After nearly 30 years, it's finally time for the sun to set on the Ford Ranger. The folks at report that the latest United Auto Workers 879 newsletter states that the Ranger will stop production on December 22, 2011. UAW 879 covers factory workers at Ford's Twin Cities assembly plant in Minnesota where the Ranger is built.

As of this writing, Ford has no plans to offer a replacement for the Ranger here in the United States. However, the automaker just released a larger, brand-new Ranger that will be available in other markets later this year. In the United States, Ford hopes that prospective Ranger customers will look to the entry-level Ford F-150 with its 3.7-liter V6 for pickup truck needs.

In speaking to Autoblog last year, Ford says that its research shows that the vast majority of Ranger customers don't even buy the vehicle because it's a pickup. Instead, these Rangers are sold because customers are looking for the least-expensive, most economical Ford vehicle available. Ford hopes that the Fiesta will fill this void for most people, as well as the Transit Connect, for those who need hauling capability.

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