Overwhelming response to Ford's new Jeep Wrangler fighter means it's going to take a long time to take delivery, but the SUV's production remains on schedule.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Following many years of rumors, innuendo and speculation, the 2021 Ford Bronco debuted on July 13. The burly 4x4 SUV's unveiling triggered an immediate and immense surge of traffic on Ford.com that quickly caused the automaker's website to buckle under the pressure. The website's functionality eventually recovered, and interested parties' mounting frustrations gave way to greater numbers of reservation deposits. So far, Blue Oval has yet to disclose just how many $100 refundable preorders it has actually taken for its Jeep-Wrangler-fighting two- and four-door SUVs, but that total figures to be sizable: the Bronco reportedly already faces an 18-month waitlist.
Strong early demand for Ford's hardcore new off-roader shouldn't come as a surprise to those who have been following the Bronco's news cycle. The new SUV's most expensive trim, the loaded-up First Edition, saw all 3,500 pre-order slots snatched up within a few hours of Ford's reservation microsite going live. In fact, early demand has been so strong that on July 21, Ford announced it was doubling production for the First Edition, a move that raised eyebrows among some customers who already had their deposits in for the limited-edition model. No matter, all 7,000 First Edition models have all been claimed by reservation holders.
2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door looks to be an off-road warrior
The Blue Oval is reportedly looking at June for the first deliveries of its body-on-frame Bronco, a timeframe that would still adhere to the company's stated production guidance -- albeit only just. (Previously, officials hinted production would start in April at its Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne.) Ford spokesperson Jiyan Cadiz tells Roadshow, "We will be delivering against our spring promise." Reservation holders will be given an approximate delivery date for their vehicle early next year.
As for that alleged 18-month delivery timeframe, Cadiz declined to verify any such lengthy waitlist, telling Roadshow, "we haven't confirmed anything as far as reservation volume, that's for sure."
Because Bronco reservation-holders will see their trucks built ahead of vehicles for general dealer stock, it's unlikely that Blue Oval dealers will have any unclaimed units on hand for many months after the vehicle launches. This pending reality suggests a few things:
1. If you're still contemplating getting a Bronco but you haven't put in your deposit yet, it's still worth doing -- remember, it is refundable. Check out our full how-to reserve guide for tips.
2. If the waitlist is actually 18 months, concern about early buyers attempting to quickly flip their vehicles on the secondary market for a quick profit seems more real than ever.
3. Ford officials have said the company will not attempt to keep dealers from charging Bronco reservation holders more than MSRP via demand-based markups. Such a long waitlist suggests the temptation will be even greater for them to do so, although some dealers have already vowed not to price gouge. Caveat emptor.
2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door: Hit the trails, bring your friends
It's important to consider that many people who signed up for a new Bronco may not ever take delivery. With a modest $100 reservation deposit and an increasingly unclear delivery horizon, it's possible -- if not likely -- that some reservation-holders may simply opt to step out of line and ask for a refund. This could mean that the waitlist will eventually be shorter by the time Bronco production commences in spring. That said, it seems just as likely that more folks will sign up to preorder new trucks during these intervening months, so there's no telling if the waitlist could actually get even longer.
One last thing: If you've had your eye on the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, the unibody-based crossover that shares much of its under-skin componentry with Ford's more urban-minded Escape SUV, fear not. While is not immediately clear how popular it has been for preorders, the model is still expected to arrive in dealers this year, and this alleged long waitlist is not related to the Bronco Sport.
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