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

31 May 2022 Tom Libby

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 Seattle.

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.

To download the full report, click here

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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