The brand new Ford Bronco may very well be a shocking success for the brand new SUV vary
Jovina Young, Ford Bronco Sport Marketing Manager, stands by the vehicle she drove at the 2020 Rebelle Rally, an all-female off-road event that drives through Nevada and California.
Michael Wayland / CNBC
HOLLY, me. – Jovina Young smiles as she remembers driving a new Ford Bronco Sport SUV for an off-road rally through 1,250 miles of Nevada and California desert this fall.
Young, who worked in the beer industry before becoming Marketing Manager at the Bronco Sport last year, had never done off-roading before but wanted to experience the capabilities of the new SUV for himself.
The trip lasted eight days and a lot of camping equipment and GPS devices were not allowed. It was something she never thought she was a part of until she started working at Ford Motor.
“I wanted to make sure I was authentic in the message I spoke to Bronco Sport about,” the 42-year-old mother of two told CNBC about the Rebelle Rally – an all-female vehicle event.
While an off-road newbie may not be the ideal candidate for such a vehicle, the likes of Young are expected to be the key to the success of the new Bronco Sport, which is arriving at Ford dealerships across the country. While ATVs are growing in popularity, it is mainstream outdoor buyers who are largely driving sales of such vehicles.
“It’s really about choice. Right now, a number of consumers are nervous about outdoor activities and ATVs, whether they ride them off-road or not,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit.
The 2021 Bronco Sport is a balance between off-road suitability and road comfort than its larger, more expensive Bronco sibling, which is due to hit stores this summer. The Bronco Sport has the design of the Bronco but is built more like a car or crossover than a truck, which allows for a smoother ride.
“We wanted to make sure we had a balance,” said Eddie Khan, Bronco Sport technical director, during a media event for the vehicle at an off-road event in suburban Detroit. “We have not set this vehicle on the road or off-road. We have adjusted it to both.”
The Bronco and Bronco Sport are part of a new, highly anticipated family of “Bronco vehicles” for Ford, including the possibility of a pickup truck in the years to come.
While the Bronco SUV has received a lot of attention, the Bronco Sport is expected to outperform its bigger siblings in terms of being more accessible, yet more powerful, as well as convenience and lower price.
“We expect Bronco Sport to have a higher volume than Bronco,” said Brinley. “It’s more affordable and meets the needs of more people. The Bronco Sport’s performance is closer to meeting people’s needs on a given day.”
The new 2021 Bronco SUV family includes the Bronco two-door, Bronco four-door and Bronco Sport (left to right).
Ford executives said the company can produce more than 200,000 vehicles a year at the Michigan assembly plant, where the Bronco is built alongside the Ford Ranger. The company has refused to discuss any planned sales or capacity for the Bronco Sport, which is manufactured in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
The Bronco Sport is distinguished by the design of the larger Bronco SUV, standard 4×4 capability and a range of models – from a standard model for under $ 27,000 to a premium “Badlands” model that Young rallied off drove about $ 33,000. This pricing is comparable to the Bronco’s range between $ 28,500 and $ 50,000. The prices for both vehicles exclude a limited first model.
“Especially off-road, it’s a great entry point for anyone who wants to do this,” said Young. The Bronco Sport has off-road technologies to help novice drivers and provide the ability to please experienced off-roaders.
The Bronco Sport or “Baby Bronco” marks the first time Ford has used the Bronco name since the original vehicle was discontinued in 1996 after 31 years. It is also the first Bronco model exclusively available in four doors (the Bronco 2021 is available in two and four door models).
A more accessible entry-level model resembles Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand, which is the leader in off-road vehicle sales and Ford’s main competitor for the Bronco range.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport
“We see Bronco Sport almost like joining the Bronco family,” said Young.
The Bronco Sport is Ford’s first direct rival to Jeep since the original Bronco. The company’s closest competitor since then has been a full-size, off-road version of the F-150 pickup called the Raptor, but Jeep doesn’t offer such a vehicle.
Ford is currently the top cross-shopping brand for Jeep, according to Lisa Drake, Ford’s chief operating officer for North America.
“It’s a huge addressable market for us,” she said at a Credit Suisse conference last week. “And as the number one cross-shopping brand for Jeep, we believe we are in a strong position to aggressively win a stake. So very excited about that.”
Bronco Sport offers an extendable work table that is part of the available configurable five-way cargo management system, as well as a 400 watt inverter and tailgate floodlights that illuminate up to 30 square feet.