Could All the Ford Bronco Rumors and Chatter Be False?
We talk a lot, natch, I talk a lot about the Ford Bronco here on Ford Truck Enthusiasts. I cover the subject of the new Bronco pretty extensively, because it’s a product that I’m interested in. It’s also a product you all are also extremely interested in. We are also not the only site reporting on the Bronco. But what if all of this talk and chatter turns out to be false? Have we all been duped?
To address this concern, we have to look at what the Bronco needs in order to be successful. Ever since the UAW contract negotiations with Ford last year, we believed that the Bronco would be produced alongside a new Ford Ranger at the Michigan Assembly plant. The thought was that Ford wouldn’t sell enough Rangers to run that plant at capacity, and the extra production capacity would go towards a Bronco.
Midsize pickup trucks are currently selling with staggering numbers. As long as we haven’t reached peak trucks in the United States, it’s possible Ford could sell a crap-ton — yes that’s a scientific measure — of these trucks. There might not be that much production capacity, if any, left over.
Another low-volume vehicle Ford currently sells is the Ford Flex. Based on a platform shared with the Ford Taurus and Explorer, the Flex pushes around 20,000 total units per year. Ford says that, even at that volume of sales, the Flex is profitable.
Even if the Flex is profitable at 20,000 units, the Bronco will require way more than that to share profitability. The Ranger and Bronco will be built on a new, body-on-frame platform and there will be some significant initial costs. In addition, there will be even more costs for the Bronco for the different body type. Those costs go even higher if they include a removable roof that’d require extra crash certification.
Realistically, the Bronco would have to be a 50,000 unit a year seller to even be close to successful. Would Ford sell that many Broncos if it were put into production?
Assuming that 50,000 a year wouldn’t be construction constrained at the factory, the closest competitor in the body-on-frame SUV game is the Toyota 4Runner. Last year they sold nearly 100,000 of the SUVs, which is up significantly from the total in 2013. Surely, low fuel prices are part of the equation.
So those numbers do look good for a Bronco. But the Bronco would be, like a midsize truck, a bit smaller than the 4Runner SUV. Perhaps it’d be a Jeep Wrangler competitor?
In 2015 Jeep sold an astonishing 202,702 Wranglers in the United States. The Toledo, Ohio plant is selling them as fast as they can build them.
So based on that, it seems smart for Ford to build a Bronco. But is there room in the marketplace for another small, body-on-frame SUV? While gas prices are currently low, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay low in the foreseeable future.
Then there’s the matter of production. If Ford doesn’t believe it can make enough Broncos to sell and be profitable from the excess capacity of building Rangers, then they could very well axe the project.
While it’s easy to just assume that a new Bronco is coming, it’s important to remember that Ford hasn’t confirmed a single darn thing, so it’s possible all of this talk is just that… talk. It’s just something to keep in mind.
What do you think? Let us know over in the forums!