Ford’s roof supplier still can’t get a lid on the Bronco’s hardtop issues
Ford’s reborn Bronco is the cool new kid on the off-road block, but high demand doesn’t make it immune from first-year production frustrations. Once again, roofs are proving to be the Bronco’s Achilles heel: Ford is recalling every single Bronco specced with a “molded-in-color” (MIC) hardtop.
What’s wrong with it? This particular top reacts strangely to heavy rain and humidity—conditions which Michiganders have quite gotten their fill of this August—and develops “an unsatisfactory appearance,” according to an email Ford sent to customers yesterday. Worse, the problematic MIC lid is the default option on the two-door model, which doesn’t come with the fabric top. (On all the big boys, except the top-dog Wildtrak and sold-out First Edition, fabric is a $695 option.) The MIC roof is one of three options that will, eventually, be available across the range. The third is a modular hardtop, delayed until 2023.
Ford is doing all it can to placate an army of customers already chafing from delayed deliveries. Back in March, when the MIC and modular hardtops were both delayed, Ford gave Bronco customers a $250 voucher for the Bronco Off-Rodeo, Ford’s off-road driving school. Customers who decide to stick out the wait for a hardtop got a sound-deadening headliner ($450 normally) added for free. Certain U.S. buyers even got $1000 in FordPass Rewards to fund oil changes or factory accessory purchases.
Those olive branches are little solace now, because Ford doesn’t expect replacement MIC roofs until October. If you haven’t gotten your Bronco yet, get comfy, because Ford will replace all existing hardtops—starting with already delivered units, and proceeding to finished units sitting in lots that haven’t yet been delivered—before building any new crunchy-shell Broncos. Haven’t received a build date? You’ll be getting a 2022 MY vehicle. (Ford’s Bronco owner-resource pages state that ’22MY production is forecasted to begin late this December.) The Blue Oval also promises to honor 2021 model year pricing for both ’22 and ’23 model years. Respectable, but the inclusion of the 2023 model year is a bit concerning: Bronco production appears set to continue down this, ah, rocky road.
The easiest way to avoid this mess—at least for four-door customers—is to change your order to a soft top. Production of the fabric-roof models remains, happily, unaffected by the hard-shell shenanigans. In addition, Ford is offering a free hardtop roof prep kit, comprised of the necessary hardware and controls for the rear windshield wiper and defroster, for all four-door soft tops produced September 2021 or later. This allows you to install your own hardtop as soon as it becomes available through your dealer as an accessory (again, no sooner than 2023).
Two-door Bronco owners must simply suffer. So too must those opted for a Wildtrak model, the Sasquatch package, the 2.7-liter engine, the Lux Package, Trailer Tow, or the Safari bar. We won’t be surprised if some frustrated short-wheelbase owners cancel their orders and join those waiting for the niche-appeal “Mansquatch” Broncos, a configuration which, along with green paint (!) and a roof rack for the four-door Sasquatch model, Ford has confirmed for the 2022 model year.
Ford isn’t abandoning Webasto, the German-based company supplying the MIC roofs (though rumor has it that Ford has tapped another firm for the modular tops due in ’23.) The supplier is building a new production facility in southeast Michigan, according to Automotive News, near where Broncos are being built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, to help catch up to demand. “We remain committed to get this done right and get this done right with Webasto,” Jeff Marentic, Ford’s general manager of passenger vehicles, tells AN.
“We’re embarrassed we didn’t catch this sooner. We’re doing everything we can to get the product to customers as soon as possible. We understand how unhappy they are but we’re working to get that resolved as fast as we possibly can.”
Given our first taste of Ford’s reborn off-roader, we expect that Bronco owners will quickly forget this infuriating period once the wind is in their hair. For now, however, they’ll have to batten the hatches and weather the storm. Maybe they’ll watch that John Bronco sequel …