Webasto Is Out And MOD Tops Are Pushed To 2023 Model Year!
If you're a dedicated Bronco fan (and you wouldn’t be here if you aren't), you will remember that the release date for the brand new, sixth-generation model was originally 2020. As we all know, the first production Broncos left the Michigan Assembly Plant in June 2021 after being delayed by multiple circumstances beyond Ford’s control.
One of the biggest reasons we didn’t see the reborn off-roader by its originally scheduled release date was that, while the vehicle was fully developed, Ford's Bronco MOD top supplier, Webasto, wasn't ready on time and had big problems setting up its production lines. The delay in taking possession of these plastic tops was the first issue Ford encountered on its path of resurrecting the Bronco -- even before the whole Covid-19 pandemic and the chip shortage situation.
The official excuse rationalizing the movement of the Bronco's premiere from 2020 to 2021 was that Webasto had supply problems due to the global pandemic. However, the real reason was that the German company had big problems with the quality of the tops it was manufacturing. Apparently, the tops were prone to bending, twisting, and leaking, which of course was unacceptable to Ford.
The German company opened its plant in 2019, concentrating on scale production for major manufacturers, including Ford. Webasto got an enormous contract and invested in production, but its finished products were extraordinarily bad.
Ford gave Webasto plenty of time to sort out its issues, but when it became apparent that the company couldn't manage to do that, in a desperate attempt to speed up the process, Ford sent its team of engineers and production strategists to Plymouth to address several problems that were connected to these plastic hardtops.
In the last six weeks, dozens of Ford’s workers have been sent to the Webasto plant in a significant push to meet production goals and salvage the 2021 Bronco model year. Apparently, Webasto itself was unable to address all these issues on its own, so Ford needed to jump in, not just with engineers but also with substantial funding. In a recent Ford memo, it was revealed that millions of dollars would ultimately be required in order to resolve these supply chain issues.
Even though the Bronco premiered in June of 2021 and its deliveries had been started, the problems with these plastic roofs still have not been solved. Even now, Webasto is still unable to properly produce the MOD tops, and the plastic tops that have been delivered have proven to be of poor quality as they often leak water, so they're the source of many complaints from new customers.
So, Ford finally decided that it had enough and just recently terminated its contract with Webasto, then found a new supplier of those components. Webasto’s Plymouth operation was allegedly a real mess, with problems involving production. management and work organization. Hopefully, this chapter is now over.
Although there hasn't been any official press release issued just yet, Ford's contract with Webasto is history -- Ford has already found a new company and signed the contract.
Of course, such a shift will take time, and industry experts predict that it will be a year before a new supplier can provide new tops, making Ford quality controllers (and customers) happy. Ford has a stock of MIC roofs that will be used for Broncos that are currently scheduled for production, but for MOD Tops, you'll have to wait for the 2023 model year.
Of course, nobody is happy about this situation. Ford has lost precious time, money, and reputation over these long delays. Webasto will probably face a high-profile lawsuit that will cripple its North American operations and substantially damage the value of its stock.
Bronco buyers are running low on patience and want their cars as soon as possible -- with fully functioning plastic tops.