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

Update: ‘Ford’s electrified vehicles hit new levels in 2021’ section updated.

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. Here, 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.

Talking about the various planned applications of Ford’s 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 (the article’s featured image) while saying that future EVs will include “rugged SUVs” for the company’s “adventure-seeking customers.”

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, but 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 electrified vehicles hit new levels in 2021

Jim Hackett, former President & CEO, Ford, had confirmed at the annual shareholder meeting in 2019 that the Blue Oval will roll-out hybrid electric variants for high-volume profitable models like the Explorer and the all-new Bronco.

The company witnessed record sales of electrified vehicles (xEV models) during 2021, and the launch of the Ford Bronco Hybrid and Ford Bronco Sport Hybrid could only help maintain the momentum.

An announcement Ford issued on January 2, 2021, revealed that the carmaker’s electrified vehicle sales reached a record 12,284 units in December 2021 in the U.S. market. It represents an increase of 121% from December 2020 while the growth is 4 times the rate of overall segment for the month. The Ford electrified vehicles lineup grew 36% faster than the overall segment in 2021. Over 121,000 electrified Fords were sold in 2021 in the U.S. alone.

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 and Lincoln Aviator 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. Automotive News reported in August 2021 that Ford could launch the Bronco Hybrid in 2024.

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 an early Bronco 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

The Bronco Sport employs the Escape’s unibody construction, and 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 Ford Bronco stores planned

According to another report on Automotive News, which emerged in April 2021, Ford had offered dealerships an option to convert or invest in showrooms that would be dedicated to selling Ford Broncos. These standalone stores would showcase the new SUV and receive more allocations depending on the size of the investment. As of April 2021, roughly 100 dealers had already agreed and signed for the store, it was reported.

Speaking to fordauthority.com, Mark Grueber, Bronco brand chief, said in August 2021 that it was what the dealers were looking for, so they designed a program around it. Grueber said that while some dealers are converting their existing infrastructure, others are building entirely new facilities to sell the Bronco and Bronco Sport.

Some guidelines are attached to the program, however. For starters, Ford needs to approve the location of the facilities since these will only be allowed to sell new and used Bronco models. Another guideline is that dealers who have unfulfilled commitments or ‘substandard’ facilities will also not get approval for the program. Grueber said dedicated Bronco dealers get only a nominally higher allocation of cars, to not start an arms race. The program is completely optional, Grueber added, saying that it is not a requirement for the dealers to sell or service Broncos.

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

Featured Image Source: Vimeo/Ford