More details about the upcoming Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally have been offered by Ford Model e Vice President of EV Programs, Darren Palmer.
Speaking with The Detroit Bureau at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Palmer refrained from disclosing any specifications, but his comments shed more light on why Ford is launching a rally-themed EV.
In his role as product development director for Ford's Model e EV business unit, Palmer is the most qualified executive to talk about the Mach-E Rally, Ford's first all-electric off-road car.
Asked how Ford came up with the idea, Palmer said it came about because there are some off-road enthusiasts in the Model e team, and "somebody came forward and said, why not make a rallycross car?"
"They made a model and (came up with) some specs, and they showed it to us. We thought it fit Ford's heritage and background. The Mustang coupe is about freedom. The Mach-E is a 'we' car. And this could be a car that gives you even more freedom to go places. So, we approved the project."
Mind you, Palmer said the team initially didn't have the funding for such a project because it wasn't in the program. Still, the Mach-E Rally was given the green light and was completed in 16 months, "half the time of a normal project."
Gallery: 2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally
The executive clarified that the Mach-E Rally is not a boulder-climber, but that doesn't mean it's not capable off the beaten track.
"We knew it would run well on packed gravel, the sort of thing rally cars do. It's for high-speeds off-road, adapting to a lot of different surfaces, like a rally car. And we learned we had a lot of control over the wheels, the torque, with the electric (motors)."
Asked whether Ford is planning to follow it up with something even more off-road capable, Palmer said the automaker is treating the Mach-E Rally as a "learning platform about what an off-road electric vehicle could do."
"You wouldn't believe the terrain it's gone over, but it does because it has skid plates on the bottom and just bounces over," Palmer said. While he didn't talk specifications, the executive acknowledged modifications such as the raised ride height, revised aero for off-road and rally, upgraded wheels with grippier tires, and unique software.
Furthermore, Palmer noted that the Mustang Mach-E Rally won't sacrifice on-road comfort and handling, suggesting that the MagneRide (magnetic ride control active) dampers from the Mach-E GT Performance Pack could be standard on the Rally model.
"In Europe, we standardized the electronic suspension because they demand the handling and performance which is so important here. We may make it more available on more (non-GT) models," Palmer said.
Finally, the executive expressed his confidence that the Mach-E Rally will bring new customers to the brand. "I think 50% of the people who'll buy it wouldn't have bought a Mach-E before."