Kyle Johnson
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Ford Bronco and Mustang Sub-Brands ‘A No-Brainer’

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2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD Winter | Ford Bronco and Mustang Sub-Brands ‘A No-Brainer’
Is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E the first spinoff in a full-fledged Mustang sub-brand?
Photo: Ford

Ford is toying with the idea of spinning out its Bronco and Mustang into unique sub-brands, an idea that the automaker’s been kicking around for the past couple of years. A report from Autoweek not only says that the plan is still very much alive, but also posits that both sub-brands would operate under the Ford Icons umbrella.

According to Autoweek, sources say that Ford Bronco and Mustang sub-brands would each feature unique vehicles that lean on the legendary names. We’ve already seen shades of this with the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric performance-oriented SUV that’s an official part of the pony corral — much to the chagrin of some purists. The Bronco already appears to have a couple of spinoffs in place with the Bronco Sport and the rumored Bronco-based off-road pickup, as well as a confirmed Bronco hybrid.

Though one has to wonder if overusing the Bronco and Mustang names could have the net effect of diluting their unique power, the source says it’s just smart business to use branding that works.

“We have to leverage what we’re good at,” the source says. “What are we good at? Mustangs and trucks. Mustang is a niche product with a great legacy. We need to expand on that legacy. More Broncos is a no-brainer.”

The source notes that Mustang-branded vehicles would be more focused on performance, and it’s fair to assume that the focus of Bronco-branded vehicles would be off-road ruggedness. The source also adds that every kind of vehicle is fair game, including EVs, hybrids, and sedans. Wishful thinking, but maybe there’s hope yet for the return of a Fox body-style Mustang.

Lots of History in Its Dust: A look back at the legacy of the Bronco and a look ahead at its future

How Ford Icons factors into Bronco and Mustang sub-brands

Dave Pericak
Dave Pericak, the global director of the Ford Icons team
Photo: Ford

Ultimately, whatever vehicles are associated with the Bronco and Mustang sub-brands would fall under the purview of the Ford Icons group. Though there’s not been much ink on Ford Icons, it’s led by global director Dave Pericak, whose experience with Ford includes a six-year stint as the chief engineer for the Ford Mustang. Pericak was also the global director of Ford Performance between 2014-2017 before stepping into his current role as engineering director of unibody and Lincoln programs.

Last August, Pericak spoke at the Woodward Dream Cruise and named the Mustang, Bronco, and Raptor as icon brands that are “the face of the Ford Motor Company.” Director of Regional Product Line Management Amy Marentic backed up that sentiment by noting that these vehicles are considered Ford Icons because they get “earned media” attention and plenty of social media movement, requiring little in the way of marketing to reach an audience.

“The iconic vehicles in the Icon team’s portfolio already have an enormous of goodwill,” she said.

While the Raptor is less well-known than the Mustang and Bronco, its status as a perceived icon brand suggests that there’s room for expansion. Ford is working on the new F-150 Raptor for the upcoming 14th-generation truck, and it’s rumored that the next-generation Ranger Raptor could make its way stateside eventually. Raptor variants for the likes of the Super Duty or Expedition would likely be welcome additions to the lineup.

Ford Icons seems content to do what it can to please purists, including keeping the manual transmission alive. Pericak said that the automaker “[does] not intend to walk away from it,” and the current-gen Mustang has single-handedly kept six-speed manuals hanging on in the Ford lineup.

At the same time, he embraces the future of electric vehicles, evidenced by the one-off all-electric Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 revealed in April. With Ford Icons over the possible expansion of the Mustang into its own sub-brand, there may be more reason to suspect that the electric Cobra Jet concept is helping pave the way for a proper Mustang EV.

“Electric powertrains give us a completely new kind of performance and the all-electric Cobra Jet 1400 is one example of pushing new technology to the absolute limit,” Pericak said. “We’re excited to showcase what’s possible in an exciting year when we also have the all-electric Mustang Mach-E joining the Mustang family.”

Ford growing its most profitable sub-brand, too

2020 Ford F-150 Raptor
The Ford F-150 Raptor is an iconic brand within an iconic brand within an iconic brand
Photo: Ford

Ford already takes a sort of brand-within-a-brand approach with the F-Series, which includes the F-150 and F-Series. The F-Series alone made more revenue in 2017 than major brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, making it Ford’s best asset by far. But while Ford will pad out the F-Series with hybrid and electric variants, you probably shouldn’t expect to see an F-Series cabriolet any time this century (or next).

Though the F-Series is so synonymous with Ford trucks, the relaunched Ranger and rumored Bronco pickup suggest that Ford is comfortable expanding beyond that brand. But that fortunately most likely won’t include a pony-badged pickup. Autoweek’s source suggests “there’s probably going to be a fistfight over a pickup called Mustang.”

More Ford Truck News: A sub-$20K compact pickup could join the lineup as early as next year