Update: ‘Bronco production & sales’ section updated.
Former Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett confirmed that the Blue Oval would make a Ford Bronco Hybrid during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in 2019. However, few details are available as neither the executives nor the company has shared technical specifications or the release date.
Here’s everything that has been reported on the Bronco Hybrid:
New Bronco derivatives
The Bronco family has a wide appeal, with numerous configurations available and plans for even more. At the Bank of America 2023 Automotive Summit on April 5th, Jim Baumbick, VP of Product Development Operations and Quality at Ford, described the Bronco as a “winning party” and suggested that additional derivatives would be developed to capitalize on its early success.
So there’s three examples on the screen here, with Everglades, the Raptor, and Heritage, all distinctly going after different customers. This is just the start. We have a ton more coming. And on Bronco, we’re never going to let the foot off the throttle pedal. We have a ton of opportunity in different spaces to speak to different customers.Jim Baumbick, Vice President – Product Development Operations and Quality, Ford (Bank of America’s 2023 Automotive Summit on April 5, 2023)
In addition to various styles and levels of off-road capabilities, the Bronco twins will also have derivatives focused on eco-friendliness in the future. This includes the highly anticipated hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
Owner’s manual confirms the future Ford Bronco Hybrid
Ford released its owner’s manual before beginning sales of the gas-powered Bronco two- and four-door midsize SUVs. The original 550-page document reaffirmed that the company has planned a Bronco hybrid for a commercial launch. There are two citations of the hybrid variant, first in the Storing Your Vehicle section and again in the Scheduled Maintenance section.
The first section talked about leaving the Bronco Hybrid unused for a period of more than 30 days. In such a case, owners should keep the traction battery’s state of charge (SoC) at approximately 50%, and it’s recommended to disconnect the auxiliary battery as that would reduce the load on the traction battery.
We recommend the following actions for your vehicle:
When storing your vehicle for greater than 30 days the state of charge should be approximately 50%. Additionally we recommend disconnecting the 12V battery which will reduce system loads on the HV battery.2021 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual
Stating that the driver can control the state of charge (SoC), Ford suggests that the future Bronco Hybrid is a plug-in variant (PHEV).
The 2022 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual mentions HEV and PHEV guidance related to the vehicle’s automatic climate control system. In a short note, it says:
For Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) vehicles, the blower motor may run, and you may feel airflow when the climate control is off, to provide cooling to the battery.2022 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual
There’s an indication of a hybrid variant in the 2023 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual as well:
Your vehicle comes with the Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor system, a message appears in the instrument cluster display at the proper oil change interval. This interval may be up to one year or 10,000 mi (16,000 km), hybrid vehicles could exceed 10,000 mi (16,000 km).2023 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual
On the Ford Bronco Hybrid
It is said that Ford conceived the sixth-gen Bronco with partial electrification in mind. Seeing the unsatisfactory mpg figures of the gas model, many customers must be looking forward to a Bronco Hybrid. Depending on the configuration selected, the gas model delivers a combined fuel economy of 15-20 MPG.
The reasonable, and dare we say, logical expectation for the Ford Bronco Hybrid (which shares its ladder-frame construction with the Ranger pickup) is the sharing of electrical hardware with the F-150 and Explorer hybrids.
A 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine with an electric motor and a modular 10-speed transmission could be an ideal combination for the Bronco Hybrid. Combined with a 47 hp electric motor from the F-150, a healthy system output of 450 hp was expected on the Ford Bronco Hybrid.
Ford Bronco Plug-in Hybrid powertrain
Now that the owner’s manual hints at a plug-in hybrid powertrain, this future electrified Bronco could allow customers to use the EV mode to cover a whole day’s drive without emissions. Ford could introduce the Bronco Plug-in Hybrid with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and the 35 kW motor of the F-150 Powerboost full-hybrid. The total system horsepower could be close to 350 hp, and the battery pack may allow a practical EV range of 30-40 miles.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe became America’s top-selling PHEV immediately after its introduction. As of March 31, 2023, it holds that position. The demand would have made Ford aware of the potential for a rugged mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV.
Ford Bronco facelift
On May 22, 2023, Ford held its capital markets day. Kumar Galhotra, the President of the Ford Blue division, said at the event that the average age of Ford Blue models, which are the Blue Oval’s ICE vehicles, is four years.
Galhotra revealed that 60% of Ford Blue models will get a major (full model change) or moderate (facelift) level of freshening between 2023 and 2024. Introduced in July 2020, the sixth-gen Bronco and the first-ever Bronco Sport should arrive in their respective facelifted avatars at U.S. dealerships in the second half of 2024. Galhotra also stated that Ford Blue will expand its hybrid powertrain offerings, which we think will lead to the launch of electrified Bronco twins next year (MY2025 Bronco).
On the Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid
As for the Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid, reports state that it will employ the Ford Escape Hybrid’s powertrain, which makes sense given the ‘softer’ Bronco sits on the monocoque platform of the Escape. This system includes a 2.5-liter iVCT Atkinson cycle gas engine coupled with an eCVT.
Ford offers the Escape Hybrid in FWD and AWD, both with a combined power of 192 hp. A Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid with a 2.5-liter iVCT Atkinson cycle gas engine and eCVT is also available, but only in FWD. The total system power in the plug-in hybrid variant of the Escape is 210 hp.
