Ford’s curveball could stain the Bronco nameplate

The highly anticipated arrival of the Ford Bronco is officially scheduled for July 13, and while we already know that Ford is revealing three models of the Bronco — the two-door, four-door, and the Bronco Sport compact crossover - we didn’t expect the Bronco to be more than just a model within Ford’s SUV lineup.

That’s not the case because “Bronco” will be more than that; it will be its own comprehensive sub-brand under the Ford umbrella, complete with its own unique “Built Wild” tag line. While this comes as surprising news for a lot of people, it’s not that surprising if you think about the heritage of the “Bronco” name as far as Ford is concerned. The Blue Oval’s trying to milk that heritage for what it’s worth, which brings us to where we are now.

Wait, so the Ford Bronco is gonna be its own sub-brand?

Dumbest Move of the Week: The Bronco Name Will Be a Sub-Brand
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Yes, it appears that’s the case. Ford made the announcement on the heels of the Bronco’s long-awaited debut on July 13, 2020. That debut will take place at 8 P.M. EDT across Disney network channels ABC, ESPN, and National Geographic.

The Bronco’s debut notwithstanding, Ford’s decision to turn the Bronco into a sub-brand extends beyond rolling out SUVs and off-roaders that will wear a specific Bronco badge.
Dumbest Move of the Week: The Bronco Name Will Be a Sub-Brand
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The Bronco brand will also roll out Bronco Nation, an independent online community catered specifically to Bronco owners. Outside of the online realm, four “Off-Roadeo” outdoor adventure playgrounds will also open, spread across four locations in the U.S. beginning in 2021.

While we expected Ford to milk the Bronco nameplate for what it’s worth — multiple models, etc. — we didn’t expect the Blue Oval to take it to the next level by turning the prestigious nameplate into a sub-brand.

What can we expect from Ford Bronco’s debut on July 13, 2020?

The stars of the show will undoubtedly be the three Ford Bronco variants that will debut in a week. The three models are the 2021 Ford Bronco two-door, Bronco four-door, and the Bronco Sport compact crossover. Each model will have something unique to offer to the table, though it looks like the Bronco two-door and Bronco four-door will serve as the off-road-leaning of the three variants while the Bronco Sport will fill the urban SUV role in the lineup.

We’ve seen all three variants undergo spy testing in the past few months, and while details are still slim pickings, we did learn that the Bronco and Bronco Sport will launch with three grille designs apiece, called “Modern,” “Classic,” and “Custom.”

Dumbest Move of the Week: The Bronco Name Will Be a Sub-Brand Exterior
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Of the three designs, the “Modern” grille will be a single-piece grille with mesh-pattern holes. It’s the standard grille across all three Bronco variants. The “Classic” and “Custom” grilles, on the other hand, will reportedly carry the same fundamental design, albeit slightly altered to create a unique distinction from the other designs.

At the very least, we should see all three grille designs, among other things, when all three Bronco variants take the stage on July 13.

What are Ford’s plans for the Bronco sub-brand?

Dumbest Move of the Week: The Bronco Name Will Be a Sub-Brand Exterior
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Based on Ford’s statement, it does look like the automaker put a lot of thought into this before it decided to turn the Bronco into one of its sub-brands. The vehicles will still be the core products of the new Bronco brand, and it’s worth assuming that Ford could build up its new sub-brand with more models beyond the three that will be unveiled next week.

Beyond the models, Ford also plans to build the Bronco brand to include an online community called Bronco Nation. The community will be independent of Ford but expect the Blue Oval to use it as a platform for anything and everything related to the new Bronco brand.

Dumbest Move of the Week: The Bronco Name Will Be a Sub-Brand
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Since Ford wants to build the Bronco brand to inevitably stand on its own, expect a lot of merchandise to be rolled out moving forward.

No specifics were mentioned in this regard, but expect a steady stream of Bronco-branded clothing, accessories, appliances, and whatever else Ford can squeeze out of this new enterprise.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the new Bronco sub-brand is Ford’s play to open four “off-roading and outdoor adventure playgrounds throughout the U.S." and while they’re described as such, they’re really off-road driving schools that are no different from what Land Rover offers with the Land Rover Experience. Ford has yet to announce the four locations of the Bronco Off-Roadeos, but expect an announcement on that front soon. These “playgrounds” are expected to open sometime in 2021.

Is this a good idea?

Dumbest Move of the Week: The Bronco Name Will Be a Sub-Brand
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There’s something about this move by Ford that makes sense. The Bronco is arguably one of the company’s most famous nameplates and when you have something that a lot of people gravitate to, it’s not a bad idea to milk it for what it’s worth. Ford’s doing just that by turning the Bronco into a brand of its own. The merchandising possibilities alone should line Ford’s pockets well.

That said, there’s something about this decision that doesn’t sit well with me. I understand that Ford’s in the business of making money, but to use the nameplate as beloved as the Bronco and turn it into something that goes against the spirit of the name just feels too much.

Basically, Ford is stringing the Bronco name for as long as it can in the name of good business. Again, I can’t find fault in that. Business is business. But I still don’t think it’s a good idea to expose the Bronco nameplate and potentially risk staining it if this new sub-brand doesn’t take off the way Ford hopes it will. I’d like to be proven wrong, but at this point, it’s too early to tell if Ford’s gamble pays off or not. I’m not pushing all my chips to the middle of the table, but, apparently, Ford already has.

2.3-liter EcoBoost specifications
Engine 2.3-liter EcoBoost
Horsepower 270 HP
Torque 310 LB-FT
Fuel economy city/highway/combined 21/26/26 combined
Transmission 10-speed automatic
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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