Gateway's EV Bronco Is Ford's Trojan Horse
Some might say that the electric revolution is now upon us but really, it started long ago. With the Mustang Mach-E, F150 Lightning, GMC's Hummer EV, and a host of other fully electric vehicles on the market, it looks like gas stations could soon be a thing of the past.
Even though the whole EV concept has some significant downsides that are kept under wraps by electric crusaders and early adopters, we hope that the industry will find a way to overcome them before phasing out fossil fuels for good.
One of the most exciting ideas aspects of this trend is the implementation of the electric drive train in off-road vehicles. EV technology's characteristic enormous torque is something that will have a lot of application in off-road conditions. Currently, the often substantial weight of an appropriately sized battery pack and, of course, a generally limited range are the biggest concerns.
At the moment, Bronco fans are understandably interested in the upcoming, gas-powered Bronco Warthog, but also very intrigued by the prospect of having a fully electric Bronco become available very soon. It's evident that Ford has the technology to make this happen -- an electric SUV was even teased a couple of months ago on Twitter -- but there's nothing official just yet. Ford needs to do some catching up, since Jeep's Wrangler is already available with a hybrid drive train, and a fully electric version has also been announced to arrive shortly.
However, this doesn't mean that buyers can't already have a chargeable Bronco; it just won't be built by Ford, and it won't feature a modern aesthetic design.
So far, two companies have emerged with classic Broncos fitted with electric motors and the latest technology. One is Zero Labs, with their matte gray Bronco, and the other is well-known restomod specialist Gateway with its recent addition to the fleet – an EV Bronco.
You might think that this is just another way of cashing in on either the current classic Bronco popularity or the EV craze, but Gateway's electric Bronco has one very unique and special feature that might make it worth the asking price to those lucky buyers who could afford it.
Gateway has been known for years in the classic Bronco community as one of the best restoration and restomod shops in the business. The high standards of Gateway's work attracted Ford's attention, with the company opting to back the shop with factory-approved parts and special components.
Gateway used a 1972 body shell as a foundation for the EV Bronco project and installed four electric motors and a battery pack. The entry-level model is rated at 200 miles of range, and it will set you back a pretty substantial $260,000. For that money, you will get 400 hp and a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 6 seconds.
Gateway is also offering a more powerful version for those who can come up with an astronomical $380,000. This model is powered by a massive 220 kWh battery pack, which provides EV Bronco with a pretty respectable 300 miles of range and sub 5 second 0 to 60 mph time.
You might ask if the upgrade is worth the big bump in price. Probably not, if it wasn't for one thing – a featured 5-speed manual transmission! As you probably know, electric vehicles rarely need transmissions, as most of them are equipped with direct drive. Installing a 5-speed manual in an electric vehicle adds a whole new dimension to the driving dynamics and could even pave the way for EVs to become proper enthusiast cars.
So far, dedicated driving fans have often criticized electric vehicles for their lack of feel, while praising the driving experience offered by analog classic cars. With an actual manual transmission added to the drivetrain, this could change.
Interestingly -- and we suspect a semi-secret Ford connection here -- two years ago, Ford introduced the Mustang Lithium, a concept car with an electric powertrain and six-speed manual. This car was built with the help of Webasto and featured lots of innovative tech. The Lithium Concept was well-received, but Ford decided to concentrate on the more conventional Mach E instead.
However, the electric motor/manual transmission combo is such a great idea that we believe Ford couldn't let it go and likely "suggested" to its partners at Gateway that they build a similar Bronco, just to see how it performs in the real world and to determine if there would be any interest from customers.
It's an excellent way to slip the prototype technology onto the street for some testing without raising attention from the public or competitors. We hope that the "test" results will be satisfying, and that we will see this combo featured in a production vehicle soon.