By on March 30, 2020

With the United States on pause for the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve been left scratching our heads as to how it might impact the timetable of numerous vehicles slated to debut later this year. Apparently, working remotely isn’t as big a hassle for engineers as one might assume — provided the car is nearing completion. Ford is reportedly continuing development of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E by allowing staff to tweak and test prototypes from their homes.

Ideally, the crossover would be spending more time on factory proving grounds while being fussed over by a full complement of engineers. Yet Ford faces a situation where that’s not possible and doesn’t want it stalling the model’s launch. This is the automaker’s first real attempt at a purpose-built EV and the timing is important. A bad impression could send investors running for the hills; meanwhile, any delay would bring the Mach-E that much closer to obsolescence in the minds of customers. 

This is an issue automakers face with all products, but the EV segment advances at a pace that risks giving them a slightly shorter shelf life. Something seen as groundbreaking today could quickly be viewed as lacking as battery technology evolves. That’s been more or less the trend since electric cars started hitting the market about a decade ago. Ford can’t afford to delay the Mach-E, so it’s having engineers continue development from home.

“The Mach-E is the embodiment of a whole different way of operation for Ford in terms of product development and represents a fundamental shift in the way Ford works,” Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Navigant Research, told The Detroit News. “It’s really important as a demonstration both to consumers and the financial markets that ‘We’ve learned from our past mistakes. We are ready to move forward.’ By executing this program in what is a comparably short time period, it shows that Ford really has changed and they are ready for the future.”

From The Detroit News:

Although it might be difficult to run the vehicles in certain scenarios to test suspensions and braking systems, the development team is able to test their electronic architecture and software to ensure all the parts are working properly and reliably. With remote access to most of their usual tools, the developers say they can do almost everything they normally would. Team members took home prototype vehicles to test and from which to gather data.

“If there is a different calibration we want to try, I will jump into the vehicle, the flash goes in, I will take the car around the block, come back, look at the data, and see how things reacted,” said Aleyna Kapur, a Mach-E calibrator who works to ensure the hardware, powertrain and software are all communicating with each other. “Maybe I’ll get back in the vehicle, tweak a few things, and come back to the desk. It’s right there.”

The team used to switch prototypes with one another. Ford had provided a sanitization kit to clean down doors handles, steering wheels and other parts of the vehicles, but since [Michigan] Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order went into effect earlier this month, that practice has stopped. The developers have had to rely on teamwork instead.

That comes by way of virtual conferencing and regular phone calls, often with weekly schedules setting aside time for team-building activities. More often than not, it’s little more than an opportunity for team members to chit-chat. Mach-E staffers, however, seem happy to have an excuse to stay in touch and are doubly happy they can continue working through the pandemic. Not everyone has been so fortunate.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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30 Comments on “In-house Development: Ford Engineers Applying Finishing Touches to Mach-E from Home...”


  • avatar
    cprescott

    Well, if this is truly remarkable instead of being a sporty golf cart, then let the way it is developed ensure that it is bug-free from launch and that the quality of the product makes Tesla look exposed as the pathetic quality maker of over-priced luxury golf carts. Right now the Model Y is horrific – its paint quality is thin and poorly prepared and the assembly gaps and snafus that are showcased by fanboi Tesla youtube channels is flat out embarrassing for a vehicle approaching $60k in price.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Even more vexing is that Tesla fanboys don’t care, and the Model Y will outsell the Mach-E by 5-10x.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        because nobody else has Elon.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          I’m not so sure it’s because of Elon. The paint sucks for sure, but the fit issues are tough to see. The main reason I’d go to a Y is that the charging infrastructure is better and the drivetrain technology is the best. Their battery technology is the best at the moment and might be getting years ahead of the competition soon. For me, it’s nothing to do with Elon and more the underlying technology of the car.

