It had to be a Mustang...
When I first heard that Ford was going to give their new electric crossover a Mustang nameplate, I admit I was a little concerned. Not because I didn't think traditional Mustang fans would embrace an electric car, because they will, even if many of them don't believe they will just yet.
My concern was that Ford would produce a bit of a half-baked attempt at an EV, then figure the Mustang badge would give it credibility. I guess I should have had more faith, but honestly, from what I've seen from many of the OEMs in regards to electrification, I guess I've just become a little jaded.
Gallery: 2020 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Well, it turns out my fears were unwarranted. After attending Ford's "Deep Dive" technical workshop, followed by a short but inspiring test ride (nobody was able to actually drive the Mach E as these were pre-production prototypes) I feel comfortable saying that Ford really did their homework. This isn't version 2 of the Focus Electric, although it almost was. The Mustang Mach E will definitely be a worthy competitor to any EV available when it launches sometime in the second half of 2020.
Originally slated to be a compliance EV
One of the most interesting things I learned at the media event came from Christopher Walter, Exterior Design Manager for the Mustang Mach E. Walter said the Mach E started out as a completely different vehicle. It was originally going to be a compliance EV, built to satisfy corporate fuel standards and ZEV requirements. While it was going to be a crossover that was basically the same size as the Mach E, the shape was different, and so would be the driving dynamics.
Then, sometime in the summer of 2017, Ford realized the industry winds were changing, and they really had to get serious with their electrification program. So, Walter said they completely tore up what they were working on and begin an entirely new vehicle, starting with the architecture.
We realized we just couldn't come to market with something that was just, well, "meh" -Mustang Mach E Exterior Designer, Christopher Walter
Walter said his team quickly came up with three different design themes and presented to management. The theme that was chosen was called "The Future of Emotive Power". That theme was meant to take the current Mustang, and create what it might look like sometime in the future. The Mustang Mach E was born.
Impressions from the ride
Unfortunately, Ford wasn't allowing anyone to drive the Mach-E, we'll have to wait till sometime in 2020 for that experience. However, we did get an opportunity to ride in the vehicle on a course that included some on-street driving, and some on a private airport road where Ford had a slalom course set up and an area where we could experience a launch from a standstill.
There are three driving modes; Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled. As one might expect, Whisper is the most tame mode, Engage offers a little more sportiness to the driving experience, and Unbridled will give the most spirited throttle response and steering feel. We didn't get too much information on exactly what changes in each mode, and I'll follow up with Ford after the launch event to try to get more details. Whisper mode also shuts off the artificial electric motor sound that's pumped into the cabin. The driver can also disable this simulated motor sound from the infotainment system if they prefer not to hear it.
One thing I did notice as I scrolled through the driving modes was "Unbridled Mode" wasn't called that on this prototype, it was called "Stampede Mode". I asked the Ford representative why they changed it (personally I think Stampede Mode is a much cooler name for the sportiest driving mode" but he couldn't offer a reason. Perhaps Ford's legal department thought stampede sounded too violent.
We were driving in an all-wheel-drive extended range Premium version which has 332 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. Ford says they are targeting 0-60 times in the mid five-second range for this variant. Once we were off the streets the driver was able to punch the throttle on numerous occasions. As you would expect, the Mustang Mach E has some kick, pushing you back in your seat with the rush of instant torque that makes electric vehicles so much fun to drive.
However, on the launch from a standstill, I was a little disappointed. The car didn't jump off the line like my Tesla Model 3 does, it felt more like my BMW i3. BMW dialed back the power on the i3 for standstill launches. The vehicle doesn't get full power until it's rolling at around 6-7mph then it takes off. That's exactly how the Mach E felt to me. However, as mentioned, this is a pre-production prototype, and it's entirely possible that Ford has the standstill power dialed back a little but will change that on their production versions. To be clear, I didn't feel that lag at all while the car was rolling. Whenever the driver accelerated, we felt the rush of power instantly.
I was impressed with the Mach E's performance on the slalom. We had four adults in the vehicle and the Mach E carved up the course with ease. There was surprisingly little body roll as we negotiated the course of cones, and the vehicle felt stiff and well planted.
It's hard not to look at the Mach E's center display screen and not think Tesla. The large center touchscreen display is mounted vertically like it is in the Tesla Model S & X. However, Ford added a large physical knob at the bottom. Their interior design team said that was the result of focus groups and customer feedback. For our event, the knob could only lower and raise the radio volume, but Ford told us it can also be programmed to perform other tasks.
There's a two-tiered center console with two cup holders and a single wireless charging pad. I found that odd because there's plenty of room to add a second wireless charging pad for the passenger. The Ford representatives explained that their research has shown the passenger wants their cell phone in their hand, to use it the majority of the time they are riding along. Therefore the second wireless charger is not practical. Instead, they have USB ports located to the passenger can plug in and charge up while they are using the device.
There's plenty of legroom in the rear seating area and a lot of headroom. However, the vehicles we were riding in had the optional panoramic glass roof which adds a little extra headroom. That said, there seemed to be so much headroom that even if you lose a little space with the conventional roof there should be more than enough room for even tall passengers.
