We're Still Years Away From a Production-Ready Ford Bronco Electric
What was once a gimmicky and very niche product has now now become inevitably mainstream and even to the point that it represents the car industry's future in general.
Yes, we're talking about electric vehicles. In just a few short years, EVs have moved from obscure and impractical cars to the most hyped and eagerly anticipated models from nearly all manufacturers. Of course, fossil-fueled vehicles are still dominant, but it looks like thei days are numbered.
The advantages of electric cars are considerable; however, so are their shortcomings, and currently, major car manufacturers are facing a big and expensive dilemma. Should they heartily endorse and invest in electric vehicles to secure a large market share once the technology can fully replace fossil fuels or should they be more cautious and risk being left behind once when (or if) that happens?
Many of us are still skeptical regarding the EV's ascendancy, because the current technology of electric vehicles is still not up to the standards of gas-powered cars, and even with enormous investments by the key players in the industry, we're still waiting for a revolutionary breakthrough.
Ford is one of the companies that decided to go all-in, betting on electric vehicles as the future of personal transportation. This started several years back when Ford followed Toyota and started offering hybrid drive trains in several models. Then, the Mustang Mach E arrived as Ford's first fully electric mid-size SUV to illustrate that this company takes the EV revolution very seriously.
The car community is buzzing about the upcoming arrival of the F-150 EV, which will debut very soon as a 2022 model and will, allegedly, change the way we think about full-size pickups.
In addition, Ford is investing heavily into Rivian, an electric car company/startup that should start delivering cars to its first customers in late 2021. With Ford's enormous financial support, this company managed to design and develop two models – a pickup and an SUV – both of which will have a lot in common with future Ford products.
But that's not all. Rumo also has it that by 2028 all Mustang models will be electric!
So, everything points to Ford definitely going electric, but what does this mean for the Bronco? Should we expect a Bronco EV soon,especially since Jeep has introduced Wrangler 4xE, a plug-in hybrid model?
Well, even though all signs point in that direction, we believe that we're still far away from having a Bronco with a charging socket rather than a gas cap, and here's why.
The first and most significant problem with electric vehicles is their range, or lack of it. Most EVs are rated at around 250 miles, and although that's not insignificant, it's simply not enough for a vehicle like the Bronco. This is a genuine off-road vehicle, designed to go to remote places, cross deserts and climb mountains, meaning that the Bronco is destined to be driven far away from urban areas and charging points. 250 miles of real-life range is simply not enough to leave the city limits, get out to the wilderness and then get back home.
While a gas or diesel-powered vehicle has the ability to easily carry some extra fuel in jerrycans and expand its range, at the moment there's no way for their electrically-powered counterparts to carry spare batteries so that you could change them on the trail.
Even with charging stations seemingly everywhere, charging an EV is a lengthy process, which means you'll run the risk of spending more time waiting for your vehicle to get charged than driving it on the dirt.
Also, let's not forget that EVs are very sensitive to low temperatures, and their power consumption increases significantly when the outside temperature drops to around freezing. High power consumption means less range, which can put you in a very unpleasant situation while on a ski trip.
The Drive Train Layout
As you probably know, electric vehicles feature a completely different drivetrain construction from gas-powered vehicles, and their electric motors are mounted on their axle or axles.
In the case of the latest, all-wheel-drive electric cars, the industry standard is to have a motor for each wheel that provides the vehicle with maximum control, traction, and articulation. However, such a complicated layout, along with a battery pack that's almost always mounted to the chassis or floor of the vehicle, translates to a lot of weight.
In a vehicle like the new 2021 Ford Bronco weight isn't an asset, since it changes its on and off-road behavior and driving dynamics, making it less agile and controllable on the trail. The 2021 Bronco is already pretty bulky at around 4000 pounds (almost 2 tons); just imagine what it would weigh with four electric motors, a massive battery pack, and obligatory components on board.
The only upside to this drivetrain layout is the fact that electric motors open up a whole world of new suspension configurations, wheel articulation, torque delivery, and off-road capabilities. Models like the upcoming GMC Hummer EV display some extraordinary abilities like its "crab walk" -- the ability to drive diagonally with four-wheel-steering.
That's why we're sure that the Bronco EV prototype has the potential for some insane off-road skills -- way beyond what's currently available.
Building a car from scratch is a costly process, and Ford invested heavily in the new Bronco and Bronco Sport. True, the Bronco Sport is built on the Ford Escape platform, but both the two and four-door Broncos have brand-new and unique chassis and suspensions, which took a lot of money to develop. This means that Ford needs the Bronco to make enough money to recuperate that investment, and re-engineering it as an EV is probably not a good idea from a financial standpoint.
The Bronco first needs to re-establish itself on the market as a dominant off-road SUV and lure Jeep Wrangler's buyers before unique versions could be justified.
At the moment, we can see that Ford is preparing the ultimate Bronco in the form of a gas-powered Bronco Warthog, meaning that their focus is still on fossil-fueled models. That being said, the Bronco EV is a possibility but likely by 2028, at this rate of development.