A lot happens before you drive your 4x4 off the showroom floor.
It's no surprise that the lead-up to the reveal of the Ford Bronco emerged as one of our top 10 stories for 2020. Even though it has been delayed until the summer, the Bronco and its sibling - the Bronco Sport, which is available right now - continue to be hot topics. But what goes into designing and building an SUV that caters to the needs of a broad spectrum of adventurers and allows you to tackle challenging terrain with ease? Ford has just shared the unconventional methods and human-centered design that took place to bring you the all-new Bronco and Bronco Sport, as part of the brand's "Built Wild" philosophy.
These unique methods ultimately led to several of the Bronco and Bronco Sport's most useful features such as the quick-release roof sections, innovative cargo management solutions, a comfortable sleeping area in the four-door, and even a bottle opener found in the rear liftgate area. The Bronco team utilized storyboards in place of single-frame car sketches to visualize how adventurers would utilize their 4x4 in off-road conditions. And, rather than waste time on making clay models, prototypes were created far more quickly using interchangeable parts and rigid foam, a comparatively inexpensive material.
To mimic real-life off-road scenarios, the team turned to 3D virtual reality techniques and, without leaving the lab, used tiny electric fans and heat lamps to create a life-like environment. They even went as far as to pipe in the sound of birds through headsets to give testers the most authentic experience.
"We took the work out of the top-secret design studio and immersed ourselves into the sights and sounds of a remote desert or a northern forest - all without having to leave the Ford Product Development Center in Dearborn," said Bronco design chief Paul Wraith.
As the video above expands upon, it's all about best visualizing the needs of real people interacting with the Bronco in outdoor environments.
Not only did these innovative techniques result in many useful Bronco features, but they contributed to the massive response from customers who ordered the SUV in droves. Although first Bronco deliveries are a few months away, the Bronco Sport is available now and also selling strongly. In fact, Ford already handed this model a small price increase late last year. Conversely, the Bronco's popular Sasquatch Package received a price cut to start the year. Clearly, the Bronco and Bronco Sport's early success is no accident, driven by the fresh thinking of impassioned design and customer insights teams.