After decades as America’s dominant off-road vehicle, Jeep Wrangler is seeing Ford Bronco take a big bite out of sales as the highly competitive iconic brands battle for customers.
In January, Ford saw Bronco sales jump 25.5% year over year while Jeep sales dropped 25%.
The Jeep sales lead dwindled from 913 vehicles in November and 470 in December last year to just three in January, according to industry sales data obtained by the Detroit Free Press Thursday.
In January, Ford sold 10,170 Broncos (up from 8,101 a year earlier) compared to 10,173 for Jeep Wrangler (down from 13,556), according to industry sales data.
And approximately 60% of Bronco customers came from outside Ford and primarily Jeep, Ford spokesperson Said Deep told the Free Press.
All automakers track where new customers are coming from to help gauge vehicle performance. Any competitive conquest exceeding 50% is considered highly successful, Ford said.
While the gap is closing, Deep said the Ford team isn’t popping champagne bottles yet.
In 2022, Jeep sold 181,409 Wranglers while Ford sold 117,057 Broncos. The 2023 Jeep has an estimated base price of $30,000 plus delivery fees while the 2023 Bronco has an estimated base price of $32,000 plus delivery fees, according to Kelly Blue Book. The Bronco has a heavy load of backorders.
Ford noted that Stellantis has a factory in Toledo devoted to Jeep Wrangler production while the Bronco and Ranger pickup are built at the same site in Wayne, Michigan. So Ford had to forfeit production of one vehicle to build the other rather than have one dedicated plant pumping out popular vehicles, it said.
Meanwhile, Ford is struggling to fill overwhelming demand for Bronco.
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As far as sales, January and February are considered slow sales months in the industry compared to the high of December and June. So these numbers are intriguing, said Erich Merkle, US sales analyst for Ford.
“We’re a thin coat of paint away from surpassing Wrangler,” he said. “We’re working hard to fill the orders. We launched Bronco only in June 2021, virtually, in the middle of a pandemic … Bronco was conceived with Wrangler in its sights. It’s far exceeding our expectations.”
Stellantis, which owns the Jeep brand, told the Free Press Thursday that the off-road utility vehicle segment continues to grow.
Richard Deneau, spokesperson for Stellantis, noted that Jeep Wrangler was the bestselling off-road utility vehicle in 2022 and has no plans to cede its status anytime soon.
“Nearly a quarter of those sales (24%) were of the Wrangler 4xe, which is the best-selling plug-in hybrid in America,” he said.
Stellantis maintains that Bronco is pulling customers from other products at Ford, “with the majority of customers switching from the Ford F-150,” Deneau said.
Merkle emphasized that the vast majority of Bronco buyers are coming from outside Ford, and questioned whether the Bronco and F-150 pickup truck buyers are interchangeable.
“One is a lifestyle vehicle for off-road purposes and the F-150, outside of Raptor, is more for work or hauling or towing,” he said.
‘Best news’ is that America loves Jeep, Bronco
Karl Brauer, executive analyst for the iseecars.com, said, “Ford’s Bronco was bound to have an impact on Jeep Wrangler sales — the two SUVs are competing for the exact same customer. And while Wrangler has the historical advantage, Bronco has the ‘ shiny new kid on the block’ advantage. And each can claim functional or technological innovations the other can’t match … The best news is that after decades of only one really cool, really capable 4×4 SUV being offered by a domestic automaker, now there are two.”
Little Bronco Sport sees traction, too
Also in January, Bronco Sport outsold competitors Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass combined by 2,870 from a year ago.
Bronco Sport sold 9,438 while Compass sold 5,678 and Renegade sold 890 in January.
In 2022, customers purchased 99,547 Bronco Sport SUVs while Compass and Renegade sold 113,724, according to industry data obtained by the Free Press. Jeep holds a solid lead while Ford attempts to close the gap.
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Both Bronco Sport and Maverick are assembled at the same Ford plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. Combined, the two high-demand vehicles have maximized capacity, Merkle said. Retail orders from customers for Maverick are sold out, so anyone wanting a Maverick needs to search dealer lots. Ford has not opened the 2024 Maverick order bank.
EV sales up, along with ICE
Overall, sales data for January also shown:
- Sales up for Mustang Mach-E to 2,626 from 2,370 a year ago
- Sales up for Ford Expedition to 5,693 from 4,723
- Sales down for EcoSport, which is phasing out, and Escape, Edge, Explorer, Mustang.
- Sales up for Transit van, E-Transit, heavy trucks and Mustang GT
- Sales for Maverick, Ranger down with plant transitions though orders are full
“We booked all our (Maverick) orders already. It’s just a matter of how much you can deliver in a given month,” Merkle said.
F-Series remains strong, including Lightning, he said. Super Duty is a huge money maker that has months of orders to build. They aren’t considered sales until they’re delivered.
By category, Ford sales saw:
- Electric sales up to 5,247 from 2,571 a year ago
- Hybrid sales down to 7,816 from 10,598
- Internal combustion engine sales up to 133,293 from 130,362
In 2022, Ford saw its total market share grow to 13.1% from 12.4% in 2021. In fourth quarter 2022, Ford’s market share was 13%, down from 15% a year earlier.
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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the number of Ford Broncos sold in 2022.
Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-618-1034 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid.