It’s official: New Zealand won’t get the new Ford Bronco
Much like a relationship that doesn’t have the legs to last, motoring journalists from both sides of the Tasman have been reading very deeply into messages from Ford engineers that simply aren’t there.
Despite mutterings that the Bronco ‘could be produced in right-hand drive’, it looks like Kiwis and Aussies keen on the off-road dynamo will need to bring them in as grey imports, following the most defiant and curt confirmation about the nameplate to date.
Speaking to Australian press, Ford Australia president and CEO Andrew Birkic confirmed that the model won’t be produced in right-hand drive because the combined markets of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK, and South Africa aren’t enough to justify the project financially. The comments also apply to the Bronco’s more sensible sibling, the Bronco Sport.
“As a Ford employee, we think it’s an amazing product. Tt’s an amazing body of work and we’re incredibly proud. But the vehicle isn’t built for right-hand-drive and that’s where it’s at,” Birkic said.
He added that Ford Australia is “always looking” at what models are available overseas that could be added to line-ups down under. “That’s part of the course, that’s our role. But there is no right-hand drive for that vehicle. We’re very proud of the Bronco globally and there is a pretty strong waiting list for it.”
“You have to be able to make money out of it,” added Sinead Phillips, Ford international market group corporate communications director. “You have to have enough customers ready to buy it. I agree, it’s a fabulous product. But it just doesn’t make sense.”
Australasian press had been optimistic about the Bronco’s chances in this part of the world due to it sharing its underpinnings with the Ranger ute. It was also partially developed in Australia, not unlike the Ranger Raptor.
Ford has reported fairly impressive uptake of orders for the new Bronco in North America, which isn’t a surprise given the level of hype and interest around the model. So far over 125,000 have been ordered, off the back of the 190,000 registrations of interest it had during launch.
The Bronco Sport, meanwhile, has already hit dealerships across the US. Over 23,000 have been sold so far, with the first wave of American reviews showing that it’s a solid performer off-road.
The lack of a Bronco means the Ranger-based Everest remains New Zealand’s most off-road-focused Ford SUV. It also offers the Escape, the Puma, and the (SUV-ish) Focus Active.