By on October 25, 2019
Yesterday, TTAC reported on a leaked video (quickly confirmed by Ford) that showed an all-new “Mustang-inspired” model due for debut in November. A sleek, four-door CUV appears on the screen. Highlighted in silhouette, its design represents so many familiar Mustang cues. It’s the Mustang of the future, and it’s a future that will be electric and have four doors.

You see, it seems to yours truly that Ford’s attempting to conjure an electric Mustang lineage out of thin air. A four-door body style that’s CUV in nature (sales hotness), is likely all-wheel drive, and which utilizes an all-electric drivetrain. Now why would they do such a thing? Does that sound like any Mustang to you?

No. Ford is in development of a new EV model, spending those development dollars at a very interesting and not coincidental time. Think about the existing Mustang model: It’s plenty old, and due for replacement circa 2021 with a new model. And at the same time, here’s a brand new Mustang-like EV to anticipate shortly before its November 17th release.

This EV will most likely spell the end of the traditional Mustang format. By traditional I mean two-doors, coupe or fastback shape, rear-drive, and an engine which has some gasoline in it. “No way!” you’ll think, “Mustang owners will never give up their V8!” But there won’t be a choice here. 2021 arrives, there’s a new Mustang. The V8 passes during the first refresh around 2024, leaving turbo fours. Next step, perhaps a year or two later: greater hybridization. But that’ll be alright, because the ultimate consolation prize arrives with a final refresh (or even earlier): all-wheel drive. By the time all of these pieces fall into place, the 2021-22 Mustang will be long in the tooth — time for a Commemorative Final Run Edition.

Meanwhile, the Mustang EV4 (as I’ll call it) grows in popularity. The motoring press approves of this sporty new Mustang that’s “way more practical than any Mustang should ever be.” Its refinement praised, families can’t wait to get their hands on the new electric crossover. Dads can relive the Fox bodies and New Edge Mustangs of their youth, since their Mustang EV can now carry their kids and all their junk, in real Mustang style.

The two separate Mustang paths converge upon one another, and it’s time for the consolidated product: Mustang-inspired EV and regular hybrid Mustang become the singular EV Mustang. Perhaps in four-door coupe CUV style, just like Mercedes makes.

And just as Americans have given up their convertibles, luxury coupes, station wagons, and minivans before, so too will they give up their pony cars. Sales of the traditional Mustang are falling year over year, its customer base shrinking. The Mustang EV4 is the future, and that’s a fact.

[Image: Ford]
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54 Comments on “Opinion: A Mustang-inspired EV Spells an End to the Traditional Mustang...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    I think you’re putting the cart a few miles in front of the horse here. Especially with how successful you expect the Mach E to be. EVs not wearing a Tesla badge have struggled for sales and Ford isn’t exactly knocking their new product launches out of the park. Right now I think there is a bigger chance of it being a flop than an ultimate pony car killer.

    I wouldn’t bet against a optional EV or AWD Mustang appearing in the future, but I don’t think they’ll completely throw out the traditional formula either.

    • 0 avatar
      NG5

      I agree with this. (exception maybe: The Taycan appears to be a preorder success for Porsche/VW but I can’t understand why. The performance is only ok and the price is astronomical.)

      If you want to make something exciting, I don’t see how a silent 6,000 lbs crossover with a good 0-60 time is going to do it. I think Mustang is more likely to become an F-150 trim than an EV if they plan to try to build it like this crossover thing.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The Taycan is selling because it’s the most gorgeous sedan released by any automaker in the last two decades. If I had that kind of money my name would be on the list, and the reason starts and ends with the styling.

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          I’d like to see one in person. I like the idea of an EV, so if money was no object I understand to a degree. It certainly doesn’t look deliberately weird like so many EVs unfortunately do. I meant especially in the context of performance cars, I don’t get a) heavy b) four doors. The Mustang has always been fairly heavy but it almost always has made an exciting engine noise and been built as a car for a driver to enjoy – not a chauffer. Doesn’t make sense to launch with that image attached. Porsche had the sense to launch a standalone model name and image, even if they expect it to outsell the 911 immediately.

      • 0 avatar
        TimK

        “Silent 6000 pound crossover”?

        That’s a full tonne heavier than the typical vehicle on the roads today. I get that batteries weigh extra, but this heavier than thou trend is not a positive in my book.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Sounds like what Mitsubishi tried to do with the Eclipse Cross (hoping that a little brand magic will rub off on what is otherwise yet another crossover).

