By on November 25, 2019

ford

While last week’s Internet-breaking debut of the Ford Mustang Mach-E was eventually overshadowed by the glass-shattering introduction of the Tesla Cybertruck, the echoes of that reveal still linger in the air.

A flurry of Change.org petitions quickly sprung up, with signees hoping to reverse this apparently abominable decision by Ford brass. Dream on. As a friend is fond of saying, signing a petition has never, ever stopped anything from happening. You’d have the same impact if you just stayed at home and munched celery in the dark.

Perhaps cognizant of the backlash, Ford released a film in which company bigwigs sitting on invisible chairs lob derision at the vehicle the Mach-E replaced.

While we’ve mentioned this mystery vehicle before (in addition to positing why the name was a necessary evil), the film sheds more light on this soul-sucking compliance runabout. In it, Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director of electrification, calls it “a great electric vehicle,” before adding that it lacked emotion.

“It was just a car,” he says of the four-door EV crossover. In the same vein as Ford’s defunct low-range Focus Electric, the vehicle was developed to earn Ford a green star from zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) states.

“The vehicle looked like a science project,” says Jim Farley, head of new businesses, technology and strategy.

“I thought to myself, ‘who’s going to want to buy this car?'” remarks Chris Walter, exterior design manager for the Blue Oval.

Then came new CEO Jim Hackett, the film implies, who walked into the room and started throwing chairs, thus saving the world from an electric CUV with the sex appeal of an assisted living facility. Maybe this explains why the execs are sitting on air.

“Ford stands for much more than just meeting environmental regulations,” Hackett says, as pulsing, anticipatory music builds in the background.

After tearing up the prototype’s plans (how’d it get this far if everyone hated it?), Ford amassed its Team Edison and plunked them a short walk away from Slows BBQ. The team was tasked with creating a myriad of designs and prototypes, with the explicit mandate of taking risks.

According to Tau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief development officer, it was Farley who came up with the idea of making the vehicle a Mustang. Well, a Mustang in name and design, anyways. From that point forward, design teams from across the globe were asked to supplement Team Edison’s design ideas with their own.

To their credit, the execs discuss their misgivings and confusion about the vehicle and its place in the brand’s lineup. Focus groups apparently had reservations, too. And yet the journey continued, as the company knew it needed to do something big to get the vehicle noticed… and purchased. This, despite the protests of Chairman Bill Ford Jr., who was apparently “adamant” that the vehicle not bear the Mustang name.

“When I saw that it was going to be an SUV, I really dug my heels in,” Ford says.

“Part of the company’s on trial here,” claims Hacket, “because that brand is so precious, it means so much to everyone, and it has a very high standard of performance.”

While the Mach-E’s appearance was greeted as proof of the impending death of the Mustang coupe, the automaker claims that isn’t the case. “We’re not,” says Mark Kaufman, global director of market distribution. “The coupe’s there. This is a new horse in the stable.”

You can forgive those who don’t place much weight in Kaufman’s promise. A trend of falling passenger car sales hasn’t left the Mustang coupe untouched; meanwhile, car nameplates are disappearing faster than virginity at a campus keg party. The public’s purchasing decisions will dictate how long the “real” Mustang remains in the brand’s lineup.

[Image: Ford]

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52 Comments on “Mustang Mach-E Update: Ford Execs Trash Talk an Aborted Child...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    “A trend of falling passenger car sales hasn’t left the Mustang coupe untouched; meanwhile, car nameplates are disappearing faster than virginity at a campus keg party.”

    difference is the Mustang coupe/convertible plays in a much less crowded segment than e.g. the Fusion did. Plus it’s a segment where there’s still significant demand for a manual transmission, and likely the margin on them is much higher even with declining volume.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    I am so sick and tired of people getting all bent out of shape over car names.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I am getting tired of Mach-E posts in general.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Names mean something. It is a signal that tells the buyer something.

      With a new name, you create a new identity. With an existing name, you assume the history of that name.

      A name creates a link to the past, and also a trajectory to the future.

      What Ford did was take a warplane that helped us win WWII, and bestow it on a car. The implication was that it would be quick and nimble.

      With the exception of the GT40/GT, the Mustang name meant the pinnacle of performance for Ford.

      Until now.

      Ford would have been better served by making an electric SUV that could meet every need a family had, and making the name a reference to the Model T or one of its nicknames.

      Instead, we got this, with a name attached that doesn’t really explain the vehicle.

      The name is bad for Mustangs, but it’s also bad for this vehicle.

      Naming and branding should solve problems, not create them.

      • 0 avatar
        Snooder

        But the whole point is that the Mach-E is supposed to be a performance car as well.

