Bronco Launch: Boom or Bust?

bronco-launch

Ford introduced the Bronco on Monday night and it was met with great fanfare and rejoicing. I have been incredibly excited for it to debut and would love to have put down a deposit on one. The website to reserve one crashed almost immediately. It will be a very successful and popular vehicle. But for as hyped as the Bronco was, the launch, especially being all virtual, did not go as well as it could have in my opinion, and here is why.

Ford teamed up with Disney Creativeworks to create three short films about the Bronco directed by Jimmy Chin. You can watch each film here, here, and here. They were shown around the 8 o’clock hour on Monday, July 13th. One on ABC, one on ESPN, and the last National Geographic. Ford also did a virtual launch on their YouTube channel.

After watching all three, I now see what Ford was trying to do and where they were trying to go. They are trying to say get off your butt and go out in nature. Stop watching it on TV, get in a Bronco, and go live. They want to show they are going back to their roots, ready to tackle the tough terrain and take on Jeep. It is showing that Ford has climbed up out of there old ways because each film has climbing in it. Jimmy is not just an award-winning film director, he is also a climber. That is evident in all three short films that he made. The climbing aspect was much better in Jimmy’s own film than it was in the other two.

Jimmy’s own film was just much better overall. He did better at making the Bronco a part of his story, sort of like a supporting role, rather than just a vehicle being driven by a celebrity. I do not want to belittle those celebrities either. Their stories were amazing and they are awesome people. I just don’t think Jimmy could incorporate the Bronco into them as well and it seemed more forced and less natural. But that is simply my opinion.

The main issue I have is this. For as much hype that had been put into these films and the Bronco launch in general, it was insanely overrated. It is also ridiculously hard to find where they said they said they were going to place these films. They said they would be available on Hulu starting July 14th, the day after the launch. Maybe they were there. I wasn’t able to check. But, I did check on July 16th and did not find them. I searched, but I didn’t see anything Ford or Bronco related. Therefore, I went to YouTube. All three films are there but they have so few views in my opinion. Ford really dropped the ball on these films, I think. The most views one of the films has is 272,000. You might think that is a lot, but when you look at the live launch they debuted on YouTube, that video has over 2.8 million views. The films to me were a total dud and a total distraction.

Ford has had issues with launches in the past, especially the Explorer. If you want to hand Ford a pass because of the pandemic, that is fine. I will cut them a little slack. But really, they have rumored the Bronco for YEARS. Ford kept changing the date because the first launch date was set to be in the spring of 2020. Then the pandemic hit and caused them to set a new date. That date was July 9th, which was OJ Simpson’s birthday. How did they not know that? When your vehicle is associated with something like that, one would think a simple Google search would tell you a birthday? Not intentionally doing that, and wanting to not cause controversy, they moved it to July 13th and said all 3 films would come out across 3 Disney network of channels. Then there would also be something on YouTube. Yet, in none of these did a CEO get up and say anything about the vehicle, or show one in action in real life. Everything was staged and filmed prior. Nothing was live. There were hardly any facts given that we didn’t already know.

If it seems like I am ranting and long-winded it is because I can’t seem to articulate how confusing this launch was. My point is this. It should have been a very simple, inspiring, and proud event. In reality, it had very few of those things.

Let me be clear though. The Bronco launch did not fail. There was so much hype about it to begin with that it really couldn’t fail. It just wasn’t as amazing as it could or should have been in my journalism degree, automotive enthusiast opinion.

Ford for all the Marbles

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Last year Ford announced they would no longer be producing compact, small, mid-size, and large cars. They were changing their long term plan to only produce cross over, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Not long after that announcement, the electric Mach E Mustang was introduced, and that vehicle seems to be the kick off of a new large vehicle line up.

But, this plan might be in serious peril before it even gets started. Let’s break down a few elements that might make Ford’s plan very challenging. Many of these things can change quickly though, as they all are very recent themselves in some regard, so this is my opinion and speculation.

First, the world wide COVID-19 pandemic is absolutely destroying the global economy. Auto manufacturers are taking a beating and sales are almost non existent. With people out of work, it makes it hard to entice people to buy a shiny new expensive pickup truck.

