You may recall the brouhaha surrounding the Ford Bronco hardtop, a piece of the SUV that held up the initial rollout of the much-awaited model before causing a recall thanks to odd wear patterns. Specifically, certain roof units had a manufacturing deficiency which caused them to discolor and expose a honeycomb pattern after being subjected to particular levels of water and humidity (read: everyday conditions for some types of customers).
Now, it appears Ford is done like dinner with the issue, electing to destroy every single hardtop collected through the recall.
In fact, the company has apparently made a point of saying the hardtops will be “scrapped,” so they disappear forever.
“Those are being disposed of so that they cannot be re-sold or show up on a vehicle down the road,” said Mark Grueber, marketing manager for the Bronco in an interview with the Detroit Free Press.
Apparently, the defective hardtops can’t be sent to a recycler because they are ‘fully finished’, which apparently means there are chemicals or components in them which cannot be recycled. Greenpeace will the thrilled with that news, I’m sure.
In spite of these challenges, Ford remains wed to Webasto, a German-based company that is forging ahead with a new manufacturing facility in Michigan. The supplier presently builds the tops in Plymouth, and the new facility will be their fourth in the state. For their part, Webasto is on record saying they’ve taken ‘corrective steps’ to fix the honeycombing issue while noting the problem is strictly cosmetic and does not affect the functionality of the roof.
Elsewhere, Grueber said “We’re happy to report that we’ve completed the roof replacement for those Broncos that were being held at the Michigan Assembly Plant. We wanted to make sure these units were meeting our quality standards.”
This means there are no longer embarrassing hordes of Bronco SUVs sitting idle in Detroit parking lots, waiting for new tops before being released to dealerships. Owners who have already taken delivery, or the rare Bronco loitering on a new-car lot, will have its new top installed at the dealer.
Speaking of dealers, one outfit contact by the Freep claims hardtop swaps are a “one-day process”, a statement that stretches the bounds of credulity. Removing a Bronco roof takes about twenty minutes, with installing the thing consumes roughly the same amount of time. Even taking into account the time taken for an overworked tech to pull the customer’s Bronco into a service bay, walk to the parts department, complete the job, then drive the newly roofed SUV back to the parking lot, there’s no reason the job should take more than an hour. If a dealership service department is really taking a full 8 hour day to replace the hardtop on a Bronco, then they’re surely raking in the cash from Ford’s warranty department. Oh well, dealers be dealin’.
All this puts your author in mind of similar situations in Detroit manufacturing history, such as the W23 Kelsey Hayes wheels which tended to free themselves from the surly bonds of lug nuts when confronted with the immense power of a mighty 426 factory Hemi. These wheels are now highly prized by collectors since most were disposed of after Chrysler replaced them with other units. Given that Ford is destroying all those hardtops, there’s a case to be made the same might happen with the ill-fated Bronco roof units as well.
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