ford_rangerFord Ranger’s days are numbered. But Ranger, exiting production assembly line, is showing some life. It wasn’t that sad at all. Ford February sales report reflects notable sales gain of the Ranger. The gain is driven in part by incentives that keep pickups moving.

With just a year prior to the scheduled closure of the Ranger plant in St. Paul, the truck is seeing signs of a sales rebound. In February, Ranger sales soared 27 percent over the same month last year.

February was the second month in a row the truck has seen sales gain, reported Ford Motor Co. Prior to January, it had been years since the truck had recorded a month-to-month sales gain. Last month, the Dearborn-based automaker sold 7,431 Rangers compared to 5,850 it sold in the same month last year. On the contrary, the F-Series full-size truck saw sales dived five percent last month.

“That little Ranger that could is still doing well,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president for marketing and communications. Equipped with quality Ford Ranger parts, the truck is expected to lure more shoppers in its last days.

Ford is offering special incentives on the Ranger in America’s Sun Belt, extending from Florida to Texas and California. In those territories, “the compact truck market continues to be robust,” Farley said in a conference call, especially for shoppers buying 4×2 models.

The incentives “are not something we’re going to offer every month,” he said, but the automaker is happy with how sales have performed recently.

According to watchers in the industry, escalating gasoline prices may also have contributed to the brisk sales of Rangers. Currently, the automaker’s lineup of small cars and crossover utility vehicles are selling better than its full-sized trucks and SUVs.

“We don’t have very many (Rangers). We’re just sold out,” beamed Roger Kamp, new car sales manager at Power Ford in North Scottsdale, Ariz. “I’m waiting for more to come in.”

All the Ranger buyers he sees want the larger crew-cab models, Kamp said. Bearing price stickers that start under $20,000, “it’s a great price point for all customers, for someone who doesn’t want to spend $30,000 for a full-sized (truck).”

Dan Zeller, a manager at Metro Ford in Dallas, said that from his experience, the sales spike was related to commercial orders for Rangers. Several of his large commercial fleet customers took delivery of Rangers in February, following what Zeller thinks was a backlog of orders, TwinCities reported.

Ford extended the life of the St. Paul plant in November, saying it would shut sometime in 2009 instead of later this year.

By: Anthony Fontanelle