Ford says it will unleash a plug-in hybrid EV version of its Ranger early in 2025, allowing owners to travel upwards of 45 kilometres on electricity before reverting to a petrol engine.
What’s the story?
Teaming a 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine (the same engine used in the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Mustang) with an electric motor and battery pack, the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid is the first step towards electrifying the popular dual-cab ute ahead of an inevitable arrival of a battery electric Ranger.
It means the top selling four-wheel drive in the country will soon be able to climb Big Red, tackle the Victorian High Country and traverse the Gibb River Road without any CO2 emissions – sort of.
The Ranger PHEV will still have the backup of petrol – and it’s that petrol engine that will enable it to get to those locations.
But at least the Ranger PHEV will be able to cover some of that gnarly ground while in EV mode.
“The Ranger Plug-in Hybrid is a best-of-both-worlds solution for work, play, and family – offering customers zero-tailpipe emissions EV driving for short trips, or hybrid performance that delivers incredible on- and off-road performance,” said Andrew Birkic, president and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand.
While details of the Ranger PHEV are thin on the ground, the potential is enormous: better modulation of torque across the four wheels, an onboard power supply and full off-road ability. Ford says it will hav the same capability as other Rangers, including water fording ability.
Ford also says the PHEV will have more torque than any other Ranger, which means something north of the 600Nm on offer from the V6 diesel.
Obviously that would require both the electric motor and petrol engine working together, something that would also be needed for heavy duty towing.
And remember, electric motors are fantastic at providing near-instantaneous torque and being able to regulate it swiftly.
All of which bodes well for off-road driving and smarter traction control.
However, the e-motor in the Ranger PHEV will run through the gearbox, allowing electric propulsion to reach all four wheels – and also allowing the e-motor to operate when in low range.
Portable power to the people
The other big advantage the Ranger PHEV will bring is an onboard power station.
While Ford hasn’t detailed the capacity of the high-voltage battery as part of the hybrid system it’s likely to be bigger than anything owners would fit as part of an auxiliary battery system.
While the hybrid system would generally utilise the battery power first to maximise fuel efficiency, it also has a mode that allows owners to maintain the current level of charge, in turn utilising the petrol engine more while keeping the full battery capacity in play for camping or work duties. The PHEV will have AC power outlets, allowing it to power all manner of external devices
“Ranger Plug-In Hybrid will bring all of the towing and payload capability our Australian customers expect of Ranger, and with Pro Power Onboard for the first time, Ranger owners will have power for both work and play,” says Birkic.
For now, though, there are more questions than answers, including how much it will cost.
Ford has announced the Ranger PHEV program almost 18 months before it’s planned to hit dealerships – early in 2025 – with the aim of learning more about what owners want and also trying to drum up sales interest and ready the dealer network for the electrification of its top selling model.
Ultimately it’s fleets likely to be the big early adopters – depending on the price.
That’s another thing Ford isn’t talking about initially, although you can comfortably assume it’ll be the most expensive drivetrain in the Ranger lineup.
Not that it’s stopped Ford predicting big things for what looks set to be one of the first plug-in hybrid EV utes on the market.
“We will be going after a volume that ensures we get a return on investment,” said Andrew Birkic, president and CEO of Ford Australia and New Zealand.