Ford has reportedly provided the strongest indication to date that it is planning a bakkie version of the Bronco after purchasing the model it is expected to rival, the Jeep Gladiator.
Last year, it was reported that the Blue Oval had toyed with the idea of creating an open-deck Bronco spin-off aimed at the Gladiator, based on the Jeep Wrangler, and introducing it in 2023 or 2024.
Despite not wanting to comment about the possibility of the Bronco pick-up becoming a reality, the FordAuthority online forum has seemingly confirmed Dearborn’s intentions after spotting a Gladiator outside the gates of the main F-150 plant in Detroit towards the end of last week.
— FordAuthority (@FordAuthority) June 4, 2021
Appearing to have been bought at a dealership, the Mojave spec Gladiator is likely to be used for benchmarking purposes not only inside the walls of the factory, but also outside once test mules of the Bronco pick-up start emerging.
Like the Gladiator, and unlike every other generation Bronco ever made, the newcomer will have four doors and not two, plus the loadbed and potentially a longer wheelbase or length than the current five-door SUV.
It is also expected to offer the same choice of engines, namely the 200kW/420Nm 2.3 EcoBoost from the US-spec Ranger and the 230kW/542Nm 2.7 EcoBoost V6, both paired to the General Motors co-developed ten-speed automatic gearbox or in the case of the former, a seven-speed manual as well.
While earmarked for unveiling in said years, the latter, at present, appears more likely based on the current backlog attributed to not only demand, but also production having not yet started at the Wayne Plant in Michigan.
What is certain though is that the Bronco bakkie, once in production, will not be made with right-hand-drive after Ford confirmed last month that the investment needed would not be offset by eventual uptake in key right-hooking markets such as Australia, Japan, the UK and South Africa.
“As a Ford employee, we think it’s an amazing product. We are really proud… it’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,” Ford Australia president and CEO Andrew Birkic was quoted as saying.