    Ask Mitsubishi how well that worked out for them. The Eclipse faithful were unmoved, and crossover buyers didn’t care.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The Rustang is a solid seller here and now is a solid seller in Europe. Ford has poured good money into the Coyote engine. People aren’t buying EVs. Yea, no.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    “And just as Americans have given up their convertibles, luxury coupes, station wagons, and minivans before, so too will they give up their pony cars.”

    All of these vehicle types are still available for sale, as will be a V8 Mustang. You may pay extra for the privilege, but it will be there for as long as there are V8 engines in trucks to share economies of scale. The same logic applies to all of the Detroit 3, and why they will be the last to offer 8 cylinders in their sporty cars.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    As long as there is a business case for a traditional Mustang, I think they will build one. But if the sales aren’t there and they are selling non-traditional Mustang variants in far greater numbers at greater profit, then the writing is on the wall. It doesn’t have to be a plan necessarily, just good ol profit chasing. Who would have ever thought that any major automaker would wholesale abandon sedans in their primary market? Got to roll with punches.

    • 0 avatar

      “Who would have ever thought that any major automaker would wholesale abandon sedans in their primary market?”

      Exactly this. Many here seem to think the Mustang is immune from deletion because of its name. Exciting things can be cancelled. Things people like get cancelled or not replaced – especially niche vehicles.

      Camaro
      Supra
      Celica
      Hummer
      Excursion
      Bronco
      Element
      MR2
      S2000
      NSX

      All liked by niche audiences, all cancelled for various reasons at some point or another.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Didn’t some of those come back?

        • 0 avatar

          Of course. But all gone for an extended period. All fan favorite.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            There’s “fan favorite,” and then there’s “Mustang.” At some point, most everyone but die-hard Mopar/Chevy fans has wanted one, or at least wanted to think about what it would be like to have one.

            You can’t really say that about any of the other cars on your list.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The Mustang’s market in the future might diminish enough that the car is cancelled. I just don’t think it is going to “transform” into something like the Mach E.

        • 0 avatar

          I think the tag line will be more “The Mustang lives on,” rather than a cancellation.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          When was the Expedition ever canceled? Excursion you mean?

          I’d also point out that none of those were or are as famous and beloved in American culture as Mustang. I mean anything *could* happen, and I’ve been unpleasantly surprised before. But I think a sea change would need to happen among car buyers before a cultural icon of affordable gas powered performance could be replaced by an electric SUV. And I just don’t see that happening any time soon. What regulatory or market force is going to increase electrics from 1% of sales to anything approaching gas cars in any kind of near future? And even if that does happen, wouldn’t sporty cars be among the last to make the switch?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think you need to distinguish between a niche model and an iconic nameplate. Mustang is definitely the former sales-wise, but just as it is with the Jeep Wrangler, or the Corvette, its’ importance to the brand goes beyond sales. I bet if you stopped 100 people on the street, and asked them the first Ford model that comes to their mind, a very large percentage would name the Mustang, and that percentage would be larger than it’s actual percentage of Ford sales. Same for the Wrangler and the Corvette.

        I’d argue that the importance of iconic nameplates like the Mustang go way beyond their actual sales figures. Can the same be said of any of the other cars on that list? Not really.

        So, yeah, maybe Ford walked away from the Focus and Fusion, but those weren’t iconic cars (well, the Powershift Focus was an iconic junkheap). The Mustang is. The nameplate isn’t going anywhere. The question, as Corey says, is how it looks going forward.

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatic

          Thunderbird was an icon (ok the design got off base somewhat) but when cancelled in 1997 it was still selling ok and the design was true to form (two door personal luxury) and not a bad car. If the Mustang does not make money it too will disappear.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            True, but the Thunderbird was never even remotely as popular as the Mustang, and its’ market segment (the personal luxury coupe) died. The Mustang’s segment is smaller, but it’s very much alive.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Thunderbird sales (toward the end) were
            T-Bird . . . . . . . . Mustang
            1993 – 130,750 . . .114,200
            1994 – 121,082 . . . 199,000
            1995 – 115,397 . . . 143,900
            1996 – 112,302 . . . 130,500

            Mustang sales since 2015
            2015 – 165,100
            2016 – 142,400
            2017 – 120,800
            2018 – 108,540

            Not drastically different. Yes Mustangs resonate more now but maybe not with the demographic that matters.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Just slap a mustang badge on an Edge.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Let’s not forget the failed plan to replace the Fox-bodied Mustang with a 4 cylinder FWD replacement in the late 80’s. The Mustang faithful screamed loud enough for Ford to change it’s mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Thomas Kreutzer

      There were more baby boomers in the market then, and it was right around the time they had enough extra income to buy fun cars.

