By Dusty Rhodes
Just over two years ago, Webasto Roof Systems announced a $47.9 million investment in a Plymouth Township, Michigan plant to meet the demands of a new contract with Ford Motor Company and FCA. Just minutes from Michigan Assembly Plant, the new facility will be manufacturing modular hard tops for the 2021 Bronco.
Not since the Ford Thunderbird, which ceased production in 2005, has Ford made a vehicle with a removable top. And not since 1996 has Ford made a truck with a removeable roof section.
Webasto, a more than 100–year-old German supplier known for sunroofs, convertibles, and glass roofs — appears to be expanding their open-air roof capabilities with this new Ford contract.
The much-celebrated modularity of the 2021 Bronco is an impressive design breakthrough, but not without its engineering and manufacturing challenges. To deliver an open–air experience to first- and second-row passengers, on both 2- and 4-door models, Ford is offering multiple variations. Reviewing build and price, we count at least six tops that must be sequenced in the plant, each able to keep passengers dry while delivering an acceptable cabin noise at highway speeds.