With Bronco, Ford seeks to steal a chunk of Wrangler’s market share

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Ford Motor Co. views the Bronco as a key piece of its long-brewing turnaround under CEO Jim Hackett. Designers spent five years — a stretch in which Jeep sold more than a million Wranglers in the U.S. — developing an SUV that would both pay homage to its rich heritage and show off the latest technologies.

Many features were added to one-up Jeep, such as the 35-inch tires included in the Bronco’s Sasquatch package that are 2 inches bigger than the largest available on the Wrangler. Unlike the Wrangler, the Bronco’s removable doors can be stored in the back, and the open-air roof isn’t bisected by a cross bar.

And if the message wasn’t clear enough, COO Jim Farley bluntly told investors this year the Bronco would be “a much superior product” to the Wrangler.

After years of buildup, the Bronco’s debut was well-received.

Celebrities and athletes tweeted glowing remarks about the SUV after it was unveiled virtually on ABC and other Disney-owned TV networks. The website taking $100 deposits crashed under what Ford called a “stampede of traffic,” and reservations for the Bronco First Edition — limited to 3,500 copies — filled up in less than a day.

“From both a technical analysis and an emotional reaction perspective, this thing looks like it will have a very good shot at converting existing Jeep owners into Bronco buyers and will certainly convert non-Jeep general enthusiasts of off-roading,” automotive analyst Karl Brauer said in an interview. “But having a backlog of interested parties before the vehicle arrives at dealerships isn’t that tough to do. The winners are the ones that have a solid amount of demand six months, 12 months after the cars are available.”

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Saurabh Shukla

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