Timing right for Ford Bronco Hybrid as xEV sales soar [Update]

While many Bronco prospects wait for the release of a Bronco hybrid with higher gas mileage, Ford could be working on something more eco-friendly and thrilling to drive. The company’s CEO and President Jim Farley Jr. has suggested that the company may launch a Bronco EV after the Bronco hybrid.

Ford Bronco EV

On 10 May 2021, replying to a question in the Twitterverse that asked why Ford doesn’t plan to launch a Bronco EV, Farley Jr. said, “Why do you think we don’t?”.

Two weeks later, on 26 May 2021, Ford held its “Delivering Ford+” themed 2021 Capital Markets Day event. During this event, Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford, may have teased a Bronco EV while announcing the company’s new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV flexible architecture.

While talking about the various planned applications of the new dedicated BEV platform, Thai-Tang said that “it will underpin a range of emotive vehicles slated for production between now and 2030.” He showed the teaser (above) while saying that future EVs will include “rugged SUVs” for the company’s “adventure-seeking customers.”

While some feel that Ford is better off introducing the Bronco EV as a direct challenger to the Electric Jeep Wrangler than a Bronco Sport Hybrid, it could be that both variants get electrified. With the company chief already leading media into speculation, a concept car could be in the making to gauge customer response.

Ford’s latest electrification strategy involves introducing 16 new battery-electric vehicles by 2022 and rolling out hybrid electric variants for high-volume profitable models like the Explorer and the all-new Bronco, Jim Hackett, former President & CEO, Ford, had confirmed at the annual shareholder meeting in 2019. The launch of the hybrid Bronco can be expected in 2022.

As for the Bronco Sport Hybrid, 2021 certainly looks like the right time for its release, though it may not come this early. Farley Jr. said during the Q1 2021 Earnings Conference Call that Bronco Sport is bringing many new customers to the brand. For 60% of Bronco Sport customers, it is their first Ford purchase. Farley revealed that the new compact SUV is one of the company’s several freshly launched products in North America quickly selling out.

I’ve been in this business worked for different brands, I can’t remember a time in my life, in my career, to have had so many hot products in one market like North America as Ford does right now. I mean, Mach-E, sold out; Bronco Sport, sold out, F Series, sold out; Super Duty, sold out.

James Farley Jr., President and CEO, Ford (Q1 2021 Earnings Conference Call)

Ford’s electrified vehicles hit new levels in 2021

The Blue Oval is witnessing a big spike in sales of electrified vehicles (xEV models), and the launch of the Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid could only help maintain the momentum.

In Q1 2021, Ford delivered 25,980 electrified vehicles in the U.S. market, recording a 74.1% increase. The fully electric Mustang Mach-E and the hybrid F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid were the chief contributors to the record-breaking xEV tally. The F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid alone registered a sale of 7,176 units during the period, while the Mustang Mach-E totaled 6,614 units.

In April 2021, Ford sold 11,172 electrified vehicles in its home market. The Escape hybrid and Escape plug-in hybrid accounted for the most units – 3,695 (combined), while the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid ranked second with 3,365 units. In May, the company sold 10,364 xEVs. In May 2021, Ford sold 10,364 electrified vehicles, including 3,617 units of the Escape hybrid/plug-in hybrid, 2,852 units of the F-150 PowerBoost, 1,156 of the Explorer Hybrid, and 1,945 units of the Mustang Mach-E.

The timing couldn’t be better for the launch of xEVs holding a high sales potential like Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid. However, supply chain issues stemming from the semiconductor shortage and meeting the demand of regular variants would push back launches or the Ford Bronco Hybrid release.

The Ford Bronco Sport is already on sale, while the deliveries of the Ford Bronco will begin in the coming weeks. On June 15, 2021, Ford announced that it has started manufacturing the 2021 Bronco in both two-door and four-door versions at the Michigan Assembly Plant. First units of the all-new Bronco are on their way to Ford dealerships in the U.S. The company has received more than 125,000 Bronco orders to date. As for the not-as-tough 2021 Bronco Sport, it has sold 52,159 units between January and May 2021.

