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Nickp

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Hey guys, sorry it took me a bit to get around to this, been insanely busy these past few weeks with work and just got back from a wedding. I obviously talked with a TON of Ford people at the media off-roadeo event, and just wanted to give you guys some information and impressions of some of the team behind Bronco! I’m not a note-taker, honestly just a pretty informal dude so I basically just shot the shit with the guys and gals there. Just as kind of an overview, the biggest thing that I noticed was how genuinely enthusiastic everyone was. I think it gets easy to become disconnected from all the negativity…. But the “Bronco team” as a whole are easily among the biggest bronco fans on this planet. This thing was a labor of love and I really think that it wouldn’t have come together without the team they had. So without further ado, here are the people I talked to the longest, and what we talked about: (I spoke with a bunch more people as well these were just the ones I spoke to most about Bronco itself)

Paul Wraith (Chief Bronco designer): I’m just going to start with who I talked to the most. I probably talked with Paul for an entire hour, if not a bit more. Absolutely amazing guy, and to get some of the perspectives about designing this vehicle is super interesting. I mentioned a few months ago that aerodynamics must have really taken a back seat with Bronco’s design, and I am completely 100% wrong about that. Obviously, design is first, but essentially they have to be wind test every revision, refine the design, wind test, over and over again. And this isn’t just for fuel economy (which is important) but also driving dynamics. He made the correlation between a Ford GT in that although the aerodynamic “goals” are different between vehicles, it doesn’t make aerodynamics less important and they were 100% a huge part of designing Bronco. We talked about how the Bronco looks good both with small and big tires, and he said that they really kept the smaller tires in mind with the initial design because anything with bigger tires just looks better. And we also laughed about modifications, I brought up angry eyes and he kind of sighed and laughed about it, and basically said once it’s in your hands to do as you wish! I made it clear that wasn’t my thing and we laughed, still funny to talk to a designer about this topic and see their reaction. He didn’t seem too bothered. The last thing that stood out was the prototypes that get crushed, I mentioned that it was a bit sad. He actually had a totally different perspective and noted that those vehicles have a short, HARD life but it is extremely valuable and just the natural order of things. Honestly, a great perspective to have, they die so our Broncos may live! Like I said, great guy, and an absolute treat to speak with him. Ford absolutely nailed it, giving him the project and I can’t wait to see the next Ford vehicle he helps design!

Mark Grueber (Bronco’s Marketing Manager): Talk about a Bronco fan! I spoke with Mark relatively briefly, but what an awesome guy. As a member of the Bronco Underground, we really would not be where we are today without him and the tight-knit group of guys in the shadows slowly trying to bring back Bronco. He introduced us to the whole team behind Bronco at the initial overview event, talked a bit about what it took to bring this thing back with Bronco being a “dirty word”, and just how much Ford cared about doing this thing right when they did give the green light. It was pretty funny, when we initially spoke he mentioned that Broncos should start arriving any day now, and I let him know that we had actually seen the first post about a Bronco delivery earlier that day! He even mentioned that later during the press briefing, so pretty funny to see something from on here being used by Ford themselves! If I recall, he started working at Ford either the exact day, or at least the year Bronco was discontinued so it was pretty fun to complete that circle and be with him on the first day of customer deliveries of the new Bronco!

Mike Levine (Ford Product Communications Manager): It was great to actually meet Mike in person, since he has such a huge online presence around Bronco, Mach E, etc. It was pretty hilarious, early on speaking with both him and Mark I just had to get one in for you guys. I told them both “Hey guys, just saying, Warthog is a WAY cooler name than Raptor” and they both shot absolute daggers at me for a second. Then we all laughed, and Mike commented with a grin that “It’s a really cool airplane” so I guess we will have to leave it at that! But I tried alright? Other than that, he made it clear he and Ford want to be involved with the Bronco community and see this thing succeed. Especially in the Southwest Mike himself said he wants to be involved with meetups, setting up trail runs, etc. and that they definitely want the 6G community to be a part of that! As Broncos continue trickling out hopefully we will start to see a lot more of that come to fruition once there are sizable numbers of Broncos across the country!

Esteban Jennings (Bronco Brand Manager): I ended up eating dinner with Esteban, and had an absolute blast talking with him. He is the definition of an off-road enthusiast, and it’s awesome to see someone like him was on the Bronco team. We talked about his land cruiser (Which he put a 6.0 LS motor into and it’s on 37’s) which is an absolute beast of a rig, the negatives of diesel engines(Mostly that they’re heavy), and his F-250. He specifically drove 3 or 4 states to get a 2020 base F-250 2 door, 7.3, long bed, bench seat truck. Now that is the absolute definition of an enthusiast truck! He said a supercharger is definitely in the future for the build as well! As far as Bronco, the main thing that we discussed that comes to mind was actually the window sill height. Both myself and one of the guys from 4 Wheel Parts (I can’t recall his name, unfortunately!) mentioned separately how nice it was to rest your arm on the door. Esteban said that one of his former bosses had an older land cruiser (IIRC) that everyone who drove said had just the perfect sill height, and they actually benchmarked and replicated it in Bronco! I gotta say it worked out great!

