Dealers got an early look at a prototype build of the upcoming Ford Bronco. Gathered in Palm Beach, Florida, at the behest of the automaker, dealers were asked to hand over their phones in order to avoid any leaks. Fortunately, their memories were sufficient in giving us a better idea as to what to expect come 2020.
While the event’s focus stayed on the Bronco and some of its more interesting features, Ford also shared its plan to develop a family of off-road vehicles to complement the model. Introductory vehicles include the Bronco, its smaller counterpart, and a little unibody pickup to slot beneath the Ranger.
Ford didn’t specify whether or not these vehicles would occupy a pseudo sub-brand but, according to Automotive News, dealers noted a similar, distinctive, styling trend among the utility models revealed in Florida — round headlamps and boxy, retro-inspired bodywork.
From Automotive News:
Dealers, after relinquishing their phones, were shown an early build of a two-door Bronco and told that a four-door version also would be offered, according to multiple sources in the room. The Bronco is designed to be customizable, with a removable hard top and removable doors that can be stored in the vehicle’s cargo area, the sources said. The side mirrors will be attached to the front pillars so they remain in place when the doors are taken off, unlike the Jeep Wrangler — one of the chief rivals Ford is targeting with its Bronco revival.
Here’s what we think happened. A few years ago, someone at Ford took a look at Jeep’s domestic sales volume and noticed it had effectively tripled since 2010. One important meeting later, the entire company decided it needed something that could more directly compete with the seven-slot brand, thus tapping into that energetic customer base. While that’s tantamount to accusing Ford of trying to ride Jeep’s coattails, it doesn’t make it a bad strategy. Ford’s master plan called for the abandonment of less-profitable cars and a focus on SUVs, crossovers, and electric vehicles. It would be foolish not to commit.
Likewise, the returning Bronco, which has been in development for a while now, finds itself hyped more by eager shoppers than the automaker. While Ford hasn’t said all that much about the vehicle, it knows it’s holding a stick of dynamite. Setting up a family of ORVs probably has as much to do with the presumed success of the Bronco as it does trying to out-Jeep FCA.
Dealers claimed the new Bronco “was twice as cool as I thought it would be,” and was “going to be a game changer.” No images were provided. Thus far, the manufacturer has only released a single teaser image of a very square utility vehicle under a dirty blanket.
Ford intends to build both two and four-door versions of the Bronco, “Baby Bronco,” and unibody pickup. However, it’s believed that the upcoming Mustang-inspired EV will remain a four-door affair. Bronco assembly should commence at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant (home of the Ranger) in the second half of 2020. Its pint-sized sibling should beat it to market, according to dealers, by a few months. Meanwhile, the pickup isn’t slated to see the light of day until 2021.
A version of this article originally appeared on TTAC.com