By on January 16, 2018

Image: Ford Mustang Mach I, by Corey Lewis

We know it’s a bad idea, you know it’s a bad idea, and as it turns out, even Ford knows using the legendary Mach 1 name on a “performance” battery electric SUV is a bad idea.

Initially, the rumblings were that Ford would revive the Mach 1 name for some kind of hybrid or full-blown battery electric high-performance Mustang. But it is not. Ford’s executive vice president and president of Global Markets, Jim Farley, quickly clarified to assembled media that the new boxy BEV could certainly be related to the Mustang, but would not be a Mustang.

Instead, the badge might live on the back of a new electric performance SUV coming in 2020. But Ford’s North American Product Communications Manager, Mike Levine, began backpedaling shortly after the announcement, following a groundswell of negative opinions. Levine was adamant the company was only considering using the Mach 1 name, claiming the Blue Oval brand would listen to public reaction before making an actual decision.

That may be Ford’s official public stance, but inside the company, there was at least one true believer who tried to dissuade the brand from turning a hallowed nameplate into a virtue-signaling simulacrum. A highly placed internal source familiar with the matter expressed his displeasure with the decision from the outset.

In October, Ford announced it would invest $11 billion in battery-electric technology with the creation of Team Edison, and in December the brand announced its autonomous and electric vehicle business would move to a newly refurbished factory in Detroit’s historic Corktown district with the goal of transforming Ford into the most trusted mobility company in the world. The proposed Mach 1 BEV project aims to bring together the Mustang’s high-level athleticism with the practicality of an Explorer.

“Taking everything that means to our customers, both on the rational and the emotional level, electrifying that, and coming out with that. So it’s a combination, and that gives you a good idea of what we’re thinking for that vehicle. The issue isn’t that it’s an electric crossover, the issue is the name. I knew this was going to be a problem.”

On the surface, it’s almost as if Ford is deliberately mocking its bread and butter loyalists, amplifying the symbolic dissociation between the brand and its enthusiasts.

Shortly after Ford announced it might bastardize the Mach 1 name, Dan Gurney passed away. It was an eerie coincidence that ethereally sums up the mercantilist jamais vu the industry is trying to shove down the throats of the very people who genuinely love it.

[Image: Corey Lewis/TTAC]

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