During last month's Detroit auto show, rumors surfaced about a possible new variant of the Ford Ranger, but the OEM kept quiet. In February, however, Ford formally introduced its first-ever Ranger Raptor, a new off-road, performance pick-up truck that is expected to compete against the likes of the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma.

"We are so excited and proud to unleash this vehicle to the public, driving it really makes you feel like a hero," said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Performance. "The Ford Performance team is excited to extend the Raptor name from our flagship off-road performance F-150 to Ranger. Just like the F-150 Raptor, the Ranger Raptor builds upon the core capability of the range of vehicles it comes from and carries the unmistakable Ford Performance DNA appearance."

Ford says it used a combination of composites, high-strength steel and aluminum alloys to optimize durability and weight. Composites are featured most prominently in the front fender. From the fat fenders to the upgraded suspension, the Ranger Raptor looks just like a small-scale F-150 Raptor.

"Using composite materials, the front fenders not only look tough, but resist dents and dings often associated with off-road usage. The flared shape of the fenders are required for the long travel suspension and oversized tires," Ford said.

For the past few years, Ford has been on the front line of increased adoption of composites, both in traditional and untraditional applications. In addition to the fenders of the new Ranger Raptor, Ford also recently filed a patent for a hybrid cylinder head that prominently features composites. Last year, Ford and Magna teamed up to develop a carbon fiber-reinforced composite subframe. This key piece of architecture weighed 34 percent less than a conventional subframe, employing far fewer parts. That year also saw Ford join IACMI-The Composites Institute as a charter member. And in 2015, Ford laid claim as the first major automaker to mass produce carbon fiber wheels as standard equipment for a production vehicle ? the GT350R Mustang.

The Ford Ranger Raptor will be produced in Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) using Ford's latest state of the art manufacturing techniques and facilities. For more information, visit ford.com.