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Ford Motor Co is Targeting the Jeep Crowd with its New Bronco Adventure Vehicle Lineup

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【Summary】Ford Motor Co. has announced the Bronco is returning after a 25 year absence in the form of three all-new, rugged SUVs, including a 4-door version, a 2-door and a smaller Bronco Sport model, all of which will make up the new Ford Bronco family. The automaker is tying the new Bronco to its storied heritage, like it did with the upcoming Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.

Eric Walz    Jul 07, 2020 12:05 PM PT
Ford Motor Co is Targeting the Jeep Crowd with its New Bronco Adventure Vehicle Lineup

After rumors began surfacing several years ago, the Ford Motor Co. announced at the 2017 North American International Auto Show that the legendary Bronco nameplate is returning to its vehicle lineup in 2020. The original Ford Bronco SUV enjoyed a three decade long run before the automaker decided to retire it and focus more on mainstream SUVs and pickups.

The last Ford Bronco was the 1996 model year, a lifetime ago in the auto industry. But Ford has announced the Bronco is returning after a 25 year absence in the form of three all-new, rugged SUVs, including a Bronco 4-door version, a 2-door and a smaller Bronco Sport model, all of which will make up the new Ford Bronco family.

Ford will reveal the three new models on July 13.

The automaker has teamed up with Disney to reveal all-new Bronco SUVs in an livestream event which will be broadcast simultaneously on TV networks ABC, ESPN, National Geographic And Hulu.

Ford announced that reservations will open the same day and customers can reserve a Bronco model with a $100 refundable deposit.

The next-generation Ford Bronco family was originally scheduled to be revealed in the spring. However the coronavirus has forced automakers, including Ford, to postpone traditional in-person vehicle launches, which pushed ahead the debut a few months.

Like many automakers that resurrect former nameplates, Ford its tying the new Bronco to its storied heritage, like it did with the upcoming Mustang Mach-E electric SUV

The original Ford Bronco first debuted in 1966 as a rugged, all-purpose adventure vehicle. Ford said it purposefully designed the new versions to capture the appeal and DNA of the original, although with more modern technology aimed at today's outdoor enthusiasts.

"Bronco gave rise to the fun and versatile off-road SUV in 1966, becoming the first enjoyable sport utility vehicle for those who wanted to live, work and play outdoors," said Jim Farley, Ford chief operating officer. "Like the original, the all-new Bronco family is engineered to take you to epic places, with capability to deliver confidence on any type of terrain."

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The first Ford Bronco was launched in 1966 as an adventure vehicle. It was discontinued in 1996.

Unlike the Ford's SUVs and trucks that are built mainly to stay on paved roads, the new Bronco is being positioned by Ford as a rugged adventure vehicle that is designed to be more at home in the great outdoors rather than in suburban shopping mall parking lots. It will also compete with the long-running Jeep Wrangler, a best seller in the SUV category.

All three Bronco models will feature standard 4-wheel-drive and an exclusive terrain management system that Ford says will offer class-leading levels of capability and suspension technology.

To coincide with the Bronco launch, Ford's marketing team is creating what the company calls "Off-Roadeo" outdoor adventure playgrounds to four U.S. locations starting next year. Customers will be offered off-road driving courses so they can the most out of their new Broncos. 

At the outdoor playgrounds, owners and enthusiasts can test the new Bronco lineup over challenging terrain, so they can experience the capable off-road adventure vehicles firsthand. The locations of the off-road adventure playground were not disclosed yet.

Ford is also creating its own online community called "Bronco Nation", which will allow owners and enthusiasts to discover and share their off-roading adventures. The new Bronco Nation online community will allow owners to ask questions and engage with Bronco and off-road experts that will encourage fellow Bronco owners to explore the outdoors and help them to plan their next adventure.

The community will include suggested trails for off-roading, vintage Bronco vehicle information and an event calendar for enthusiasts, as well as Ford Bronco apparel. A portion of Bronco merchandise proceeds will be donated to the Bronco brand's stewardship efforts, Ford said. 

"Bronco delivers on the common thread desired by enthusiasts – authenticity," said Mark Grueber, Ford U.S. consumer marketing manager. "Building Bronco as Ford's distinct outdoor brand includes a unique network of experiences, community and engagement that extends far beyond ownership of Bronco and Bronco Sport models."

The online community no doubt will give the new Bronco lineup additional exposure through social media channels and online vehicle forums.

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Ford is Targeting the 'Off-Road' Jeep Crowd

Ford's new Bronco lineup is poised to compete with the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Jeep Wrangler, a rugged civilian version of the military Jeep produced by Willys, Kaiser-Jeep and American Motors Corporation (AMC) from the mid-1940s through 1980s. FCA acquired the Jeep brand in 1987 when FCA purchased AMC. 

For decades, the rugged Jeep Wrangler was a niche, but strong-selling vehicle that faced little competition from the SUVs and trucks offered by rival automakers. The Wrangler remains a rugged and capable all-terrain vehicle that for years featured a no frills utilitarian interior and taunt off-road capable suspension. 

Even with a wave of new SUVs and crossovers models from global automakers, the Jeep Wrangler is still a big seller for FCA. It also has and has diehard fans that Ford is hoping it can lure away with its new Bronco family of SUVs. 

The new Bronco will even come with removable roof panels and doors, which has long been a staple of the Jeep Wrangler.

As U.S. consumer perfencerences have shifted to SUVs, pickups and crossovers, sales of the Wrangler have skyrocketed over the last several years. Jeep sales are up 120% in the past two years alone and Ford no doubt has taken notice. With the popularity of Jeep models, Ford has its work cut out to gain market share.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which is Jeep's parent company, sold nearly 500,000 Jeep branded vehicles since 2018, including the Wrangler, Grand Cheerokee and Renegade.

Although many consumers today prefer more creature comforts in their SUVs that are more suitable for the morning commute than an off-road adventure, Ford already has plenty of these more practical and luxurious SUVs and pickups in its lineup. Ford designed the new Bronco to stand out from the rest of its offerings.

"Rugged vehicles are in our heritage and we see strong growth opportunities with this ever-more popular segment," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, Americas and International Markets Group. "The Bronco brand meets that need by creating a family of truly capable off-roaders to take our customers further into the wild. 

Although Ford only released a few teaser photos so far, the automaker said the new Bronco family will sport the same styling cues as the original, including the original Bronco's signature round headlights, horizontal grill and flat sides. 

Ford did not say if it will offer a plug-in-hybrid or fully-electric version for any of the new Bronco models. Its likely that Ford will determine that based on sales.

However, a new crop of EV truck startups are making plans to introduce their own fully-electric and rugged pickup trucks, including Nikola Motor, Bollinger Motors and Rivian, so competition for Ford's new Bronco is already looming, especially for those owners that want a more environmentally friendly SUV.

Ford was rumored to be working with EV startup Rivan on an electric version of the Bronco to be built on Rivian's electric skateboard architecture, however those plans were scrapped in May. Ford invested $500 million in Rivian in April 2019.

Ford will announce pricing and more detailed information on the new Bronco lineup on July 13 during the official debut. 

The new Bronco vehicles will be built at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.

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