When Motor Authority reviewed the Bronco Sport, they managed a fuel economy of 23 mpg in mixed suburban driving, almost the same level as the EPA rating (21 mpg City/26 mpg Highway/23 mpg Combined). Motor Authority wrote that the Escape’s hybrid powertrain on the Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid would largely improve efficiency. The 2023 Escape Hybrid’s EPA-estimated fuel economy is 39 mpg (combined) in both FWD and AWD.
The Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid should come in a few variants, but those will include Badlands. In the case of the former, Wildtrak is a given. In 2021, Ford said it received more than 190,000 reservations for the Bronco, and approximately 26% of reservations were in the Wildtrak trim, which is exclusive to the frame SUV, Autoblog reported on October 23, 2020. About 20% of orders were in the Badlands trim, and the remaining orders were in the other available trims.
The Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid could debut in 2024, as per a report Automotive News published on August 28, 2022. Competitors will include the Jeep Wrangler 4xe PHEV and the Land Rover Defender PHEV. The Bronco twins are part of the Blue Oval’s strategy to have hybrid electric variants for high-volume models. At the moment, the Bronco teams at the Ford HQ are preparing to send the Bronco Raptor into production.
Bronco production & sales
The Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid production should occur alongside their respective combustion-engined counterparts. Ford manufactures the Bronco (both 2-door and 4-door) at the Michigan Assembly Plant (USA) and the Bronco Sport at the Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant (Mexico).
Sales of both Bronco Sport and Bronco continue improving in 2023. Between January and July, Ford shipped 76,082 units of the Bronco Sport and 71,335 units of the Bronco. Compared to the January-July 2022 period, these figures mark an improvement of 15% and 9%, respectively. Year-to-date production of the Bronco Sport and Bronco at the end of July 2023 stood at 95,092 units and 83,656 units, respectively.
The Ford Bronco has only one direct competitor if we exclude the outdated Toyota 4Runner – the Jeep Wrangler. However, an all-new Toyota 4Runner is coming in 2024. Moreover, at the world premiere of the Land Cruiser 250 (next-gen Land Cruiser Prado), Toyota teased a smaller, more affordable SUV that looked like a two-door model inspired by the Compact Cruiser EV concept, potentially the next-gen FJ Cruiser. If Toyota indeed plans such a launch, the Ford Bronco will face increased competition and timely electrification could be key to maintaining an edge in the segment.
Electric Ford Bronco on the horizon
The timing couldn’t be better for electrifying the Bronco model line. Ford may release the first details of a hybrid powertrain for its new off-road SUVs by the end of 2023, but that’s not all. The company has hinted at a Ford Bronco EV launch that could compete with the Jeep Recon. Ford president and CEO Jim Farley, suggested with a reply on Twitter in May 2021 that the company is contemplating a zero-emission Bronco. He said “Why do you think we don’t?” when asked by Twitter handle ‘Powered by Tesla’ why there isn’t an EV option on the Bronco.
A few days later, Hau Thai-Tang, former chief industrial platform officer, Ford, teased a Bronco EV that strengthen speculations. Thai-Tang revealed that Ford is making a new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) flexible architecture. He said that future models the new dedicated BEV platform would underpin include “rugged SUVs for our adventure-seeking customers.” While mentioning “rugged SUVs,” the above teaser played, indicating that he was referring to an Electric Ford Bronco:
Our new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV flexible architecture will underpin a range of emotive vehicles slated for production between now and 2030, including active lifestyle vehicles with great driving dynamics, cargo vehicles for those whole value space and versatility for their commercial needs, pickups delivering legendary Built Ford Tough capability on mid-size trucks, rugged SUVs for our adventure-seeking customers, and high-margin, high-demand larger two- and three-row SUVs for families around the world, like (Ford) Explorer, and Lincoln Aviator.Hau Thai-Tang, former chief industrial platform officer, Ford (Delivering Ford+/Capital Markets Day 2021)
On August 21, 2021, Ford North America Product Communications director Mike Levine posted a picture of the Bronco 4-door along with the 2004 Bronco concept and two classic Broncos on Twitter. In response, Twitter user Ben Sullins expressed his wish for a Bronco EV, saying, “if they were only electric.” Levine replied tweeting the outline teaser shown above and a thinking face emoji, hinting that a Bronco EV is an actual project in the company.
Ford Model e division
Ford has separated its EV business from the ICE vehicle business to accelerate its race to carbon neutrality. The company has created three new businesses with distinct identities: Ford Model e, Ford Blue, and Ford Pro. Ford Model e and Ford Blue handle retail sales of EVs and combustion-engined vehicles, respectively. Ford Pro focuses on commercial and government sales of both EVs and combustion vehicles. This separation comes after the Blue Oval succeeded with small, project-based teams that developed the Ford GT, Mustang Mach-E, and F-150 Lightning as well as the separate EV division in China.
By 2026, Ford aims to produce more than 2 million EVs annually and convert one-third of its global volume to EVs. The company’s goal for the end of the decade is to convert half of its global volume to EVs.
There’s one area where the new Bronco models need to improve seriously: efficiency. Introducing a hybrid option will address that concern, making them more appealing to a wider audience. For a small premium, these hybrid models could offer big gains in fuel cost savings in the long run.
Featured image: Ford