Re-tooling the auto industry—bringing back old favorites


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As America’s auto industry goes through a 21st Century makeover, Ford executives announced the return of two popular models that have been out of production for years: the Bronco, a midsize SUV, and the Ranger, an upsized version of what was a compact pickup.

That announcement was made shortly after the opening of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The auto industry seems to be going through a sea change, and its effect on Western New York seems to be positive.

Ford executives were greeted by an enthusiastic audience as they announced the return of the Ranger, their popular pickup that was discontinued, domestically, in 2011, and the Bronco, a midsize SUV that Ford took off the market down 20 years ago–shortly after O.J. Simpson made a run from authorities in his now notorious white Bronco.

The Bronco and Ranger will both be made at Wayne Assembly plant near Detroit in Michigan, displacing the smaller Focus, that will be shifted to a Ford plant in Mexico. Art Wheaton, an automotive expert at Cornell University, said the return of the two popular vehicles was part of the United Auto Workers’ latest labor contract with Ford.

“For the workers in the Wayne Integrated Stamping and Assembly Plant, having this hot-selling SUV is great because it has a higher profit margin, it is going to have better sales, and they won’t have weeks of shutdown because of the demand was soft for the Focus.”

While the return of the Bronco and Ranger will not directly affect Ford’s stamping plant in Hamburg other labor contracts involving Canadian plants will favor the Woodlawn facility.

Wheaton also said General Motors Powertrain plant in Tonawanda is in a good position, too, “Corvette engines are built in Buffalo, so they build a high quality, high performance engine, and they can also build some of the environmentally-friendly good miles-per-gallon motors here as well.”

What does the future hold for Western New York’s auto plants? Wheaton said, “We are still alive and kicking in the auto sector.”

Ford announced production of the new 2019 Ranger is set to get underway next year, and the new 2020 Bronco goes into production the following year.

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