Our Next Chapter: Kindred EV Bronco
With production of the Kindred Bronco underway on Mare Island, the next chapter of Kindred is all about building on our strengths as a company to create the best vintage restomod driving experience for our customers. For some members of our team, this means continuing to produce best-in-class restomod internal combustion engine (ICE) Broncos. But for many – namely our EV Team – sights are set on continuing to build on our EV program by developing the Kindred EV Bronco which will represent the culmination of over 25,000 hours of EV research & development.
We’re now just months away from a completed EV Bronco prototype that we believe will be a revolutionary restomod, blending a best-in-class EV drive experience with all of the charm and grit of the original Bronco.
Giving Ourselves a 25,000-Hour Head Start
For those who have followed Kindred from the very beginning, thoughtful EV conversion of classic models is foundational to our vision. Since 2021, we’ve accumulated over 25,000 hours of EV research & development while building and testing our three prototypes. During this time, we’ve increased our sophistication around control systems and developed our Generation 2 EV platform – a new dual motor drivetrain that will power current and future Kindred models.
Kicking things off with a gas-powered Bronco gave us the chance to dial in the details ahead of an EV build. We’ve worked through all design aspects of the first generation Bronco, logging thousands of steps in Blueprint. We’ve set up our supply chain to keep production consistent, and, most importantly, taken the time to carefully assemble an insanely smart team capable of producing the highest quality EV Bronco out there.
But why an EV Bronco, you ask? While we could have stuck with the gas-powered model, we decided to push the limits of what a beautifully restored, perfectly modern Bronco could be. We are also reimagining what EV's can look like. They don't have to be monotoned washing machines with wheels. We can start to change what people think of when they hear “EV” by starting with an already proven Kindred Formula.
Not Our First Rodeo—Kindred's EV Experience:
When it comes to building EV prototypes, this isn't our first rodeo. In fact, we’ve already built three of them so far. We have an EV Chevy 3100 pickup and two EV VW Buses. For our second iteration of the EV VW Bus, we took our learnings from the first Bus prototype to lay the groundwork for the EV Bronco. On this ‘Test Mule’, we’ve installed our brand new motor gearbox units as well as our in-house-developed thermal management systems. This Test Mule is currently out on the road accumulating miles to test out the new systems. While these are not 1:1 matches with the Bronco, the challenges are largely the same, meaning our EV team can take our findings from the prototypes and apply them to all of our future models.
The EV Team
At the heart of our EV Bronco development is our EV team. We filled our team with the best of the best, ensuring that we had a well-rounded group. We brought on a Tesla alum to master the thermal management systems, a controls engineer to dial in the HVAC, an operations pro who founded his own restomod companies and half a dozen engineers who build their own EVs at home in their spare time. It’s safe to say we’re excited about our bunch.
The EV Team has been tasked with not only sourcing all of the EV components themselves, but also integrating them all to yield a fully functional EV powertrain. Where others might choose the ‘easy option’ – to just mount an electric motor onto a transfer case and use the existing suspension design – our EV team decided that this was not the best layout for an EV. The high efficiency motor gearbox package we’ve developed eliminates the solid axles and requires an entirely new suspension design, which allows for the motor gearbox package and provides far superior ride comfort.
We’ve also enlisted some of the best suspension design consultants in the industry to optimize every single suspension mounting point on our EV Bronco. With them, we’ve run multiple dynamic computer aided design models to ensure that the new suspension will be optimized for the new weight distribution that comes with EV Bronco but also to optimize comfort and handling.
Finally, the EV team has painstakingly designed mounting systems and packaging for every EV part including the motors, battery packs, thermal management systems, controllers and various other components. Once the EV Bronco prototype is complete, we will continue testing and validation, to inform any changes going into final production.
Control Systems Are Key
To build modernized classics the right way, all of the components must work together seamlessly. That means we need robust control systems. Our Controls Team is developing our thermal management control system, which is critical to managing battery temperatures and charging efficiency. At the same time, the driver needs to be comfortable, too, so our control system also incorporates Kindred’s home grown HVAC system for the cabin (which is the first of its kind.)
Being an all electric vehicle, the wiring harnesses are critical to tying each and every part together. Our Kindred 12V harness funnels 12V power and communications throughout the vehicle while the Kindred high voltage wiring harness efficiently routes power for charging and the drivetrain. We’ve taken the 12V system from our ICE Bronco and optimized it for the EV Bronco. The biggest change is moving away from the old approach to wiring harnesses, where you run a wire for each function, to the more modern system that uses networks to communicate to different components. This allows messages to be sent from one device to another without running a wire or cable. As such, we have the best possible layout and components to provide a simple, reliable harness.
Design Ties It All Together
The objective for the design of our EV Bronco Prototype – as is the case for all of our other models – was to incorporate and support all aspects of an EV build while maintaining the nostalgia, timeless design and character of the original Bronco. And the Design Team has done just that. They’ve pored over and considered every detail, making sure that the colors, the lines and the aesthetics of the EV Bronco are perfect, even as the guts get a major overhaul into an electric vehicle. Ultimately, this means developing state-of-the-art solutions and updates to technologies that were originally crafted by the auto industry decades ago.
For example, due to the updated wiring system, we no longer have a cable to drive our speedometer. So we worked with industry leaders in gauge clusters to develop a bespoke cluster that has a modern networked connection and retains the aesthetics of a true Bronco gauge. Upgrading to electric also allows us to integrate other major tech upgrades, including independent front and rear suspension, Level 3 CCS charging, electronic power steering and power brakes.
The EV team has also been very busy for the past few years developing the electric drivetrain for the upcoming Kindred EVs. This includes developing a removable and upgradable battery pack system utilizing Kore Power VDA battery modules. These battery packs are modular and can be adapted to a variety of different models and locations. The packs feature a bespoke battery cooling and heating system developed in-house by the EV team.
What’s Next for the Kindred EV Bronco
With parts secured and assembly of our first EV Bronco prototype nearing completion, we are excited to see all of the planning, design and engineering come together. We plan on having a second upgraded prototype this summer and a customer-ready EV Bronco by the end of the year. It’s hard to believe we’re less than a year from sending our first Kindred EV out the door and onto the road.