Ford COO Farley says Bronco interest is highest of any vehicle launch

Ford unveils new Broncos

Fox News Automotive Editor Gary Gastelu speaks to Ford COO Jim Farley about what the Ford Bronco means to him, how it compares to the Jeep Wrangler, its driveability, how many he anticipates selling, who the customers are and its connotation with the O.J. Simpson chase in the 1990s.

Ford COO Jim Farley knows a few things about Broncos, and not just because he works for the company.

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He owns one of the originals and understands what it means to enthusiasts and the brand, which unveiled its first new Broncos in a quarter-century on Monday night through a series of extended-length commercials on ABC, ESPN, National Geographic Channel and YouTube.

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The first Ford Bronco was built in 1966 and the model continued through several generations until 1996 when it was succeeded by the more street-focused Expedition.

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“We think it’s a great time to get back into the very authentic off-road vehicle segments. A segment that we did really well in the 60s, 70s and 80s,” Farley told Fox News Autos.

Ford’s new lineup of Broncos that includes the midsize Bronco and the Bronco Sport compact crossover. The larger, truck-based Bronco starts at $29,995 and was designed to compete with the Jeep Wrangler, which accounted for over 228,032 sales in the U.S. last year at prices ranging from around $28,295 to well over $60,000, while the $28,155 Bronco Sport is aimed at the Jeep Cherokee.

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“The common theme is someone who really needs to go off-road, either for their job, or for their hobby, and they also want a vehicle they can live with to commute and do the normal things you do, it won’t be your typical crossover customer,” Farley said.

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“There’s just a lot of interest in vehicles that are designed for a single purpose. In this case, it’s to get out in the wild. People looking for that, there’s not that much choice.”

The Bronco features a removable roof and doors, body-on-frame construction, various 4×4 and suspension systems, and the option of a turbocharged four-cylinder or turbocharged V6. Six trim levels will be available, plus a limited-production First Edition, each designed with a certain type of customer in mind. These include custom truck builders, rock crawlers, high-speed desert drivers and people just looking for a daily driver with style plus all-weather and all-terrain capability.

“The interest in this product is probably the highest interest we’ve ever had in any vehicle introduction. Mach-E was really big, too, and that’s a new customer, electrifying Mustang, but the interest in Bronco is just through the roof,” Farley said.

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The Ford Escape-based Bronco Sport doesn’t offer the same level of extreme off-road capability that the Bronco does, but Ford says it can handle some pretty rough stuff. Its target market is weekend warriors looking to get outside for active pursuits, and it was designed with clever features like spotlights that shine down from the open tailgate, a tall roof that can accommodate two bikes mounted upright in the cargo compartment, storage bins hidden under the rear seats and MOLLE webbing attachments for gear.

Sales of the Bronco Sport begin later this year, followed by the Bronco next spring. Ford is currently accepting reservations for both with a $100 deposit.

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