Bronco chief engineer aims to build ICEs “as long as people want them”

Six cylinders, two turbochargers, plumbing, a large Ford Performance badge on the hood insulation, and a general tableau that prompts everyone who sees it to ask, "But a V-8 will fit, right?" Sam Smith

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.

2024 Ford Mustang GT Blue engine bay

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.

After that time, as EVs increase market share, Blue expects volume and margins to reverse course. Galhotra nonetheless forecasted “strong U.S. ICE and hybrid sales well into the next decade.”

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.




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    Here is the reality. None of the established ICE Automakers really want to get into EV full time.

    They will build EV and ICE models side by side till they are not able to sell them anymore. It will be the government that shuts down not the automakers.

    This is why you see GM offering a ICE Blazer and a EV Blazer. Same with the Equinox and Silverado and other GM models.

    Lines like Lincoln and Cadillac will go all EV as they are not high volume and their prices will help cover the cost in these models.

    The last models to go EV will be half ton trucks and the Corvette in this country. This is why GM is making a new ICE V8 now.

    I am not sure why so many blame the automakers. They are just trying to survive. It is expensive and a major risk going EV. To force technology that is not fully affordable and practical in some cases is a fools thinking pushed by activist in DC.

    Unfortunately the people voting do not hold those responsible during elections.

    Plus, where would the tens of millions of people that live in apartments and rental houses charge their EVs overnight? Are apartment complexes going to shell out $3000 per parking spot to provide level 2 chargers for every resident? If not, they’ll be charging at expensive Level 3 public chargers, which, unfortunately means their battery lifespan may be shorter (fast charging degrades batteries faster).

    An EV is not practical for the poor and lower/middle class.

    But the environmentalist watermelons must be appeased.

    The ICE manufacturers have no bias about selling ICE or EV vehicles. They want to produce what will sell profitably. Their challenge is to continually be looking into the future to figure that out. As Ed Krenz made clear, they will build what the customers are asking for. In some segments, that’s going to be ICE for the foreseeable future. And that make sense. The F150 Lightning may have a lot going for it, but it (and other trucks like it) are not a good proposition for a road trip that involves towing. Conversely, there is very much a strong market for EVs when priced such that they make economic sense for the owner. It only makes sense that there’s going to be a significant period of overlap for manufacturers that are currently producing ICE vehicles in quantity.

    FYI Ford needs to delay EV as long a possible as money is a real problem. They still owe loans and a government loan. yes they did get near $7 Billion from the energy department when GM and Chrysler got bailed out.

    They have had to lay off 8,000 people to help pay for their EV program that is way behind. Many were engineers and this is why they have had more quality issues of late with the turbo 4 and other recalled issues.

    I am not a Ford hater but the sooner we realize they have issues I hope it will help them turn things around. We can not afford to lose another American Automaker.

    If things do not get better I see more partnerships and possibly agreements with another MFG.

    I suspect Bronco buyers will never want a Bronco EV, since EV chargers are notoriously absent on dirt tracks in the middle of BFE. And it would be inconvenient to have to lug around a 5 gallon can of extra battery power.

    Plus, we will very soon run up to the reality wall of battery supply, logistics, and physics. I would expect to start seeing more widespread issues in CA by 2026 when they mandate 35% of sales be EV.

    A pure EV Bronco wouldn’t likely sell in large numbers, despite how many mall crawlers might be in the owner base. But a hybrid would likely be a strong seller. The Bronco is a rolling brick and anything to mitigate the low MPGs would be welcome by a huge segment of the ownership. No crystal ball needed to see a hybrid coming before long. I would be ’25 MY.

    Were it not for the passionate in the ranks at Ford, the company would have failed long ago. Henry Ford was obsessive about his Model T, a fantastic car that sold over 15 million copies. Lee Iacoca championed the Mustang, and look where that model is today almost 60 years later.

    Ed Krenz is an example of what we need more of within Ford’s ranks. These are the passionate people who made the brand what it is; they build what the people want more of, pure and simple.

    Case in point: the Ford Maverick truck. Ford has hit a homerun with this for the working/middle class person who needs a small truck, yet Ford can’t seem to make enough of them. They keep running out of production.

