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Ford Bronco Sport Lacked Identity Prior To CEO Jim Farley’s Input

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The first reviews of the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport are beginning to arrive – and the smaller companion to the “regular” 2021 Ford Bronco seems to be resonating quite well, wit hthe off-road oriented subcompact crossover being worthy of wearing the Bronco name. But according to a recent report, it may not have been so widely praised if not for Ford CEO Jim Farley’s timely intervention. Although just stepping into the top leadership position at The Blue Oval, it appears the long time Ford executive has been positively influencing vehicle development for several years now.

According to the story, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport initially resembled something with a more swept back and curvy profile. Currently, one major Ford product sports a similar appearance: the all-new 2020 Ford Escape. Management wasn’t enamored with those early sketches, and the Bronco Sport program languished until 2017, which is when Farley stepped in to provide some guidance for the team.

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He offered two words that ended up serving as an inspiration for the designers involved with its creation: “honest” and “robust.” They interpreted those words as a green light to reshape the Ford Bronco Sport into something more upright, boxy, and functional. Basically, a design that more clearly channeled the bigger Bronco’s DNA.

“Farley’s a really good product guy. Providing clarity of vision is what his job is. That was a moment where, at this program, the collective group heard those words, internalized it and made a very clear decision on which way to go,” says Scott Anderson, Ford’s interior design manager for the Bronco Sport.

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Farley’s words were apparently the catalyst the designers needed to develop the crossover into something that customers could intrinsically understand was designed for off-road use. But they didn’t stop there, going beyond mere guesswork by actually sitting down with potential owners to observe what they needed from their vehicles. As a result, the Ford Bronco Sport gained features like rubber flooring, LED lights in the tailgate, and a safari-style roof that enables the cargo area to store taller items, such as two bikes being placed upright with the second row folded.

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Aside from the Ford Bronco Sport, Farley’s input also reshaped the trajectory of the 2021 Mustang Mach-E. Initially, early designs resembled a far more generic shape than the pony car-channeling look exhibited by the production model. But he pushed for the team to make the electric crossover far more distinctive.

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Written by Edward Snitkoff

Ed owns a 1986 Ford Taurus LX, and he routinely daydreams about buying another one, a fantasy that may someday become a reality.

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10 Comments

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  1. He might be a really good product guy, in Ford’s own opinion, but chopping so much off the length and rendering it a now subcompact, was a big mistake. And it’s WAY overpriced. It COULD have rendered the Escape nearly irrelevant, but due to the foregoing, the Escape has little to worry about.

    • What do you mean? This thing’s probably 10″ longer than the original Bronco, that by the way, was about the size of the current EcoSport.

      • Not only 10 inches longer, but with four doors and a three cylinder mill! This will appeal to the soccer moms everywhere. The unibody (no frame) bronco sport-made in mexico-may be a big hit with those willing to fork out the $$$ for “the look”. All the extras such as the infotainment center, should be a plus for soccer moms, along with the mini spare tire (in case of a flat). I’m guessing AAA would be called anyway, but that mini spare should make it easier for mom to change a tire, just in case. Yes, I agree there will be a lot of these sold, once the rebates and incentives start-those paying “top dollar” to be first on block, will take a huge hit on their depreciation, but the look is worth it.

    • That’s the point – to not render the Escape as irrelevant. 2 offerings to fit a wider range of customers.

      As far as price, I don’t think it’s any more overpriced than the rest of the market. I think it’ll sell very well.

      And as Stephen said, if you want to be true to the heritage the original was so small. I have a 61 Scout, which is what Ford cloned for the Bronco, and there are UTVs out there that are bigger than it (and with double the HP). If you want bigger, get the full size 4 door Bronco. Options for everyone

    • still sour about that, huh? sedans ain’t making ford any money, therefore they are cancelled. everyone wants bigger suvs to look cooler. except you.

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