Ford had been rumored to be developing a pickup variant of the Bronco with the assumed strategy of competing with the likes of Jeep’s Gladiator by 2024. However, reports have surfaced that Blue Oval is notifying suppliers the program is being abandoned. While we knew that there was supposed to be another Bronco vehicle in development, Ford never confirmed it and it was unclear exactly how far along the program had managed to get. But as the company continued introducing new trucks (e.g. Maverick and Lightning) we were over here wondering how far the pickup market could realistically be stretched.
Apparently, so did Ford.
Originally intended to be built at the automaker’s Michigan Assembly Plant responsible for the Bronco, Ranger, and employing a sizable portion of my extended family over the years, there was certainly room for a lower-volume variant of either. But the Bronco pickup isn’t happening. According to Automotive News, communications with equipment suppliers have been used to verify that the program had been scrapped entirely.
Considering the company recently previewed two other upcoming pickups and intends to introduce a Raptor variant of the similarly-sized Ranger, running with the Bronco pickup would have probably left Ford tripping over itself. Meanwhile, the whole industry is finding it incredibly difficult to source parts (it’s not just semiconductors that are hard to come by) with much confidence. Why gamble on something with obvious product overlap when the F-Series is still going to sell and you’ve already got other trucks on the way?
There’s also the excuse of the manufacturer not wanting to break from its stated electrification goals. Though it’s always perplexing when outlets take these seriously. Following the automotive industry for my entire adult life (professionally and recreationally) has taught me that corporate promises are effectively meaningless and targets are easily revised without the majority of people noticing.
Adding what would have been another gasoline-powered entry in its lineup also undermines a company goal: to generate 40 percent of global sales with electric vehicles by 2030, a target Ford announced in May. The company has greatly expanded electrification plans over the past year, including backing a nonbinding federal target of emissions-free vehicles representing half of sales by 2030.
Still, executives have indicated the family will expand beyond the two-door Bronco, four-door Bronco and Bronco Sport crossover offered now. Recent spy photos have shown what appear to be a Bronco performance variant and a potential hybrid model under development.
Early reception to the new vehicles has been positive. Ford has sold 62,820 Bronco Sports and 4,078 Broncos in the U.S. this year through July, though early builds of the Bronco have been plagued by problems with roofs produced by the supplier Webasto.
Here’s what your author believes is the more likely scenario. Ford saw that Jeep Gladiator wasn’t the crazy smash hit that everyone thought it could be and realized it was going to be building something that would probably end up stealing sales from other Ford vehicles. Combine that with our current less-than-reliable supply chains and the whole program starts to look like a bad idea.
But that doesn’t mean it is. While almost every automotive enthusiast community seems to be evaporating, 4×4 recreation nuts appear to be growing in number. I know several people who have purchased Jeep Wranglers (their first) since 2019 and a couple have told me that they like the idea of something a little easier to live with around town that can still handle a gnarly trail on the weekend. That’s kind of where the Bronco lives. The now-canceled Ford would have presumably carried over those traits in pickup guise, similarly to how the Gladiator takes what’s good about the Wrangler and adds enhanced towing capabilities — providing some utility for campers (which have also been growing in number since 2015). With everything pointing to these kinds of lifestyle vehicles becoming all the rage, it might be better to just shelve the Bronco pickup temporarily.
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