By on November 6, 2019

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. 

From Ford:

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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39 Comments on “Ford Mustang Lithium: 900 Horsepower, Entirely Electric, Six-Speed Manual...”

  • avatar

    Of all the ways to grab attention for an EV, a manual transmission is NOT the one I would have expected!

    Consider me intrigued, Ford. Put this into production, and we’ll have to talk.

  • avatar

    4200 lbs, so like Tesla a great drag race car, and cooked brakes after a couple laps on the track. I notice Tesla people tend to be very aggressive in traffic using the etorque squirt to get into openings. I wonder if that contributes to their high insurance costs (even beyond the high cost of body repairs).

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Unless they made the motor super peaky, there is no need for a six-speed gearbox. Two speeds should be sufficient to propel this beastie up to the aero limit. Back in the old DIY electric car days, people would sometimes keep the stock manual box to simplify the conversion, then ride around in 3rd gear all the time.

    I would assume the acceleration curve is suppressed at the low end so that the clutch at least has a chance to survive.

    • 0 avatar

      Unless they have some NHRA dragster tires, I’d think wheel slip was the fuze in the driveline rather than the clutch.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure how a motor can be “peaky”. The torque is proportional to the current flow and maximum current flow is when the motor has yet to move. Once the motor’s speed begins to build the counter EMF that develops opposes that current flow in the windings which results in a decrease in the torque produced. Still the idea of multiple gears is interesting.

  • avatar

    Would be a trip to drive. You’d need to use the clutch for shifts, but not for starts and stops, and you could probably get away with using only second and fourth gears for everything.

    Jerry-rigged electric powertrain aside, this (minus the garish hood/roof decals) is what the GT500 ought to look like. So clean, and those are beautiful wheels.

  • avatar

    electric motors don’t sound sexy so I guess they will pipe in fake ICE sounds

  • avatar

    I like it.

  • avatar

    I call B.S. — the clutch will be cooked after a couple of days because the electric motor spins up 10X as fast as a ICE. No way a driver can manually match the engine to the gearbox smoothly.

  • avatar

    Honestly, I’d rather see motors powering individual wheels. Greater mechanical simplicity, lower driveline losses, greater flexibility… Sure, you’d probably lose trunk space but then you’d gain a frunk so that’s zero-sum.

    This whole idea of maintaining the old ICE driveline seem like a lack of vision.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “more electric force”

    Marketing-speak by a committee who didn’t actually talk with the engineers who built this car so they could get their terminology right.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    4200 lbs @ 900 HP means two things:

    1. It has a very small battery, which keeps the weight down.
    2. It has no range to speak of.

    My little Ioniq weighs 3100 lbs, but it could be a dragster too if Hyundai fitted it with a bigger motor and huge switchgear to manage the current dump.

    Such one-offs are fun to talk about until all the details come out, and until someone tries to manufacture it for a profit. Ford didn’t invent any new technology here. Using this test mule as a marketing tool misrepresents what is feasible for a product.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think anyone considers this more than a bit of whimsy, but I vastly prefer this sort of concept car over
      mega-tech autonomous pods and austerity unicycles.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Dude, it is SEMA…are you not familiar with that show? My favorite this far has been the LS swapped, Twin Turbo, Carbon Fiber bodied Hurrican that the dude built from a salvage Lambo that had burned up.

      That is the sort of cars SEMA brings out…not the next gen Sienna. The Ring Brothers and people like that debut builds there. It is a show devoted to the aftermarket. Nobody cares if it is practical or even streetable. Honestly it is glorious once you get past all the cheese

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “to showcase to our customers what a new electrified powertrains can do for performance in a car”

    Shouldn’t that say “powertrain”?

    Oh, and haven’t we already seen what an an electric powertrain can do for performance in a car, say a Model S, since 2012? Guess not.

  • avatar

    A car with a normal, body, gauge cluster, MT; and happened to be an electric… now we’re talking! Just add that v8 sound, please

  • avatar

    a) This vehicle is aimed directly at the crowd here, and many are hating on the manual transmission – huh?

    b) Any time you see the HVAC vents closed in a press photograph (4th picture), you know that someone doesn’t know much about automobiles.

    c) 800 volts… Dodge will announce an 810-volt competitor within months. (Chevrolet will then introduce a 790-volt model but focus on the high Nm torque figure in its press materials.)

    d) When OEM’s pair up with non-OEM’s at SEMA to present products which outperform their actual production offerings, it makes some potential customers (e.g., me) question their competency and expertise – and wonder in what low regard the OEM must hold the rubes who buy the everyday production dross.

    e) Have we missed the ‘Fromage’ cut-off yet? (I have a late add.)

    • 0 avatar

      d) Surely you must understand that there’s quite a bit of difference between designing, engineering, and constructing a one off proof-of-concept prototype and doing the same with a production model.

      Silly minor things like manufacturability, profitability, warranty coverage, government regulations, etc really tend to get in the way of selling the things you see at SEMA to the public.

      As for why the automakers pair up with non-OEMs, its a win-win for both sides in what is basically a marketing exercise.

      • 0 avatar

        Manufacturability… is that one production facility or one production facility plus one rework facility? (This is a Ford article, keep in mind.)

        Profitability, Warranty, Regulations… all of the non-OEM’s have to deal with all of that, right?

        I understand the marketing exercise aspect… but it becomes painfully obvious through such efforts that when Ford wants something done quickly and done well, they immediately engage non-Ford personnel.

        And don’t call me Shirley… :-)

        • 0 avatar

          “Profitability, Warranty, Regulations… all of the non-OEM’s have to deal with all of that, right?”

          No they don’t, which is exactly my point. It’s relatively simple for Joe Schmoe’s Fabrication to modify a single vehicle that will never be driven on public roads.

          No reviewer will ever comment on its cheap interior plastics, or its road noise, or its poor build quality, it never needs to pass a crash test, or have functioning headlights, stability control, or ABS, no one will know or care if the drivetrain grenades at 5,000 miles, or if it cost $100,000 to build but could only be sold for $60,000 etc.

          It’s easy to criticize an OEM for being conservative, but there is exponentially more that goes into a production vehicle than a show car. And the fact of the matter is that smaller, nimbler companies are better suited for one offs than enormous engineering departments at OEMs. That’s why its a win win.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m going beyond show vehicles. Webasto, et al. engineer and manufacture components which go into real vehicles which are driven in the real world. In the process, they have to follow the rules and meet the same constraints that the OEM’s do. They have to be profitable, they have warranty claims, and they aren’t exempt from regulations.

            I’m not accusing Ford of being conservative. I’m accusing them of being much less competent than their “marketing partners.”

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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?

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