Ford to open Bronco orders, says 2021 model year will be shortened


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Beginning next week, customers can convert their reservations into orders for Ford Motor Co.’s forthcoming, hotly-anticipated full-size Bronco.

The Blue Oval said Wednesday that order banks for the 2021 model year Bronco — which returns a quarter-century after it was discontinued — will open Jan. 20 for reservation holders at their selected auto dealer. Reservation holders will have until March 19 to finalize their dealer selection, place their order and agree on a selling price.

Meanwhile, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the automaker said the 2021 model year of the SUV will be shorter than initially planned, and dealerships will not receive stocks of the vehicle outside of the ones that are already spoken for.

Ford said its priority is converting the 190,000 reservations it’s received for the Bronco into orders and filling those orders. Reservation holders who do not convert reservations into orders by March 19 will have their reservation converted into an order for the 2022 model year.

The automaker cannot yet say how many 2021 model years it will produce, but a spokesman said Wednesday it’s likely that “many” customers will end up with the 2022 model year.

Those customers who opt to wait for the next model year “can expect new roof options, exterior paint colors, vehicle options, special editions, etc.,” Ford said in a news release. Customers who get the 2021 model year will receive the details of estimated delivery timing in May, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in the summer.

Since dealers will not have Bronco inventories sitting on their lots, at least initially, Ford is encouraging those who are interested to go online and make a reservation, as reservations are still being accepted and they generate a timestamp that the automaker is using to help coordinate deliveries.

Ford, citing coronavirus-related supplier issues, said in December that it was forced to delay the launch of the Bronco until summer. The automaker had initially planned a spring launch. The company said at that time that the Sasquatch package with manual transmission would move to model year 2022.

The delay was announced as the U.S. continued to see a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. The auto industry has managed to largely avoid major production disruptions tied to virus transmission among workers, following an eight-week production shutdown in spring 2020.

But global supply chain issues have popped up throughout the industry and caused some production delays. Automakers around the world, for example, are currently facing a global shortage of semiconductors.

The announcement comes amid the launch of the two- and four-door full-size Bronco’s smaller sibling, Bronco Sport, which the automaker says has generated strong interest, with more than 5,000 sales recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the vehicle sitting on dealer lots for an average of just six days. Bronco Sport is built in Mexico.

The full-size Bronco will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, where it was previously in production for 30 years before the nameplate was retired. Ever since the vehicle was discontinued, fans as well as Ford employees lobbied for its return.

The reintroduction of Bronco is a key part of an ongoing refresh of Ford’s vehicle lineup. The new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E is beginning to arrive to customers and dealers now, as is the redesigned F-150 pickup truck and Bronco Sport. Electric versions of the F-150 and the Transit commercial van are due next year.

Executives and analysts alike have emphasized how crucial it is for Ford to pull off its ongoing and upcoming launches without major issues, as it looks to avoid the problems that plagued the launch of the redesigned Explorer in 2019.

Successful launches also will be key to a plan under new CEO Jim Farley to turn around the company’s automotive operations, hit profit and cash flow goals, accelerate growth and position the company to succeed in a future dominated by technologically-advanced electric vehicles.

Ford aims for the Bronco to go head-to-head with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s best-selling Jeep Wrangler.

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Twitter: @JGrzelewski

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Wednesday November 2, 2022