The Ford Mustang is one of the few vehicles on the market that’s globally recognized. Since 1964, the Mustang name has been placed on one body style: a two-door muscle car, which has since evolved into a larger and more capable sports car. Either way, ask someone what a Mustang is and they’re probably going to respond by calling it an American sports car.
For decades that have spanned across numerous generations of enthusiasts and Mustang lovers alike, Ford’s pony car has conjured images of burly V8s, drag races between lights, and Sunday cruises in summer. ‘Murica on four wheels. With the electric vehicle revolution around the corner, Ford believed it was best to undo roughly 60 years of history to slap the Mustang name onto an electric crossover to take on the upcoming Tesla Model Y. Unfortunately, in an attempt to ensure that Ford remains competitive in the electric age, it has dragged its most iconic nameplate through the muck.
Not to sound like a Mustang fanatic or someone that thinks the best of the automotive industry is in the past, but this is one of the strangest decisions that a major automaker has made recently. Almost as strange as Ford’s decision to stop selling cars in America. I understand that Ford greatly needs to get a hip, new, innovative EV on the market as soon as possible, but in the process of leveraging the iconic Mustang name, the automaker has somewhat haphazardly introduced its most important vehicle of the decade, in the process pushing some of its most diehard fans away to draw new customers in. It comes at a terrible time for the brand, too, as everyone is still getting over that whole, “We’re now only selling pickup trucks and SUVs” commitment.
It’s not that the Mustang Mach-E sounds like it’s going to be a bad EV. On the contrary, the specs sound promising. But I can’t help but feel like this was a rushed job from Ford, prompted by the knowledge that it was falling behind the competition. Similar to a last-second Hail Mary in the last playoff game of the regular season, Ford’s decision to rummage through the Mustang parts bin to slap some easily identifiable components onto the Mustang Mach-E strikes me as desperate and lazy.
I understand that Ford greatly needs to get a hip, new, innovative EV on the market as soon as possible, but in the process of leveraging the iconic Mustang name, the automaker has somewhat haphazardly introduced its most important vehicle of the decade, in the process pushing some of its most diehard fans away to draw new customers in.
Tesla, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Nissan, and Kia have had electric cars on the market for quite some time, while consumers will still have to wait to get their hands on a Mustang Mach-E. In an effort to overcompensate for its laziness, Ford decided to slot the Mustang Mach-E into the Mustang lineup in a Eureka moment. Except, the two models don’t share a lot of the same components or design.
When speaking with Ford representatives as the Washington Auto Show, everyone with a Ford badge spoke of how much the Mustang Mach-E shares with the Mustang. Being brutally honest, I simply don’t think that’s true. You can’t graft a similar grille, headlights, and taillights onto a vehicle and claim that it’s a twin to its original donor. Victor Frankenstein created a monster.
Beyond the design, Ford believes that the Mustang Mach-E is a way for fans of the pony car to get into a Mustang that’s more practical, futuristic, and versatile. It is, in Ford’s eyes, an extension of the Mustang family. If you look back at the Mustang history, though, from its beginnings to the most recently Shelby GT500, nowhere do you see anything along the lines of an electric powertrain or a crossover body. So, it’s not like Mustang fans will be itching to get into a new Mustang Mach-E when it comes out. If anything, the Mustang Mach-E is more of a vehicle that expands the Mustang family into new territory – a place where it has no business being.
In Ford’s defense, I get the logic. Chevrolet and Tesla are already strong options in the EV segment. Since Ford is entering the game late, it needs to shoot up to the top as quickly as it can. What does that better than putting its most iconic name on its latest EV? Not much. But what was wrong with going from a nameplate within the Mustang family to show a likeness? Mach 1, SVO, T5, or GLX all would’ve worked. Especially if Ford came out and said that the electric vehicle was inspired by the Mustang instead of doubling down and claiming that it is a Mustang.
What’s even more infuriating about the Mustang Mach-E is that Ford came out with an all-electric Mustang at last year’s SEMA that it built in collaboration with Webasto. I was holding my breath to see Ford come out with an electric version of the sports car to ease all of us into the idea of a battery-powered crossover with Mustang styling. That, clearly, wasn’t the case. Instead of allowing us to wade into the freezing pool, Ford dumped a bucket of water straight onto our heads.
Opinions are split on the Mustang Mach-E. Some love it, others hate it. Regardless of how buyers may feel about the crossover, this is a car that’s meant to bring Ford out of the dark ages. Part of that is done by appealing to shareholders and the billionaires on Wall Street. Unfortunately, the Mustang Mach-E hasn’t had the same effect on Ford’s stock as a single tweet by Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. Despite the introduction of the Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s stock hit a 10-year low recently. That little tidbit reveals that it’s easier for Ford to get consumers to drink the marketing Kool-Aid than it is to get those with the power to help the automaker become a powerhouse again to take a sip.
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