      I think of this more like the 4 door Charger. Dodge at the time said something like, “If you want a two-door Charger go ahead and buy them. They have been on the used market for years.” And the rest is ridiculousness…

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The Probe was decently successful in its own right.

        Just as the much maligned Mustang II was the right car at the right time to save the nameplate until hp could be on the upswing again.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “If you want a two-door Charger go ahead and buy them”

        Then they came out with the super-retro 2-door Challenger that is still sold today.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          And if we all recall, many here said the Challenger would die once the boomers’ pent up demand was satisfied. That turned out to not be accurate. At all.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            ^ this is a good point, while I do see a fair number of 50+ women and men drivers in Challengers, there is a significant number of guys and gals in there 20s seemingly picking up new or newer Challengers.

            Everyone’s putting the cart in front of the horse for what the youth want. I don’t see that tastes have changed very much since my fathers and my grandfathers youth.

          • 0 avatar

            Agree with husky: Got to speak with a local high school aged grocery store “bagger”. He was excited to drive his friends Mustang and wanted to buy a Challenger Hellcat. Said it before, but if Dodge had put the 99 concept Charger into production I would have bought one in a heartbeat. Ironically I’m now driving what will most likely be my last car – a 2013 Charger I recently bought used. And, yes, I’m a boomer.

  • avatar

    Tesla apparently has nothing to worry about here. Musk has nothing but contempt for Ford and is probably barely showing interest in this vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      something’s value is not determined by St. Elon’s opinion of it.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @akear, when I had young kids and certainly the disposable income to buy a Model Y (while I can still buy one, there’s not point in my life at this time). But the storage is woefully small, Even with being cash-flow profitable in the previous quarter, I simply don’t have any faith in the company long-term. The parking lot at the mall I live buy has dramatically increased, not that it matters, but $35-40k these days for a lot of people is off the radar.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Nope. This is a long-term play, to try to associate the idea of electric power with something other than ostentatious green-ness. I think these will sell in decent numbers by EV standards, but it won’t be to a traditional Red America Mustang audience at all — it will be to Blue America buyers who were otherwise considering Teslas. The Mustang will continue as normal as long as it sells.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1. Nothing wrong with leveraging an existing brand’s cachet, unless you overdo it and totally dilute the brand (hi there Oldsmobile Cutlass!) Sure, the Mustang coupe will become more of a niche vehicle, but as long as it’s profitable it’ll stick around.

      • 0 avatar

        Profitable is a pretty vague word at Ford. The Taurus, Fusion, Fiesta and Focus weren’t profitable?

        How will the sales go when standard Mustangs all become hybrids?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Taurus: opportunity cost of not building Explorers instead was greater than the return.

          Fusion: opportunity cost of not building Edges instead was greater than the return.

          Focus and Fiesta: not profitable at all when selling European cars at rock-bottom American prices. Raise a Focus, call it an Escape, and suddenly you can sell it at a more European-like price.

          Standard Mustangs won’t all be hybrids. Even if we convert completely to EV, cars like the Mustang will be the last ICE cars for sale.

          • 0 avatar

            The Mustang’s on its own platform. That’s an expense to consider.

          • 0 avatar
            Richard Chen

            It doesn’t help that the Mustang is built along with the barely-selling Continental at Flat Rock, an underutilized plant.

            There was talk about the next Mustang being stretched out to fit on the new Explorer/Aviator platform, but “horse medicine” makes more sense.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I would be very surprised if the Focus and Fiesta ever made a dime of profit in North America.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I don’t see a time in the near future where all Mustangs are hybrids, sure there may be a significant surcharge for the V8. As Dal stated cars like the Mustang will be the last to loose ICE only power and V8s.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I can see this parked in the garage next to a Mustang. There will be a long period of time during the transition where families have an EV and a gas powered vehicle. So yeah a guy likes his Mustang and when he needs a family truckster for the wife something with a little Mustang style and sportiness may very likely get the nod over say a model Y.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    I predict that this stupid thing is going to look like the Mustang the way Chevrolet’s stupid Blazer-thing looks like a Camaro.

    Pretty sure it’s not going to be cross-shopped a lot.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Makes sense to me that Ford would try to cash in on the “Mustang mystique” for this electric CUV.

    And it wouldn’t surprise me if “Mustang” becomes a sub-brand for Ford, including this CUV, and maybe even a Taycan-style sedan. Wouldn’t surprise me if GM did the same with the Corvette name.

