There will be a hybrid version of the Ford Bronco, the rugged SUV that the automaker is bringing back to the market next year. The inclusion of a hybrid was confirmed today by CEO Jim Hackett during Ford’s annual shareholder meeting.
It is not a big surprise. Ford’s main focus going forward is on trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles and the automaker is spending $11 billion to electrify them over the next four years.
The Bronco goes on sale late next year. As details trickle out, we know there will be two- and four-door models and a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive for a rugged vehicle that will take on the Jeep Wrangler. The doors and top will be removable and can be cleverly stashed in the cargo hold. There will be a spare tire in the back and giant letters spelling Bronco across the front.
In terms of powertrains, educated guesses include the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and perhaps the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 as the top-spec engine. Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission is expected and enthusiasts would love the option of a seven-speed manual.
Other hybrids in the works
The Ford Bronco hybrid follows the lead of other new utility vehicles to come from the automaker. The new 2020 Ford Escape goes on sale this fall with a choice of two turbocharged gasoline engines as well as a hybrid. A plug-in hybrid Escape will follow in spring 2020. The companion 2020 Lincoln Corsair goes on sale in the fall with a gasoline engine, but a plug-in hybrid is expected to follow in the second model year.
The 2020 Ford Explorer goes on sale next month and choices include a turbo-four and a twin-turbo V-6, as well as a performance ST model and a hybrid. The Lincoln Aviator also goes on sale this summer, and one of the trim levels is a plug-in hybrid.
The so-far unnamed “baby Bronco,” an Escape-sized compact off-roader, is expected to have hybrid options. Ford has filed a trademark in the U.S. for “Scout” and “Bronco Scout,” names which may possibly refer to this model. Ford is also working on a Mustang-inspired pure electric SUV due in 2020.
The small, entry-level EcoSport is expected to add hybrid options when it is redesigned in 2021. The next Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator will need to add electric motors and batteries as well, likely in two years. Same goes for the next-generation Edge as part of a 2022 redesign if Ford is to keep its commitment to offer some form of electrification in every SUV it offers in North America in the future.
“We’ve got a big commitment to electric vehicles,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford told shareholders. Hackett said their research shows one in five younger buyers say they would consider an electric vehicle for their next purchase.
The executives defended Ford’s low stock price that spent much of the year below $10 as an offshoot of 2018 being a year of transition to fundamentally redesign the company. They said the price should improve in 2019 which they describe as a year of action to execute the new plans. They include 20 new or updated vehicles for North America in the next 24 months of which only 10 percent are sedans.
Work also continues on a level 4 autonomous vehicle in 2021 to be built in Flat Rock, Michigan.