Built Ford tough
Ford has always said that its Ranger is “built Ford tough” – but it has been bumped up in this department as Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has introduced a mine-hardened version to the local market.
“The Ranger XL-Plus was born out of particular requirements from the mining industry, as well as other business owners whose main concerns were rugged capability and impeccable safety standards,” says Mark Kaufman, vice president of marketing, sales and service at FMCSA.
The Ranger XLT and Wildtrak derivatives, thanks to five-star European New Car Assessment Programme (ENCAP) and Australasian NCAP ratings, are already being used by big mining companies.
“Modifications, developed for the Ranger XL-Plus, came from extensive testing in real-world scenarios,” says Kaufman. “We took feedback from our clients on what they need from the Ranger in applications such as mining, and built a version that will take a lot more punishment and offer integration with technical equipment used on sites.”
Built at the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, following a US$ 1,8 million (around R19 million) investment, the Ranger XL-Plus is also exported to other markets with mining operations – such as Australia and New Zealand.
“As we’re building the Ranger XL-Plus locally, we can give our customers a factory-built version of a vehicle that meets their demands,” adds Kaufman. “Modifications for this version of the Ranger can be rolled out during production, so customers don’t have to wait for aftermarket customisations.”
The Ranger XL-Plus is available in three body styles with two chassis-cab models in single and double-cab variations, and a double-cab model with a load box. These units are powered by Duratorq 2,2-litre TDCi engines, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. All models have four-wheel drive and are fitted with an Electronic Locking Rear Differential.
External modifications and enhancements include a bumped up frame, which has been tested for an increased towing load of 3 500 kg, an optional heavy-duty front bumper, extruded aluminium side steps, front mud flaps and a lockable fuel-filler cap.
Inside, and under the skin, the Ranger XL-Plus gains a “Crew Chief” mounting bracket, paired to an expanded wiring harness to accommodate more switches and circuits, a heavy-duty second battery, vinyl floor covering and heavy-duty seat covers.
It is, however, a mine-hardened version, so safety is of the utmost importance. The Ranger XL-Plus has airbags for both the driver and passenger, as well as side-impact curtain and a driver-side knee airbag, complying with the safety requirements determined by international mine operators (as FMCSA points out). In addition, it has an optional bull bar designed to work with the vehicle’s existing safety systems, thus not compromising airbag deployment.
The recommended retail pricing is R319 900 for the Single Chassis Cab; R334 900 for the Double Chassis Cab and R379 900 for the Double Cab. These include a four-year/120 000 km warranty and a five-year/90 000 km service plan with service intervals of 15 000 km.