Ford is bringing back the Bronco. This is not a fantasy. It is not a request. And although our friends in Dearborn are not ready to talk about it, we do not need their official confirmation to see why a genuine Bronco will be back in showrooms in as few as 24 months.
The return of the Bronco starts with the incredible emphasis Ford places on its leadership in trucks, which secured the company’s survival through the great recessions and have enabled Ford’s return to profitability. The Bronco may not be a truck, but its return is inextricably linked with the parallel stories of the returning Ranger and the evolution in SUV buying patterns.
Few will be surprised to hear that Chrysler Group will end production of its Dakota compact pickup truck next Tuesday, as sales of all small-to-midsized pickups have cratered over the last decade. Indeed, the Detroit News reports that the end of Dakota production will result in the layoffs of only 39 employees, although that number may climb as high as 150. In any case, the end of Dakota production is just the tip of the iceberg: Ford’s Ranger goes out of production in December of this year, and GM’s Colorado/Canyon twins will be discontinued sometime next year. Though Dodge plans to bring a minivan-platform-based AWD “lifestyle pickup” to market as a 2014 model, and Chevy is planning to build a North American variant of its new Global Colorado for the 2015 model-year, we’re looking at a several-year interlude in which no American OEM will offer a small pickup in the US. And looking at this chart, you almost can’t blame them…