Bronco vs Wrangler: The battle of the true off-road utility vehicles

The introduction of the Ford Bronco in June 2021 marked the
first time in decades that a model has been positioned to compete
directly with the iconic Wrangler. S&P Global Mobility new
vehicle registration data indicate Bronco has indeed conquested
Wrangler owners (more than any other model), but the Bronco lags
behind the Jeep on several metrics, including share of segment.

Market share data show that Bronco share of the Compact Utility
Segment has climbed intermittently to 6%, but Wrangler continues to
account for 7-9% of the segment, suggesting Bronco has not
materially hurt Wrangler. Rather, S&P Global Mobility loyalty
data suggest the CR-V, Cherokee and Rogue all have ceded share
since the Bronco launch.

At the DMA level, Wrangler continues to out-perform Bronco in
every one of the Compact Utility Segment’s twenty largest DMAs,
though the gap is small in Minneapolis, Albany (NY) and

While the two models’ customer profiles are similar, there are
slight differences. Bronco customers skew slightly younger, have
marginally higher incomes, and are more likely to be male when
compared to Wrangler buyers. The Bronco customer also is more
likely to be of Western European descent, and less likely to be
African American, Asian, or Hispanic, when matched with the
Wrangler owner.

The Bronco buyer also is almost twice as likely to have a pickup in
the garage, but less likely to have an SUV or CUV.

Almost half of Bronco purchasers have a Ford in the garage,
while slightly less than four of every ten Wrangler customers own a
Jeep. The Bronco result may be due in part to its recent
introduction; all-new incremental models tend to initially appeal
to brand loyalists who are aware of the new model, have anxiously
been anticipating its arrival, and are among the first to visit
showrooms to see it.

Regarding the Bronco acquisition itself, S&P Global Mobility
data examine this from several perspectives.

Incentives are way down, and approaching zero, given the
exceptionally low inventory levels, though dealer lots have a few
more vehicles than they did back in the fall.
Wrangler customers are eight times more likely to lease than Bronco
customers, most likely driven by very competitive Wrangler lease
payments. In fact, these lower lease payments are appealing to
relatively high credit customers, more well off than Bronco
lessees. In contrast, Bronco buyers generally have higher credit
scores than Wrangler purchasers.

These higher-credit Bronco buyers in turn are able to borrow
money at lower interest rates than their Wrangler counterparts.
Loan monthly payments for both models, though, skew above segment
average, due in part to higher transaction prices when compared to
other compact utilities.

Lastly, Wrangler buyers typically have a higher loan-to-value
(LTV) ratio than Bronco buyers (and the segment overall), resulting
from Wrangler buyers’ lower credit-worthiness.

Brand loyalty of return-to-market Bronco households is high
(consistently over 60%), but, again, this is driven in part by the
fact that it was recently introduced; this metric should decline
over time. In contrast, Wrangler brand loyalty is in the 44-47%
range and below segment average.

With the Bronco launch last summer, Wrangler’s
conquest/defection ratio (with the industry) began to decline; this
metric averaged 1.35 from January 2020 through May 2021 but dropped
to 1.11 from June 2021 through March 2022. In each of the nine
months that the Bronco has been available (not including June, when
activity was minimal), more Wrangler households have defected to
the Bronco than have households with any other vehicle in the
garage. And the number of Wrangler households that defect to the
Bronco (as a percent of total Wrangler defections) has risen to
record highs of 9% and 10% in January and February 2022,
respectively, and 9% again in March 2022.

While these two models have similar specifications and customer
profiles, there is one key difference between them; the Wrangler
has been on U.S. roads, in one version or another, since WWII,
while the Bronco is only in its ninth month on the market (for
which S&P Global Mobility has data). The performance of new
models on many metrics is different from their performance after
they have become established, so we can expect to see changes in
Bronco metrics moving forward.

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Posted 31 May 2022 by Tom Libby, Associate Director Loyalty Solutions and Industry Analysis, Automotive, S&P Global Mobility

This article was published by S&P Global Mobility and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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