Ford Reveals Literal Hype Machine With Prototype Mach-E
Ford appears to have spent a fortune in order to convince the world that electric vehicles have nearly limitless potential.
Its latest spot promoting the Mach-E (and its current efforts to embrace battery power) include a high-powered prototype boating 1,400 horsepower and some of the most recognizable faces in motorsport attempting to challenge it — or at least help make for some quality entertainment while parodying the scientific method. The marketing campaign is so bonkers, it’s hard to be cross with the company even if Ford had taken the testing more seriously.
While physics-defying electrics aren’t new, they’ve only recently begun making appearances at Ford Motor Company. The Mach-E 1400 — developed in collaboration with RTR Vehicles — is here to drive home the message that the automaker isn’t taking electrification lightly.
We’re just pleased to see that commitment hasn’t precluded having a good time on the tarmac.
Similar in concept to the 1,400-hp all-electric Mustang “Cobra Jet” 1400 dragster that foreshadowed it, the maniacal Mach-E relies on electric motors and lots of modifications to do the dirty work. But it fills niches the Mustang cannot and does so with seven (yes, seven) motors hidden beneath its sheet metal. Aggressive aerodynamics give it a claimed 2,300 pounds of down force at 160 mph, while power is shifted around the vehicle to optimize handling or transform it into a drift machine eager to shed rubber.
Ford made no bones about building the Mach-E to show off, adding that it does double duty as a test bed to see where the current performance limits of EVs exist. That requires some modifications between runs. Drift duties require completely unique front end configurations from the grip-focused track mode, and must allow for more aggressive steering inputs. However, the septet of electric motors don’t change beyond how power delivery is managed. Three are affixed to the front differential while the other four are pancaked together at the rear. Power can be sent to (or removed from) either end, depending on what’s needed.
“The challenge was controlling the extreme levels of power provided by the seven motors,” Mark Rushbrook, motorsports director of Ford Performance, said in the release. “Mustang Mach-E 1400 is a showcase of the art of the possible with an electric vehicle.”
The 56.8-kilowatt-hour battery (installed) is made up of nickel manganese cobalt pouch cells for ultra-high performance and high discharge rate. The battery system is designed to be cooled during charging using a di-electric coolant, decreasing the time needed between runs.
An electronic brake booster is integrated to allow series regenerative braking combined with ABS and stability control to optimize the braking system. Mustang Mach-E 1400 features Brembo brakes, like the Mustang GT4 race car, and a hydraulic handbrake system designed for drifting that integrates with the powertrain controls to enable the ability to shut off power to the rear motors.
We don’t care how much regenerative braking the experimental crossover can muster; range must be abysmal whenever it’s pushed to the limits. We’ll be the first to admit that the performance ceiling for electrics is insanely high (especially at lower speeds, thanks to instantaneous torque), but they don’t play the endurance game all that well. The Mach-E (which Ford continually assures us is a Mustang) probably spent a significant portion of its filming being habitually recharged.
No matter, it achieved its goal of dazzling us with smoke and noise — even if the high-pitched whine it produces lacks the guttural accompaniment of internal combustion. The Blue Oval really just wanted to show off, and has done so effectively.
Don’t expect to ever see this critter on sale. While the production Mach-E can be ordered now, with deliveries taking place later this year, the insane prototype is much too wild for public consumption. Ford said you’ll be able to see it touring NASCAR events soon, however.
[Images: Ford Motor Co.]
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