Ford Mustang Mach-E: Right Car, Wrong Name

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

I mentioned it before, when ripping that Ford ad that got me riled during an NFL Sunday, but I still strongly believe the Ford Mustang Mach-E shouldn’t have “Mustang” in its name.

(Yeah, it’s Mach-E week around these parts. If you couldn’t tell. More to come on the Mach-E later today or next week.)

Not because it’s electric. Or because it has four doors. Or because it’s a bit raised, in terms of ground clearance (though I don’t think it’s really a crossover, either, and it bothers me that Ford folks seem to insist it be classified as such).

Let me be clear as can be – I have no issue with an electric Mustang. I mentioned being intrigued by the one-off I saw at Ford’s display at SEMA last year. The idea of a pony-car with instant torque is appealing, and while the V8 sounds would be lost, I could see a true EV Mustang being a blast to drive.

Yes, I hope the Mustang remains available with an ICE for as long as possible, but the idea of an electric motor in a Mustang doesn’t fill me with nausea. Maybe it would’ve 20 years ago, but I am older now, and wiser, I hope.

I’m not even bothered by a member of the “Mustang family” having four doors. A Mustang-based sedan on a RWD/AWD platform would be cool, if unlikely to happen in our current crossover-crazed market.

I’d be a bit more verklempt if Ford slapped the Mustang badge on a crossover, even if said crossover shared a platform with the ‘Stang and/or used the Coyote V8. That would seem like a dilution of the name. But as mentioned above, the Mach-E isn’t really a crossover, at least not in my opinion – it’s more of a raised hatchback.

Of course, that doesn’t stop Ford from calling it a crossover, forcing most auto journalists to follow its lead. I could also be wrong – a journalist I discussed this with believes the Mach-E is a crossover (although he won’t indulge Ford’s classification of it as an SUV).

Debates over whether the Mach-E is or isn’t a crossover aside, my problem with the use of the Mustang name goes back to what I said a while back – the new car has virtually nothing in common with the actual Mustang, save for the name itself, badging, and some styling influences. It’s on a different platform, for one thing.

The Mach-E also has a different mission from other Mustangs. While it may be sporty and fun to drive, it isn’t a pure sports car like the Mustang. It’s meant to be a family hauler with EV technology and some verve.

And that’s fine! I don’t have a problem with Ford building an EV five-seater that’s fun to drive and offers utility. I like the Mach-E as an idea. And I can’t wait to drive one. If it wasn’t for Covid restrictions on travel imposed by my home state, I’d have driven it already.

I just wish the company had called it something else, instead of cynically using the Mustang name to garner attention. As if the Mach-E wouldn’t have gotten attention anyway.

I do understand the argument that Ford was actually smart to use the Mustang name. This line of thinking suggests that recognition of the Mustang name among the hoi polloi will make it easier for Ford to introduce this vehicle, and EV tech, to the masses. And it is entirely possible that this is what will happen. From Ford’s perspective, this choice may work out well, even if it rankles the purists.

Me? I side with the purists on this one. This is why I write about cars, instead of running a company that builds them.

Ford has plenty of names it could’ve used from its history. Falcon. Fairlane. Taurus. Probe (OK, scratch that last one). Or it could’ve dreamt up something new. It could’ve shifted the Puma name over from Europe, where it’s used on a subcompact crossover. With the Fusion eventually being phased out, Ford could’ve called this car the next Fusion, instead of using that name for the planned Fusion Active crossover.

That last one has recent recognition among people who don’t know cars and sounds vaguely related to the generation of electricity.

Instead, we have the potential for confusion. It will be difficult for owners to explain to the curious that the Mach-E is a Mustang but also not really a Mustang.

The Mustang Mach-E appears, by all accounts, to be a fine car. The reviews I read this week were mostly positive – we weren’t the only ones who liked it. As I said, I can’t wait for one to grace my garage for evaluation.

I just wish it bore a different name.

[Images: Ford]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Dec 29, 2020

    Agreed about the name. Too bad these electric cars have to look like dull blobs with featureless front ends. I wouldn't take it for half the price.

  • Renovatio_007 Renovatio_007 on May 13, 2021

    Lee Iacocca must be turning in his grave. Ford took a legend of a sports car and turned it into The Wagon Queen Family Truckster!!!! This is not a Mustang it is a family mobile. As the article says, I would not be against an electric motor in a Mustang, I get that evolution is coming, but to make an abomination of the name Mustang is just wrong. Ford take note from Chevy on how they made the Corvette seem more of a super car and not a family van.

  • Bd2 This is a marketplace segment leader beating toyota to the punch yet again for projected market domination by 2026.
  • Dwford 169". Same size as the Bolt EUV. The void got filled pretty quickly. Hopefully the next Chevy Bolt comes next year as promised.
  • MaintenanceCosts Unless something goes wrong this is going to sell very well in cities. I'm not a fan of the styling either here or with the EV9, but the products seem to me like they are well planned.
  • Redapple2 HK: The Redapple is the TTAC resident HK hater. I have listed the reasons before. But, I am smart enough to keep my eyes open. I will say this. Overall, they have the best styling/design in autodum. I may not like certain models, but overall, they try. They try something new, different, fresh. Some models are great. Some so-so. But they are TRYING- All the time. Year after year. Other brands are locked into a firm theme - across multiple models and brands. Some lasting decades EX. Evil gm vampire Cadillac Arts and Science has been around for 22 years. Flawed fugly from the start. Never got better.
  • SCE to AUX This is the right direction for EVs, but I can't warm up to Kia's latest styling.This is bad news for Rivian, whose similarly-specced R3 isn't due until 2027 or something.Perhaps a low-spec version will start at $30k (maybe), but the 300-mile version with trimmings will certainly run closer to $50k. Then everyone will say Kia lied.
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