What Drives Her: Jolanta Coffey of Ford on Building the New Bronco Everglades

Jolanta Coffey. Photo: Ford
Jolanta Coffey. Photo: Ford

Jolanta Coffey discusses her daughter’s favorite feature that makes this SUV awesome.

Few vehicles have been as anticipated as the new Ford Bronco. I’m willing to bet whatever your social media platform of choice is, you have seen and heard about it.

What might be the most awesome thing about the Bronco project is that it was headed up by Jolanta Coffey. She is the Chief Program Engineer for the Ford Bronco. I got to see the results of her hard work firsthand, and what it was like to be in charge of that vehicle and try to make everyone (including her family) happy.

Related: First Drive Review: Five Reasons to be Wild About the 2021 Ford Bronco

2022 Ford Bronco Everglades. Photo: Sara Lacey

2022 Ford Bronco Everglades. Photo: Sara Lacey

Engineering and Business School Helped Prepare Jolanta for Her Work. Love of Psychology Helps Her Understand Her Customers.

Because my own kids are finishing up high school and in college, I had to know what Jolanta studied to become a Chief Program Engineer.

“I have my undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, and I have an MBA.  Those prepared me well for the role, which is two-fold. One is ensuring all the engineering bits meet what we imagine the vehicle to be, delivering on the customer promise. And making sure we do that on time with quality. But I also own the business side, which means meeting the cost but balancing that with revenue. So I have full profit and loss for the vehicle as well as all the engineering delivery. It’s a lot of fun.”

I asked her if it was neat to create different models for special uses or for a specific kind of customer. The answer was an unequivocal yes.

“Yeah, it’s really exciting. One of my interests other than engineering is psychology, and it’s really fun trying to understand the human experience — in this case, our customer’s experience — and translating that into products that they’re going to love.”

Jolanta talked about how the Bronco Everglades communicates that individual, adventurous experience.

“For example, with the Everglades, we have some customers who are enthusiasts. They’ve been off-roading, and everything we do with that particular Bronco will make that experience better.” The Bronco Everglades Edition has a wash-out interior and a custom-designed snorkel. “And the colors it comes in, that’s a part of the story; the graphics that are a map of the Everglades, that is part of the story, too.”

Jolanta continued, “And that’s the thing, Bronco customers really want this Bronco that looks unique and their own. [The Bronco Everglades Edition] has the features those particular customers want — both interior and exterior — we’ve packaged them really well together, so you get everything pretty much right out of the gate. It looks ready for adventure!”


Winch On The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades. Photo: Sara Lacey

Winch on the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades. Photo: Sara Lacey

It’s About The Adventure — For All Owners (And Their Kids)

Jolanta also has a specific fan she has enjoyed sharing her work with.

“I have an 11-year-old daughter, and she loves it. She loves talking about it, and she loves hearing what people say about it.” I asked if her daughter knew the Bronco was coming before it launched.

“She knows some things because she hears some things. But the vehicles that are in production, she knows I work on them. So it’s just a cool thing for her. And we have one at home, so she gets to experience it, and she just thinks it’s awesome.”

Of course, I had to ask. What model does she herself own?

“We actually have what is the base for the Everglades, so we have a two-door Black Diamond with a hard top [that has removable panels]. It has the wash-out interior. The Black Diamond is pretty off-road capable as well. We received it late fall, so we cannot wait to take it out this year and try it. Her [daughter] favorite thing is to be able to take the roof off.”

I believe it. That would probably be everybody’s favorite feature! “Right?” She says. “My daughter always asks, ‘Mom, can you please pick me up at school with the roof off?’” 

If I had Jolanta’s job, I would probably always get busted daydreaming about what to do with the Bronco. I wondered if she had a vision of what she and her family would do in the Bronco. She said that they haven’t really done a lot of off-roading in the past, but they’re excited to do more. “One thing I kept thinking about was, ‘How can we push ourselves? Or try new things?’”

Ford Broncos Everglades Photo: Sara Lacey

Ford Broncos. Photo: Sara Lacey

Related: The 2021 Ford Bronco Black Diamond Off Road SUV: Five Standout Features

 “I can’t think of many other vehicles where people put it in their holiday cards like it’s a part of the family.” -Jolanta Coffey on the Ford Bronco

To have followed the Bronco Everglades’ launch is to know that there are a lot of novices who are making the most of the off-roading features. I wanted to know if Jolanta had been getting a lot of feedback from off-roading newbies. 

“Technology has now enabled novices who, maybe in the last two years, maybe they’ve taken their first trip out on the trails and gone into the wild,“ said Jolanta.

“Bronco customers are very passionate and have a huge presence on social media,” she continued. “So I do spend a lot of time reading comments and really trying to understand what they’re saying and seeing what we can do to make the vehicle better. And also taking the positive feedback and really leaning into that feedback. It’s overwhelmingly been positive. We listen to it, and I try to then imagine what the person was doing when they did a really cool thing, or if they want to do something different, I’m really learning from it. So it’s just been a lot of fun. And like I said, my 11-year-old does the same thing. She is the first one to tell me when someone says something about the Bronco.”

Jolanta knows how people feel about her product. “I can’t think of many other vehicles where people put it in their holiday cards like it’s a part of the family.”

Related: Ford Is Getting Serious About Off-Roading With the Bronco Raptor and the New Expedition

The Bronco Could Be the Hand-Me-Down Everyone Fights Over

It seems like the Bronco could be something that stays in families, like an heirloom. She said that was something she enjoyed about the vehicle.

“It’s great because it comes from this great heritage. [We have] added technology to make it modern and also something you can have as an everyday driver. We have worked the suspension, so it’s really good for on-road driving, but you can take it off road. And that’s another reason customers want to make it their own and very unique. I saw a shirt that said something like ‘I work hard so my Bronco is happy.’ It’s like their baby.”

I wonder, now that the Bronco Everglades is out in the world, what would Jolanta do differently? My last question was whether there are any features she didn’t add but now wishes she did?

She happily replied, “This is part of why we’ve done the Everglades, and maybe do other things,” She says they are “listening to [customers asking] ‘Where can I go next?’ and maybe combining that with what might be new in the industry or what new tech comes along, so that we can continue to grow this really cool product.”

Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey