When Ford discontinues its aging Ranger pickup in the next couple of years, it won't be abandoning the small truck market for good. Rather, the automaker is expected to launch a new hauler called the F-100 by 2011, according to a new report.

The F-100 is rumored to share a platform -- albeit shortened -- with the next-generation 2012 F-150, which is expected to be considerably lighter than the existing model. The automaker will save weight on both vehicles by using stronger, higher-quality steel, and therefore less of it, according to PickupTrucks. Meanwhile, aluminum will be used for the hood and other body panels, the report claims.

With platform sharing in mind, it should come as no surprise the F-100 will be built in the same Dearborn Truck Plant as the F-150. This will allow Ford not only to reduce costs, but also adjust supply of either model depending on market conditions.

The last time Ford used the F-100 nameplate was in 1983. While the new truck won't be as small as that vehicle, it is expected to be less than 90% the size of the F-150. Since the current F-150's wheelbase is 126 inches, the F-100s will be 113 or less. That's not far from the Ranger's current 111.5 inches. Engine choices are expected to include a turbocharged V6, a regular V8, and a diesel V8.

Ford recently announced the Ranger will stay in production through 2009, despite rumors about an imminent discontinuation. Ford says market demand will dictate how much longer it keeps building the compact truck. That said, Ford plans to close its St. Paul, Minnesota plant by the end of 2009, which means we may have a pretty firm timetable for its demise.