Your browser is not supported. Please update it.

22 November 2019

Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is a somewhat fugly GM-beater

The Mustang Mach-E is an abomination, but so was the Chrysler PT Cruiser and that sold like hot cakes. To this end, the new Ford electric vehicle may very well be the EV that drives the sector onwards to mass-market commoditization, and if it does, we’ll all just have to get used to wincing slightly when looking back in the history books.

However, one thing that Ford seems to have got right is the fact that this is a four-door full-size passenger car – the configuration that Tesla showed was what people actually wanted out of their EVs. GM initially responded well to the Tesla challenge, but shot itself in the foot by having such a (relatively) small model – the Chevy Bolt, a hatchback. In Europe, the collective EV response has also been quite small.

So, Ford’s really quite disgusting-to-look-at and stupidly-named Mach-E might finally force the rest of the industry to make larger EVs – tapping into the general trend for larger vehicles that has seen the average vehicle sold move from the hatchback and sedan range up into the SUV and crossover realm.

Larger vehicles have more space for batteries, which is important in EVs, and Ford’s choice of form-factor seems spot on. Currently, chief-rivals VW, Toyota, and Honda don’t have a response either, but Tesla is still the premier brand here, and while there are a crop of startups hoping to reinvent the wheel with outlandish new designs, consumers seem to be very conservative in their purchasing decisions. Car buyers want to buy cars that look like cars, which is why Ford’s Mach-E still has an outline for a radiator cut-out despite not actually having a radiator. The design language calls for a radiator grille, even though the functionality does not.

Scheduled for launch in late 2020, Ford accidentally published the pre-sales configuration site, where prospective buyers could tweak the package that they want. After spoiling the surprise, the official website is now available here, should you want to play around with the options.

Currently, the starting price is just under $44k, but the top-of-the-line GT spec begins at $60k. There is still a short-lived federal tax credit for US buyers to make use of, which could knock $7,500 off of that bill. Also claimed is the ability for a ten-minute charge to provide 47-miles of range.

From cheapest to priciest, Ford is selling the Select (255 BHP, 75.7 kWh battery, 230-mile range), the Premium (300-miles), the California Route 1 (300-miles), the First Edition (270-miles), and the GT (250-miles – the last of which is the fastest, and can do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds apparently, with the equivalent of around 450 BHP.

The cheaper versions have RWD available, but the more expensive ones shift to AWD. In the Select tier, adding AWD costs $2,700, and cuts about half a second off your ‘low six-second’ 0-60 mph time and 20-miles off of your 230-mile range. Once you’re in Premium, the Extended Range battery with RWD hits 300-miles, while the bigger battery and the AWD package gets 27-miles. Standard range in Premium is 230-miles. Apparently, you can somehow get the GT with a manual gearbox, which, farcically, is not available in the GT 500 Mustang.

Ford’s audio engineers have been hard at work trying to create some sort of driving noise, piped into the cabin and projected to the outside world to try and replace the Mustang’s engine roar. An OTA update for hands-free highway driving is also being promised, although a delivery date has not been specified.

Tesla CEO Musk has even said kind things to Ford. “Congratulations on the Mach E! Sustainable/electric cars are the future! Excited to see this announcement from Ford, as it will encourage other carmakers to go electric, too,” he said on Twitter, while privately likely urging his engineering teams to hurry up with the Model Y that this Mach-E seems to be squaring up with.

We covered the pre-announcement discussion of the FordPass Charging Network, back in October, noting that it was designed to assuage fears of range anxiety. Ford is not actually building this nationwide network, rather it is quite savvily brokering deals with a number of charging providers to let its buyers pull up and plug in with minimum fuss.

Ford seems to be taking a sensible approach here, by avoiding the burden of having to build out a national network of EV chargers itself, and instead partnering with other providers to create the offering. Tesla took the hard road, building out its Supercharger network in order to persuade early adopters of the EV concept that they would be able to manage long trips.

One of Ford’s biggest allies in the new charging project is Electrify America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen that was created as part of the fallout from Dieselgate – the global scandal in which VW and other automakers were found to have been cheating at the emissions tests imposed by national regulators. There’s a nice dash of irony here that VW’s punishment is to play a part in bringing about the death of the internal combustion engine.

Ford and VW have worked together in the past, with Ford committing to using VW’s Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB), as well as VW taking a stake in Argo AI – the self-driving software startup that Ford invested $1bn into back in 2017.  “While Ford and Volkswagen remain independent and fiercely competitive in the marketplace, teaming up and working with Argo AI on this important technology allows us to deliver unmatched capability, scale and geographic reach,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett, back in July.

The figure that Ford is throwing around in the new announcement is 12,000 chargers. In performance terms, Ford says that a 150 KW fast charger (DC charger) should add 47 miles of range in 10 minutes, and provide an 80% battery charge in 45 minutes. Charging equipment provider Greenlots is involved, and Ford says it will add more chargers to the FordPass network.