An Electric Bronco? It Seems Like It's in the Works

Though we would definitely bet on a hybrid arriving first.

ford electric bronco

Update, 5/28/2021: During a presentation for investors this week, Ford mentioned it's developing two new electric vehicle architectures, including one made for "off-road SUVs" — accompanied by a picture of what clearly seems to be the outline of an electric Ford Bronco. Given this, we're betting the EV Bronco is all but guaranteed, albeit still a few years off.

Last year, Ford (finally) launched the all-new Bronco. It has been a boffo hit with potential buyers, with more than 125,000 pre-orders already racked up before the SUV has even entered production. That said, it didn't receive universal acclaim; some critics felt launching an all-new SUV without even a hybrid option in 2020 didn't meet the moment. One, a bit theatrically, called the Bronco's release "an obscene monument to climate denialism." (And, notably, Jeep's counter-offensive to the Bronco has involved both putting the hybrid 4xe Wrangler into production and a Wrangler EV concept.)

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But Ford appears to have plans to address the powertrain efficiency issue moving forward. Confronted by a "Tesla-powered" Ford shareholder on Twitter about the lack of EV plans for the Bronco, Ford CEO Jim Farley responded leadingly — all but confirming Ford has something in store for us on the electrification front.

That said, we'd bet a hybrid Bronco will arrive first. Hybrid Bronco rumblings have been persistent; a Bronco gauge cluster leak showed an "EV Coaching" mode, which would only make sense in a hybrid. A hybrid would also be a markedly lower technical lift than an EV, and besides, having one may become a competitive necessity. The Jeep Wrangler has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and the Toyota 4Runner should get one soon as well. And early returns suggest the hybrids will be the better-performing versions of those vehicles.

Expect a pure electric Bronco to take at least a few years, however — potentially not arriving until the next model cycle. The technological challenge is massive: the Bronco currently runs on the aging Ranger platform, and Ford doesn't yet have a new dedicated EV platform to swap it with. There's also not much competitive incentive for one just yet; after all, Jeep's Magneto concept — literally a stock Wrangler with a crude powerplant swap — only showed how far the competition is away from building one.

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