Ford has confirmed the Bronco nameplate will return by 2020 as its bucks convention and overhauls its product line-up.
Expecting 50 per cent of its home market sales to be SUV based in two years, the blue oval has relocated $9 billion in development funds from car to SUV production and will replace more than 75 per cent of its current lineup within the same time.
Ford has confirmed the revived Bronco and an all-new baby off-roader will come by 2020 along with the next generation of Escape and Explorer.
First shown in concept form in 2004, the Bronco has long been anticipated to make a return to Ford showrooms and confirmation at last year’s Detroit motor show sent speculation into overdrive. Now the company has shown its first teaser of a sheet-covered short-wheelbase four-wheel drive with boxy, staunch proportions and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel that will pay homage to the original – we’ve rendered a better glimpse at what might come.
“Ford helped start the off-road phenomenon and has majored in off-road capability for decades – from the Bronco to the Raptor,” said president of global markets Jim Farley.
“Now, we’re ready to reclaim our rightful place as the off-road vehicle leader.”
The Bronco is a direct rival to the Jeep Wrangler and will be based on an adapted version of the US market’s upcoming 2019 body-on-frame Ranger platform, with a similar old-school vibe of the Wrangler and upcoming Suzuki Jimny.
Specifications are yet to be detailed but Ford has confirmed the Bronco will be available with a hybrid drivetrain, along with the new F-150, Explorer and Escape.
“Part of Ford’s new strategy includes going all-in on hybrids to bring more capability to customers of our most popular and high-volume vehicles like F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and Bronco,” it said in a statement.
It’s not clear exactly where the smaller baby bush-basher four-wheel drive (pictured below) will sit in the market, given the Bronco is likely to be only two-doors big, but it may rival either the aforementioned Jimny or take a softer approach like the Jeep Renegade.
The two hard-core off-roaders will be joined by more compliant road-friendly SUVs that make part of Ford’s revised platform architecture direction that consists of commercial, front and rear-wheel drive unibody designs, and body-on-frame and battery-electric platform vehicles.
Of the eight SUVs in its 2020 line-up, five will be hybrid and one will be battery-electric. For now, Ford has confirmed that two of those vehicles will be the new Escape and Explorer, with Ford Australia all but confirming to Drive that the new Escape, that will be available as a hybrid, will arrive here while the Explorer and sportier Explorer ST are, for now, US-market only.
However, Ford Performance is set to expand on its left hand drive-only Edge ST SUV and the upcoming Ranger Raptor with 12 new models by 2020, saying in a statement: “Ford is strengthening its position in the following segments: trucks, SUVs (including off-road and performance versions), hybrids, battery electric vehicles and commercial vehicles.”
And one of those cars might be a Raptor version of Everest, with Ford Performance head engineer telling Drive last month, “There’s no reason [we wouldn’t do an Everest Raptor].”
Ford Australia spokesman Damion Smy also said at the end of last year that performance SUVs were on the cards for Australia.
“Long term it would make sense if you look at the fact that passenger vehicles were overtaken by SUVs this year (2017),” he told Drive.
“There’s definitely a case for more performance oriented or at least more sports styled SUVs in the future. I don’t think that's a crazy question, I think it makes sense.”
For now the local arm is only ready to imply that the new Escape will replace the current model after the new Endura (Edge) arrives later this year.
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