Ford is bringing back the iconic Bronco and the Ranger to the US. Why did these vehicles go away and what is driving Ford and other automakers to bring them back? Cheaper gas and American pride, that’s why.
You might remember the Bronco from its famous moment in the police pursuit of OJ Simpson in 1994. From then on, it became the famous “White Bronco.” However, Ford stopped production in 1996 because of rising gas prices and low demand for the large SUV. Ford made its original run from 1966 to 1996. It went through 5 generations. Ford stopped production in the late 90’s because of falling sales due to rising gas prices and general market trends towards smaller commuter cars. Gas was going up in price and seemed that there would be no end in sight for the American consumer, bigger vehicles became so incredibly expensive to drive that Americans couldn’t continue to pay out week by week to keep filling up their tanks. And of course the famous “White Bronco” incident involving OJ Simpson actually resulted in a negative effect in the sale numbers of the Bronco The last Bronco rolling off the factory floor marked the end of the “SUV era,” as new designs started to shift from large SUV’s to cross-overs and station wagons. A “large vehicle” is classified as any vehicle built on an above average chassis, generally with 4 doors and weighing over 4500 lbs. Trucks, SUV’s, Jeeps, utility vehicles all fall under this category.
Ever since the late 90’s large vehicles for the general public have been going out of style and have become less affordable. Trucks and SUV markets have changed from true utility vehicles to a new class of luxury vehicles. Even work trucks today have the option of leather seats and wood trim, among other high end vehicle options. These add-ons make the trucks way too expensive for their target market: the working man. . Some of these trucks and SUV’s will boost prices above $100,000. But American’s keep buying them, in fact American’s are pretty much the only people who buy large vehicles. In 2013 large vehicle made up for 63 percent of all vehicle sales. Meanwhile, outside the US all other combined markets of large vehicles only made up 25.4 percent of total car sales. The American highway and road system is designed for big cars especially in the west and in the south. Because the American government wanted a system able to move its military quickly throughout the country along with the development of large semi-trucks for transporting goods all-throughout the county Along with large vehicles being comfortable on American roads there is a mentality that owning a large car gives the driver a sense of pride. Bigger is better, always better.
When gas was cheap, the efficiency of large vehicles didn’t matter to consumers. The first time American consumers started to buy small, efficient cars was in the 1970’s gas crisis caused by conflict in the Middle East and the OPEC countries. This caused gas prices to shoot up, making big cars more expensive to drive day to day. When gas prices fell again in the 1980’s, large vehicles made a comeback. Then in the early 2000 more conflict in the OPEC countries lead to a spike in gas prices. Not only did Americans stop buying large vehicles, but sales dropped so much that companies stopped producing them. It’s easy to see that gas prices are inversely correlated with the sales of large vehicles. So with recent drops in the prices of fuel across the US, Americans want their large obnoxious trucks back, Ye-Haw!
One of the reasons Ford is even able to produce these two trucks, the Bronco and the Ranger is because the company is moving two of its car model productions to Mexico, where labor costs are lower. There is also a chance that these two trucks will come with a large price tag, some suspect above $50,000, which would price them out of the range of the average consumer much like the rest of the large vehicle line up from Ford. The American market is oversaturated with large vehicles; even foreign companies make trucks only for America.. Even with all these factors that may hinder these two vehicles sales, it is very doubtful that either of them will flop and chances are that they will both make Ford a lot of money.
Ford wasn’t the only company to pull out of the truck market in the last 20 years ago General Motor also pulled their small trucks. GM made a big gamble in 2014 when they redesigned the Colorado, a truck in the same class as the Ranger. It was a huge success for GM in the years since its release. After seeing GM’s success, Ford felt compelled to return the Ranger and Bronco to the US market.
The trucks are planned to be for sale in 2019 and 2020 in the US. As long as fuel prices stay low we could easily see more automakers bringing large vehicles back to the US. The big 3 auto makers are making a big gamble on these vehicles and could pay off well or see a huge flop if prices for fuel jump again in the coming year.
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