    And why is that so?
    1. Low expectations for success translating to not enough made?
    2. Worries about the Maverick robbing sales of Ford’s larger (and more profitable) trucks?
    3. Abandonment of the consumers who built the brand—guys like me?
    4. Brain-dead Head Office?
    Any of the four above, or maybe all of the four above, seem to account for Ford’s ambivalence regarding this model.

    My message to Jim Farley and others in charge:
    Let the MARKETPLACE tell you what to build, and then—build it!

    What about insufficient parts supply and/or assembly line capacity? The Maverick is built on a line that is running two other vehicles as well. I don’t think #2 is a valid thought. Manufacturers today are smart enough today to know that you don’t compete by refusing to offer what customers want and try to drive them into what you have. Those customers simply go where their wants are met. Ford’s goal is to produce exactly as many vehicles as customers will buy. Getting to that number isn’t easy.

    Nobody will want ICE after they drive an electric. Compared to EV’s, all ICE engines have a lengthy turbo lag, need to rev up to make power and needs a series of granny gears just to get moving. Even the classics will move to electric with the way paved by all the small block chevy conversions going into every vehicle imaginable. A small block chevy EV conversion will follow.

    Spoken like a person that has never towed a trailer over hundreds of miles in a day. Do you live in a city and think the world ends at the city limits?

    You teased up front, but didn’t tell us if you asked and if so, what he said. Will a Ford v-8 and a Tremic stick fit? And why won’t they offer it. Can’t be CAFE. I know they’re different cars w/different tires, differentials, etc but my 6-speed 5.7L v-8 Challenger gets way better gas mileage than my v-6 automatic Bronco.

    In the Bronco? The 2.7/3.0 V6 looks pretty crowded under the hood. I don’t know the size of the V8, but it seems like it wouldn’t be an easy fit. If it could go in, I’m not sure I’d want it, as it would probably be a pain to work on/maintain.

    I did ask this. He was adamant the turbo v6 and its torque curve were better suited to an off roader than the V8.

    Now if they can deal with their quality issues we might be talking. I have seen too many issues with Ford’s vehicles lately.

    A lot of negativity about being EV’s being forced on folks. Knowledgeable folks know the mandated requirements will be rolled back until things are practical. Some fought emissions controls and safety equipment. After some rough starts it all worked out for the better. Some legitimate arguments about the EV charging stations issues and cost. Easy to be negative, When GM leased the first EV-1’s many pointed out the limited range and battery costs that would never be overcome. Well they were overcome and even better batteries are on the way. Back when cars were first sold the ELECTRIC cars outsold the ICE cars! Only when ICE cars got self starters, were more reliable, AND gasoline was available did the consumer buy them vs. electric cars.
    Fact is most countries don’t have oil resources and are tired of being robbed by oil producers. China now makes AND EXPORTS more EV’s than any other country. Nobody is forcing folks to buy them.
    I have old ICE hobby cars and love them, but my next daily driver will be a hybrid. Two friends bought hybrids and now they have nothing but great things to say about them. When costs come down (estimated in five years EV’s will cost less to make vs. ICE) and when easy access fast charging becomes a reality I’ll buy an EV. Won’t be soon, but it will happen. That said I’ll keep my old hobby ICE going as long as I can. There is a place for both, but make no mistake the consumer will move to EV’s as time passes.
    Still don’t believe it. Go back to the 1800’s and read all the hate directed against automobiles and how we would all be riding HORSES for the foreseeable future. Giddy up.

    I’ll believe it when I see it. The market dictates success. When the car became more practical than the horse and buggy, they sold themselves, no government coercion necessary.

    EVs are not meant to save the world; they’re meant to save the auto industry. The manufacturers have watched the tech companies and all the ways they make money – subscriptions, planned obsolescence, etc. – and they want in on it. That tired old bogeyman “The Gubmint” isn’t forcing anything on them; they are pushing it hard all by themselves so as to get even deeper into your pockets.

    Mike+P the government IS forcing EVs on the public. This month the governor of CT announced that he will sign an executive order that no ICE vehicles (including medium and heavy trucks) can be sold after 2035. The phase in starts in 2027. I will NOT be forced to buy an EV because the government says I have to.

    Unhappy resident of the Peoples Republic of Connecticut

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