I’m taking a little detour from my typical Tesla posts. This time I’m going to talk about the Ford Mustang Mach-E. As a former Mustang owner, I was definitely tuned in. It was either that or watch terrible Chicago Bears football. I also had many people ask me what my impressions were, so I wanted to share them with you.
So let’s start with pre-presentation. Like many, I saw images online. Also like many, I was shocked to see the electric Mustang as a Cross Utility Vehicle (CUV). But in the US, that kinda makes sense. Ford has already killed off all their cars, except the Mustang. The rest are pickup trucks, CUVs & SUVs. In the US, CUVs & SUVs are the most popular vehicles.
But before I put any judgment on it, I decided to wait for the presentation. The presentation was…a lot of show, for essentially a newcomer in the EV market. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a Halftime Show or a reveal for a car. There was a pre-recorded video, Idris Elba, and a lot of scripted conversations. It was a bit extra.
But that’s all fine and dandy, I’m just here to see the car. So my initial thoughts, they took a lot of cues from Tesla. That’s a good thing. Tesla might have a smaller percentage overall in market share, but they know what they are doing in the EV space.
The exterior for a CUV looked great. I actually, for once, didn’t think an EV was ugly that was offered by a legacy manufacturer. The interior was more minimalistic than more offerings out there. The UI that looks like it belongs in the 21st century with AI built within. They offered Over-The-Air (OTA) updates to the software (not sure if it’s free). It was also boasting a “targeted range” of 300 miles with the largest charging network in the nation.
This is what gets me. Let’s talk about the first part. What is the “targeted range”? In a recent interview with Dave Pericak (Global Director of Ford Icons) on Autoline After Hours podcast, he mentioned that many other manufacturers tout their range but will never get there. He said they will be able to achieve the range specified on the specs.
However, if you go to their configuration site, it specifically says “Targeted EPA Range applies to an available configuration. The actual range varies with conditions such as external elements, driving behaviors, vehicle maintenance, and lithium-ion battery age. Final EPA-estimated ratings available in the 2020 calendar year.” Also, only one of the 5 models actually has the 300-mile range. The “First Edition” will only have 270 miles range on a 98.8 kWh battery. (Note: At the time of my writing this, “First Edition” is no longer available.)
Put that in perspective, Tesla Model Y gets the 300-mile range (Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive) and 280-mile range (All Wheel Drive & Performance) on a 75 kWh battery. Battery tech is the hardest part for an EV. And it’s going to take years for Ford to catch up. I honestly think the “target” is what they are hoping for, but I won’t be surprised if it’s less than that. Ford’s president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, even stated that the Mach-E will be limited due to battery availability.
The second part really bothered me. Ford claims to have the largest network in America. Not sure how. Especially if they don’t have an EV in the market. Sure they have plug-in hybrids, but folks with plug-in hybrids don’t charge on trips.
If you go to Ford’s site, they are very unclear. They mention 120V-240V & DC fast charging. But don’t really specify how many DC fast charging networks they have. I know they have partnered up with Electrify America for DC fast charging, but even that is still rolling out. It’s not as expansive as Tesla Superchargers.
What’s more disturbing was that Dave Pericak said there’s no use case for on-field charging. Meaning that for Ford, their vehicles are only meant for short travel only. Without fast DC charging, you can’t venture out more than 150 miles. If you are doing a road trip, you would be spending 8+ hours at charging your vehicle on a 240V station.
What Dave failed to see is that Tesla’s Supercharger infrastructure is what makes Tesla very appealing. To be able to fast charge your car while traveling makes it very easy for drivers to move freely outside their comfort zone. There’s very little range anxiety when traveling state to state when you know you can reach a Supercharger. There are exceptions where one might have to find a Level 2 charger, but the Supercharger network is growing, and growing fast!
The other thing that caught me from the podcast is that Dave mentioned that this vehicle is in a way a compliance car. There’s a ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle) mandate in California & 10 other states that manufacturers are required to sell EV vehicles.
That’s a bit disappointing. If we want to eventually get off fossil fuel and into electric vehicles, Tesla can’t be the only manufacturer that is serious. I really think this is the first vehicle outside of Tesla that can push the needle that way. I think many folks that still trust Ford and other legacy manufacturers will actually love and buy the Mach-E. It has the potential to be popular.
My only advice to Ford is to stop taking jabs at Tesla, like what they did during the presentation. You are new to space and don’t have a leg to stand on. Tesla has been at this for a while. Instead, focus on getting an EV out on the market. Tesla’s market share for all vehicles is only two percent. There’s enough room for all EVs to play in the space. Your main fight should be GM. Otherwise, Ford would be like Porsche, over-committing, and under-delivering.
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