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

Update: ‘Bronco production & sales’ and ‘Electrified Ford vehicle sales break records in 2021’ sections 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 executive 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 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 talks 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 second section on the Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor system provides an oil change alert at proper intervals, which could exceed 10,000 miles in the case of the Bronco Hybrid.

Your vehicle comes with the Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor system, a message appears in the information 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).

2021 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual
Ford Bronco engine
The future Ford Bronco Hybrid is part of Ford’s plans to offer electrified variants of popular models. Image: Ford

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, so Ford knows there’s a great potential for a hardcore mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV.

Solar roof option

The Ford Bronco Hybrid may come with a solar roof that reduces its carbon footprint even in the most remote locations. Ford is testing a Bronco prototype with a raised roof, but it covers the section with camouflage. According to a report from Ford Authority, the company is probably hiding a solar roof underneath the covers.

Solar panels on cars don’t have extreme capabilities and perform basic functions like providing some power for devices or air conditioning or security camera. In recent years, though, they have improved, and with more advancements in the lab, they can noticeably increase the vehicle’s driving range when parked in sunlight. Elon Musk had tweeted in November 2019 claiming that the Tesla Cybertruck would offer 15 miles a day with the optional solar panels on the tonneau cover. With a large surface of the car covered with panels, Dutch automotive startup Lightyear is claiming 70 km (43.4 miles) of range everyday from solar power in its upcoming sedan.

In the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the solar roof can power the 12V starter battery and the high-voltage (traction) battery pack. Hyundai says that depending on the local sun exposure where the customer lives, the solar roof of the Ioniq 5 can extend its driving range by more than 1,500 km (932 miles) per year. Thus, in places that remain sunny throughout the year, it can provide more than 4 km (2.5 miles) of driving range every day. In addition to powering the climate control system and other in-cabin components and increasing the driving range, a solar panel can ensure that there’s no case of battery drain in the vehicle.

Ford Bronco facelift

The Ford Bronco is hardly a year old in the market and rumors are already buzzing about the Bronco facelift. 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 is a 200 hp system that includes the 2.5-liter iVCT Atkinson cycle gas engine coupled with an eCVT. Ford offers the Escape as a Hybrid (with AWD and front-wheel drive) and also as a Plug-in Hybrid (Front-wheel drive only).

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. For reference, the 2021 Escape Hybrid’s EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 44 mpg City/37 mpg Highway/41 mpg Combined in front-wheel drive and 43 mpg City/37 mpg Highway/40 mpg Combined.

Expected trims

The Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Hybrid Sport should come in a few variants, but those will include Badlands. In the case of the former, Wildtrak is a given. Last year, Ford said it received more than 190,000 orders for the Bronco, and approximately 26% of reservations were in the Wildtrak trim, which is exclusive to the frame SUV. About 20% of orders are in the Badlands trim, and the remaining orders are in the other available trims.

Release Date

The Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid could debut in 2024, as per a report from Automotive News. 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 August 2020, a Ford Germany spokesperson told Automobilwoche that there was no plan to launch the Ford Bronco in Europe. A year later, it looked like Ford’s European division is reconsidering the decision.

Jim 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 will likely 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 last year 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. The company was sitting on 125,000 Bronco orders as of July 28, 2021.

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. The hybrid variants of the Bronco models should increase their popularity whenever they come out.

MonthFord Bronco Sport Production NumbersFord Bronco Production Numbers
January 20214,04699
February 202113,42987
March 202118,414127
April 202117,084437
May 20216,7301,069
June 202113,3255,489
July 20218,3876,072
August 202114,5508,243
September 202113,0493,916
October 202111,3407,668
November 20214,51610,504
December 20219,17010,851
Official Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Bronco production numbers (Source: Ford)

While the Bronco was in limited production, some dealers were offering them at huge markups to cash in on their popularity. Jalopnik reported that some dealers were charging a markup of close to USD 20,000 on the 2021 Bronco. A few others are offering them at six-digit figures like USD 100,000 and even USD 199,999! That’s higher than a fully-loaded Land Rover Defender, which starts at USD 80,500 MSRP (two-door). The Bronco dealer markups will vanish as supply increases nationwide.

Electrified Ford vehicle sales break records in 2021

Ford has seen a rapid rise in sales of electrified vehicles (xEVs) in the USA this year. 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.

Ford Bronco EV 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 within a year, but that’s not all. The company has hinted at a Ford Bronco EV launch that could compete with the Jeep Wrangler Electric. Farly 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 opinion on the Bronco.

Ford Bronco EV 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 a Ford Bronco EV:

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.

Video Source: YouTube/Ford Motor 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?

Featured image: Ford