        I mean, a 0 to 60 in the mid three seconds screams performance to me.

        • 0 avatar
          James2

          Even the ‘base’ Mach-E will do mid-5s. Wasn’t very long ago a *V8* Mustang couldn’t do that.

        • 0 avatar
          Garrett

          It looks like they are matching the Tesla Model 3, while charging more money.

          I’m sorry, but Ford, with its economies of scale and knowledge of how to actually design and manufacture a vehicle, should be able to beat Tesla on at least one of these:

          1. Looks
          2. Performance
          3. Price
          4. Range

          It doesn’t.

          Instead they come out about the same, or worse, as Tesla’s low end model at each trim level.

          I’m not a Tesla fan, but Ford basically put the Mustang name on there to make up for the fact that their best effort isn’t quite a tie.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Eh, it won’t take much for the Mach E’s interior materials to beat the Model 3. Also, Tesla’s pricing seems more based around drawing you in with a low base price and then forcing you to spend more for extras. Like, Ford’s Co-Pilot isn’t equivalent to Autopilot, but it’s more than the base 3 gets you, and doesn’t force you into a $7000 package to get it.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Definitely beats the Tesla in looks….

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          “ But the whole point is that the Mach-E is supposed to be a performance car as well.

          I mean, a 0 to 60 in the mid three seconds screams performance to me.“

          Except it does nothing better than its direct comparison (Model Y). The Model Y will be just as probably a better EV (which is saying a lot because Tesla builds absolute garbage).

          Ford designed a mediocre EV that does nothing special and used Derivative Mustang styling and the Mustang name with the hopes that will carry the vehicle.

          The decision to name this Mustang mom van after a 2 door muscle car that prides itself in having RWD and a V8 is insanity. Imitation is the truest form of flattery but it this case it’s just Mockery.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        “Model E” Would have worked pretty well, and cemented this as the Tesla competitor that it is. And while I do agree with you on the importance of a name Garrett, we’re in an era where branding and familiarity are more important than tradition or establishing new IPs.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Why do people think Mustang has performance implications? The first Mustang wasn’t a fast car. It was a stylish commuter car built with the most plebian components that Ford had lying around. The Shelby Mustang was created because the Ford Mustang couldn’t turn or stop. Very few people ordered the K-code engine that made it as quick as other cars with performance aspirations, and it took radical improvements by Shelby to make the little Falcon 2+2 roadworthy. Eventually Shelby Mustangs were watered down and Ford Mustangs were pepped up until the Shelby Mustangs stopped having a purpose. Then the Boss 302 did what the GT350 had done a few years earlier.

        Times had changed by the time the 2nd generation Mustang came out. Performance had left Dearborn and the new Mustang II was a stylish Pinto. Big sales came back for the first time in years. No Mustang II was ever a performance vehicle. The Fairmont-based car that replaced it started without any great performance either. As the 3rd generation Mustang aged, Ford took advantage of improved engine management technologies to eventually build some quick V8 Mustangs as the ’80s wore on the Fairmontstang. Most of the volume came from 88 hp 2.3 liter four cylinder Mustangs synonymous with rental counters and young women.

        Ford thought they could build the next Mustang on a modern compact sedan chassis in the form of a Mazda 626. The Boomers freaked, and so the dinosaur Mustang trudged on until it could become a niche car and eventually a niche car that often had powerful engines. This is when the Mustang stopped being a car of the young and became a car of people who didn’t have the reflexes to keep from spinning onto sidewalks when they pressed the go pedal too hard. I guess this is what they mean when they say Mustangs are supposed to be performance cars. They certainly weren’t usually performance cars in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s or ’90s. Saying a Mustang is a performance car because of the existence of some GT model is like saying the Regal was a performance car because of the existence of the GNX. There were always three of them that wouldn’t see where an Accord went for every one that could win a drag race against a Saab Turbo.

        The Mock-E fails as a Mustang because it is really a subsidy-age interpretation of a Chevy Citation. All every Mustang has had going for it is that it has traded the utility of the sedan it is based on for some style. A CUV isn’t a Mustang even if it is driven by a high school daddy’s girl and can’t out accelerate an Oldsmobile station wagon full of soccer players, like most of the new Mustangs in the AHS parking lot in 1988.

      • 0 avatar
        Victor

        ^That. This ugly CUV should have been called eT.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Ford would have been better served by making an electric SUV that could meet every need a family had, and making the name a reference to the Model T or one of its nicknames.”

        Thank the maker you aren’t in marketing, because this sounds like the dumbest idea ever.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    “The concept wasnt quite an SUV nor quite a sedan”

    Thats how I feel about the Mustang-E, and really any SUV with coupe roof. Whether if you agree or disagree about the badge it’s hard to argue that a huge touchscreen and limited rear passenger/cargo space are good ideas.

