LONDON - Ford returns to the European pickup market this month after an 11-year absence with the launch of the Thailand-built Ranger.
Nine countries will get the car this year, and a further seven in early 2000.
'Logistically, we cannot the supply the whole of Europe and Scandinavia immediately with the numbers available this year,' said Ford spokesman Barry Reynolds.
'We have had to split Europe into two regions. The first batch of vehicles will be aimed at bigger markets with more immediate demand.'
Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the UK receive the pickup this month. Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden follow next year.
Ford has been out of the European pickup market since the Sierra-based P100 ceased production in 1988.
A Mazda pickup version of the Ranger - built alongside the Ford in Thailand - is also being introduced to some European markets next month.
Ford believes its move back into the pickup market will provide 'lifestyle' off-road customers with an alternative to the variety of sport-utilities currently on sale.
Ford intends to take third position in the pickup market within the Ranger's first year on sale.
Mitsubishi dominated the 1998 market, followed by Toyota and Nissan, with GM, Mazda, VW and Tata in single figures.
Ford believes 8,000 Ranger sales across Europe over the next 12 months will cut into established shares and move it ahead of Nissan. Ranger prices will be between $14,500 and $19,000.