Australia’s own global 4×4 accessory powerhouse, ARB, has just put an announcement on social media that it has a new Ford Bronco at its Melbourne headquarters.
A few excited phone calls later, though, we can confirm it’s in fact here in the metal for ARB’s local designers and engineers to develop new accessories – to be sold in the USA through its expanding operations over there.
ARB has already started offering an array of Bronco accessories for its US stores, including bumpers and rock sliders. A modular drawer system, diff cover and jack mount are all listed “coming soon”.
A whole world of ARB accessories for the Bronco will follow, and that’s exactly why the car is in Australia. Simply put, ARB has more staff here that can bring the parts to life, and can do so more quickly using a physical car as well as CAD and all the rest.
To give some insight into ARB’s standing in the 4×4 world, consider that Ford is also working closely with it.
“When they first sat down with the joint ARB-Ford design team to review plans for the new Bronco, ARB engineers saw far more potential in what could be done with Ford’s new platform,” the company says.
“Ford engineered the new Bronco with the aftermarket in mind. In a landmark effort, choice industry partners like ARB were brought in years before the public would get a first glimpse of the classic vehicle’s redesign.
“Their task was to make the platform compatible with a myriad of consumer modifications. Modularity is built into this Bronco’s DNA, but never at the expense of performance.”
ARB prototypes are hand-built in Kilsyth, a suburb of Melbourne. This allows engineering and product management to test-fit accessories and make adjustments before the factory prepares to produce the accessory at scale.
“Each angle, bolt hole, surface, and finish is inspected, installed, uninstalled, and reinstalled to ensure what goes into production will hold up to ARB’s rigid standards of quality and illustrious reputation,” the company adds.
“Working with hand-built Australian prototypes in North America requires racking up frequent-flier miles. For the new Ford Bronco, both parts and vehicles end up on planes.
“ARB engineering has teams on both sides of the Pacific co-developing products alongside Ford. This includes passing measurements, test results, CAD models, and “heaps” of steel back and forth.
“Test fitting also requires getting hands (and accessories) dirty. An accessory might bolt up perfectly to a new Bronco, but what will the body-mount tolerances look like on washboards, rocks, and ruts?
“How will the electrical hold up to water fording? What happens when the engine and transmission are operating at extreme temperatures? How much will the vehicle’s weight fluctuate when the gas tank (or battery?) is empty?
“… Questions like these must be answered by ARB’s engineering team well before the factories start welding, folding, or painting. The brutality of the Australian Outback remains the primary proving grounds for ARB accessories, but occasionally engineering will try something less punishing like Moab or the Rubicon Trail.”