Automotive News is reporting that a new voluntary program will encourage Ford dealers to create stand-alone Bronco stores that have room for at least three vehicles inside, a display wall for accessories, and a fire pit.
The reason, of course, is more money. By building out Bronco stores, dealers can not only get more vehicles to sell from Ford, but it's the accessories that drive up profits. As one stand-alone Jeep dealer said last year, the amount of money people spend on personalization is "insane."
With Bronco sales about to start, we can look to the 23,356 Bronco Sport SUVs sold in the first quarter—and the fact that Ford said 60 percent of these were conquests from non-Ford brands—to see that this is likely a way to print money.
We don't need to tell you that Ford's new Jeep fighter, the revived Bronco, has garnered a fair bit of attention. There's the official, company-sponsored "fan" website, Bronco Nation, as well as many actual fan-run pages. The First Edition model with a VIN ending in 001 sold for over a million dollars at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction last month. And now Ford dealers are gearing up to launch stand-alone Bronco stores to encourage buyers to check out the new SUVs as well as get more vehicles to sell from Ford.
Automotive News is reporting that around 100 U.S. Ford dealers will be building separate Bronco stores, basically creating a third brand for the automaker, alongside Ford and Lincoln. While the publication said this idea came from the dealers themselves, who worked with Ford to come up with ideas for what these stores might look like, Ford has been pushing its dealers to spend money promoting the Bronco brand.
In January, Ford Authority reported that dealers who invested cold, hard cash into their Bronco showrooms would be allocated more Broncos to sell. The website said that an investment of at least $12,500 would get a dealer one more Bronco to sell and there was a sliding scale up to six more vehicles for investments over $75,000. Automotive News says that Ford now expects around 100 dealers across the country will build one of these Bronco-specific stores.
Aside from more vehicles allotted, a separate Bronco store would also allow the dealers to display and sell more Bronco accessories, which are a prime way to increase profits. The automaker's renderings that it shared with dealers last fall show a modern showroom with room for three vehicles, a display wall for the accessories and an outdoor fire pit.
"It looks so cool, and that type of owner is an enthusiast," Jim Moshier, general manager at Ricart Ford in Groveport, Ohio, told Automotive News. "Jeep people are in love with their Jeeps. Ford thinks they'll breed that same enthusiasm with the Bronco. And if you have that facility, they think people will want to go there to see all the accessories."
Of course, other branded sub-model stores have been tried and shuttered over the years, ranging from GMC's Hummer to Ford's own—and now retired—Mercury. But by pushing accessories, Ford's stand-alone Bronco stores are taking a page from Stellantis's encouragement of stand-alone Jeep stores. Last year, a dealer told Automotive News that the feeling in the Jeep-only store just seemed different than when the brand was mixed in with other Stellantis models. "This Jeep lifestyle is different," he said. "In the stand-alone store, these people are fun, they wear blue jeans, they wear T-shirts, they are definitely in the upper-income model. It is amazing what people will do and what they spend personalizing these vehicles. You would almost say it's insane."
There have been rumors of an expansion of the Bronco family to include a pickup, but for now, Ford offers two Bronco models, the Bronco and the smaller Bronco Sport. The Bronco won't start deliveries until May, but the Bronco Sport sold 23,356 units in the first quarter and Ford said these sales are bringing new people into the Ford family.
"Based on preliminary data, Bronco Sport is conquesting over 60 percent of its sales from outside of Ford," the company said in a statement, and the strong Bronco Sport sales "helped power Ford Brand SUVs to their best start in 20 years," according to a statement from Andrew Frick, vice-president of Ford Sales U.S. and Canada.
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