DETROIT, Mich. — Thunderous applause erupted at the North American International Auto Show on Monday as Ford announced it is bringing back the once-abandoned Bronco and Ranger models, which were taken off U.S. production lines in 1996 and 2011.
Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of Ford, revealed that the Ranger mid-sized truck will return in 2019, while the Bronco is set to debut in 2020. Both vehicles will be produced at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant.
Hinrichs said the new Ranger model will feature “unique front styling, engine and features.” As for the Bronco, Hinrichs said it will be a 4-by-4 utility vehicle “for thrill seekers who want freedom and off-road functionality with the space and versatility of an SUV.” The Bronco is one of five new utility vehicles that will be produced by 2020.
The Bronco and Ranger aren’t the only new vehicles Ford will produce. Raj Nair, executive vice president of product development, said the company is rolling out 13 electrified vehicles globally within the next five years.
These vehicles include hybrid versions of the F-150 and Mustang, two hybrid police vehicles, a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid and a fully-electric SUV with an estimated range of 300 miles.
Ford also unveiled the 2018 F-150 truck, which was described by Hinrichs as “even smarter, even tougher and even more capable,” with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and the “F-150’s best towing ever.”
But Ford executives spent the most time outlining their vision for mobility. Ford has created a City Solutions team to work with major global cities to help solve congestion issues and help people move more easily.
“Within the next 20 years, an estimated three quarters of the world’s population will live in just 30 cities,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “This is an issue that goes far beyond congestion — it’s one that represents a massive challenge to mankind.
“It’s both an exciting opportunity and a big responsibility.”
Ford’s City Solutions team — the first of its kind in the auto industry — will help solve these mobility issues, such as gridlock and air pollution, in urban environments.
The team will help propose, pilot and develop mobility solutions such as autonomous and electric vehicles, bike-sharing, ride-hailing services and connected vehicles. The hope, officials said, is to interact with urban infrastructure and create a transportation ecosystem where roads fluidly respond to commuter needs and traffic flow.
Much like other ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft, Ford has introduced Chariot — an app-based, crowd-sourced service. Chariot operates in San Francisco, California, and Austin, Texas, but Ford is growing its operations to eight cities this year.
For Ford CEO Mark Fields, the ultimate vision is to help make people’s lives better by “changing the way the world moves.” He said the innovations the company has laid out for the near- and long-term are part of this vision.
“Our cities around the world are facing gridlock and pollution, and we know these cities need a partner to deliver mobility solutions,” Fields said. “Ford is deeply committed to being that partner.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.