When I first found out that Ford was calling their new all-electric crossover a Mustang, my initial thought was "Wow, this better be good". If Ford didn't do this right, it would really hurt the brand.
While I've never owned a Mustang, it's always been my favorite sports car. I remember spending countless days and nights working on my high school friend's 67 convertible as we swapped the motor part by part. A lot of blood and beer spilled on the floor of his garage in the summer of 1985 as we worked to get it on the road. So, to some extent, I do understand how some loyal Mustang fans are reacting to Ford giving the Mach E the pony nameplate, kinda.
I guess maybe it's just too much change for them to swallow at one time. The Mustang Mach-E isn't only electric, it also has 5 doors and it's not even a car, it's a crossover. Gulp. Yeah, I know.
That said, the near-hysteria we've seen from some Mustang fans is borderline ridiculous. One Mustang fan even started change.org petition to get Ford to remove the Mustang name, and as of this writing, it is rapidly closing in on the 15,000 signature goal he set. The petition starts out saying:
"The Ford Mustang Mach E should have the Mustang name and logo removed from it. It goes against the essence of what Mustang stands for in automotive history. It's insulting to the tens of thousands of Mustang enthusiasts who love the Pony Car and support Ford."
OK, so what is the essence of the Mustang and what does it stand for? To me, the Mustang represented performance, fun, style and attitude, and accessibility for the everyday man or woman. It never had anything to do with how many doors it had, or how much cargo it held.
As for performance and fun, unlike most of the Mustang faithful that seem to be in cardiac arrest these days, I've driven in the Mustang Mach-E. It's fast and fun. In fact, the GT Performance version is one of the fastest Mustangs ever made. It produces 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque and does the 0-60 trek in about 3.5 seconds. That's faster than the Mustang GT and faster than a Shelby GT350! In fact, the only other Mustang that can match or possibly beat the Mustang Mach-E to 60 MPH is the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500, and that vehicle is expected to start at around $70,000. So yeah, Mustang Mach-E can hang with, or beat, the best Mustangs available today.
Style is a subjective topic. I can say for sure that most of the people I spoke to at the launch thought Ford did a nice job on the design. The nose and rear are clearly Mustang-inspired, as Ford promised the vehicle would be. Personally, I like it, and think it's better looking than what will likely be its main electric competitor, the Tesla Model Y. I've driven in a Mustang all-wheel-drive model, it wasn't GT and even in that trim, it had the thrill of the instant torque that only an electric motor can provide. The instant torque of the powerful electric motors gives it the attitude we've come used to with Mustangs.
When it comes to accessibility to the average person, this is where the Mustang Mach-E has the most trouble living up to the Mustang name in my opinion. The base Mustang starts at $26,395 and the Mustang Mach-E starts at $43,895. Even with the full federal tax credit, it's still $10,000 more than a Mustang coupe. However, you get a lot more utility with the Mustang Mach-E than you do with a 2-door coupe, and that definitely adds value to the vehicle.
Also, it's not like Ford is replacing the vehicle we all love with something we don't - the Mustang coupe isn't going away. The Mustang Mach-E is simply offering Mustang performance, excitement, and fun, in a package that the public wants in 2020 - a crossover. As for it being electric, I don't think that's really the main issue most Mustang lovers have. Electric vehicle performance has already proven to be at least as good as internal combustion vehicles. Plus, with the heaviest part of the vehicle, the battery pack, located at the bottom of the vehicle, and the team tuning the vehicle for performance, handling should be on par with a mustang coupe with the low center of gravity the Mach-E will have.
"I think everyone's first fear is "Ford's taking away the coupe!" We're not. The coupe's there. This is a new horse in the stable." Mark Kaufman, Global Director, Marketing Distribution, Ford Motor Company
Finally, the one thing that really stood out to me when I was in the workshops at the Mustang Mach-E media event was how every person that we spoke to emphasized how personally connected they felt to the Mustang, and how they felt the weight of the iconic name on their shoulders as they worked on the vehicle. Each and every person told us their Mustang story, whether it was when their dad drove a Mustang home in the 60's or when they saved up to buy their first Mustang. They all had their own Mustang story and felt a connection to the Mustang history. They weren't going to let the Mustang name down, and personally I don't believe they did.
They worked harder than ever to bring this vehicle to production that was worthy of the Mustang name. These people bleed Ford blue. They are Mustang fans, owners and enthusiasts just like many of the people currently complaining about the name. I have a suggestion for everyone whining about this: watch the video above and then go drive one as soon as you can. Once you do then you're welcome to bash, criticize and stand on your soapbox all you want. Just give Team Edison a chance to change your mind first, that's all I'm asking.