    Still, much like the mid-engined Corvette this might get desperate fans to grab up the regular Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      For goodness sakes it’s a compromised car, it’s not BoF, it doesn’t have a solid axle anywhere under it and theres no chance it’s going to be used as a utility vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I expect it to haul family and groceries, and simple upright roofs tend to do wonders as far as adding interior space.

      • 0 avatar
        Snooder

        Honestly, i see it as being as “compromised” as large engined sport sedans like the Charger or the Stinger GT.

        I.e., most sedans are sedate family haulers the way more CUVs are sedate family haulers. Then you slap a massive engine on it, add some body work to make it look awesome and you sell it as a performance vehicle.

        The Mach-E is the same process, but with an electric drivetrain.

        If we don’t hate those, why the hate for this?

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          This seems like the worst of both worlds, it’s sporting abilities are compromised by the higher center of gravity, unlike the Mustang it borrows it’s name from it’s nit very attractive nor is it likely to give the buyer anywhere near the rush of revving the 5.0 out down a drag strip or race course.

          It doesn’t offer any advantages on the SUV front, there is no off-road intentions at all, the driving position isn’t high enough to see over anything else on the road, the odd design doesn’t help with hauling people or work related items, though I suppose that’s also a trait of being a Mustang, albeit with 2 more doors.

          • 0 avatar
            Snooder

            Given the nature of EV architecture, I doubt it has a much higher center of gravity.

            And, again, the proper comparison here isn’t to a BoF offroad SUV. This was never that. It is to a 4 door sport sedan. Slightly taller, slightly more room in trunk, easier to get kids and and out of, more amenable to the current taste, but still essentially the same and performing the same duties. That’s what this is.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’d be very curious about CoG numbers for this vehicle versus a Mustang 5.0, on the one hand, and an Edge, on the other. The skateboard battery is a LOT of weight down low.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Actually, the roof is pretty normal for a SUV/CUV/crossover/whatever, it’s the paint job that tricks you into thinking it’s a coupe.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It’s Fords own fault they have produced so much trash that the number of nameplates left that aren’t “significantly” tarnished is able to be counted on a single hand of a guy that had an accident at a mill 40 years ago.

    Frankly “Crown Vic” is one of the few names they haven’t thrown in the toilet yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Except that it would be greeted with taunts of “OK, Boomer” despite the fact that the Boomers wouldn’t be caught dead in them because they were for “old people”.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The guy at 19:19 gives it away: “We’re starting to move more and more away from internal combustion engines – people have to embrace that. And… embracing it in an electric Mustang is better than embracing it in *no* Mustang.”

    Good call, Corey.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think there’s a notable difference between “electric Mustang” and “electric Mustang CUV”. YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      aja8888

      People have to embrace that….not…..people have other choices.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        What Aja said, I don’t have to embrace that, and evidence suggests the majority of America doesn’t either. No matter how many commercials the federal government does to convince citizens into accepting something that Doesn’t seem to offer me any benefits.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          There are two areas where electric vehicles are inferior to IC vehicles:

          Cost and Recharge Time

          In almost every other respect, EVs are as good or better than IC cars.

          If either of those two limitations are your deal-killers, then yes, you will dismiss the benefits as being not worth to to you. But it does not, in any way, make those benefits go away.

          If I am prepared to buy a $50K CUV, price isn’t a factor (even without the damned-to-hell tax rebates). And my use cases for the vehicle don’t include long road trips, then we have to look at the real advantages:

          Fill up at home (yes, not everyone can do that, get over it most of us live in houses with garages)

          No oil changes.

          Instant torque. Pick the right models and accelerate as quickly as you want, certainly better than all but a few IC vehicles.

          Quiet operation.

          Less required maintenance.

          If you have the solar infrastructure, you can even make your own “gas”.

          Drive system complexity moved from mechanical devices (transmissions, AWD hardware, etc.) to electronic control via use of multiple motors.

          EVs won’t be forced on us, we will, over time choose them because they will offer more than IC vehicles. For many of us, that time has already come.

          As for EV limitations, both are shrinking with each new tweaked battery technology and efficiency improvement. At some point the benefits will be overwhelming. Battery costs are falling, addressing the high price issues.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “Less required maintenance”

            Indeed.

