Ford Ranger: A Bugs' Worst Enemy Faces Extermination

September 22, 2010
Ford Ranger and Orkin

Ford Ranger and Orkin

With the spike in reports of infestations everywhere--from hotels to second-hand stores to the Empire State Building--the lowly bedbug has the Web buzzing with more plentiful, and sometimes more positive, news coverage than the average C-list actress.

Still, some killjoys are looking for ways to stamp out the notoriously rugged pests--everything from heat, to barriers, to poisons.

Maybe they haven't tried a Ford Ranger yet?

It may not have superpowers to rid homes of bedbugs, but other vermin have one major foe in the Ford Ranger. The celebrated small pickup is the extermination industry's mainstay: the "bug truck" stripper model with a regular cab, a four-cylinder engine, a manual transmission, and not much more on the features list is the most popular choice for contractors and franchisees on a mission of exoskeletal death.

In turn, Ford says exterminators like Orkin account for more than 10 percent of Ranger sales today. It's a big percentage, but Ranger sales have fallen far in the past decade--down to about 70,000 units annually for 2009 and probably less for the 2010 model year. The exterminators accounted for 8,000 to 10,000 Ranger sales last year.

What happens when the Ranger faces its own mortality? The small truck has a date with death next year, when Ford halts its production in St. Paul, Minn., and closes the longtime Ranger assembly plant.

And what happens to all the exterminators? Ford execs say they've talked to the pest-control companies and offered them versions of the Transit Connect utility wagon, with some interest--but as much concern for putting drivers in the same enclosed areas as the chemicals they use to treat homes and businesses. It's possible the bug trucks could switch allegiance over to the GM compact pickups, but those trucks too--the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon--are due to expire themselves, sometime before 2012.

And while we're at the bugs know they're about to lose their archenemy to old age? We shudder to think. And we itch a little, too.

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