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 hopes 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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2 of 24 comments
  • 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.

  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.
  • Inside Looking Out I did not notice, did they mention climate change? How they are going to fight climate change, racism and gender discrimination. I mean collective Big 3.