          Some of the Tesla independents are offering services to fix any alignment or paint issues. It reminds me of back when Les Stanford in Dearborn was offering to repaint new C3’s for a price because of crappy paint. I also grew up around Italian exotics and there were loads of quality issues with them back in the day.

          Still, there’s no excuse for even the cheapest Nissan having paint or alignment issues. Tesla has no excuse, but it is what it is. Also, given Ford’s quality in the past, I’d be surprised if it was anywhere near even Tesla’s level of quality.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “Right now the Model Y is horrific”

      So true. I watched an in depth review recently and it was truly pathetic. Aside from the typical non existent Tesla quality, you have heated rear seats with no way to turn them on from the rear seats.

      Then you have the same seats as the garbage Model 3 but because Tesla couldn’t be bothered to modify them, they just stapled some carpet over some scrap wood and mounted the seats to them.

      That being said, Ford is clearly wanting to beat Tesla in the race to build the lowest quality vehicle possible. The Explorer and MKExplorer are amazingly bad and they were designed before all this (rather unnecessary) disruption. To finish the Mocky at home will ensure a complete disaster when it comes to launch.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Right now the Model Y is horrific”

        In the review I saw, the owner didn’t even notice the flaws. They had to look close to find them. So, I wouldn’t describe it as horrific. That’s an exaggeration – at least for that one review I saw. Here’s another review where the problems were a bit more noticeable: https://www.thedrive.com/news/32700/defective-2020-chevrolet-corvette-c8-doors-suffer-paint-damage-just-from-opening

        Oh wait, I screwed up – that’s a C8 review. Here’s the one I meant to find: https://www.motor1.com/news/406992/corvette-found-missing-screws/

        Damn, I screwed up again.

        BTW, I have yet to see a Tesla with worse paint than what I had on the hood of my 750iL. They fixed it, but even BMW can have it’s issues. I’ve also seen horrendous orange peel on Wranglers far worse than any Tesla.

        You’re are right about the lack of rear-seat heat controls. That’s something they definitely should have. However, I almost always find myself operating the seat heating/cooling controls for passengers. I agree the controls should be there, but in my personal experience they aren’t needed.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Tesla’s quality has been horrific for many years now.

          Most likely because Elon does not care and they’re built in a tent. Plus they waste money on gimmicks like dog mode or camp mode.

          I don’t expect you to take an objective look at Tesla though. You only see them through rose colored glasses.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            Pot, meet kettle. EBFlex, you don’t take an objective look at anything, you just fling poo at the various objects of your obsessive hatreds. It’s boring.

        • 0 avatar
          Turbo Is Black Magic

          Some of the worst orange peel I have seen is on Honda’s, basically every model is just bad. Surprisingly VW seems to have the best paint quality out of the non luxury brands, I have not seen a difference between Mexico, America, or German made VW’s. They have quality control down to a science… just don’t ask about emissions.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Well, that’s how this development engineer is working. Our technicians continue going into the office (by choice), so we haven’t missed a beat yet. I’ve gone in about 2 hours a week, and only in the evening.

    But eventually, real people need to have real hands-on time with real parts. Something’s gotta give.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    From styling alone, this Mach-E has the makings of a hit, um, for an electric car. In contrast, the GM Bolt visually reeked of ‘not keeping up with the Jones.’

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Yeah, the Bolt isn’t that attractive, but GM is starting to leverage their ability to drive battery cell costs to near and below $100/kWh. They’re putting $8 or $9k on the hood and it’s amazing how a pile of cash can beautify a vehicle. They’re selling it in the mid 20’s where I live. For a daily driver, it’s a little harder to say no to the Bolt. On top of that, I found aftermarket adjustable coilovers for it. That should improve the handling quite a bit and lowering for long trips might boost the range. For under $30k, I might be able to build a better car than a $40k Y that I can have some fun autocrossing.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    In the photo at the top of this piece, the Mach-E looks like it was squeezed from a tube of Crest. I’ll pass. But then, I’ll pass on all pure EV’s as they exist now or will exist in the near future.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    With the current gas prices that thing is already obsolete. Gas around here is the cheapest I’ve seen since the 1990s but my utility bill hasn’t dropped a fraction.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yes, and that will last forever.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        @JimZ

        Agreed. The more people who buy EVs will keep the horsejuice cheap for myself and my herd of V8s. All of our utility bills will keep rising, though – more so if you plug a massive battery into your house every night. That battery won’t last as long as a well-kept V8. Fact.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “That battery won’t last as long as a well-kept V8. Fact.”

