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:
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
The media has been speculating what would go under the hood of the hybrid SUV for almost three 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 December 31, 2022), so Ford knows there’s great potential for a hardcore mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV.
Ford Bronco facelift
The Ford Bronco is just two years old, and conversations have started about the SUV’s mid-life refresh. 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 Bronco wasn’t expected to be refreshed until 2025, according to earlier unconfirmed web reports. We haven’t spotted prototypes on the road yet, and it’ll be interesting to watch what unfolds later this year.
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 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 delivered 99,547 units of the Bronco Sport in 2022, 8.0% lesser than in 2021 (108,1569 units). The Bronco recorded 117,057 units in sales in 2022, which indicates it’s in strong demand and even more popular than the cheaper Bronco Sport. The Blue Oval built 134,088 units of the Bronco Sport and 139,062 units of the Bronco that year.
In January 2023, Ford manufactured 13,446 units of the Bronco Sport and 8,823 units of the Bronco. It delivered 9,439 units of the former and 10,170 units of the latter that month. Compared to January 2022, sales were 51.7% higher for the Bronco Sport and 25.5% higher for the Bronco.
|Month||Ford Bronco Sport Production Numbers||Ford Bronco Production Numbers|
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