KOH Guys: I spoke with all 3 of them during our ride alongs, all were great and hilarious. Vaugn Gittin Jr. summed up Bronco as being like a RZR you can daily drive, totally agree. Loren Healy commented that he enjoyed the lighter weight of the 4 cylinder, and that he had driven both enough that he could tell the difference. Pretty crazy to be that in tune with your vehicle, but that’s what gets you to that level! And my favorite tidbit actually came from Brad Lovell. We talked about the 4600 class Bronco, and I said “I wonder if we will get some Ford Performance portal axles like that has” He paused for a second and replied “It’s funny, I’ve never mentioned that to them!” and we both laughed. So take that as you will!

Other interesting tidbits:

Speaking with one of the main chassis engineers, a few things I’ve only heard mentioned in certain publications but I found interesting:

-Air intake has a “dump out” of sorts at the very end, just in case of water intrusion. Will be interesting to see how effective that is or just how it works in general!
-Seatbelt pretensioners in both front and back seats (Jeep only has this in the front)
-One more airbag on the sides over jeep.
-Crash testing done according to regular vehicle and not doorless vehicle standards like Wrangler is.
-You can flash the computer at your dealership to account for a winch in case of a front-end accident.

Those are just the main Ford peeps I spoke with, as I think of conversations I will continue adding more! Overall everyone was truly great, Ford really put their best and brightest on this project and it shows in person along with the product! If you guys have any other questions just let me know as well, there is a ton I’m forgetting and it may just jog my memory!
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604Bronco

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Great write up! Sounds like a lot of great information and general ”shooting the shit” with these guys.

Why didn’t you ask what the new “Bronco wave” should be? That’d likely get you kicked out of the event lol
 

dgorsett

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Thanks Nickp, very nice write up. butt...wat does this mean? " -You can flash the computer at your dealership to account for a winch in case of a front-end accident. "
 
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Nickp

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Thanks Nickp, very nice write up. butt...wat does this mean? " -You can flash the computer at your dealership to account for a winch in case of a front-end accident. "
So the airbag algorithm is based on an impact not having a winch involved. Adding that 100+LBS to your front bumper changes how those sensors detect an impact and could mess up the airbag timing. You can go to the dealership and get them to flash the airbag system so that the sensors are aware that there is a winch affecting the crash, and the airbag will deploy accordingly!
 

Dirty Bronco

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Great write up Nick! I actually got to test drive a Wildtrak mannequin over the weekend. I have to agree with the windowsill height. It just felt natural to rest your arm on it.
 

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Pretty jealous - not sure how I would have prioritized what I talked about with Paul and Esteban. Love the result and hope they can normalize production soon.
 
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Nickp

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I’ve got an industrial design background and Paul is my current idol. So jealous!

He’s an awesome guy, I wish I had recorded some of our conversation but oh well. It is definitely a bit weird that they picked a British guy to design such an American vehicle, but evidently it worked! His outside perspective let other viewpoints influence him on what Bronco should be, and he really tapped into it.
 

BAUS67

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Great write up! Sounds like a lot of great information and general ”shooting the shit” with these guys.

Why didn’t you ask what the new “Bronco wave” should be? That’d likely get you kicked out of the event lol

Thought that had already been settled back when they were testing in Moab and Rubicon.


Ford Bronco Bronco6G interviews with Ford Bronco team at media launch event 20200817_200033
Ford Bronco Bronco6G interviews with Ford Bronco team at media launch event 2021-ford-bronco-rubicon-trail-2-jpe



At least for me it was.


😁
 
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Loved your write-up! Thank you.

As I finalized my Badlands build I remembered an important metric. Going from 2.7L to 2.3L will save you approximately 130lbs of weight on the front axle. That is significant weight and the main reason I switched to the 2.3L.

Seeing your comment made by Loran brought a smile to my face. :)
"Loren Healy commented that he enjoyed the lighter weight of the 4 cylinder, and that he had driven both enough that he could tell the difference."
 

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@Nickp I was happy to hear how you spent time talking with Paul.

I assume Paul and the engineering team thought long and hard about how to design a superior trail rig. I sense they believed the Badlands 2-Door model with the 2.3L and the 33” BFG tires would be the sweet spot. Did you obtain any indication my assumption is correct?
 
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Nickp

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@Nickp I was happy to hear how you spent time talking with Paul.

I assume Paul and the engineering team thought long and hard about how to design a superior trail rig. I sense they believed the Badlands 2-Door model with the 2.3L and the 33” BFG tires would be the sweet spot. Did you obtain any indication my assumption is correct?
I didn’t really get the impression that Paul was really much of an off road dude. He did say the base is one of his favorites when I told him that’s what I was doing though!
 

BroncoKong Jr.

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Great writeup, thanks! Must've been quite a time.

Any insight on the current winch issues with the camera and sensors? Or how about the rumored roof rack redesign?
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