          That’s no longer true. They’ve solved the durability issues with improved electrode coatings. Even my vintage 2014 battery with almost 100k miles has only lost about 8 miles range. Since then, in the past year almost all of the manufacturers have made some huge gains.

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @mcs

            I live where it’s really cold for six months of the year. That EV junk doesn’t work here. My 1982 boat engine will outlast your car battery.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @Tele Vision: “I live where it’s really cold for six months of the year.”

            I live where it’s cold too. Cold was never an issue. It was heat that was an issue. The problem was with deterioration of the electrodes and it was a matter of discovering coatings and electrode compositions that eliminate the problems. They’ve done that.

            BTW, a properly designed EV has liquid heated and cooled battery packs, so the temperature isn’t that big of a factor in those cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @mcs

            Oh, an ‘improved electrode coating’ will make a battery last thirty years? Why doesn’t every battery have this coating? Utter tripe. New pistons and heads ( or just rings ) will make an engine last thirty years – or more. It costs far less money than an EV and is far better for the environment than sourcing a new battery every few years.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @Tele Vision – “the horsejuice” Jay Leno said basically the same thing. EV’s will save ICE performance vehicles. A large number of buyers just want a reliable appliance with low operating costs. No reason why that shouldn’t be an EV.

          “I live where it’s really cold for six months of the year.”

          Northern Canada? The Arctic?

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @Lou_BC

            I live in Okotoks, Alberta. It’s currently snowing here. I work in the countryside and have to punch through the occasional 18″ snowdrift in the Winter on my way to work. A ‘city car’ won’t cut it. A Rivian might but my 2010 F-150 is doing just fine. The CTS-V is better in the warmer months.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Gasoline prices over the years have proven pretty stable and pretty low, with a few spikes in over the years.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @Art: They’ve been steady and stable, but that’s about to change. The price drops are designed to drive some producers out of business. They’re also discovering that the fracked wells don’t last as long as they expected. Gas prices will at some point will come roaring back with a vengeance.

          https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Is-The-Shale-Boom-Running-On-Fumes.html

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @Tele Vision:

      Saving money on gas isn’t why people buy EVs. That may be #3 or 4 on the list.

      Do you really think people buy Model 3s at 3x the rate of the 3-Series just to save a nickel on gas?

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        @ SCE to AUX

        No, I don’t think that. I think that people bought into a hype and that they were aided and abetted by myopic governments bowing to Green pressure so that said governments can garner votes. Replacing the batteries in the toys they bought will have no subsidy, I’d imagine.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Yecchh. Now if it looked like the car in the article below, then two thumbs up.

    With an electric car, the body shape is only governed by packaging around the components, aerodynamics and safety. It doesn’t have to look so damn weird.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Imagine if your master plan was to release a similar but slightly worse product months after a brand name competitor.

    I’d be staying home too.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Electrek is over that way. Stanning for Elon plays much better there.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        He’s not wrong. The Mach E is exactly that: similar to but slightly worse than a Model Y. The “slightly worse” part is compensated for by the much lower after-tax price, since subsidies are still available for electric Fords and are no longer available for electric Teslas.

        I find the Model Y’s styling bland, and Tesla’s habit of launching only with the pricey top-end trims off-putting. So if I can swing a low-end Mach E when it comes out, I’ll definitely consider it. But I suspect a low-end Model 3 would be a smarter buy for about the same money.

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