    But I also think the “classic” Mustang – a RWD coupe – isn’t going away anytime soon. Will we see hybrid performance versions? Yep. That’s where the market is heading. How you feel about that is up to you; I’m open to it. But as long as Ford’s building V-8 pickups, I think there will also be a V-8 Mustang. The question is how long they’ll continue to do that.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I have a theory about EVs: they’re the doom of automakers. For many generations, automakers have sold cars based on image — the “freedom of the open road,” “every man (or woman) a Stirling Moss,” etc. They have differentiated themselves in a myriad of ways: exterior appearance, interior, engines, transmissions, etc. The magic combination of these elements is what gives a car “character.”

    Today, the prevalence of the CUV makes these cars virtually indistinguishable from each other. Even sedans, thanks to a myriad of safety regulations, are virtually indistinguishable from each other in outward appearance.

    The substitution of electric for ICE power will complete the homogenization of cars. The variety of different ICE configurations is what gives cars, even today, some remnants of character. Electric motors all feel the same; their only difference is the amount of power they develop.

    In short, electrification will be the final step in the commoditization of personal vehicles. They will become appliances, like your refrigerator. If you put a Mustang emblem on a refrigerator, it’s still a refrigerator and not an aspirational purchase. You look for the features you want, at the lowest price, and then you buy. You keep the thing until it wears out.

    This is not good for the mass market car industry, but there’s nothing they can do about it. Various governments are pushing them in that direction, and, by this time, they have so much money invested in electrification that they want governments to keep mandating electric power. Otherwise, their investments will be worthless.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      “If you put a Mustang emblem on a refrigerator, it’s still a refrigerator and not an aspirational purchase.”

      Tell that to my old boss, who would never shut up about her Viking refrigerator. Even among appliances, brand and bragging rights matter. I can’t even tell you what brand of refrigerator I own, but it keeps the beer just as cold as a Viking.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        As long as there are people who are snobbish about stuff they buy, like a person I know who buys expensive watches and makes fun of people who buy cheap watches, and another guy who used to buy DOZENS overpriced 1911 pistols and laugh at us peons who bought “cheap” .45 ACP pistols, there will be a place for higher end products. Yeah, the ridiculously expensive watch doesn’t do a damn thing more than a $40 one, and in a lot of cases, the “cheap” $350-600 non-1911 guns are superior to the $2,000+ 1911’s. It doesn’t matter to the people who say, “That gun cost me $4300! It’s a Wilson”, they will brag about how much stuff costs. We cured my friend of his expensive 1911 bug when a couple of us brought our cheaper guns over, which made his pretty 1911’s look pretty lame. Same goes for clothes snobs who goof on people who don’t care what label is on a shirt, etc. They are willing to pay extra to get very little. If Ford kills the Mustang, it will be cutting it’s own throat. I know several people whose sole interest in any Ford product is the Mustang. The rest they couldn’t care less about.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Corey,

    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

    But as it happens, you are absolutely correct. (Unless you aren’t. Anyway, not sure exactly what Ford’s thinking is as far as how this vehicle ties in with Mustang or not.)

    Potentially, this is a high-performance Ford with high reliability and low maintenance costs. Which would be something relatively new – and possibly quite attractive to Ford fans.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      If they care about reliability and maintenance costs, why are they Ford fans?

      Cars and Coffee will be more exciting when the Mustang drivers have full torque from zero RPM and 800 extra pounds of battery mass to careen through crowds of onlookers.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Why are they Ford fans? Potential reasons:
        – They work there/used to work there/Grandpa worked there
        – Friends/family work there and they get a discount
        – Long-time customer and they have never seriously considered or test-driven anything else
        – Too much trouble to change the stickers/posters/tattoos (or was that Harley-Davidson)
        – Another manufacturer has done them wrong
        – Will never be caught dead in anything Asian
        – Have a thing against bailouts
        – Other

        For whatever reasons, there is a subset of people who will buy whatever has a Ford badge on it and will generally try to love it.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          A woman I met when she was an undergrad at UVA was recruited on campus by Ford Credit in 1999. She went on to rise through the ranks to become the number two FC exec in the state before being cut loose during the recession in 2009. When she worked for Ford, she had a company SUV and a company Lincoln. When she was let go, I kidded that at least now she could buy a good car. She said that part of her package was lifetime sweetheart deals on Fords, and last year her husband was driving a King Ranch when I saw them. A few weeks ago, she splashed social media with her new VW Atlas.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Ford U.S. market share:
            1961 – 29.3%
            1995 – 25.5%
            2018 – 14.4%

            People eventually learn what’s what. But most people don’t buy new vehicles very often – it takes awhile for the message to get through.

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