A Mustang SUV with 4 doors, that uses pure electric power instead of gas? What is the world coming to? The answer is an electrified auto industry. As everyone knows, Ford took longer than most to embrace it. Now that they finally have, the Mach e looks incredibly promising. It won’t arrive at dealerships until late 2020; long after other OEMs have made significant strides in the development and sales of their EV lines.
By John Coulter, CURRENT EV CMO
Though the automaker took a stab at electric propulsion in the first half of the decade with its Focus Electric, they made little improvements to their sole EV and added no other electrics to their product line. They put their money into developing hybrids, which had a fair share of success, but the company ignored the inevitable. Meanwhile, Tesla, Nissan, BMW, Porsche, Audi, GM, Kia, Hyundai and others created a major battery-powered marketplace from scratch, offering a dizzying array of e-mobility vehicles, with ranges that increase every year.
Ford had to play catch up. In 2017, it finally sunk in that electric vehicle tech, regulations, tax incentives and consumer interest had reached warp speed, propelling the EV Evolution / Revolution to heights far exceeding expectations. EV sales are exponential; every year, worldwide EV sales double or triple. With the math inescapable, Ford executives launched an internal effort called Team Edison, which was tasked with producing the company’s first serious pure electric vehicle.
Ford will offer its Mustang Mach-E in Select, Premium, California Route 1, First Edition, and GT trims. The base model’s MSRP will be around $43,895, before federal, state and local tax incentives. The Premium model will start around $50,600 and the GT will start at $60,500.
Ford says the top versions (Calfornia Route 1 and Premium), will come with a 98.7kWh Lithium-Ion battery that produces 300 miles of range, though the EPA has not tested the car yet. Mach e Select and Premium versions will produce 255HP, with RWD or AWD options. Mach e Select and Premium versions with AWD will produce 333HP and offer a range of 270 miles. The performer of the group will be the Mach e GT, which will offer the EV version of V-8 power by accelerating to 60mph in around 3 seconds when optional equipment is installed. Says Chief Ford Engineer Ron Heiser: “Our base all-wheel-drive Mach-E will be faster than a Porsche Macan Turbo. The GT will be within spitting distance of the 911 GTS.”
The Mach e will use a 4-wheel independent suspension with McPherson front struts and a rear multi-link set-up. 18”, 19” or 20” wheels will be offered.
Ford hasn’t said how long the Mustang Mach e’s battery will take to revive on a Level 2 charger, though they’ve indicated that a 150kW Fast Charger will replenish 47 miles in around 10 minutes. Ford’s chief electric powertrain engineer, V. Anand Sankaran, has said the battery cells won’t short-circuit because of overcharging or temperature spikes, and will be structurally protected during impacts. Two waterproof battery pack options have been developed by Ford. A standard range 75.7-kWh lithium-ion battery and an extended range 98.8-kWh battery have been designed to be easily adapted into Ford’s next EVs, rumored to be an F-150 electric pickup and a coupe version of the Mustang Mach e.
Ford has embraced many new auto technologies and will include some of them in the Mach e. Its Sync 4 infotainment system will display in a tall, tablet-style 15.5-inch touchscreen planted in the center of the dash. Over-the-air updates will take place in the same way they occur in Teslas. The new infotainment system will use a card-style presentation of options which can be shuffled around into preferred configurations. They’ll be accessed by a large physical dial integrated into the central screen.
Another new tech innovation involves Ford’s partnership with Electrify America and other charging suppliers to create single account access to charging stations. Ford, with their partners, wants to create the nation’s largest charging network of more than 12,500 charging stations (which would beat out Tesla). As part of the newly redesigned infotainment system, the Mach e will indicate charging stations when mapping out how you should get to your destination.
And then there’s the door handles. The Mach e doesn’t have any! Electronic pop-up handles like those on Teslas and the Jaguar I-Pace are no longer the envelope's edge. Mach e passengers open the doors via electronic buttons on the vehicle's B and C pillars. Push, and the doors open an inch to reveal black pull handles to get the door completely open. The over-engineered doors may sound weird at first, but door handles reduce coefficient of drag, which in turn reduces e-range. Ford engineers claim the Mach e coefficient of drag is less than 0.30 Cd, which puts it in competition with the Tesla Model X (0.25 Cd), Audi E-Tron (0.28 Cd), and Jaguar I-Pace (0.29 Cd). Clunky, traditional door handles, says Ford, are a thing of the past. The electronic latches a modern one-of-a-kind feature you won’t find on many competitors. It's a Ford First.
Ford knew they had to do something completely different with the Mustang, especially for California, which is one of their biggest markets, along with China. The emissions fight has created a massive change in the automobile industry. As automakers around the globe struggle to navigate a future involving driverless vehicles, electric drivetrains and environmental mandates, their limits are being tested.
The Mustang is a perfect example. Ford didn't want to mess with the iconic Mustang name. Until now.
Consumer research told the company an electric Mustang with a bigger silhouette could be highly successful. Regarding the rationale for a Mustang SUV, Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett says: “People have voiced that when fuel prices are low, they want larger silhouettes. That’s what customers are telling us. If there’s a future where fuel prices aren’t the determining factor, then therefore logic would say that they want larger silhouettes.”
King-size vehicle bodies equate to SUVs and trucks. Which is the reason Ford ended production of most of its sedans in the USA in 2018 to focus on its bigger models, such as the hugely popular F-150 pickup truck. Hackett says that part of the shift is due to the fact that sedans are no longer the only vehicles to boast good gas mileage. These days, the F-150 can get 20 miles per gallon in FWD mode. It used to only get around 10 to 12 miles.
So for Ford, turning the classic Mustang into a 4-door SUV was a no-brainer. The Mach e’s popularity at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month was significant. When Ford put up a dedicated reservation site after its debut on Nov 18, the $61,000 First Edition sold out 9 days later. How many customers put down $500 deposits isn’t known. Ford says it will make 50,000 units its first year in existence.