A NEW fleet of Ford Ranger off-roaders is being bought by the French Army – which chose the American company over rival offers from Renault and Citroën.
Despite publicity campaigns to buy goods 'Made in France', the government turned to the American company to get quick results and bought the Fords from a catalogue.
The order, for 1,000 4x4 off-roaders capable of carrying five heavily-armed soldiers and a tonne of supplies, is just the first phase of an eventual renewal of 5,000 vehicles that is long overdue as the present Peugeot P4s first came into service more than 30 years ago, in 1983.
Defence Ministry spokesman Pierre Bayle said the army “needed 1,000 vehicles urgently” and turning to the American company was the quickest way to do it rather than opting for Renault’s Dacia Duster and Citroën’s Berlingo.
Using the American company and a catalogue from the government’s central buying agency UGAP meant that an order that would normally take 18 months – plus construction time – could be done in two months.
Alain Pilarsky, of Nedey the company that would have repainted the Dacia Dusters in Nato Green, told L'Est Républicain newspaper the decision was “baffling! Barack Obama would never have bought non-American vehicles for his GIs!”
And Pascal Bernard of Poclain, which would have done mechanical work on the Duster, said the order could have mean up to 20,000 hours of work and seven or eight new jobs.
Responding to calls to buy French-made vehicles, the ministry told Métronews that the Dacia Duster was made in Romania and the Berlingo in Portugal. Only the adaptation to military colours and equipment would be done in France.
The ministry added the Ford Ranger was the only vehicle capable of carrying the load needed and had proved better adapted to off-road use while the others were better all-road vehicles.
However, 5,000 vehicles must be ordered over the next two years and Renault and Citroën could still grab a share of the order.
Photo: Rama CC-by-sa-2.0-fr