The 2021 Ford Bronco is a hugely important vehicle, not just for Ford but for Jeep as well. It’s the first true competitor the Wrangler has seen since the Bronco went out of production in the ’90s. Some people may even argue only the first generation Bronco was a true Wrangler or CJ-5 competitor. But no matter your stance, a few nagging questions arise: is it too late to the party, and can it really compete against such an established vehicle? Here’s what the legendary Bob Lutz had to say about it in an Op-Ed story in Road and Track.
Lutz doesn’t think the Bronco came too late in any way. He compares the decisions to Honda and Toyota being late to the minivan game when Chrysler was already dominating it. The Japanese brands still saw a market segment and went for it, and many customers went to those brands because of their stellar reliability and quality reputations. Lutz says if a brand can make a compelling enough package, it won’t really matter when it comes out in relation to the competition.
He also addresses the argument that people who have wanted an off-road SUV have already bought a Jeep Wrangler and have no desire to buy a Bronco. We can already see this argument doesn’t hold up based on the fan fare reception and the amount of people that have already pre-ordered the vehicle. Lutz goes on to say the market is not static, and will continue to bring in new customers that maybe haven’t considered an off-road focused SUV before.
Then there’s also the matter of brand loyalty. Some people haven’t bought a Wrangler simply because it’s a Jeep, and they are a die-hard Ford fan, or get a family discount on Ford products. For these people, the Bronco is an easy buy.
And that’s why Lutz says the Ford Bronco will be a successful product. Some of the sales will come from entirely new customers, some will be stolen from Jeep, and some will be pre-existing Ford customers just moving to a different vehicle.
Yet still, Lutz says he doubts the Bronco will become the segment leader, and the “Wrangler will remain the benchmark in the segment.” It’s like the first iPhone, which was the origin of the blueprint for every smartphone today. Other brands make perfectly great products, but the iPhone stays on top because its the default. The Jeep was that blueprint that Ford followed with the Bronco, and it’s the vehicle everyone thinks of with an off-road SUV. For that reason, it’ll likely stay on top.