Ford Had Planned to Sell the Bronco Only in North America. It Looks Like That Will Change
Back in 2017, when Ford had recently announced its decision to re-introduce the Bronco and the surrounding euphoria was at a fever pitch, there was quite a bit of conjecture as to not only what the finished product would look like — which would be strikingly similar to the 2004 concept car unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, as it turned out — but where the Bronco would be made available.
Europe Was Expected to Be Left Out of the Loop
Some time later, when an update from Ford made it clear that the eagerly awaited SUV would only be made available in the United States, Canada and Mexico, leaving all of Europe out of the mix entirely, plenty of consternation followed. And for good reason. After all, the Bronco has had a strong and long-standing history in Europe, as well as a number of other international markets. And we’re not just talking about the more populous areas.
Check out this Bronco commercial for a first gen in Iceland.
Yep, the original Bronco was sold in this tiny Nordic country that featured a population of just a bit over 350,000 at the time of the first generation Bronco’s release.
But Why Only North America This Time?
Initially, Ford’s reasoning for excluding Europe centered on its notoriously high emission standards. This seemed entirely logical. As emission standards have become understandably more stringent over the years, Europe on the whole has taken a more aggressive stance on the issue than what we encounter here in the United States. Even with a lower bar to get over here in the States, when Ford set about planning the Bronco’s drivetrain, any plans to include a V8 engine — and Ford had an absolute winner waiting in the wings in the form of its third generation Coyote engine that’s been featured in the Mustang since 2018 — had to be scrapped because those standards are especially arduous in a short wheelbase vehicle like the Bronco.
The decision no doubt elicited plenty of groans of disapproval from purists, despite the fact that Ford’s line of compact Ecoboost powerplants — especially the twin turbo V6 — is plenty capable of propelling the Bronco during spirited driving.
Is European Bronco Distribution Becoming More Likely?
With a hybrid Bronco now just around the corner, and a fully electric Bronco likely not all that far off in the future, one of the roadblocks keeping the Bronco from re-entering European markets has become much more surmountable. Recently, Ford CEO Jim Farley gave a strong indication that the Bronco should soon find its way overseas, noting of the Bronco’s suitability to the European markets, “Absolutely, it works. I see all these (Land Rover) Defenders around. I think it would work fine.”
It’s no coincidence that Farley cited a Land Rover product as an example. For quite a while — dating back further than the beginning of those aforementioned increasingly more stringent emission standards, Europe has shown a strong preference for diesel-powered SUVs, and Land Rover has put quite a bit of effort into fulfilling that demand via a series of turbodiesels that have not only proven to be plenty powerful, but also run quite a bit cleaner than previous forerunners of that technology.
The next reason given by Ford to rationalize its decision not to offer the Bronco in Europe centered on the model’s configuration, which Ford said did not readily support the right-hand drive placement that would be required in some of the more densely populated countries there, including England and any other country that was once a British colony, such as Ireland. On this point, it doesn’t look like Ford will be budging any time soon, which is more than a little curious itself, since the Bronco features Ford’s T6 platform that it shares with the Ranger pickup, which has been sold in most of Europe, as well as left hand drive South Africa and Australia, for a quite a while.
The Bronco also has a legacy in left-hand driving Australia, as a sizable number of third generation Broncos were not only marketed in that country but were also built there by Ford’s Australian subsidiary from 1981 to 1987. These Broncos were propelled by 4.1 liter six-cylinder engines and 5.8 liter V8s that were produced there, as well.
Nonetheless, even expanding its marketing and sales efforts for the Bronco to only the markets that drive on the right hand side of the road would open up plenty of incremental territory for Ford — more than two thirds of the world drives this way, after all.
The Ford Ranger, with which the current Bronco shares its platform, has a long-standing tie to Europe and isn’t likely to vacate the market anytime soon. Sales for the relatively compact pickup are especially brisk right now, with no less than 20 individual European markets at or near all time sales highs. This would be a noteworthy feat for a model that had been around for a few years, but it’s especially impressive considering the Ranger has been offered in Europe for well over 20 years now.
What About South America?
At the end of 2020, Ford announced that it would be deviating from its original “North America only” plans and would instead take a more expansive tact with the Bronco, offering the SUV in Brazil and Argentina, both of which have been traditionally strong markets for the automotive segment. As far as the former country is concerned, Ford already had already been producing and marketing a very popular alternative to the Jeep Wrangler for quite a while in the form of its Troller T4, which will now cease production to make way for the Bronco.
There’s no reason to suspect that the Bronco will be anything less than a hit in Brazil, but considering that the Troller has been Brazil’s best-selling SUV for quite a number of years and is an undeniably sharp looking ride, its departure will no doubt be met with some dismay.
The Bronco will also be joined by Ford’s universally popular Transit Van and its iconic Mustang in Brazil, while its neighboring country will be producing Ford Rangers for the entire continent for the foreseeable future.