Ford: Does This Ass Turn You On?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford does this ass turn you on

A lengthy Medium post penned by Darren Palmer, director of product development for Ford’s Team Edison, went live yesterday, no doubt at the request of Ford PR types and company brass. (It was shared on Ford’s media page.)

In it, the Ford product veteran goes on about the challenges facing his team of electric vehicle developers, mentioning, “The stakes are high.” Are they ever. With 16 fully electric vehicles on the way by 2022, joined by 24 electrified vehicles, that’s a heavy plate to carry. Despite having nearly 20 years of hybrid vehicle exposure under its belt, large swaths of the buying public remain confused by electrified powertrains (“Will my PHEV leave me stranded with an empty battery?”) and anxious about EV range. It takes time — a lot of time, apparently — to change hearts and minds. The U.S. EV take rate is less than 1 percent of new vehicle sales.

However, what created a splash on Thursday was not the revelation that building and selling EVs to the American public is hard, but the image accompanying the post.

In it, we see our first glimpse of the upcoming Mustang-inspired electric crossover that bore the name “Mach 1” before Ford quietly stopped calling it that. Due out in 2020, Ford’s aiming for a 300-mile driving range with this vehicle — a number that should quell the anxiety of most American drivers. (Technological wizard Bozi Tatarevic puts the range anxiety-beating threshold at 259 miles.)

Riding atop a platform shared by the 2019 Ford Focus you’ll never have a chance to buy and the next-generation Escape, this unnamed crossover is Ford’s opening salvo in the coming EV battle. Ford wants to dominate what it [s]hopes[/s] anticipates will be a significant automotive segment.

While Palmer doesn’t dive into the vehicle’s specifics — it’s more of a rumination on the design process and human-centric this and that, plus the benefits of terrifying, open-concept offices — he did mention the upcoming EVs will boast an all-new infotainment system. It’s understandable Ford would want some gee-whiz tech to compliment the vehicle’s futuristic powertrain.

In a recent interview, Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, said the upcoming vehicle would have “the profile of a Porsche Cayenne and the swagger of a four door Mustang.” Looking at this image, your author wonders if Ford’s courting danger by swinging too far in the Mustang direction, style-wise. Yes, it’s just a conceptual image that’s subject to change, but grafting Mustang taillights onto the clearly sleek (coupe-like?) body might be a cue too far. Surely the nose doesn’t follow the same path?

Then again, given the public’s aversion to electric vehicles, maybe this is the only way of making people who otherwise wouldn’t give two shits about an EV sit up and take notice. As we saw with the furor generated by the Mach 1 naming gambit, Mustang faithful might have a big problem with a very Mustang-inspired design. Of course, anger over another vehicle doesn’t stop Mustang owners from buying another Mustang. It might actually get a few thinking about expanding their vehicular family. Still, other Ford fans might not be too appreciative of a heritage-diluting styling gimmick.

Employing a brand-wide design language is one thing, but grafting model-specific cues onto a wholly unrelated vehicle could be taken as evidence that the company has lost its appreciation of the past, instead of the opposite.

The stakes are high, indeed.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Akear Akear on Sep 07, 2018

    Same old Ford, same old crap.

  • RHD RHD on Sep 07, 2018

    The solution to range anxiety is a 200+ battery and a small gas tank with a small gas motor. If the battery goes flat, the gas engine propels the car while recharging the battery. A slightly raised CUV/SUV, for example, could have plenty of battery at the floorboards while still looking offroady (it's not going creek wading, anyway). Then the manufacturer could stage an around-the-country or cross-country challenge between the highest MPG gas car, the highest range electric car, and the combo gas/electric. The gas car would have to stop every three hours for fuel, the electric every three hours to recharge, and the combo every five or six hours to fill up with a bit of gasoline. The electrics could recharge overnight with no time penalties, since they would do that under normal usage anyway. They could present it Top Gear style, and live-cast it on Periscope or Twitter or whatever. Once the public sees that the new Ford Rangefinder won't leave you stranded on the way to Grandma's house, it would become generally accepted as a car to seriously consider when the current lease contract runs out. The three presenters/drivers could tally up the scores at the end on a large whiteboard, with total CO/NOx/CO2 emissions, total MPG, total cost of fuel and electricity, down time to refuel, and miscellaneous offbeat challenge scores to determine the winner.

  • Conundrum "the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union." Nah, wrong. But it's Posky, so should I be surprised? That body material, Duroplast, was invented by Germans, used on the East German Trabant car and dulled many a saw blade when trying to cut it.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuroplastThe Soviets made regular sheet tin cars. Nothing fancy, they just worked, like Soviet farm tractors you could repair with a pipe wrench and a 14 lb maul. They exported quite a few to Canada in the '60s and '70s and people used to swear by them.I suppose this new Citroen Ollie has LED lights. If they fail, does one go to the Dollarama for a $1 flashlight, then rip out and use those LED "bulbs" for a repair?I think this Ollie thing is off the rails. The Citroen 2CV was ingenious, both in chassis and especially suspension design and execution, but where's the innovation in this thing? Processed cardboard panels, when corrugated tin, a Citroen and Junkers favorite fascination would be just fine. Updated with zinc coating from circa 1912 and as used in garbage cans and outdoor wash tubs ever since, the material lasts for decades. Citroen chose not to zinc plate their 2CVs, just as the car industry only discovered the process in the mid 1980s, lagging garbage can manufacturers by three-quarters of acentury, with Japan holding out until the mid '90s. Not many 1995 Accords still around.This Ollie thing is a swing and a complete miss, IMO. Silly for silly's sake, but that's the modern day automotive designer for you. Obsessed with their own brilliance, like BMW and Toyota's crews creating mugs/maws only a catfish could love, then claiming it's for "brand identity" when people take offense at ugly and say so. They right, you wrong. And another thing -- hell, Ford in the 1950s, if not well before, and innumberable Australians found that a visor stuck out from the roof over the windshield keeps the sun out when necessary, but Citroen delivers first class BS that an upright windshield is the solution. And as GM found out in their newly-introduced late 1930s transit buses, flat windshields are bad for reflections, so they actually changed to a rearward slanting windshield.This design reeks of not applying already learned lessons, instead coming up with useless new "ideas" of almost zero merit. But I'm sure they're proud of themselves, and who gives a damn about history, anyway? "We new young whiz kids know better".
  • Conundrum Can't see that the Espada chassis had much to do with the Miura. The Miura had a rear-mounted transverse V12 with the transmission and final drive all part of the engine block. So it's a bit of a stretch saying the north-south V12 and regular transmission Espada chassis was related to the Miura. It looks to be no more than an update of the 400 GT. And short and long-arm independendent suspension was hardly unique -- a '53 Chev had that in front, it was standard for years on most cars that didn't have Mac struts. The Brits call SLA suspension double wishbone, so Honda thought that sounded more mysterious than SLA and used that terminology in ads, but it's the same thing. Only a few mid '30s cars had same length upper and lower A-arms like a '36 Chev, before the obvious advantage of a short upper arm for camber control was introduced. Of course Ford used a dead beam front axle until 1949, so it was last to climb out of the stone age.Do you have a link to a reference that says the Miura and Espada chassis were related?
  • FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.
  • Matzel I am hoping that Vee-Dub will improve the UX and offer additional color options for the 2024 Mk8.5 refresh for Canada. Until then, I'll be quite happy with my '21 GTI performance pack. It still puts a smile on my face going through the twisty bits.
  • Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
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