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2021 Ford Bronco officially denied access to Australia: Hottest new SUV of the decade barred from key 4x4 markets around the world, and the reason why is baffling

Despite being engineered in Australia using local expertise, the T6 Ranger-based Bronco will only be made in left-hand drive.

Ford has officially thrown in the towel as far as importing the Bronco 4x4, as well as its smaller mid-sized Bronco Sport stablemate, to Australia is concerned.

The local outfit has remained largely quiet on the fate of the Jeep Wrangler-style SUV since it made a glittering debut in the middle of last year in North America, saying it will not discuss future product.

However, Ford Australia president and CEO, Andrew Birkic, has confirmed that the Bronco is not earmarked for this market, because its projected sales in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and the United Kingdom are not enough to offset the cost of engineering it for right-hand drive.

“There is no right-hand-drive,” he told the Australian media in Melbourne this week.

“As a Ford employee, we think it’s an amazing product. We are really proud… it’s an amazing body of work and we’re incredibly proud. But the vehicle isn’t built for right-hand-drive and that’s where it’s at.”

This is despite the fact that the new Bronco project was largely engineered in Melbourne, since it is a derivative of the T6 Ranger project that has its homeroom base in Australia, using the basic chassis components of a truck that is obviously available in right-hand drive.

The revelation that there will be no Bronco derivative for Australia was underlined by Ford Motor Company International Market Group corporate communications director, Sinead Phipps, who said that the numbers simply do not add up.

“Those are all the questions you have to ask the lead developer of a vehicle program,” she explained. “You have to be able to make money out of it. You have to have enough customers ready to buy it. And, I agree, it’s a fabulous product. But it just doesn’t make sense.

“You are not the only person who has asked this question (about Bronco and Australia).”

Mr Birkic added that every model Ford is developing is scrutinised for its potential to be offered to Australian buyers, but only if the business case make sense.

“We’re always looking at what the (Ford global portfolio has to offer),” he said. “That’s part of the course, that’s our role. But there is no right-hand drive for that vehicle… we’re very proud of the Bronco globally and there is a pretty strong waiting list for it.”

While Bronco production at the Wayne assembly plant in Michigan is not scheduled to start until sometime in May, Ford is currently holding about 125,000 orders, out of the 190,000 reservations it held prior to the order books opening – and that equates to a remarkable 66 per cent conversion rate. First deliveries to customers is scheduled to occur in the third quarter of this year.

Meanwhile the senior Ford executives also confirmed that there are no plans for a right-hand-drive version of the Bronco Sport.

Regular readers will know that the latter is not based on the T6 Ranger platform, but is a Mexican-made derivative of the C2 architecture underpinning the latest (ZH-series) Ford Escape, Ford Focus and imminent Ford Maverick – the car-based utility set to take on the recently-revealed Hyundai Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline in some markets but… yes, you’ve guessed it, not Australia.

Interest and demand for both the Bronco and Bronco Sport is so high Ford has announced some 100 stand-alone dealerships for the series in the United States with an upscale, VIP lounge feel, highlighting the sub-brand’s growing status. So far, over 23,000 units of the Bronco Sport have been sold in the first three months of this year.

With over 60 per cent of those being conquest sales (so new to the Ford brand), it shows the potential of the Bronco nameplate to draw fresh buyers into Blue Oval dealerships… but despite this, Ford has seemingly made up its mind not to take a chance on a market as SUV-obsessed as Australia.

Is Ford right to deny Australians the Bronco and Bronco Sport on the basis that it cannot foresee enough demand for such vehicles in right-hand-drive markets?