Ford's electric future rides on this mustang
The Mustang Mach-E will be Ford’s first all-electric car. It’s an SUV. And it’s pretty damn sharp looking.
How did we get here? History tends to repeat itself.
Flashback to the early sixties. Ford is one of the biggest companies on the planet. Yet, young people aren’t excited about its cars. They need some sex appeal. There’s a scene in the new film Ford v. Ferrari about this very existential crisis. It’s dramatized but worth pointing out here: “Why doesn’t James Bond drive a Ford?” Lee Iacocca (played by Jon Bernthal), general manager of Ford at the time, asks. CEO Henry Ford II (played impeccably by Tracy Letts) replies: “Because he’s a degenerate.” Iacocca ultimately wins out, however. This is extreme Hollywood shorthand, but from that moment on, two products emerged that would change the history of Ford: the legendary GT40, the halo car that would go on to beat Ferrari at LeMans, and that car’s raison d'être, the Mustang.
The original Mustang was unveiled at the World’s Fair in New York City in 1964, and it helped give Ford the youthful relevancy it needed. The Mustang represented speed and style at a price most could afford. That degenerate James Bond, in fact, eventually drove a Ford—the Mustang Mach 1 in the 1971 movie Diamonds Are Forever.
Today’s existential crisis is not unlike that of the 1960s, and it’s not just Ford that’s feeling it. No one is buying traditional cars anymore. Back in April 2018, Ford even announced that it would be phasing out its sedans. They’ve been supplanted by crossovers, and SUVs, and ride-sharing services. And while the rumble of an internal combustion engine is music to many a driver's ears, the future of mobility, ultimately, will be electric.
What’s going to save the day? Enter the Mustang once again. And, yep, this time, it’s electric.
"This wasn't just trying to make the best fuel economy vehicle we could," David Pericak tells me when I ask him why name it a Mustang and not simply a Ford. He’s the director of enterprise product line management for Ford Icons and a key architect in bringing back the Ford GT. "This was demonstrating our engineering prowess and doing it with an iconic vehicle."
In some pictures, the Mach-E may look a bit more crossover than muscle car. But when I first saw it in person, in the light of the Hollywood Hills where we shot it weeks before the official unveil, the Mach-E’s Mustang-ness was very apparent. It's long hood, powerful haunches, and signature tri-bar tail lights. There will be some that will say "It's not a real Mustang" and "It'll dilute the brand." I get it, sure. But that's a weak boomer argument at this point. I think Porsche and nearly every other brand has proven that sportiness can translate into a crossover package and that people will buy them.
After being teased for months, including with a little help from Idris Elba, the all-electric Mustang Mach-E has finally arrived. Here’s everything that you need to know.
Is it an SUV or a crossover or something else?
Ford officially refers to the Mach-E as an SUV, and it definitely looks like a crossover, but it’s a Mustang. So why not make an electric sports coupe? "I'm not saying that that wouldn't have been interesting or it wouldn't have been intriguing to some," says Pericak. "But if you're looking to expand the family, you gotta look at what your customers want—they’re telling us they want a Mustang they can drive all year, a Mustang that people can take their friends with. Or that as they have kids and start to go into that phase of life, they don't have to get rid of their Mustang. So when you look at all those things, a four-door SUV makes a ton of sense."
What are the specs?
At the top of the line is the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, which will go 0-60 mph in the mid-three-second range—with estimated 342 kW (459 horsepower) and 830 Nm (612 lb.-ft.) of torque. This variant will be equipped with a MagneRide damping system, adaptive suspension technology, and have a range of around 230 miles. There will also be a GT that is targeting 0-60 in under four seconds, while a rear-wheel-drive model with an extended-range battery will have an approximate 300-mile range. All will have software that can get updated over the air like your phone, or, you know, a Tesla.
Where are the door handles?
There are none! Cool, right? You press a button. "We were dying to get rid of the door handles," says Jason Castriota, Ford's brand director for battery electric vehicles. "You know, there's so much sculpture on the body side, and then you have to throw a big, clunky door handle on there? It’s a bit of a knife in the heart. But then the team came up with a new door system, and we said, 'Wow, we got to get that in.'" It's a small detail but it really gives the Mach-E a clean, futuristic, concept-car look.
How's it drive?
We haven’t driven it yet, but this is what we know: There will be three unique drive experiences—Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled—that will change up steering controls, ambient lighting, sounds, and dynamic cluster animations.
Is the interior snazzy?
It’s one of the sleekest interiors Ford has made, and its centerpiece is the large, floating 15.5-inch touchscreen that is reminiscent of the touchscreen on Tesla's Model 3. The instrument cluster by the steering wheel is also a sleek screen. Opt for the optional all-glass roof and the Bang & Olufsen sound system, and you have yourself a very clean and refined space that feels more like a living room than it does a muscle car. Even though it's rakish from the outside, it's surprisingly roomy on the inside.
How fast does it charge?
According to Ford: "The standard-range Mustang Mach-E is estimated to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in approximately 38 minutes while charging on a DC fast-charging station." The peak charging rate is 150 kW.
What's the storage like?
In the back, there's 29 cubic feet of space, and with the rear seats down, 59.6 cubic feet. In the front—and this is maybe the car’s coolest feature—there's a 4.8-cubic-foot area that’s drainable. So yeah, imagine the tailgating opportunities.
How much and when can I buy?
The Ford Mustang Mach-Es will start at around $43,000. (The GT versions will be around $60,000.) Look for them in late 2020. You can make a $500 reservation deposit here.