On the Ford Bronco Hybrid model

After rounds of leaks, rumors, and renders, Ford finally unveiled the new Bronco family in July 2020 and widely won the internet’s approval. Then followed a report on the reputed GreenCarReports.com, suggesting that Ford will introduce “corresponding hybrid versions” of both the Bronco and Bronco Sport.

Due to its ladder-frame construction, the story speculated that the Ford Bronco hybrid is likely to share electrical components of the F-150 and the Explorer hybrid versions. A modular electric motor system and a disconnect clutch to the 10-speed automatic transmission with a V6 engine are expected to form the Bronco Hybrid’s core hardware.

TFLcar.com, citing an insider, published similar details in its story. It said that Ford Bronco Hybrid would get the company’s twin-turbo 3.0L V6 Ecoboost engine. The hybrid SUV would employ the company’s 10-speed modular hybrid transmission. The 3.0L Ecoboost engine is readily available on the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator, and Lincoln Continental models. Based on the application, it develops between 350 hp (260 kW) and 400 hp (298 kW) – or 494 hp (368 kW) in the Lincoln Aviator plug-in hybrid. Regardless of how much power or torque the Ford Bronco Hybrid makes, it would retain the 47 hp (35 kW) electric motor.

TFL Car said the Ford Bronco Hybrid could be unveiled this year and go on sale in 2022.

Ford Bronco Plug-in Hybrid

The Ford Bronco owner’s manual suggests that a Ford Bronco Plug-in Hybrid could be in the making.

In the 2021 Bronco owner’s manual, the vehicle storage guidance section (titled “Storing Your Vehicle”) has a “Hybrid Battery Systems” sub-section. It suggests that the driver will be able to control the state of charge (SoC) of the traction battery by charging and/or driving to the desired level. Below is what this sub-section exactly reads:

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

There’s a second section in the manual that relates to the hybrid variant – Scheduled Maintenance. It says:

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

The potential plug-in hybrid variant of the Bronco could have a circa-350 horsepower powertrain that uses the standard variant’s 2.3-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and the F-150 PowerBoost’s 35 kW (47 hp) motor, with the latter integrated into a 10-speed AT.

‘EV Coaching’ display on Bronco instrument cluster

Thanks to a leak via a promo video (now pulled down), the electrified variants will feature an ‘EV Coaching’ display in the instrument cluster to let the driver see the level of energy stored in the battery pack. This feature is another hint at the availability of a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

On the Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid

As for the ‘softer’ Ford Bronco Sport that uses the Escape’s unibody construction, the latter’s planetary torque-split hybrid system would support the ‘green’ variant of the crossover, GreenCarReports said. In the all-wheel-drive version, the Escape Hybrid has an impressive EPA-estimated mileage of 43 mpg city and 40 mpg combined, and an EPA-estimated 568 miles of range. We refer to the full hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, which share the 2.5-liter iVCT naturally aspirated gasoline engine (165 hp/155 lb.-ft.) and have the same total system output of 200 hp. Either one of them could be offered in the neo-retro SUV.

The Ford Bronco Sport returns a fuel economy (EPA est.) of 25 mpg city/28 mpg highway/26 mpg combined in the 1.5L gasoline configurations and 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway/23 mpg combined in the 2.0L gasoline configurations. The targeted EPA est. combined fuel economy for the Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid could be 35 mpg or higher.

Separate Bronco stores planned

According to a report on Automotive News, dealers of the Blue Oval are planning separate showrooms for the Bronco to customize buyers’ experience. While the concept for dedicated space within the showroom comes from the brand, in this case, about 100 dealers of Ford proposed the idea of having a separate retail space. Dealers who opt for having a dedicated Bronco outlet will see more SUV allocation, the report states.

We’ll keep an eye on further updates of the Bronco Hybrid family and update this page when new information surfaces.

Source: Youtube/Ford Motor Company

Featured Image Source: Vimeo/Ford