Why new Ford Bronco 2021 should come to Australia to rival Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender

Whatever happened to ‘One Ford’? Remember, when Ford vowed to build all of its models for all of the world? It brought the Ford Mustang to Australia in factory-built right-hand drive for the first time.

But now it appears – at first glance at least – to have been abandoned. First came the news that the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV and now the Bronco off-roader family are all left-hand drive only – with a direct focus on Ford’s domestic market, the US.

Which is a shame for Ford Australia and the buying public, because as we’ve written in the past, the Mustang Mach-E has huge potential to shift the electric vehicle (EV) conversation in this country.

The new Bronco range? Well, that just has the potential to shift the conversation around Ford in Australia. After decades of being the ‘Falcon Car Company’, it’s simply evolved into the ‘Ranger Car Company’, because the ute has become its most popular model by far.

Its passenger-car range is diminishing, and its SUV line-up is promising but largely overlooked – the Bronco would have that because it’s unmissable. It may not have quite the same brand recognition as the Mustang nameplate, but it’s arguably the Blue Oval’s second most-recognisable model.

Adding the Bronco and Bronco Sport to the current Ford Australia line-up would undoubtedly give it a shot in the arm.

The Bronco would sit nicely alongside the Ranger and Everest, working seamlessly with the brand’s current image as a maker of tough, adventurous models. It would compete against the likes of the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender. While both of those are niche models, given the Bronco’s image and Ford’s reputation and market position, it’s not unreasonable to think it could out-sell both.

Meanwhile, the Bronco Sport would add some punch to its small/mid-size SUV range that will soon include the new Escape and good-but-ignored Endura (remember that?). In many ways, it would fill a gap in the market for tough, boxy SUVs with genuine off-road ability, between the Suzuki Jimny and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.

What really stings about Ford’s left-hand-drive-only policy for the Bronco (at least the two- and four-door models) is that it’s built on the ‘T6’ platform developed in Australia, by Ford Australia engineers, in both left- and right-hand drive.

The Bronco Sport is a tough, boxy SUV with genuine off-road capability. The Bronco Sport is a tough, boxy SUV with genuine off-road capability.

In the process of evolving and upgrading it for the Bronco, Ford’s US engineers opted not to spend the extra money on ensuring it was still right-hand-drive capable – thus denying it the opportunity to come Down Under.

Officially Ford Australia says it’s simply unavailable in right-hand drive, and obviously it would have had a team of experts crunch the numbers to see if they could justify investing in the extra engineering. But speaking to well-placed sources in the industry, it’s hard not to think that perhaps the local operation is being conservative in its estimations about how popular the Bronco would be locally.

The good news is there’s a sliver of hope that Ford could eventually changes its mind and brings the Bronco our way. The Bronco platform is an evolution of the ‘T6’ Ranger platform, and the lessons learnt on it are likely to be passed on to the next-generation Ranger platform (let’s call it ‘T7’). Those underpinnings will be used for the Ranger, Everest and new Volkswagen Amarok, which leaves the door slightly ajar for the Bronco to eventually utilise those upgrades – which could include right-hand drive.