Ford’s all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover took its first public bow Sunday evening in a jet hangar just steps away from EV pioneer Tesla’s Southern California design center.
The location could be seen as a challenge. But Ford doesn’t seem to want to take business away from Tesla – which next year launches the Model Y compact crossover and is about to debut an electric pickup, both potential Ford EV competitors. Instead, it aims to capture buyers who want the benefits of electric power but don’t see Teslas as the EVs that should be gracing their stables.
One version of the Mustang Mach-E will have a 0-to-60 mph time of less than 4 seconds. The most powerful model will have 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. The range starts at 210 miles per charge and climbs to 300, depending on the model.
Ford is aiming the Mach-E at enthusiasts who value American muscle cars. These buyers also are no longer wed to internal combustion engines. They want loads of technology and fresh design in their vehicles but find Teslas either too expensive or too common. That’s likely to be the case, too, with Ford’s upcoming electric F-150 pickup.
A $31,000 E-PONY?
The base “Select” trim level of the new electric Mustang Mach-E will start at $43,895.
A federal tax credit that will be worth $7,500 to most purchasers will cut the real cost to $36,395.
State and local credits available in some regions would reduce the actual cost by thousands more.
In Colorado, for instance, the cost for a Mach-E Select after incentives could drop to just over $31,000.
Both Tesla and General Motors will have lost their eligibility for the federal EV tax credit by the time the Mach-E hits the market, giving Ford a big lead in the price race.
“It is not a cheap EV, but it does seem to be accessible,” Stephanie Brinley, auto market analyst at IHS Markit, told Trucks.com.
Even the sales approach – a $500 refundable deposit will get you on the Mach-E order list – is aimed at affordability.
“Most others taking advance reservations are asking for $1,000 or $1,500 deposits, and some aren’t even refundable,” Brinley said.
Ford won’t offer a lease program for the Mach-E. Instead it will have a “lease-like” purchase arrangement for those who don’t want to do a conventional purchase. It will impose mileage limits and other lease-like restrictions and provide a guaranteed buy-back at the end of three years.
Buyers using the program will still own the vehicle, though, so won’t lose the federal credit. That goes only to the registered owner. With a conventional lease, that’s usually the automaker’s financial arm.
ROOM FOR MORE
With EV sales expected to grow to as much as 9 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2026, up from 1.2 percent last year, there’s room for more players, Brinley said.
“But to get EVs to be more mainstream, you need to offer something exciting, and that’s where Ford is trying to go with the Mach-E,” she said.
“They integrated the classic Mustang into it without making it overpowering, and they did an incredibly well-thought-out car,” Brinley said after spending several hours in a “deep dive” with Ford’s Mach-E team.
LATE 2020 LAUNCH
The long, low and muscular Mach-E crossover goes on sale late next year in two trim levels, Premium and a limited-production First Edition model. The Premium trim will start at $50,600 before incentives, the First Edition at $59,900.
Three additional trim levels – Select, GT and California Route 1 – will follow through mid-2021. The Route 1 trim will start at $52,400, the GT at $60,500.
All Mach-E trims will feature a new generation of Ford’s SYNC voice- and touch-control infotainment system. A 15.5-inch color touch screen mounted dead center in the dash above the floating center console is the heart of the system.
Ford has placed almost all controls and most information on the screen. It can be configured to display as many as four functions, with six more – set up at the driver’s preference – available at a single touch.
The SYNC system learns individual driver behavior and preferences. It can suggest a faster way to the office on a morning when the real-time traffic reports monitored by the navigation system spot trouble on the usual route.
Upholstery choices and styles will vary from trim to trim. Leather won’t be an option. “It’s an animal-free interior,” said Brittany Moss, the Mach-E’s interior design chief.
With two buckets up front and a nicely contoured bench seat in back, the Mach-E provides comfortable seating for four, adequate for five. And despite the steep rearward slope of the roofline, there’s plenty of headroom front and rear.
AH, THAT FRUNK
Ford says the Mach-E’s frunk – “front truck” storage space made possible under the hood because there’s no engine – is waterproof. It has a drain plug and will hold a lot of ice and whatever one wants to keep cool with the ice. It also fits a typical piece of carry-on luggage.
Total storage space in the Mach-E frunk is 4.8 cubic feet.
The rear cargo area is 29 cubic feet with the back seats up. It expands to 59.6 cubic feet with the rear seat backs down. They fold almost, but not quite, flat.
Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assistance and safety systems is standard. It includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, lane-keeping assist and voice-activated navigation. A wireless charging pad in the center console is also standard, as is LED lighting.
There’s also an artificial powertrain noise system that mimics the sound of a highly tuned internal combustion engine. The degree of sound varies with the Mach-E’s three noise modes – Whisper, Engage and Unbridled. It can be turned off for those who prefer the unvarnished whine of electric motors spooling up.
A 75.7-kilowatt-hour “standard range” battery pack is standard in the Select and Premium trims. Ford expects it to deliver 230 miles of range in rear-wheel-drive configuration and 210 miles with the available electric all-wheel drive.
A 98.8-kWh extended-range battery pack good for an estimated 300 miles in rear-wheel drive models and 270 miles in all-wheel drive version is standard in all other trims and an option with the Premium trim.
Power output from the Mach-E’s dual-motor electric drive system is expected to start at 255 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque in the Select rear-drive. Torque jumps to 417 pound-feet of torque in the all-wheel-drive Select.
A slight boost in output, to 282 horsepower and 306 pound-feet for rear-drive, comes with the Premium trim with extended range battery. The extended-range Premium and First Edition trims come with 332 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque for all-wheel-drive.
The California Route1 trim offers the same power as the rear-wheel-drive Premium. It will come only as a rear-wheel-drive model, but with the 300-mile extended range battery.
Leading the herd, the GT trim will offer the most power, but range suffers, dropping to 235 miles. The GT, available in the second quarter of 2021, will come only with all-wheel-drive and the extended range battery.
Ford is targeting 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque for lightning-quick launches. The automaker expects the GT to post a Tesla-like 0-60 acceleration time of under 4 seconds.
All trims will come with a standard 120-240 dual voltage portable charging cord that can add about 3 miles of range per hour with standard 120-volt household current or 22 miles an hour with 240-volt.
Ford dealers also will sell a wall-mounted 240-volt charging station that operates at a higher power level than the cord set and can add range at a rate of about 32 miles an hour – enough to recharge a depleted extended-range battery overnight.
All Mach-E’s also will be capable of DC fast charging at commercial rapid-charge stations – usually located on or near major highways. Fast charging can bring a depleted battery to 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes or less.
The Mach-E’s standard navigation system includes a station-locator function that updates as travel progresses and will offer route guidance to the nearest stations when it detects that battery capacity won’t deliver the range needed to complete a trip.