1. Tesla’s Buying Experience Is Better
Buying a new car the traditional way is one of the worst purchasing experiences imaginable, but buying a Tesla is as cool, quick, and easy as ordering a new iPhone. You spec the car you want on Tesla’s website, put down a deposit, and your car is delivered to the nearest Tesla brick-and-mortar location. Picking up the car is an event unto itself and Tesla doesn’t sully it by trying to sell you extra stuff like warranties and wheel protection.
Ford has claimed buying a Mustang Mach-E won’t be like the traditional purchase model either, but traditional car dealerships will have to be involved, which means you aren’t driving away without getting pitched things you don’t want or need. Also, while Ford is accepting $500 refundable deposits for the Mach-E, those deposits aren’t worth much if you read the fine print, which says a deposit is not an order or purchase of a vehicle and does not guarantee you’ll even get one. We also don’t know yet if Ford will be able to stop dealers from marking up the price of the Mach-E even if you’ve put down a deposit for a particular configuration and price.
All of this suggests the Mach-E buying experience can’t stray too far from the traditional model that Ford’s stuck with, and therefore shouldn’t threaten Tesla’s buying experience advantage.
2. Autopilot Is Unmatched By Other Advanced Driving Aids
Tesla’s Autopilot system is an advanced driving aid that can steer, brake, and accelerate the car for you in certain situations, particularly on the highway. It’s more than a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist technology, though; driving with Autopilot engaged genuinely feels like the car is driving itself, though it’s important you keep your hand(s) on the wheel and pay attention at all times. I recently used Autopilot for hours at a time during a long road trip and was amazed at how naturally it steers and handles situations other cars wouldn’t even attempt.
Autopilot is so far ahead of competing technologies from companies like BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz that a comparison can hardly be made. Plus, it’s standard equipment on every Tesla sold (not to be confused with Full Self Driving, which is optional and includes more advanced features and the promise of additional ones when they’re available).
For its part, Ford won’t be offering a similarly capable advanced driving system on the Mustang Mach-E, let alone making it standard. It will offer Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0 and Co-Pilot 360 Assist 2.0, two groups of advanced safety technology that do offer some active features as standard equipment, but they don’t coalesce to offer the same level of natural self-piloting that Teslas are capable of.
3. Surprise And Delight OTA Updates
Over-the-air (OTA) updates have turned out to be a surprising advantage for Tesla that competitors are starting to catch onto. This technology allows automakers to push software updates to a car any time they want, and that software could do anything from fix bugs to add new features. Almost every new EV coming to market, including the Mustang Mach-E, has the capability for OTA updates. But we think Tesla’s OTA updates will continue to set the standard for taking full advantage of how great this technology can be.
To use another Apple analogy, Tesla pushes OTA updates as often you get updates for iOS on your iPhone, which is to say a lot. Most of the updates are minor ones, but Tesla pushes a big update about once per year that includes more new features than usual.
It’s not just the high frequency of updates, though, that sets Tesla apart; it’s what in the updates too. To date, Tesla has used OTA updates to make its cars faster, to increase their range, to improve their charging speeds, to add video games and video streaming services to the infotainment system, and to launch bleeding edge features like Advanced Summon. In the case of Joe Mode, Tesla took a feature request from an owner, implemented it via an OTA update, and named it after him.
Will Ford make the Mach-E faster, better, and more fun to own with OTA updates like Tesla has? Perhaps, but the record so far from automakers that have the technology but don’t use it the way Tesla does suggests otherwise.
4. Getting More Range Out Of Smaller Batteries
No EV-producing automaker on earth can touch Tesla when it comes to getting maximum range from its batteries. Let’s look at the numbers.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E will be available in standard-range with a 75.7 kWh battery and long-range with a 98.8 kWh battery. Standard-range models with rear-wheel drive are estimated to achieve 230 miles of range and all-wheel-drive models will achieve 210 miles, while extended-range models with rear-wheel drive are shooting for 300 miles of range and all-wheel-drive models will achieve 270 miles.
So, Ford’s max-range setup is a Mustang Mach-E with a 98.8 kWh battery and rear-wheel drive that can go 300 miles per charge. Tesla has never confirmed the size of its batteries, but experts estimate the Model 3 Standard Range Plus uses a 60 kWh battery and Long Range and Performance models use an 80.5 kWh battery. SR+ models, available only in rear-wheel drive, have a range of 250 miles. Long Range and Performance models are available only in all-wheel drive, and have ranges of 322 and 310 miles, respectively.
For those of you playing at home, this means a Model 3 with all-wheel drive using a battery nearly 20% smaller can go 22 miles farther on a charge than a Mustang Mach-E with rear-wheel drive. If you want a more apples-to-apples comparison, the Model Y Long Range model with standard all-wheel drive is expected to use the same 80.5 kWh battery as the Model 3 and still achieves 300 miles of range. Go down the list of other EV automakers and the story is largely the same: big batteries that don’t put up the same range per kWh as Tesla’s do.
5. Supercharger Network
Ford has announced that the Mustang Mach-E will be able to charge outside the home at something called the FordPass Charging Network, which it claims includes more than 12,000 charging stations with more than 35,000 plugs. No other details are provided, but it’s safe to assume that Ford is counting almost every public charging network in the country that’s not a Tesla Supercharger.
Ford is right, there are probably more non-Tesla public charging stations out there than Tesla ones. The current Tesla Supercharger network is estimated to include 14,658 individual Supercharger stalls at 1,659 locations, but that’s worldwide. What competitors like Ford to forget, though, is that a Tesla isn’t limited to charging only at Supercharger stations. Tesla offers adapters, both standard and optional, that let you charge your car at most high-speed chargers, the only exception being CCS chargers. So in terms of raw numbers, charging points outside the home for Tesla owners include the Tesla Supercharger network plus most of the 35,000-plus plugs that Ford is counting for the Mustang Mach-E.
Total number of charging points aside, Supercharger stations themselves are better than what you usually find at other high-speed charging stations. For one, all of the stalls at Supercharger stations are high-speed that offer at least 100 kW charging speeds, but can go as high as 250 kW in new V3 stations. Pull up to your average Electrify America station and you might have one or two high-speed charging stalls, and the rest will be mere Level 2 chargers with the same charging speeds – up to 19 kW or so – you get at home.
Plus, Tesla continues to expand its Supercharger network all the time, as well improve the charging speeds of its cars with free OTA updates.
6. Made in America
When patriotic consumers ask which country’s citizen were employed to build their EV, Ford won’t have a good answer for them, but Tesla will. That’s because, despite being named after the All-American Mustang, the Mach E will be built at Ford’s plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico.
Mustang faithful are already having a hard time swallowing the fact their beloved brand will appear on the flanks of a crossover SUV; will they be able to accept that it’s built south of the border too?
Teslas are built in the United States at the company’s plant in Fremont, California with batteries and components manufactured at its Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada.