Our trusty spy photographers have captured the next-generation Ford Ranger out testing several times now, but speculation continues to swirl over whether or not this trucklet will be available for U.S. consumption. After all, there's been talk of a more entry-level F-150 that would sort of fill the void of not having a dedicated Ranger replacement, but Ford has never ruled out the possibility of an all-new small pickup.
While talking about the new 2011 Explorer on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning, Ford's president and CEO, Alan Mulally, appears to have unintentionally confirmed a new Ranger for North America. While discussing the whole lineup of Stateside Ford products, Mulally specifically says "new Ranger," which leads us to believe that all of these test mules we've seen might not just be for our overseas friends (something that we've been wondering about anyhow, as we've seen more Stateside evaluations of this 'overseas' truck than any other foreign market vehicle in recent memory). No, Mulally doesn't come right out and say that an all-new Ranger is headed our way, but we've continued to hear scuttlebutt about just such a truck from our sources, and given that his remarks were otherwise confined to North American products, we're beginning to think that a new Ranger is all but confirmed.
To see what we're on about, follow the jump to watch the CNBC interview, and pay close attention beginning around the five-minute mark for Mulally's Ranger remark. A big ol' tip of the cap to Dan!
*UPDATE: Ford continues to tell Autoblog that the new global Ranger is not planned for North America. As we've previously reported, the new F-150 will receive an EcoBoost powertrain that should deliver similar economy figures to the Ranger while providing improved size and capability, thereby negating the need for bringing a smaller pickup in this market.