When Ford launched the 2021 Bronco, it was one of the biggest weeks in the Blue Oval’s recent history. And, in the middle of a global pandemic, Ford has successfully launched their best-selling vehicle (2021 Ford F-150) and brought back the iconic Ford Bronco as a classic two-door, four-door and Sport iteration.
Both launches were highly successful, and both undoubtedly will lead to orders and sales. In fact, we now know that First Edition Bronco sold out within hours. That was a threshold of 3,500 units.
Orders were so crazy that it actually crashed Ford’s servers briefly. As such and due to the popularity of the First Edition Ford has doubled the production numbers to 7,000 units, and those are still sold out.
But all of this success begs the question, who exactly is the targeted buyer for the Bronco? This is a great question because could it be possible that current Ford consumers will flock to the Bronco, thus, cannibalizing their own product sales?
Just look at the product line of Ford’s best-selling vehicles and there appears to be a lot of consumer crossover. Ford Explorer, Ford Ranger, F-150 and now Bronco. Is there enough of a consumer base for Ford to not just move consumers numbers from one column to the next?
Let’s take a closer look at this to see where these consumers are coming from.
Who Is The Targeted Buyer For the Ford Bronco?
This is a valid question. Since the Bronco was discontinued in the mid 1990s, has Ford lost potential buyers? If so, where did they flock to?
The obvious answer is, they went to the Jeep brand. The Jeep brand, and the Wrangler specifically, are where those who want off-road ruggedness turn (outside of the expensive Land Rover brand). Sure Ford has the Raptor to appease some, but that’s not really comparable to the Wrangler. Although many are hoping that the 2021 Raptor will come with a V8.
So for sure, the Jeep is who Ford is aiming at with the Bronco and the Bronco Sport. Ford Communication Manager Mike Levine confirmed that as much with me.
“We’re more likely to conquest Jeep customers, which is the number one cross-shopped brand our customers look at before purchasing a Ford vehicle,” Levine said.
The back and forth between Jeep and Ford (and to a lesser extent Ram and Ford) has been so obvious lately. Jeep even teased/hinted at a Hemi-powered V8 Wrangler as reported by my colleague Patrick Rall (pictured above). This would be an obvious shot across the boxy bow of the new Bronco.
One of the big criticisms from the old school Bronco enthusiasts was the lack of a V8 engine. So is Jeep trying to hold onto this consumer base that Ford is trying to lure back? That kind of competition is good for the market. The consumer will win if a full-blown war between Ford and Jeep takes place.
Ford already announced highly competitive pricing on the 2021 Bronco. Pricing for many of the top-of-the-line Wranglers get out of control, so when Ford announced a starting price for the base Bronco of under $30,000, it was eye opening to me.
Will Ford Lose Some Of Its Own Customer Base?
I posed the question to Mike Levine of whether specific Ford loyalists might opt for the Bronco over the Explorer, F-150 or the Ranger. And if that happens, it won’t add market share to Ford, which is their goal obviously.
Levine unequivocally denied that would occur.
“We don’t expect Bronco to cannibalize from Explorer. Bronco is a rugged two-row SUV while Explorer is unibody three-row SUV,” Levine said.
I accept that logic for sure. And many Ford loyalists were disappointed with the launch of the Explorer last year. I drove the Explorer ST around Salt Lake City and truly enjoyed it. But a Bronco it is not so I don’t see Explorer buyers migrating to Bronco.
So then what about those Ford truck buyers? We know the F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in North America. Despite heavy competition once again from Ram and General Motors, the F-150 has remained atop the sale leaderboard for several decades. Could a flocking to the Bronco dip into those numbers and cost the F-150 its sales title?
Again, Levine tells me, no way. “We’re not expecting Bronco to cannibalize from our existing products. A rugged SUV is not a substitute for the size and work capabilities of an F-150, which includes much greater payload (3,270 lbs.) and towing capability (13,200 lbs.) than Bronco,” Levine said. “Bronco max towing is 3,500 lbs. and max payload is 1,170 lbs. Ranger is also very different from Bronco, with towing up to 7,500 lbs. and payload up to 1,860 lbs.”
These are all valid points, and obviously come with some pro-Ford spin. But that being said, I do think that Ford has a significantly untapped consumer market out there that the Bronco appeals to. Sure, I do think a few people who may have leases ending on their Ranger or Explorer or F-150 may migrate to the Bronco instead, but I do not believe it will make much of a dent in their sales.
What About The Bronco Sport?
The Bronco Sport was dismissed by many of the old-school, die-hard Bronco fans. And that’s fine. Surely the Bronco Sport is not aimed at those buyers. Rather, the Bronco Sport has the Jeep Cherokee and the Chevy Blazer in its sites.
Once again, Ford looks across town at FCA and General Motors to find customers to lure back to Dearborn.
I look for Ford to expand their bottom line with the introduction of the Bronco Sport. Some of those same old-schoolers that wanted the V8 in the Bronco, also poopooed the Bronco Sport as just another crossover. And in some way, it is, but I also believe the Bronco Sport will give consumers more choices and more alternatives.
More choices and more alternatives means a win for the consumer. Now, just who those consumers are and where they come from will be determined. But so far, so good, for Ford as the Bronco’s order book is healthy.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.