California May Give The Ford Bronco The Boost It Needs To Outsell The Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco
Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler are two off-roading SUVs forever locked in a bitter rivalry that parallels that of the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees, iPhone vs Android users, and Star Trek vs Star Wars. Both vehicles strive to satisfy customers and attract new ones by delivering an unforgettable driving experience, and for some, a lifestyle. For a while, the Jeep Wrangler has managed to maintain a lead over the Bronco in terms of sales. However, the state of California may give the Bronco the advantage it needs to pull ahead of its rival.

How Does California Affect The Ford Bronco & Jeep Wrangler Rivalry?

The US government has always had a significant influence over the course of the automotive industry, with California having a role that many would consider “overblown” in its direction. That is because the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requires automakers to meet a certain sales percentage of zero-emissions vehicles starting in 2026. As a result, Stellantis has had to stop selling certain new gas-powered vehicles in 14 US states that abide by CARB’s regulations, which would include gas-powered Jeep Wranglers. Meanwhile, Ford has been able to abide by these same rules without issue given its success with EV sales, giving the Bronco unfettered access to all 50 states.

What this means is that if these new regulations hinder new Jeep Wrangler sales in these 14 states, with only the hybrid Wrangler 4xe as the only model available on sales floors, the Ford Bronco will have the edge it needs to finally overtake the Wrangler as the top-selling off-road SUV.

What Does This Mean For Jeep Wrangler Customers?

While customers in these 14 states can still order gas-powered Jeep Wranglers, seeing them physically available on dealership floors isn’t in the cards. So for customers on a time crunch that need a gas-powered SUV and ideally want a Wrangler, they will be left with three choices:

  1. Buy the Wrangler 4xe hybrid instead
  2. Put in an order for a gas-powered Jeep Wrangler and wait an unknown amount of time for delivery
  3. Resort to buying an available Ford Bronco

Certainly, an interesting pickle the Jeep Wrangler has found itself in. In the first sales quarter of 2023, Ford Bronco sales were up 38% with a total of 32,430 units. Meanwhile, the Jeep Wrangler saw a 17% drop in sales, resulting in 37,391 units. With a difference of only 6,000 sold vehicles, the Bronco is really putting pressure on the Wrangler on which offroading SUV America loves the most.

Can Jeep Still Compete in CARB States?

However, this shouldn’t suggest that all hope is lost on Jeep. This is due to many customers being unphased by the physical availability of Wranglers in their state, and are perfectly fine with ordering their vehicles from the factory. They also have the added benefit of getting the exact color, trim, and model that they want, rather than taking whatever is on the sales floor. While this does mean extra work for Jeep dealers in CARB states, it’s definitely a lot better than no sales at all.

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