2010 Ford Ranger splashing in the mud
2010 Ford Ranger – Click above for high-res image gallery

According to The Detroit News, Ford officials met with Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty yesterday to discuss the future of the automaker's St. Paul assembly plant. The facility, which builds Ford's Ranger compact pickup has been earmarked for closure for some time, but despite the roundtable session, the Blue Oval says it still plans to shutter its operations.

Pawlenty's administration had been hoping that the signing of a new state law in April allowing the government to offer Ford a series of tax breaks would be enough to keep the Twin Cities operations open, but apparently it wasn't enough – the plant will close, although an end-date remains uncertain.

Closing the plant will also close the book on the aging Ranger, though Ford has confirmed that the model name will live on with other, larger models in foreign markets. Thus far, rumors of a new North American Ranger (and even an on-air slip by Ford president Alan Mulally) have amounted to nothing, and with Ford committed introducing more economical engines to its F-150 full-size pickup, it appears highly unlikely that a U.S. Ranger will receive an encore any time soon.

[Source: The Detroit News]