It is a standing joke on the Car Pro Show. Our producer, Blake Meyer takes your calls to find out where you are calling from and what your question is. Every single week, on my computer call screen, I see in the comment section: your weekly call about the new Bronco.
It is finally official, although it was a horribly kept secret. Ford will bring back two of its most notable nameplates, the Ranger pickup truck and the Bronco sport-utility vehicle. It’s perfectly timed to because both segments are very popular right now.
Ford made the official announcement to bring the Ranger midsized pickup truck to its North American vehicle lineup in 2019 and the Bronco midsized SUV to its U.S. Lineup in 2020 at this week’s North American Auto Show in Detroit.
“We’ve heard our customers loud and clear. They want a new generation of vehicles that are incredibly capable yet fun to drive,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas.
He said the Ranger “will be capable of conquering everything from your daily commute to gravel roads and boulders” while the Bronco “will be a no-compromise midsize 4×4 utility for thrill seekers who want to venture way beyond the city.”
Both vehicles will be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.
There is little doubt that bringing back two vehicles that helped Ford earn its reputation for building rugged vehicles will help the brand. When I was in the Ford business, the Ranger and the Bronco II were big sellers, but sales waned due to lack of updates.
As I said on the radio show two years ago, if the Chevy Colorado was successful, we would see the Ranger again. Sales of Colorado have been brisk since the day it was introduced. In fact, midsized pickup trucks are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. market. Americans purchased almost 450,000 midsized pickups last year, a 25.5 percent gain over 2015.
The Jeep Wrangler – which has largely filled the gap left by the exit of the Bronco from the marketplace in 1996 is another hot vehicle, even towards the end of its life cycle. Earlier this week, Fiat Chrysler said it plans to introduce a Jeep pickup, also expected to be a midsize truck, by 2020.
Encouraged by low gas prices, good incentives, and better fuel economy in the vehicles, consumers are gravitating to pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers, which accounted for nearly 60 percent of U.S. auto sales in 2016, up from 55 percent in the prior year.
Even as it adds the Ranger and Bronco models to its lineup, Ford is covering its bases with plans to introduce 13 electrified vehicles – including a hybrid F-150 pickup in 2020. Like all automakers, Ford is trying to balance profits from the sale of vehicles with the EPA mandates of 52.5-miles per gallon by 2025.
Ford abandoned the midsized truck market in the 2012 model year, but continued to sell a version of the Ranger in Europe, where it is the top selling pickup, and other global markets.
Previously, Ford executives have said that the version of the company’s F-150 pickup equipped with a six-cylinder turbocharged engine fulfilled the role of a smaller truck in the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Translation: Ford makes a ton of money on the F-150 and didn’t want Ranger to takes sales away from the #1 selling truck in America for the last 40 years. However, market share is also important and Ford wants a piece of the Tacoma and Colorado sales.
“We have seen the positive response in the market for the physical size of the smaller trucks,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technology officer and director of global product development.