Trims, Battery Options & Range
Ford is offering two battery packs for the Mach E. There's a Standard-Range 75.7 kWh pack and a 98.8 kWh "Extended Range" battery pack. The Standard Range battery is the only option on the base Mach E trim, called "Select". You can order a Select trim Mach E in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In RWD Ford is estimating the range of the 75.7 kWh pack to be 230 miles and 210 miles per charge in AWD form. Ford is holding off offering the Select trim option until early 2021, choosing to offer the higher-cost Mach E's first.
One step up from Select trim is Premium Trim. You can get a Premium trim Mach E is either RWD or AWD and with either the 75.7 kWh battery or the 98.8 kWh battery. The ranges are the same as in the Select trim with the Standard Range battery. With the Extended Range 98.8 kWh battery, Ford estimates the range to be 300 miles with the RWD version and 270 miles with the AWD variant. The Premium trim Mach E will be available in late 2020.
Next up is the First Edition Mach E, available at launch and only in limited quantity. The First Edition is only available with the Extended Range battery and in all-wheel drive.
Then there's the California Route 1 trim. The California Route 1 trim comes with the Extended Range battery and rear-wheel drive only, offering an estimated 300 miles or driving range which is equal to the maximum range the Mach E will deliver in any trim. The California Route 1 trim won't be available until the spring of 2021.
Finally, there's the Mustang Mach E GT. The GT version is only available in all-wheel drive and with the Extended Range battery pack. However, unlike the other Mach Es with that set-up, the GT only delivers 235 miles of driving range, not the 300 miles of range Ford estimates for all other AWD Mach Es with the Extender range battery pack. That's because the GT's power is significantly increased.
In all other trims than the GT, an all-wheel drive Mach E with the Extended Range battery has 332 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. However, the GT pushes out 459 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. That's enough power to drop the GT's 0-60 time down to the mid 3-second range, while all other Mach E's with the same battery & drivetrain configuration are in the mid 5-second range from 0 to 60 mph.
The lithium-Ion batteries are in pouch form and are produced by LG Chem. Both battery packs are physically the same size (length and width) but the Extended Range pack has a second layer of cells in the back of the pack, located under the rear seats. This double-layer of battery cells is used by other EV manufacturers like Nissan for the LEAF and Chevrolet for the Bolt EV. The packs feature 288 lithium-ion pouch cells in the Standard-Range pack and 376 lithium-ion pouch cells in the Extended-Range pack.
Standard with every Mustang Mach E will be a 120/240-volt portable charger. It is capable of delivering up to 32 amps of power when charging from a capable 240-volt source. However, the Mach E can accept up to 48-amps of power, so if customers want the fastest charging experience possible at home, they can purchase Ford's new Connected charging station. This unit will deliver up to 48-amps and is WiFi connected to provide the user charging information via the Ford app. The cost of the Ford Connected charging station has not yet been announced. Like Audi, Ford has partnered with Amazon Home Services to facilitate easy customer home installation by a licensed electrician.
As for DC Fast charging, the speed depends on the trim level you have. On the Select trim, the DC Fast charge rate is limited to 115 kW. On all other trim levels, Ford's charging guide states that the Mach E can charge at a rate of 150 kW. I'm still not 100% sure if that is correct, though. I believe the all Standard-Range battery packs are limited to 115 kW, and you can get the Standard Battery with the Premium trim also, so I will get clarification on that as soon as possible and update the article.
Charging at 150 kW, Ford claims the Mach E can add 47 miles of range in 10 minutes, and charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in approximately 38 minutes. Ford also introduced the FordPass Charging Network. Ford claims the network will give Ford's customers access to "North America’s largest electric vehicle public charging network" of more than 12,000 places (AC or DC) with more than 35,000 plugs. Basically, Ford has partnered with charging networks like Electrify America, Greenlots and others to provide seamless access to all of the networks without needing multiple accounts and activation cards.
Ford is also going to be incorporating Plug and Charge technology in the Mach E, meaning customers will simply plug their car into a participating network's charging station and walk away. There will be no need to activate a session, as the station will communicate with the car and bill you accordingly.
Mach E pricing by trim begins as follows:
- Select: $43,895
- Premium: $50,600
- First Edition: $59,900
- California Route 1: $52,400
- GT: $60,500
Ford also made sure everyone was aware that Mach E customers may qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, if their tax situation so dictates. They also pointed out that the tax credit for both Tesla and Chevrolet will be completely phased out by the time the Mach E launches. That''s no coincidence, as it's pretty obvious that the Tesla Model Y will be the Mach E's primary electric competitor. Both vehicles stack up pretty closely, and it will be interesting to see if consumers really trust Ford in the EV space yet.
Ford had to do this right and they did. Calling on the iconic Mustang name had to be something that the brass at Ford debated internally for quite some time. But I have to give them credit, my first impressions are they got a lot more right with the Mach E than they got wrong.
Will there be a stampede to dealerships next year when the Mach E is available? Probably not. But that isn't because it's not a great vehicle, which it is. I'm not sure the public trusts any legacy OEM to produce a high-quality electric vehicle like they do Tesla. It will take some time for Ford and the others to prove they too can compete in the EV space on the level that Tesla does.
However, I believe the Mustang Mach E will go a long way towards proving Ford can. The question is will Ford ready their dealership network to sell the Mach Es? Dealerships have been a bottleneck in the EV sales chain since the LEAF landed in Nissan dealerships in late 2010. If Ford is able to help the dealers understand EVs, and communicate the value of driving to their customers, then the Mach E may break through the low-sales barrier that's so far stymied EVs from basically all manufacturers other than Tesla.