Ford has pledged to launch four new nameplates into its global SUV line-up, in segments it doesn’t presently cover, by 2020. Some suggest this might mean an imminent return for the Ford Bronco.
The company’s announcement, made at the recent Chicago motor show, reflects an increasingly accepted industry consensus that SUV sales will continue to boom, and be the main choice of buyers at diverse ends of the age spectrum.
These four new SUV and crossover models, which will come in addition to Ford's current global range, are being designed to appeal to millennials having families, and baby boomers drawn to high-riding, and easier-to-access, cars.
Ford said it had “160 million” reasons to greatly expand its global SUV line-up — this 160 million being the number of millennials and baby boomers in the US market. By the same token, Ford says this SUV range expansion will factor in global markets.
“As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million ageing baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” said vice-president of marketing, sales and service Mark LaNeve.
“It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing – more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”
Ford’s research also says that “ageing baby boomers tend to stay with or return to SUVs, in part because it’s easier to get in and out of a vehicle that sits higher off the ground than a passenger car”.
LaNeve also noted that many boomers feel younger and more active driving an SUV.
One might suggest Ford hardly needed an expensive marketing agency to figure out that demand for SUVs would continue to flourish…
On the subject of cost, LaNeve said: “Some SUVs now rival the fuel efficiency of V6-powered midsize sedans from only a few years ago, and as baby boomers grew up with much less capable, much less efficient vehicles, they tend to appreciate the efficiency of Ford’s newest SUVs.”
Even if gas prices go up, he added, re-fuelling costs for owners of modern SUVs will be much less than they were during the last SUV boom, Stateside.
So, with all this in mind, the obvious question is: what new SUV models might Ford produce, and which of them might come to Australia? That part isn't clear. Two of the speculated options appear very US-focused.
Of course, the company is hardly going to tell us anything on the record. By the time these models roll out, Ford Australia will likely offer an existing SUV range comprising the EcoSport, Kuga, Everest and, in all probability, the Edge as replacement for the Territory.
Autoblog in the US thinks a reborn Ford Bronco might be one of them, as a potential Jeep Wrangler rival. As does US industry publication Automotive News. Would Ford consider making this in right-hand drive, like it does with the Mustang? Perhaps.
When quizzed on the question in Chicago, LaNeve is said the have responded with: “it’s a great nameplate,” while smiling.
There’s also a suggestion that Ford luxury arm Lincoln will get another new SUV. The other pair are something of a mystery. Some suggestions say Ford might reconfigure the EcoSport crossover for a wider range of markets.