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The U.S. midsize-pickup market expanded over the last 11 months, and that gave Ford Motor Co. some room to grow its relaunched Ranger.

Ford says it sold 10,594 Rangers in November, the best month yet for the pickup reintroduced to the U.S. in January. Officials said the Ranger would be an important piece of the Dearborn-automaker's refreshed lineup, and analysts at the time said it could be a boon for Ford as the automaker as it entered the midsize space with a capable, technology-packed truck against aging competitors.

While Ford has yet to outpace Toyota and its Tacoma midsize truck, the Ranger crept up on one of rival General Motors Co.'s midsize trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado. And that could make year-end sales figures more competitive as the two Detroit automakers jostle to claim the title as the top-seller of U.S. pickups.

"We're pretty happy with where we're at," said Chad Callander, Ranger consumer marketing manager. "We set some aggressive targets, and we're hitting those targets."

Through 11 months of the year, Ford has moved 75,357 Rangers. Ford sold 10,594 in November after moving more than 8,000 in October as production at the automaker's Michigan Assembly Plant reached capacity and the automaker was able to fill more dealer orders. The automaker notes it only "hit full stride" with production in the third quarter of 2019.

Ford and GM have historically battled for the claim of top-selling Detroit producer of pickups. Ford has for decades had the top-selling pickup brand in the F-Series. GM has argued it moves more pickups when accounting for both its Chevrolet and GMC brand full-size and midsize trucks.

Both automakers have pivoted away from reporting monthly U.S. sales figures, so the final results won't be made official before the end of the year. But Ford expects Ranger could make the overall pickup sales war more interesting. 

"They're (GM) going to have a tough time with that this year," said Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle.

Said GM spokesman Tom Henderson: "We reignited the mid-pickup segment with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in 2014, and have sold about 700,000 since. We’ll continue that momentum when we refresh our mid-size trucks next year."

Ford caught a sales wave with the new Ranger, said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds. The industry has seen more consumers transition out of sedans, and a portion of those customers opt for trucks over SUVs. Meantime, U.S. sales have failed to slow much despite forecasts to the contrary.

Toyota expects the industry's total U.S. sales to come in around 17 million units, which would be near record levels, Bob Carter, Toyota North America's executive vice president of sales said Thursday.

Consumer appetite for new vehicles remains strong as Ford pivots its lineup out of sedans and into trucks and SUVs. The Ranger hit the market as one of the first additions to the lineup after the automaker announced it would phase-out sedans. 

Edmunds data shows some consumers who formerly drove the Ford Focus traded in for a Ranger. Callander and Merkle said the automaker has Ranger customers coming from both SUVs and cars, some of whom are new to the Ford brand.

"The segment has done fairly well this year," Caldwell said. "This is probably going to end up being the best year for trucks since 2005. And the Ranger seems like it is going to have a good finish to the end of the year."

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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