The electric-vehicle future is inevitable, but it’s coming in waves. The first wave catered to the environmentally conscious (the very literal Bolt, Spark, Leaf, etc.) and the cutting-edge (Tesla). Now, Ford is attempting to single-handedly usher in the second wave of mass EV adoption, and it’s using the famous Mustang name to do so.
On Sunday night, Ford unveiled the Mustang Mach-E SUV, its first all-electric production vehicle. As such, it marks a lot of firsts for the automaker, with new technology such as using your smartphone as a key and a 15.5-inch smartphone-like screen in place of the standard center console. But it also marks many firsts for the Mustang name itself, including four doors, a crossover body and even all-wheel drive.
Using the Mustang name is a huge bet on Ford’s part, with the potential to implode the value of the brand if the vehicle falls flat. And if you scroll through Twitter, the purists are out in force, tweeting quips like “a disgrace to mustangs” (the horses?), “Steve McQueen must be doing fishtails in the grave” (don’t think that means what you think it means) and “If I buy a Mustang, I want a roaring combustion engine” (says the guy who will never buy a Mustang). But the social-media critics are balanced out by those welcoming a respected name into the growing EV field.
The one main criticism that actually holds water (until we can drive it ourselves) is on the question of similarity. How exactly does the Mustang Mach-E SUV fit in with the rest of the Mustang family? As Dave Pericak, the Global Director of Ford Icons, told Road & Track, “It’s hard to put words to, but we know when we do it right.” In short: They’re not going to admit this was nothing more than a marketing tactic.
Of course, there are design similarities with the classic muscle car, including the “long, powerful hood, rear haunch design, aggressive headlights and trademark tri-bar taillamps,” as Ford notes in a press release. But for the most part, the focus here is on the future, with the overall SUV design mirroring the market and the smaller details mirroring Tesla’s spaceship-esque design (where’d the rear door handles go?).
As for power and performance, the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition will put out an estimated 459 horsepower (342 kW) and 612 lb.-ft. of torque (830 Nm). And in a Mach-E with only rear-wheel drive but an extended-range battery, the estimated range will be “at least 300 miles.”
The things you should take note of here are the different qualifiers and the word “estimated.” Yes, Ford debuted this vehicle in November of 2019, but it still has to hammer out the final specs, as approved by the EPA and other entities, and the earliest anyone will get one is late 2020, with other models not being available until spring 2021. That said, as has been the case with other EVs, you can reserve one in advance. And yes, there are a whopping five models in total, including the First Edition, Select, Premium, GT and (for some reason) California Route 1 — and you’ll get different specs based on how much you’re willing to pay, with prices starting at $43,895.
All those asterisks didn’t stop Ford from making bold claims, because that’s what they do best. (Maybe that’s the through line connecting all the Mustangs?)
The press release calls out Porsche not once, not twice, but thrice! No, it doesn’t take on the German marque’s Taycan EV as you’d expect. Instead, the brand says the Mustang Mach-E is quicker off the line than the base Porsche Macan (in standard all-wheel drive), quicker than the Porsche Macan Turbo (in the GT version) and comparable to the Porsche 911 GTS (in the GT Performance Edition). Shots — although vague and still up for debate — have been fired.
You’d think Ford would be more likely to pick a fight with Tesla, the EV king that has so far whupped every major automaker in the electrification department. Instead, the automaker was silent … until Elon Musk himself spoke up:
That’s right. Hours after the launch, the Tesla CEO weighed in, not to tout his company’s Model X or Y, but to congratulate Ford. In response, Ford said, “See you at the charging station!”
In a perfect world, that would be a veiled signal that the automaker will be paying Tesla to open up its nascent Supercharger network to the Mustang Mach-E, but for now it seems to be nothing more than a public olive branch.
You can read more about the Mustang Mach-E over on Ford’s website here.
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