Second, the factory that supplies parts for Ford, Ram, and Toyota trucks was recently damaged by a tornado. While this will hurt Ram and Toyota as well, it made most headlines as interrupting Ford’s production. Since Ford’s entire lineup is mostly large trucks and SUVs and the parts supplier that provides the transmissions for those vehicles is damaged, all the eggs are in one basket and about to break.

Third, oil prices are deep in the red in trading value. While that is great for consumers because prices at the pump are very low, this unfortunately isn’t the time to take advantage of it. A thirsty F-150 can be filled for cheap at the moment, but with all shelter in place guidelines and people out of work, it is unlikely that people are going to be wanting a vehicle that is expensive to fill up in the future.

Fourth; very recently Ford announced that they are wanting to achieve 10 percent profit margins, even through this current circumstances. They have placed Lisa Drake in charge to accomplish that goal. She was in charge of the 2004 launch of the 11th generation F-150. That particular skill is what they are desiring her to perform on because she is also tasked her with increasing awareness of new products being launched, something Ford has struggled with for the past few years. Most notable the newest Ford Explorer botched release.

The next blog will be about the fifth and final blow to the Ford fiasco that is brewing. But with all the issues mentioned above, Ford has put all their chips on the table. SUV’s and trucks that with gas prices low but a worldwide pandemic not facilitating using those vehicles, a damaged factory, and the need to produce and profit within all of these circumstances, it is going to be a tough year for the automotive industry in general but I think Ford will really be feeling a pinch. Although Ford has weathered a lot over the years, so I should stop being so negative. The American spirit will prevail.

 

The End of the C8 Wait

The New C8 Corvette
I attended a pre-sale party for the C8 at a local dealership and was able to get photos of it as well as sit in it.

For years now I have been hoping, wishing, and supporting that the Corvette would become a mid-engine vehicle. I have wanted that as far back as around 2008, with hopes the C7 would be a mid-engine and properly pay tribute to the C2 “Stingray” name plate. The original Sting ray attributes were polarizing compared to the C1 design.  I thought having a split window should have only been applied to a “Stingray” Corvette, that should have been mid-engine. I was disappointed that Stingray name was re-introduced for the C7 and that the C7 wasn’t mid-engine.

So here we are. The C8 has finally been released and we have a mid-engine Corvette. What do I think?

Well, I think the styling is AMAZING. The proportions are a bit large, but it works and the car seems to have a lot of practicality to it. Since GM doesn’t have to put a massive 10 or 12 cylinder engine in the back, there is a lot of space for cargo. But don’t let all that practicality fool you. This thing can scoot. From all the videos I have seen, this car, even in stock form, is a true track monster.

I was able to attend an event at a local dealership for the C8 where I got to sit in it. It was nice to get up close and personal with it. The interior is stunning, but both my wife and I were not thrilled about the seating position. I was too tall and she was not tall enough to make all the driving ergonomics comfortable. Although, I am 6’4″ just like Doug DeMuro, and when he reviewed the C8, he had no problem driving it. He actually commented on how large the cabin was compared to other mid-engine vehicles. So, I should give it second chance if I am ever given the opportunity.

There were delays upon delays for this car, some of them were chassis related. While that is believed to have been sorted upon now finally launching the car, there still might be some issues that arise, as with any new vehicle. One of the issues is a wavy dashboard where the material/fabric is starting to wrinkle on the passenger side dash. Another issue that might come about is a noise that comes from the passenger front end. I don’t know much about this, but it is heard on a C8 in a video done by one of my favorite YouTubers, The Stradman.

While this blog shows I have little personal experience with the car and is slightly picky to some both personal and production flaws, I want to convey how much I truly like this car. It has been a long time coming, it looks amazing, performs well, and I believe that it has not only met, but exceed the hype that has surrounded it. It is a true American icon and it has now started a new chapter. I am just surprised that Hot Wheels has not come out with a C8 Corvette yet. Whenever they do, I will be adding that to my collection. Chances are it will be the only one I will ever own.