkswagen Tarok, Hyundai’s Santa-Fe-based double cab and Chevrolet’s upcoming unibody truck.

Given the competition, it’s fairly likely that the Ford bakkie would be offered as a double cab only and aimed primarily at the South American market, although it will reportedly also be sold in the US and other markets, which could (and should, in our opinion) include South Africa.

Engines will surely mirror the Focus range, with 1-litre and 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol units the most likely candidates, and there won’t be a traditional 4x4 system with low-range, although range-toppers with permanent all-wheel-drive are likely.

An even smaller bakkie?

We note with interest, however, that Farley used a plural when referring to the company's plans in the space below where it competes today - as in "new nameplates".

Could that mean that Ford could be working on an even smaller compact bakkie - perhaps a Figo or Fiesta based single cab that would serve as a direct successor to the Brazilian Courier, and South Africa's Bantam for that matter? It's an interesting possibility, albeit one that would have limited global appeal.

IOL Motoring