Ford Bronco Hybrid: Everything we know thus far [Update]

  • Ford Bronco Hybrid could use a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine assisted by an electric motor
  • Could be launched in 2024 along with the facelift
  • Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid with the Ecape Hybrid's electrified 2.5L iVCT engine also possible
  • Electrification the right solution to fix the new Bronco models' biggest shortcoming – efficiency

Update: ‘Bronco production & sales’ and ‘Ford electrified vehicle sales’ sections updated and ‘TopElectricSUV says’ section added.

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:

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

On the Ford Bronco Hybrid

The media has been speculating what would go under the hood of the hybrid SUV for almost two years. The reasonable, and dare we say, the 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 was expected to go under the Ford 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.

Now that the owner’s manual hints at a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the electrified Bronco could allow customers to use the EV mode to cover a whole day’s drive without emissions. Ford could offer 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 about 40 miles. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe was America’s best-selling PHEV right after the launch and still is (as of June 30, 2022), so Ford knows there’s a great potential for a hardcore mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV.

Ford Bronco facelift

The Ford Bronco is barely a year old, and conversations are already happening about when it’s going to be facelifted. Citing people familiar with the automaker’s production plans, Ford Authority reported on October 1, 2021, that the Blue Oval had timed the SUV’s mid-cycle refresh for the 2025 model year. On October 12, 2021, Ford Authority said in an updated report that the company had advanced the Bronco facelift launch to the 2024 model year. The updated SUV, now expected to hit showrooms around the second half of 2023, should also gain the hybrid/plug-in hybrid variant.

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.

Ford Bronco rear seat
Like in the Escape Hybrid, Ford could mount the battery underneath the rear seat and leave the cargo space unaffected. Image: Ford

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. Ford expects the 2023 Escape Hybrid’s EPA-estimated fuel economy to be 41 mpg (combined) in FWD and 40 mpg (combined) in AWD.

Expected trims

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.

Release Date

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.

European launch

In late 2023, Ford plans to launch the four-door Bronco in Europe. New models considered for the region cannot ignore electrification given the tightening Euro emission norms. However, the four-door Bronco will be a niche model in the region. The company plans to sell it “in strictly limited numbers in selected LHD European markets.”

James Farley Jr., President & CEO of Ford, told Auto Express at the 2021 Goodwood Revival that the Bronco “would work fine” in Europe and that he’s waiting for the European bosses “to make up their mind.” Perhaps Europe will get its turn when the Bronco is available as a hybrid or an EV. Should Ford introduce a plug-in hybrid powertrain, it would make the Bronco compelling for the Old Continent. The British publication says that a right-hand drive Bronco is unlikely, but the UK dealers could import left-hand drive versions.

Bronco production & sales

The Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid production should occur alongside their respective ICE 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).

Ford confirmed in 2021 that 125,000 of the 190,000+ Bronco 2-door and 4-door reservations in the U.S. and Canada have converted into actual orders. More than 70% of the customers are new to the Ford brand.

2021 was a great year for the Bronco family in the U.S., as Ford sold 108,169 units of the Bronco Sport in 2021, which was its first full year of sales. The company started shipping the hardcore Bronco to dealers in June 2021 and sold 35,023 units. Between January and August 2022, sales of the Bronco Sport increased by 1.7% year-over-year to 70,712 units (January-August 2021: 69,518 units). The Bronco also performed well during this period, with 75,495 units delivered.

MonthFord Bronco Sport Production NumbersFord Bronco Production Numbers
January 202214,63612,938
February 202210,2608,462
March 202215,05214,953
April 202210,55612,237
May 202210,15611,124
June 202210,37512,946
July 20226,3823,398
August 202214,87815,092
September 202211,76113,318
October 202212,57011,467
Official Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Bronco production numbers for 2022 (Source: Ford)

Ford electrified vehicle sales

Ford witnessed a rapid rise in sales of electric vehicles (xEVs) in the USA in 2021. The company sold 56,570 xEVs in the country in the first half of 2021, registering a year-over-year 117% growth and creating a new all-time first-half sales record. In the second half of 2021, the Blue Oval shipped 64,471 xEVs, bringing the yearly total to a six-digit figure – 121,041 units.

In 2022, Ford’s hybrid vehicle sales totaled 74,046 units from January to September, marking a 22.6% growth over the same period in 2021, the company revealed in its September 2022 U.S. sales report. In the October 2022 U.S. sales report, Andrew Frick, vice president, Sales, Distribution & Trucks, Ford Blue, said it has doubled its EV sales. That month, the Blue Oval’s EV sales were up 120% compared to October 2021.

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 next year, but that’s not all. The company has hinted at a Ford Bronco EV launch that could compete with the Jeep Recon. Farley Jr., 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.

Ford Bronco EV or Electric Ford Bronco teaser
Ford needs high-volume models like the Bronco to be available in electric to meet its goal of converting 40% global sales to BEVs by 2030. Image Source: Vimeo/Ford

A few days later, Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations 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, Chief Product Platform and Operations 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.

On December 6, 2021, Ford released a new video titled “What Innovation Looks Like” as part of its “Built for America” ad campaign. It showed the Mustang Mach-E’s BlueCruise (autonomous driving), F-150 Lightning’s Intelligent Backup Power (V2L), and E-Transit’s Remote Start (smartphone app-based vehicle start) features. The short clip ended with a Bronco climbing a hill. Nothing unusual about that except that the Bronco is the only ICE model in the video. Perhaps, this is yet another hint that a Bronco EV is on the horizon?

Ford Model e division

Ford is separating 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 will handle retail sales of EVs and ICE vehicles, respectively. Ford Pro will focus on commercial and government sales of both EVs and ICE 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.

TopElectricSUV says

If there’s one area in which the new Bronco models need to improve seriously, it’s efficiency. Ford will address that concern by introducing a hybrid system option, making them suitable for a wider band of customers. For a small premium, the hybrid models could offer big gains in fuel cost savings in the long run.

Featured image: Ford