Bronco chief engineer aims to build ICEs “as long as people want them”
Ed Krenz, former chief engineer of the Ford Mustang and current chief engineer of the Ford Bronco, isn’t ready to put the internal combustion engine out to pasture. Meeting with journalists last night at a gathering on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, Krenz responded to questions about the future of Ford enthusiast vehicles. “Nothing against EVs, but we want to keep making propulsion systems people want for as long as they’ll buy them and as long as they want them.”
The current-generation Ford Mustang, for context, is the product of Krenz’s prior posting. He celebrated the fact that while others have “abandoned the sports car segment,” the new S650-generation has a V-8 and a stick. With the Camaro’s future uncertain and the Challenger’s muscle car destiny increasing appearing to involve batteries, the Mustang is the last pony car in town for the time being.
In terms of the Bronco, which packs a turbo four-cylinder or one of two boosted V-6s, people definitely want it. The off-roader finished 2022 with more than 117,000 total sales, and at the end of July 2022 had 65,463 sales under its belt. A year later, at the close of July 2023, numbers are up to 71,335.
With every passing month, Krenz says, the Bronco team learns more and more what its customers want. That has led to changes in the lineup and available configurations for 2024, including discontinuation of the two-door Outer Banks model (at least for now). Improvements to noise insulation and frameless door design are also in the pipeline.
And when it comes to the rip-roaring, 418-hp Bronco Raptor, buyers want it all. “We have not found the upper limit of transaction price there,” Krenz said. “Those customers are the every-box-checkers.” With a starting price of just under $88,000 including destination, it’s a safe bet that Bronco Raptors are selling well above six figures. And Ford is building them as fast as it can to keep up with demand, according to Krenz.
Ford recently split its retail operations into two business units, Blue and Model e, with the former focusing on internal combustion engines and the latter on EVs. Kumar Galhotra, head of Ford Blue, said back in May that it expects “trucks, off-road, and performance segments [to] have a long runway,” with respect to profitability in the coming years. Blue expects profit margins on ICE vehicles to improve from 7.2 percent to 10 percent or more by 2026.
One method to drive healthy profits for enthusiast vehicles? Derivatives. Thus the smorgasbord of Bronco high-margin/low-cost-to-build offerings from the base model to the Sasquatch package and the Raptor, as well as the Mustang’s range from the EcoBoost to the GT, Dark Horse, and now the $300,000+ GTD supercar. May it last.