Ford baby Bronco and Explorer ST joining SUV lineup, Mustang GT500 teased

Cryptic ‘performance utility’ also set for 2020

Ford "Baby" Bronco
  • Ford "Baby" Bronco
  • Rendering of the compact off-roading SUV that will slot below the also-forthcoming new Ford Bronco
  • Image Credit: Ford
  • Ford "Baby" Bronco
  • Ford Bronco Teaser Image
  • Ford Shelby GT500
  • Ford Edge ST

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. is giving its SUV lineup a shot of adrenaline, confirming plans to add a smaller off-road vehicle to complement the upcoming Bronco and a sporty Explorer ST model. The company also teased the much-anticipated Shelby GT500 and Bronco in renderings released Thursday.

Ford is closely guarding the rest of the details about these enthusiast favorites, but the surprise announcement of a small, purpose-built SUV to slot below the Bronco is sure to send shockwaves through the off-road world. The automaker did not release a name for the vehicle or precise timing for its launch, but did release an artist rendering of it painted in red (seen above).

Ford president Jim Farley, who oversees the company's global markets, said the Bronco and unnamed ute will be fundamentally different than the Jeep Wrangler, following a strategy of vehicles that are comfortable at high speeds, in the sand and on two-lane trails. As expected, Farley said the Bronco will come in two- and four-door variants when it arrives for 2020. It will also offer a hybrid model as part of Ford's electric push. The image below is our first glimpse at what it might look like.

Our first look at the upcoming two-door Ford Bronco

"For Jeep, that's rock crawling in Moab, for Ford, that's something different," he said. "[Ford customers] don't want something that looks like a doomsday vehicle."

Meanwhile, the company teased the Shelby Mustang GT500 on Thursday, though it didn't release further information. The automaker has previously said it will be the most powerful Mustang ever with more than 700 horsepower from a supercharged V8. Aside from giving the Demon some jitters, Ford's news on the upcoming Shelby was purposefully vague.

Continuing in the performance vein, Ford confirmed the long-running Explorer will get a sporty ST variant, which is part of a 12-vehicle expansion of Ford Performance set to run through 2020. Ford, which is also adding the already-revealed Edge ST, aims to grow its Performance division's sales by 71 percent by 2020 thanks to contributions from SUVs.

While those vehicles are sure to ignite enthusiasts' passions, Ford also announced plans to roll out more hybrids, invest in connected technologies and streamline its product development in coming years. Ford has come under fire from Wall Street for its stagnant stock price and the appearance it lags behind other companies in key development areas. Thursday, CEO Jim Hackett sought to dispel that, detailing a strategy to offer hybrid models on nearly every model line, including plug-ins, traditional (non-plug-in) hybrids or both. The Ford F-150, Mustang, Bronco, Escape and Explorer will lead Ford's electric blitz, which calls for six new electrics by 2022.

The hybrids are a pillar of Ford's plan to continue to offer large, powerful and capable vehicles, even in the event of another oil or economic crisis that could send fuel prices soaring. The company also confirmed a "new performance battery electric utility" that will arrive in 2020, though no further details were offered.

"It's low, it's sleek, it's zero-emissions. I'll make a prediction: That vehicle is going to be famous without having to shoot it into space," Farley said.

They're part of forward-facing moves that include autonomous vehicle development, cloud-based technology and a new suite of existing tech that will be standard on many Fords starting this fall, called Co-Pilot 360. Additionally, nearly all Fords will have standard 4G LTE by the end of next year.

"Being frozen in the past is really a death sentence in business," Hackett said.

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