The electric pony is a fast gallop away: Ford says it will deliver its electric Mustang SUV, the Mach-E late next autumn, with a GT version available the following summer. The Mach-E hopes to do for electric cars what the original Mustang did for sports cars 55 years ago: offer high performance at a more accessible price. (The standard Mach-E will list for $43,895 while the GT version will start at $60,500, and Ford notes that a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles makes the Mach-E that much more affordable.) Perhaps just as noteworthy, the Mach-E marks the first time the Mustang family has expanded in 55 years.
“This is a watershed moment for Ford,” says Jason Castriota, Ford’s brand director for Battery Electric Vehicles and the lead designer on the Mach-E. Certainly, the vehicle is a departure for the Mustang sports cars nameplate, as an SUV that will seat four or five people along with plenty of gear in the rear cargo space. Like other SUVs, the Mach-E will ride higher than its sportier brethren, with ground-clearance at 5.7 inches versus 5.3 inches for a gas-powered Mustang.
The Mach-E wheelbase also is longer, in order to accommodate the car’s lithium ion batteries. A rear-wheel drive version gets about 230 miles between charges, but the all-wheel-drive version offers a 300-mile range, a figure shared with the GT model. Ford will offer multiple home-charging solutions and access to a charging network of 12,500+ charging stations.
Despite being an SUV, the Mach-E is instantly recognizable as a Mustang. “We had to transfer over all the iconic design cues,” Castriota tells us. “And with a Mustang that obviously starts up-front, with what we like to call the ‘fist-punching-through-air’ nose. That sharp nose comes with a strong brow over the headlights and a short front overhang. The A-pillar and the seating position are also pushed further back to give you that dramatic nose you’d expect from a Mustang.” One big difference, however, is a drainable storage space under the hood that can be used to keep drinks on ice for tailgating or a trip to the beach.
The Mustang is also known for its fastback coupe silhouette, so the Mach-E employs a gloss black molded roof rail that aesthetically hides the additional headroom needed for four or five passengers, but preserves that fast silhouette. The wide rear haunches give the Mach-E a coupe look as well, and the trademark tri-bar rear lights are a holdover from the traditional Mustang.
The Mustang Mach-E will come in a few flavors. In addition to the standard model, a limited edition model available at launch will come with special paint jobs and 19-inch wheels that tease the GT offerings to come the following year. The GT model is likely to provoke a lot of interest with an estimated zero to 60mph in less than four seconds. A special performance edition plans to shave a second off that time. Both GT models will have 459 horsepower, but the GT performance edition adds a MagneRide damping system and an adaptive suspension for a more road-hugging ride. The Mach-E already has some racing in its pedigree as it is Ford’s first production vehicle to be tuned with the racing simulator used in Ford’s racing program.
With an electric propulsion system, it’s no surprise that the Mustang Mach-E will sound different. There are three driving modes. Whisper offers a quiet, serene environment; Engage amplifies the sound of the electric drive train; Unbridled turns this up a notch, producing a sound akin to that of a Formula E racer. Castriota says, “When you drive the car, the sound fits it.”
Inside the Mach-E, the eye is immediately drawn to a large 15.5 touch-swipe-and-pinch screen to control the infotainment system that is reminiscent of the one used by Tesla. This system employs machine-learning tech so that the top four operations commonly used by the driver are quickly accessible. An available panoramic glass roof uses a UV coating glass helps regulate interior temperatures. The sound system is by Bang & Olufsen and the Mach-E can use a phone app to gain entry into the car and start the engine.
Castriota makes clear that the Mach-E is an addition to the Mustang line-up, not a substitution. Still, there is no denying the Mach-E’s appeal. The Mach-E, like Mustangs of old, is still all about being fast and free, but the Mach-E spins green in a way that may make drivers feel like a “better, badder, cooler version of themselves,” Castriota says.
Images courtesy of Ford