Ford begins shipping Bronco SUVs for consumers

DETROIT — Ford Bronco SUVs are rolling off a Michigan assembly line and shipping to dealers for the first time in a quarter century, marking a new beginning for what’s expected to be a significantly profitable product for the automaker.

Ford Motor started shipping Bronco SUVs from the company’s Michigan Assembly plant on Monday. Inside the plant, two- and four-door versions of the Bronco in all sorts of colors — from vibrant yellows and blues to blacked-out models — were being produced at the facility near Detroit.

The Bronco is viewed as one of the most critical nonelectric product launches for the company in years. It is expected to be the flagship model for a new Bronco family of vehicles.

Bronco SUVs in production at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, June 14, 2021.

Michael Wayland | CNBC

“To see it rolling down the line here, it’s amazing,” Bronco marketing manager Mark Grueber said Monday during a tour of the plant. “It’s almost 25 years to the day that the last Bronco rolled down the line here. It was June 12, 1996.”

The resurrection of the Bronco, which Ford initially produced from 1965-1996, has been years in the making, including a coronavirus-related delay earlier this year. The company initially announced plans in January 2017 to bring back the Bronco name.

Grueber said the plant is “trying to ramp-up production as fast as we can to satisfy the huge demand.”

Michigan Assembly is currently running on two of three shifts with 3,000 employees, including 2,800 hourly United Auto Workers members. Union leaders for the plant are optimistic the vehicle will be a hit, pushing Ford to add a third shift to the facility, which also produces the midsize Ranger pickup.

“For us to get an iconic brand like the Bronco, accompanied with the Ranger, we know the profits the company is going to make off this vehicle, which is different than what we’ve ever been used to,” said Scott Elliott, UAW Local 900 chairman of the assembly plant.

Prior to the Ranger and Bronco, Michigan Assembly produced the Ford Focus compact car. Ford ended production of the Focus as part of a restructuring plan to concentrate on pickups and SUVs in 2018.

Bronco SUVs in production at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, June 14, 2021.

Michael Wayland | CNBC

“We’re just extremely excited to be here and getting the Broncos out to the customers,” said Rich Shafer, plant manager of Michigan Assembly. “It’s a representation of jobs and a bright economic future for the region and the country as a whole.”

The SUV isn’t the first vehicle with the Bronco name to recently arrive in U.S. showrooms. It joins the Bronco Sport, or “Baby Bronco,” which Ford launched at the end of last year as a smaller, less-expensive vehicle than the off-road, open-air Bronco SUV.

The Bronco Sport, which is produced in Mexico, features the styling of the Bronco but is built more like a car or crossover than a truck. Consumers could consider it a cousin of the Bronco.

Starting pricing for the Ford Bronco ranges from about $30,000 to $60,000, including destination charges. The Bronco Sport ranges from about $28,000 to $40,000.

Bronco SUVs in production at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, June 14, 2021.

Michael Wayland | CNBC

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