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Ford Motor Co. announced Friday another expansion planned in the Chinese market: The company will sell the Ranger pickup there starting in 2018.

The move capitalizes on growing Chinese interest in pickups. Ford said the introduction of the Ranger to the market will also help introduce the “Built Ford Tough” marketing campaign in China this year. The announcement marks a slew of recent Ford moves in the Chinese market, and comes as the Chinese government has begun easing restrictions on pickup usage in the country’s city centers.

“We see an opportunity to satisfy unmet need in China — for world-class, stylish and refined pickups — and also to be a pioneer in this emerging segment,” said Dave Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific and CEO of Ford China, in a news release. “Built Ford Tough is a proven brand, dating back to 1976 and we believe it has the opportunity to resonate powerfully with Chinese consumers.”

The Ranger will be the second Ford pickup to enter the Chinese market.

In February, Ford started shipping the 2017 F-150 Raptor to China, marking the first time the Dearborn-based automaker had exported a U.S.-built F-Series to China. On Thursday, Ford announced plans to introduce two electric vehicles in that market, and the Lincoln brand will launch an all-new SUV exclusive to China in coming years.

“We’re very excited to bring Built Ford Tough, one of the world’s best loved and most successful brands, to customers in the world’s largest auto market,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, in a news release. “We see a significant white-space opportunity with Chinese buyers increasingly looking for more capable, more refined and more stylish pickups.”

Ford and its joint ventures in 2016 sold a record 1.27 million vehicles in China, though the company’s imported vehicle volume for 2016 was down overall from 2015.

The company sells the Ranger in various markets around the world. The company announced in January that it would build and sell an all-new Ranger in the U.S. by 2019.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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