Ford has kicked off production of the Ranger at its Michigan Assembly Plant just outside of Detroit in the United States, with the new Bronco set to follow in 2020.

The US-spec Ranger returns to the North American market at the start of 2019 after an eight-year hiatus.

The Blue Oval brand says it has invested some $850-million to build “exciting new vehicles” at the Michigan facility – which earlier in 2018 ended production of the Focus – including the Ranger and the new Bronco (the plant started building the original Bronco back in 1966).

As we’ve already reported, the US-spec Ranger will be powered by a 2,3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine (worth 201 kW and 420 N.m) mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission.

Furthermore, the brand claims the Ranger will deliver “best-in-class” payload and towing capability, with the former pegged at 844 kg and the latter at 3 402 kg, when “equipped with the tow package and a trailer brake controller”.

“We have been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Michigan Assembly plant manager, Erik Williams. “The Ranger is back home in the US, and our employees at Michigan Assembly Plant are thrilled to be able to build it for our customers.”

In South Africa, of course, the locally built Ranger is offered solely in turbodiesel guise, with the current 2,2-litre four-cylinder and 3,2-litre five-pot set to be joined by a new twin-turbo 2,0-litre (as debuted by the Ranger Raptor) in 2019.

Also in 2019, an updated version of the Ranger is scheduled to launch in South Africa, bringing the new engine, updated styling and bolstered safety credentials.