Ford Mustang Lithium: 900 Horsepower, Entirely Electric, Six-Speed Manual
Ford’s whetting electric appetites at SEMA this week with its new Mustang Lithium prototype. Officially a one-off model for the show, the automaker said it was present to prove how utterly dope future electric performance vehicles will be. Good timing, too, as the debut of Ford’s all-electric, Mustang-inspired crossover is almost upon us.
Ignoring the timing in relation to the Mach E, it’s mildly curious that the brand would first preview the prototype at an aftermarket trade show. But it’s worth noting that the electric Mustang actually cobbles together quite a few parts from various catalogs. The manufacturer informs us that Lithium is equipped with Ford Performance’s Track Handling Pack and Brembo brakes sourced from the Shelby GT350R — though they’re the tamest inclusions by far.
An electrified street-ready beast, Mustang Lithium is low and sleek, with custom carbon fiber body components, a 1.0-inch lowered stance and 20-inch staggered fitting forged wheels. Under the hood, the differences are electrifying: a Phi-Power dual-core electric motor and dual power inverters – all powered by an 800-volt Webasto battery system with EVDrive Technology that can discharge a mega-watt of electrical energy.
At 800 volts, that’s twice the voltage of most electric cars on the road today. This allows the system to be lighter, more powerful and generate less heat, and more electric force than most battery-electric systems on the road today.
In a unique twist, Mustang Lithium features a manual transmission and uses a drag-strip proven Calimer-version of the Getrag MT82 6-speed transmission with billet internals to handle the 1,000 ft.-lbs. of torque. Ford Performance half shafts and Super 8.8 Torsen differential help supply power to the road via lightweight Forgeline wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
That bit about the transmission almost doesn’t seem real, as we’ve grown accustomed to EVs being a one-gear affair. We’re not even sure what performance benefits multiple gears would have other than upping its top speed (quite possibly at the expense of acceleration). Yet Ford twice confirmed the six-speed with manual gear selection.
The manufacturer claims the ‘Stang generates over 900 horsepower and at last 1,000 ft-lb of instantaneous torque. While it’s unlikely that any hypothetical production models would match that output, it does frame Ford’s slide toward electrification in a positive light — which is the entire point of this Mustang.
“Ford has made no secret of the fact that we are electrifying our most popular nameplates,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s Chief Product Development and Purchasing Officer, said in a statement. “This one-off Mustang prototype is a great opportunity for us, together with Webasto, to showcase to our customers what a new electrified powertrains can do for performance in a car they already know and love.”
Ford estimates that Lithium weighs roughly the same as the GT500 (about 4,200 pounds) due to its battery, adding that the added heft is was worth it, as electrification allows for a much lower center of gravity. For all its improvements, Webasto claims it only supports Level 2 AC charging. Considering it probably doesn’t offer great range when you’re discharging all that energy with right foot planted, the company would have done better with DC fast charging. Perhaps the company just wanted to incorporate its TurboDX at-home charging solution for the display.
Eager to show off the vehicle’s hardware, Webasto added polycarbonate windows to the hood. Sadly for Ford, they don’t show much and play second fiddle to an oversized decal that looks more at home in one of the first three Fast & Furious films. Its color matches the cobalt, black, and white paint scheme, but that’s the most praise this author can give. Otherwise, the car looks like a tastefully stanced custom.
Despite showing off being the Mustang Lithium’s primary goal, its secondary mission is to provide Ford with an opportunity to test the battery and thermal management technologies it’s currently working on with Webasto. The third? Assess the public’s reaction before going whole hog on EVs.
[Images: Ford Motor Co.]
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- VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
- Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
- GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
- Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you. Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers.
- ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
Using the manual transmission may have simplified things for them. EV motors run at very high rpm. That's how they make them small and light, while making lots of power. The motor(s) of a Tesla S turn 16,000-18,000 rpm at top speed. With the 6-speed gearbox, this Ford can get part of the needed gear reduction by using a lower gear, along with a standard rear diff. The transmission won't have a very long service life, though, running in 2nd or 3rd gear with an input rpm of 10,000. These transmissions are not designed for that. Of course, this one-off car will never be driven more than a few hundred miles before going to a museum, or similar.
I'm just not getting the point of a manual transmission with an electric motor. The fastest EVs today can do 0-60 in what, 3-4 seconds? What would having a 6-speed manual accomplish?