When Ford unveiled the Mustang Mach-E in November 2019, many pony car enthusiasts were outraged that it dared to use the iconic name on an EV that was also an SUV.

In the meantime, the Mach-E has earned its place in the Mustang lineup and is currently Ford's best-selling electric vehicle. The Mach-E has led Ford to become the second best-selling brand of EVs in the United States.

Since it went on sale in late 2020, the electric SUV has even outsold the gas-powered version during some months, most recently in July 2022. Ironically, the Mach-E's success is a big reason Ford is continuing with gas-powered Mustangs, according to CEO Jim Farley cited by CNBC.

At the Detroit Auto Show world debut of the seventh-generation Mustang, Farley said the EV's success has given Ford more flexibility to carry forward with gas-powered models, compared with rival carmakers that have to chase EV sales and regulatory emission credits awarded for them.

Automakers are required to have a certain amount of regulatory credits each year; if a company can't meet the target, it can buy the credits from companies that have excess credits, such as Tesla.

"The Mustang Mach-E, in a way, created, allowed this car to happen. Competitors are buying credits for emissions, and they can't come out with this kind of vehicle."

For example, Dodge said such emissions regulations are part of the reason why it decided to end production of its gas-powered Charger and Challenger at the end of next year. Chevrolet is also expected to end production of the gas-powered Camaro in the coming years as GM plans to go all-electric by 2035. This will leave the seventh-generation Ford Mustang the only ICE player in the muscle car segment.

While Ford has supported legislation in both the United States and Europe mandating the elimination of gas vehicle sales in 2035, Farley said he wants the company's traditional business to continue to grow. Ford plans to achieve that through "opiniated products" that draw attention and debate such as the 2024 Mustang, which introduces a "Dark Horse" performance version.

Interestingly, Farley sees Ford as a dark horse against Tesla in the EV space.

"I had a shirt at the dealer show that said 'Ford vs. Everyone.' That's kind of our attitude. We want to be a dark horse. We're a dark horse against Tesla in the EV business. We want to bring a new game."

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