Jim Farley gave the design team some inspiration.
The Ford Bronco Sport design team hit a wall back in 2017. Early design sketches were not particularly inspiring because they showed a more sleek-looking vehicle instead of the boxy off-roader that ultimately transpired. Those early sketches also caused some concern amongst Ford executives. Enter Jim Farley, the man who recently became the Blue Oval's new CEO.
Farley was Ford's president of global markets at the time and he gave the design team some major encouragement, according to an Automotive News report. He asked them to take a step back and think of two words that described their project's vision. The team settled on "honest" and "robust," and a sketch blitz got underway. They also opened the design process to designers working on other projects for additional creativity.
That's when a designer for the truck-based Bronco SUV named Brian Paik submitted his winning drawing. Paik was then promoted as Bronco Sport's chief exterior designer.
"There was a push to inject more Bronco DNA," said Paik. "We really wanted to redact any kind of stylized, unnecessary features and really give it a purpose-built feel. Once the sketch was picked and we went to a clay model, there was kind of an agreement that this felt right."
This wasn't the first time Farley stepped in to help designers find focus. The design team for Mustang Mach-E also required some assistance and his advice was simple: "think Mustang." The Bronco Sport's final design is anything but sleek due to its upright stance, short front and rear overhangs, and a safari-like roof that's even higher in the back to allow for more storage space and headroom.
"A lot of the SUVs out there today are stylized," Paik said. "Maybe like an athletic shoe or a trainer. We knew Bronco was not supposed to be that. It lived in a different space that was much more purpose-built. It made a lot of sense to adapt the Bronco language onto the Sport."
The exterior's off-road influence made its way to the interior as well with options like washable rubber flooring, seatbacks with straps for storing flashlights and cups, etc., and LED lights in the tailgate that can be angled outward for nighttime camping. The Bronco Sport's off-road prowess was recently demonstrated in a video but it was also vital for it to look the part, inside and out. Farley proved essential to making that happen.