Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] revealed it is betting big on SUVs in the future Thursday, and two of those SUVs will be of the off-road variety. We've known about the reborn Bronco, but Ford is also promising a smaller, unnamed off-roader that we hadn't heard about until now.
With the moves, Ford appears to have Jeep squarely in its sites. The Wrangler is a proven winner, and it has enjoyed a unique place in the market for many years. The addition of the Bronco and the new, smaller off-road SUV could disrupt that positioning.
Ford's upcoming small off-road crossover SUV
“Ford helped start the off-road phenomenon and has majored in off-road capability for decades—from the Bronco to the Raptor,” said Jim Farley, Ford president for global markets. “Now, we’re ready to reclaim our rightful place as the off-road vehicle leader.”
The teaser image for the Bronco shows a distinct upright and retro shape, along the lines of the Jeep Wrangler or the original World War II Jeep. Ford was one of the automakers that helped developed the Jeep for use during the war, along with Willys and Bantam.
Powertrains were not discussed, but Ford said it will use hybrid technology on the Bronco to add capability and to hedge against higher gas prices. Ford said the hybrid system in the F-150 Hybrid will add low-end torque for pulling power and serve as a mobile generator. In an all-terrain Bronco, the low-end torque could aid tough low-speed off-roading situations, and the mobile generator could be used for camping. The same advantages would work in the smaller off-roader as well.
Ford's SUV strategy involves reallocating $7 billion from cars to SUVs and offering eight SUVs by 2020.