Bill Ford: Ford's Mustang-inspired EV to 'Go Like Hell'
Ford’s upcoming EV is a contentious model, despite how little we know about it. Intended to help bring the automaker into the brave new world of electromobility, it also leans upon the brand’s heritage by being a “Mustang-inspired” performance crossover. Whether you’re totally behind the idea or want to stand directly in its path in a Tiananmen-style showdown, its existence will change the company at least as much as axing its traditional car lineup will.
Like most automakers, Ford wants a lineup that hosts plenty of electrics. It knows it has to come out of the gate with a winner. But the car saddled with that responsibility has already faced some problems. Early reports indicating the vehicle would carry the “ Mach 1” name led to mass wailing from Mustang fans. While Ford temporarily dialed back the pony car associations, marketing tactics eventually shifted back toward getting the public riled up about the upcoming model’s performance.
Bill Ford, the automaker’s executive chairman and great-grandson of Henry Ford, was even getting in on the action while speaking at the Crain’s Detroit Business Newsmaker of the Year event earlier this week. According to Automotive News, he said the new EV “is going to go like hell.”
It’s a relatively famous and carefully chosen phrase. Back in the Swinging Sixties, Henry Ford II and some of the most famous names in automotive history joined forces in an attempt to unseat Ferrari’s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the time, the very idea seemed ludicrous. Ferrari had enjoyed five years of dominance in France and Ford was an unproven upstart. But, with some encouragement from Henry II telling Shelby-American to “go like hell,” Ford’s GT40 trounced Europe’s best in 1966.
Dusting off the old quote highlights this dichotomy of past and future that Ford seems fixated on. But it’s rather fitting to hear Bill quote his uncle. In the world of electric vehicles, Ford is viewed as an underdog; it would be a major triumph for it to mass produce an EV with heart-pounding performance. Fortunately, that now seems to be the goal.
“When we first started talking about electrification, there was this thought that there had to be a trade-off: It was either going to be green and boring and no fun, or really exciting but burn a lot of fossil fuels,” Ford said. “Electrification has come to the point that you can do both.”
The manufacturer is already in the later stages of development and a large, heavily camouflaged crossover sporting a fake exhaust pipe and no gas cap has already been spotted on public roads. However, beyond its claimed 300-mile (or better) range, little is known about the future model. In fact, this is one of the few times that company brass has even directly acknowledged the vehicle as having serious performance chops.
Due in late 2020, the electric crossover will likely don the “Mach E” moniker (patent filings for the name emerged in December). However, Ford is under no obligation to use that title and could just as easily fall back on its earlier Mach 1 tie-in or come up with an entirely new name. Production was originally intended to commence in Flat Rock, Michigan later this year, but Ford ultimately decided to build the vehicle in Mexico. We hope some leaks sneak north of the border in the coming months.
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]
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