Boy, if you thought the longstanding Ford vs. Chevy battle could get petty at times, the Ford vs. Jeep shenanigans are already getting started. Ford has requested that Goodyear remove its “Wrangler” all-terrain branding from the factory-fitted tires for the new Bronco. Is Dearborn somehow worried that the sidewall logo could cause someone to abandon the new Bronco in favor of arch rival Jeep? Imagine the meeting/focus group when that came up: “Surely we cannot let this slide!”
Goodyear has appeased Ford’s concerns by removing the Wrangler branding from one side of the tire, so that they can be installed with the censored side facing out. (On the inside wall, the dirty tire name will still be embossed so that Goodyear can retain ownership of its product trademark.) Ford spokesman Sam Schembari told Motor1 that “[the Wrangler name] will be removed from the Goodyear’s sidewall on the outboard side. Bronco customers will not see it unless their tires are off the vehicle and the inboard side is visible.”
Of course, it isn’t entirely surprising that a major automaker prefers for a major rival’s product name not be visible on its hottest new product. Given that Ford is a significant customer for Goodyear, it makes sense to keep the contract and swap out a few dies in the factory. Selecting suppliers for the factory-built unit is no light task, with several factors in safety, performance, and durability being measured well before the final vision for a car sees the showroom, making this possibly 11th-hour request a fairly irregular one. It’s no secret that Ford has one particular target in its sights for the Bronco, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of decision that will be the crucial linchpin for conquest sales. Maybe Firestone has a replacement tire in mind for Ford. And no word, by the way, if Wrangler jean-wearers will have their pre-orders fulfilled.