The 2021 Bronco's Roof Situation
What Ford did with the 2021 Bronco and Bronco Sport is nothing short of spectacular. In a world of pseudo-SUVs, soft-roaders, and full-size trucks, this company managed to present a vehicle that's traditional, modern, and revolutionary -- all at the same time.
Traditional, in the sense that it has a well-known and legendary name and heritage, a recognizable design, and occupies the very same market segment it began with.
Modern, as it incorporates all the latest design features, equipment, and technology.
Revolutionary, in that it's almost alone in the market, it offers a fresh perspective on off-roaders, as well as a new lease on life for the segment after it was nearly ruined by prioritizing comfort and convenience above all else.
Bringing back this legend -- and in such a fashion, no less -- wasn't an easy task. Quite contrary. It was a big challenge, even after two failed attempts and after the release of several concepts heralding the possibility of the Bronco's return.
However, Ford and its team of dedicated engineers managed to pull it off, and the enthusiastic reaction of the car community showed that their concept was spot on. The idea was great, of course, but its realization has obviously been a little bit problematic.
The first and most significant bump in the road was the Webasto situation and related problems with Ford's supplier of plastic hardtops. Although Ford's engineers were deployed to Webasto's factory in Plymouth, Michigan, the intervention proved unsuccessful.
Just a reminder -- the 2021/2 Bronco was to be offered with three kinds of tops. First was the standard soft top, second was the MIC top (black plastic), and the third and most exciting option was to be the MOD top, which should be eventually be delivered in white or contrasting colors, with the feature of being removable in segments, just as with the Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator.
At the moment, 2021/2 Bronco is available with a soft or MIC top, and the MOD option has allegedly been pushed at least a year from now to be a feature for the 2023 model year.
Even though Ford decided to cancel its contract with Webasto and look elsewhere for this vital component, the situation is not getting better. In fact, customers have been constantly complaining about the roofs, both soft and MIC, which is seriously hurting Ford's reputation and customer satisfaction level.
For starters, it looks like the MIC roofs have been poorly made, with plastic that's prone to bending and thin top layers pulling back to reveal the underlying roof's honeycomb structure. There are also uneven gaps between the roof panels and even the headliner, which has not been attached correctly in some instances.
The worst of the problems has been a series of delaminating roofs, followed by strange rattling, which a number of owners have reported. These Bronco owners weren't shy about relating their experiences and have reported these issues all over Bronco forums and social media.
There hasn't been an official response from Ford thus far, but since these are Webasto roofs that have been mounted up to now, we believe Ford will do a much better job with a new supplier.
However, there have even been several reports of problems with the soft tops, as well. Apparently, when folded down, the soft tops are rubbing against a piece of adjacent plastic in the truck, resulting in damage.
So far, there is photographic evidence of only a few such cases -- we're sure that this issue could quickly be sorted with just a tiny modification to the roof compartment space and that Ford will have that in mind for the 2022 model.
But there's now another strange issue that numerous owners have reported. Apparently, on some trim levels (namely, Big Bend and Outer Banks), there's a whistling noise coming from the front grille, hood, and soft top that becomes especially noticeable above 30mph (some say 50 mph). It looks like hood seals are the problem. Ford has already released an internal memo and has scheduled the installation of improved hood seals, starting in October 2021.
We believe that this fix will be available from dealers as well.
The last -- but certainly not least -- of these problems has been the widespread semiconductor shortage that slowly crept into the Bronco's supply chain. We've already covered this topic in detail and Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant has already experienced considerable downtime due to this global shortage.
Still, according to the latest reports, it could happen again.
But don't think that we're here to criticize Ford as a company. Quite the contrary. The introduction of the new Bronco has been such a significant undertaking that it would actually be strange if some things didn't go south.
This is just the reality of such big automotive projects -- production problems, recalls, and quality issues can, at times, be endemic to the car industry as a whole. At this moment, Ford had shown considerable patience and dedication and has engineered and produced the Bronco to the highest standards.
The delays and shortages have all been beyond the realm of the company's control. So, let's hope that those issues will be sorted soon and that there will be no further delays in production and delivery.