Ford Builds an Electric Car To Beat Tesla at Its Own Game
Modeled on the Mustang, the Ford Mach-E beats Tesla at its own game: selling a practical, yet compelling, must-have electric vehicle with 300 miles of range (in specific trims) at a nominally affordable price.
Mustang purists howled when the company proposed to name its first fully functional electric vehicle after a performance edition of the brand’s iconic Mustang. The Mustang famously changed history, conjuring overnight demand by draping an ordinary sedan in a track suit. The buzz has never died down.
Mustang fans argue that the car has always been a sports car, with hardly a rear seat, nevermind a four-door, much less an SUV. Ford has tinkered with four-door Mustang show cars in the past, but none before has been worth producing at the risk of diluting the Mustang brand, says Darren Podner, Ford’s Global Director of Product Development for Electric cars.
Ford Mach-E vs Ford Mustang
The Mach E, he argues, represents and even bigger leap for Ford and the auto industry than the original Mustang. He refers to the Mach E as “car 2.0.” And he’s not wrong, even if Tesla beat him to it.
With no polluting internal combustion engine contributing to climate and political disruption around the world, cell-phone-like over-the-air updates that can add new features at the click of a button, and the potential to transform the car ownership and driving experience, the Mach E promises to be more than a car.
Ford Mach-E Advantages vs Tesla
The Mach E doesn’t really move the needle far beyond what a Tesla has done, but it does have several advantages: First, it’s a lot cheaper than Tesla’s first electric SUV. The base Mach E will sell for $43,895 with destination), similar to Tesla’s upcoming Model Y.
More importantly compared with the California startup automaker, Ford has built the Mach E to meet all the company’s “automotive-grade” standards. That means it can be expected to have no overheating and unusable command screens in early models, no ineffective brakes, and even tight and even body gaps.
Probably even more importantly, it is built by an automaker with more than 100 years of experience meeting production deadlines and quality standards - one that literally invented mass production. Not insignificantly, it will also be backed by Ford’s nationwide dealer network and sales and marketing team ready to arrange conventional loans and leases to make it easy for ordinary consumers to buy.
Between that, and the price equivalent of a compact Tesla Model 3 sedan for a midsized SUV with similar range, the Model E could find a host of buyers.
Ford is taking $500 now, and the car is expected to go on sale late next year, with the full range of five trim levels coming the following spring: The base Select has a 75.5-kWh battery and targets an EPA range rating of 230 miles, or 210 miles with all-wheel drive. (Rear-drive is standard.). Starting at the Premium trim, Ford will offer a larger, 98.8-kWh battery for an extra $5,000, with a 300-mile targeted range, or 270 miles with all-wheel drive. The top-trim GT, with the large battery, 459 horsepower, standard all-wheel drive, and a 0-60 time solidly in Tesla territory of below 4 seconds, is expected to deliver about 235 miles of range. Those numbers line up closely with Tesla’s upcoming Model Y.
What Ford Mach E Doesn't Offer
What Ford won’t offer is vague promises of “full self-driving capability,” and launching its own network of self-driving cars.
Watch comparing the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E price with the Tesla Model 3, Audi E-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news analysis.
Also read Torque this Torque News story discussing how the EV community helped Ford design the Mach-E. Don't miss Steve Birkett's comparison of the 2021 Ford Mach-E vs 2017 Chevy Bolt.
See you in my next story discussing the practical use of the Tesla Cybertruck.
Eric Evarts has been bringing topical insight to readers on energy, the environment, technology, transportation, business, and consumer affairs for 25 years. He has spent most of that time in bustling newsrooms at The Christian Science Monitor and Consumer Reports, but his articles have appeared widely at outlets such as the journal Nature Outlook, Cars.com, US News & World Report, AAA, and TheWirecutter.com and Alternet. He can tell readers how to get the best deal and avoid buying a lemon, whether it’s a used car or a bad mortgage. Along the way, he has driven more than 1,500 new cars of all types, but the most interesting ones are those that promise to reduce national dependence on oil, and those that improve the environment. At least compared to some old jalopy they might replace. Please, follow Evarts on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.