Ford desires some Tesla buzz whereas the electrical Mach-E Mustang hits the showrooms

The Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s first new fully electric vehicle as part of a $ 11 billion electric vehicle investment plan by 2022.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

DETROIT – Tesla cars and SUVs are often compared to an iPhone on wheels. Tesla’s four models – the S, 3, X and Y SUVs – literally spell the word “sexy”.

High-tech and sex appeal aren’t the things most Fords are known for, but the 117-year-old automaker hopes to change that with the all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover. It’s the company’s first electric vehicle under a $ 11 billion EV investment plan by 2022 and the first shot of its Ford at Tesla.

“This should be a technically advanced car,” Darren Palmer, Ford global director of battery electric vehicles, told CNBC at a news conference. “It’s nothing like anything we’ve ever had before.”

The importance of this vehicle to Ford cannot be stressed enough. Success is not only determined by sales. Ford is trying to generate Tesla buzz and convince Wall Street that their EV plans are headed in the right direction.

“This is Ford’s statement about electric vehicles where they are today and sets the tone for where they can go tomorrow,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “This is not their ultimate EV development because more is to come, but where you put your feet up is important to prepare you for the future.”

Ford has been slower than others like General Motors to be fully committed to electric vehicles. It’s something that Ford’s new CEO Jim Farley has been deeply involved in as the automaker focuses its efforts on electrifying its money-making utility vehicles and versions of its most iconic brands, namely the F-150 and Mustang.

Now available in dealer showrooms, the Mustang Mach-E targets the Tesla Model Y crossover precisely – so much so that Ford unveiled the Mustang Mach-E next to the Tesla Design Center outside of Los Angeles.

The vehicle has a Tesla-like interior with a large 15.5-inch screen in the center as a control center, as well as pricing, performance, and technologies such as remote or wireless updates and driver assistance technologies comparable to the Model Y.

Palmer described the functionality of the Mach-E’s infotainment system similar to an iPhone, which can learn habits or owners and prioritize functions preventively. It also offers digital driver profiles like “Netflix, where you have profiles for each person in the family,” he said. Owners can also program the car to precondition the cabin daily based on the timetables.

The Mach-E’s interior features a 15.5-inch vertical center screen and a 10.2-inch information cluster in front of the driver.

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Non-Tesla buyers

Despite the Mustang Mach-E’s similarities to the Model Y, Palmer said the target market would not be Tesla owners – a group loyal to their vehicles and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Ford is looking for new EV buyers.

“The typical buyer is 99% of people who don’t buy electric vehicles today. Our job at Ford is to get cars to the majority. So it’s about getting people into electric cars and showing them what they can be,” he said. Palmer added if the vehicle attracts current Tesla owners, that’s fine too.

About 65% of Mach-E pre-orders are new to Ford, according to Palmer. Many come from coastal areas of the country where Detroit automakers typically underperform.

Then-Ford CEO James Hackett (3rd R) and team members, including his successor Jim Farley (3rd L), unveil the company’s first mass-market electric car, the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric vehicle that bears the name of the company’s iconic muscle car at a ceremony in Hawthorne, California on November 17, 2019.

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

Henry Payne, a Tesla Model 3 owner and auto critic at The Detroit News, believes the Mach-E could attract some Tesla buyers “who want something different” – particularly in California, where Teslas are more common than other areas of the US are described the Mach-E, including its driver-mounted information screen, as a balance between a traditional car and new Tesla models.

“You look straight at customers and say if a Tesla with just one screen is too extreme for you, we’ll also give you an instrument display so the car is a little more familiar,” he said. “They made such touches to make the car more familiar.”

performance

Pricing, performance, and EV range for the Mach-E are comparable to the Model Y. The top-performance Mach-E models reach 0-60 mph in the range of 3 seconds with an estimated 459 horsepower and 612 lb. .-ft. of the torque. This makes it faster than a Porsche Macan Turbo and corresponds to the Mustang Shelby GT500 and the Tesla Model Y. It has an estimated EPS range of up to 300 miles.

Payne said while the Mach-E is “really good” it won’t be trading in its Model 3 anytime soon. A main reason is Tesla’s exclusive Supercharger network. Ford and other automakers use third-party chargers that they have less control over in terms of pricing and functionality.

One benefit Ford will have over Tesla for the foreseeable future is a tax credit of up to $ 7,500 for EV owners. Both Tesla and GM have hit a cap that limits the tax credit to a company’s first 200,000 EV buyers.

Entry-level prices – not including federal tax incentives – range from approximately $ 44,000 for the base Select model to $ 60,500 for a performance GT, which is expected to go on sale next summer. The Model Y currently starts at around $ 50,000 or $ 60,000, depending on the model.

Mustang DNA

Many were surprised when Ford used the Mustang name and its iconic galloping pony badge on a crossover. It is the first time in the car’s 56-year history that Ford has used the name for anything other than a two-door pony car.

Aside from its labeling and performance, the Mach-E Mustang includes design aspects such as a long hood, tailgate, aggressive headlights and trademarked three-pole taillights. The vehicle’s “grille” is also cut out to resemble the pony car.

“We had the team of performance icons voting when we made the decision that this product will be full on Mustang,” said Mark Kaufman, Ford’s global director of electrification.

Before making the decision to make it a Mustang, Ford rated the vehicle as a “compliance” EV, according to company officials. That changed, however, after former Ford CEO Jim Hackett took over the automaker in May 2017 and used Farley as head of the company’s EV plans.

“Our idea was that we didn’t want to create a commodity product. We wanted to add emotion to electric vehicles,” Farley said on CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage” this month. “That’s why we started with a Mustang.”

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