Every customer and dealer who has taken possession of a 2021 Ford Bronco with a hardtop will get the tops replaced at no cost because they are beneath company standards for the popular SUV that began shipping in June.
The automaker notified dealers Thursday. While Ford reported selling 4,078 vehicles in June and July that include both hardtop and soft-top, this action affects “a few thousand vehicles” that have been sold to customers, shipped to dealers or remain on hold by the company near the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, the company told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY network.
Ford began production with more than 125,000 customer orders on hand.
In early July, the Free Press first reported that the Webasto hardtop problems were disrupting production and delivery.
“As part of our extensive pre-delivery quality inspections, we discovered molded in color roofs made by our supplier partner Webasto did not meet our quality standards. The issue does not impact the functionality of the roof but can cause unsatisfactory appearance when exposed to extreme water and humidity,” Ford spokesman Said Deep told the Free Press.
“As a result, we’ve made the decision to replace all molded-in color hardtop roofs on all two-door and four-door Bronco vehicles produced through August. This includes Broncos that have been delivered, are in transit, and units which have been built and are awaiting final quality release at Michigan Assembly Plant,” he said.
“Our customers who already have a Bronco with a hardtop can keep driving them in the wild and we’ll get them a new hardtop roof at no cost as soon as we can. Unfortunately, for some customers who have ordered two-door and four-door Broncos with a hardtop roof, they will need to wait a bit longer.”
The Broncos built with soft-top roofs are being built and shipped.
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New plant just confirmed
The German supplier Webasto confirmed to the Free Press that it plans to open an additional plant in Michigan within the first three months of 2022.
It currently builds the tops at a plant in Plymouth, Michigan.
“To meet the high demand and increase roof production capacity, we will build another new production location in southeastern Michigan,” said Susanne Killian, head of global internal and external communications for Webasto.
Ford is “looking at even more opportunities to expand hardtop roof capacity,” Deep told the Free Press.
Webasto declined to comment on the ongoing quality problems involving the tops or respond to concerns that the supplier’s manufacturing problems have damaged the multibillion dollar launch for Ford. The automaker declined to comment, too.
“We don’t talk about supplier agreements,” Deep said. “We’re taking care of the customer. Other matters will sort themselves out.”
Ford would not discuss who would pay the costs associated with this replacement, only to say that it would not be the customer.
Prices for the 2021 Bronco start at $28,500 for a two-door model. The base four-door starts at $33,200. It competes primarily with the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner, with the removable tops Jeep owners love to flaunt.
The appetite for the new Bronco is so insatiable that some people are obtaining the vehicle and reselling it almost immediately. A Friday morning review of the eBay auction site online showed an all-new First Edition Bronco listed for $125,000 while other Broncos were listed for $103,000, $88,000, $88,100 and $75,000.
Mark Grueber, Bronco marketing manager, has worked to bring the vehicle back to the market almost since the day it went out of production on June 12, 1996. He pitched the strategy and proposal to the Ford leadership team.
This production glitch makes him ill.
“It’s all hands on deck to try to take care of the customer and get this resolved as soon as possible,” Grueber told the Free Press on Thursday. “I got, like, two hours of sleep last night. We understand what the customer is going through. We’ve disappointed the customer on this. It’s the last thing we want to do.”
He continued, “We’ve got a fantastic product. The customer and the media and the world love the product. … We’ve disappointed them and we want to make it right. We are doing everything we possibly can to take care of these customers.”
Deep told the Free Press:
- “While it’s no consolation for our Bronco customers, we will continue to offer exclusive Bronco gifts and experiences for those waiting. For example, in July we mailed an exclusive Bronco design poster. Earlier, we offered ride and drive experiences with professional drivers to experience firsthand Bronco in the wild.
- “For customers who have their Bronco, we will notify them that their hardtop roof will be replaced free of charge. To make it as easy as possible, their dealer will reach out to them to schedule an appointment. Many of our dealers have the ability to offer free pickup and delivery.
- “For customers with a Bronco that is built and at Michigan Assembly Plant awaiting shipment, Ford will email these customers with an estimated delivery date for their new Bronco. While they wait, we will continue to offer them exclusive Bronco gifts, such as the design poster they received in July, and other exclusive Bronco experiences.
- “For customers who have an order for a Bronco and unfortunately have experienced multiple production schedule date delays, Ford will be contacting them explaining how their new build date will be impacted as Webasto ramps up new hardtop roof production. Ford will notify them with a new date for when their Bronco will be built. We will continue to offer these Bronco order holders exclusive Bronco gifts and experiences while they wait.
- “For customers who placed an order for a Bronco but do not have a scheduled production date, Ford will inform them that their vehicle will now be a 22MY (model year) Bronco. With new colors and options for the 22MY, these customers will have the option to change their order. This group of Bronco customers also will have the option to switch their hardtop order to a soft top and potentially receive a 21MY Bronco later this year. Ford will install a free prep kit for customers who switch to a soft top roof, which would allow customers the ability to purchase and install a hardtop roof at a later date. We will request our dealers reach out to these customers to determine any other unique assistance they might need. We will continue to provide these customers exclusive Bronco gifts and merchandise.