DETROIT - The new Ford Maverick compact bakkie is generating lots of early interest in its US home market, with reservations for the hybrid pick-up topping 100 000 and demand coming from regions such as California, which typically favour imports.
The reservations are non-binding and don't require a deposit, but Ford is confident they'll convert into orders as they did with a similar system set up to build interest for the electric Mustang Mach-E and revived Bronco SUV.
"This really has exceeded our expectations," Todd Eckert, Ford's truck marketing manager, said in an interview. "This is the initial step with reservations. But we think it bodes extremely well."
Sadly the Ford Maverick is not destined for South African shores as it remains a left-hand drive only product for the time being, and besides, Ford South Africa remains focused on the next-generation Ranger, which will once again be built locally, alongside the next Volkswagen Amarok.
Affordable and frugal
Over in the US, Ford is targeting entry-level import buyers with the Maverick, which starts at under $20 000 (R302 000) and gets 40 miles per gallon (5.8 litres per 100km) with the standard petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. Ford also offers a 2-litre turbocharged petrol option.
The compact pick-up is only 15cm longer than a Toyota Camry sedan. It represents a new effort to reach price-conscious consumers after the carmaker dropped the Ford Focus and exited slow-selling sedans in the US.
So far, Ford says the most reservations are coming from Los Angeles, where the Hilux-sized Toyota Tacoma dominates the market. San Francisco ranks third on the Maverick reservation list, behind Orlando, Florida, and just ahead of Houston, Texas.
The vehicle, which is being built in Mexico, officially goes on sale in the third quarter of this year.
Practical for urban-based customers
Michael Meadors, 30, of Costa Mesa, California, has already converted his reservation into an order for a black Maverick with a sticker price of $22 030, after he added some safety-oriented technology upgrades. With a nearly 80km round-trip commute to his human-resources job in LA, Meadors said he was attracted by the truck's fuel economy and modest size.
"It's not that much bigger than the Ford Fusion I'm driving," Meadors said. "So it should be pretty easy to buzz around in heavy traffic in Southern California and find parking."
This is Meadors's first truck and first new vehicle. Like the growing wave of pick-up buyers, he doesn't need a truck for work, but sees benefits in having a bed to haul things.
"You don't have to work in construction in order to reap the benefits," he said. "You could be picking up plants and potting soil, or some large items from Costco or even sandy beach chairs that you don't want to put inside the cabin."