            The maintenance schedule on my Bolt has the following items:

            – Tire rotations
            – Cabin air filter replacement
            – Tire, brake and suspension inspections; replace components as needed
            – Every five years: replace coolant

            That’s literally it.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            dal20402,

            I’m convinced the brake pads on my EV’s would have been life-of-vehicle given the way I normally drove (mostly regen braking).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My driving is pretty much all regen, except that I stomp on the brake once a week or so to make sure rotor rust stays at bay.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Instant torque. Pick the right models and accelerate as quickly as you want, certainly better than all but a few IC vehicles.”

            I don’t know why automakers ever bothered making high-rpm naturally-aspirated engines or working with RWD dynamics. It’s obvious that even on car websites people just want low-end torque and 0-60 bragging rights from the AWD launch.

            The Ferrari electric CUV will be the most consumer-focused vehicle they’ve ever built.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “I don’t know why automakers ever bothered making high-rpm naturally-aspirated engines or working with RWD dynamics. It’s obvious that even on car websites people just want low-end torque and 0-60 bragging rights from the AWD launch.”

            as opposed to bragging rights over hp/l? Even though pushing that higher makes the engine peakier and less pleasant to deal with day in and day out?

            high-rpm screamers have their place, I guess, but not for the vast majority of on-road driving people actually do in the real world. I mean, if you want an S2000 so you can wind it out in 1st gear driving down the block, you do you I guess.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            @Jim,

            It all depends on what you define as pleasant I suppose. If winding an engine out occasionally is unpleasant, then there really is no reason not to go to EVs across the board.

            But if you’re willing to go that far, then why bother driving yourself at all? Surely a computer will be better and more efficient someday. Just like electric is better and more efficient than gas now. At least according to what I read above.

            And if you’re willing to go that far, then why bother being an enthusiast at all? So that you can defend an anonymous commuter pod with your preferred emblem on the front vs. one with someone else’s emblem on it?

            This isn’t about hp/l, I hate that measurement as much as anyone. It’s about the joy we supposedly feel from driving cars; joy that for many just isn’t present in an electric. The whole point of being a car enthusiast for me is to try to enjoy the driving that everyone does more than everyone else doing it. So yes, I do like winding out first gear driving down the block sometimes. I’m planning to continue doing it as long as I can.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Anyone – what does the “4” mean in the badging in the video (~18:56)?

      And there’s another giveaway line after the 19:19 one, but I can’t go back and transcribe it right now because I’m all choked up after viewing this video. What an amazing company… and so full of itself… :-)

      [When can I get a swoopy filing cabinet? I mean, the ones I have are very functional, but so very squared off.]

      P.S. Ford, I heard your “science project” wording more than once in this video. I demand royalties. (What’s that, you’re running short of cash? I’ll take stock – no, actually I won’t.)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I assumed that “4” represented AWD/dual motors.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        19:19 “We’re starting to move more and more away from internal combustion engines – people have to embrace that. And… embracing it in an electric Mustang is better than embracing it in *no* Mustang.”

        19:30 “Mustang’s gonna continue to change – and continue to be the car that we all know and love.”

        19:36 “I think the Mustang name is gonna go forever – prolly got spacecrafts ridin’ around that say Mustang on it.”

        As the very last spoken words at the end of a 20:20 promotional video, and coming from ‘everyman’ speakers, these thoughts are intended to be YOUR thoughts after you are sold on Ford’s vision – after all the doubts and pushback and strawmen and salesmanship. Ford is definitely moving on, and would like you to as well.

        [I’m not taking a position one side or the other, just explaining Ford’s very clear intent from this piece.]

        Corey nailed it nailed it nailed it.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The video clearly shows one of the creative stumbling blocks present in large organizations: Group think.

    Mind you, this is not an exclusive Ford trait. This characteristic has been intensively studied by most Business Schools.
    That is the reason why truly disruptive products seldom appear from the large, entrenched players.

    Of course there are exceptions. But there must be some maverick (pun intended) within the organization.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““I thought to myself, ‘who’s going to want to buy this car?’” remarks Chris Walter, exterior design manager for the Blue Oval.”

    Who, indeed.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Mack E and Gas Wars articles more clickbait fodder.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    A very few years from now it’ll roll up to a stoplight then lay waste to an ICE GT all while hauling four fat boomers with a dozen racks of PBR in back….and six on ice up front.

  • avatar
    MoparDave

    Seems like the modern day equivalent of the 1977 Mercury Cougar Villager wagon, badging-wise…..

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Nice one.

      Various names which have been given to the Mickey Mouse place in France:
      – Euro Disney Resort/Euro Disneyland
      – Euro Disneyland Paris
      – Disneyland Paris
      – Disneyland Resort Paris/Disneyland Park
      – Disneyland Paris/Disneyland Park

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I don’t like the grill, it looks like this car has a double chin or some chick with fake boobs. Then again I think Model X grill looks ugly as well.

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