2021 Mustang Mach-E gravel
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Mustang Mach-E Tortured Tested To Ensure It’s Built Ford Tough

Ford’s engineers subjected the Mustang Mach-E to 300 miles of stone-chip testing on gravel roads to evaluate damage caused to body paint. Ford calls it “Electrified” Toughness.
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Ford’s truck line coined the phrase “Built Ford Tough” and that moniker has stuck with it as the best-selling truck in America for more than 40 years. But now as Ford heads toward an electrified future, the Blue Oval wants a new level of toughness for their EVs, starting with the Mustang Mach-E.

Ford put its first all-electric vehicle through similar torture testing to help ensure Mustang Mach-E can handle the wear and tear of daily driving, from extreme car washes and power sprayers to robotic butts and sharp gravel roads.
“We have gone to great lengths to subject Mustang Mach-E to extreme tests – stressing it much more than a typical consumer would – to help ensure it is ready to face the rigor of the open road,” said Donna Dickson, chief program engineer, Mustang Mach-E.

Related story: Mustang Mach-E wins Car and Driver’s EV of the Year award.

Ford Mustang Mach-E car wash

Water and Electric Do Mix
One of the biggest uncertainties according to consumer surveys amongst potential EV shoppers is whether they can get an EV wet, which includes car washes and driving it in the rain. It’s hard to imagine such trepidation as no automaker could make a vehicle that can’t get wet, even EVs.

The team at Ford Michigan Proving Grounds used its onsite automatic car wash to show that the Mach-E not only can get thoroughly wet, but the exterior stands up to the abuse of consumer washes. Ford subjected the vehicle to 60 passes through a brutal, suds-free automatic conveyor wash complete with sprayers, brushes, and dryers – the equivalent of a wash every two weeks for more than two years. Mustang Mach-E can also be easily shifted into neutral, allowing ease of use for a washer conveyor.

To help test against leaks and other exterior damage that could be caused by water, the team blasted the door frames, trim, cowling, badges, headlamps, taillamps and adhesives of the Mustang Mach-E with a high-pressure water sprayer, capable of pressures up to 1,700 PSI and a temperature of 140 degrees and sprayed at a short distance of about one foot away.

Ford's robot butt

Take a Seat
Wear and tear of a vehicle is normal, especially in the driver’s seat which can have various weights sitting on it, getting in and out, over and over. It truly can cause wear issues for some vehicles.

Ford engineers studied varying weight loads on the seats using a wide range of human body types by programing a robotic “butt” form to simulate a person getting in and out of their Mustang Mach-E – at least 25,000 times.
They also extensively tested the vehicle’s ActiveX seating material to withstand daily use and abuse. This included chemical testing to help ensure products like hand sanitizer do not deteriorate the material, abrasion testing to ensure the finish stays put after simulating a 10-year use cycle, and flexing the seating material 100,000 times to assess its resistance to cracking.

In other words, the robot butt does all the testing so customers’ rear ends can rest assured that their ActiveX seating material in the Mustang Mach-E can withstand daily use.

You gotta love any time you can hear the phrase robot butt!

Touchscreen in Mustang Mach-E

Cracked Touchscreen
A cracked phone screen is never fun, but a cracked touchscreen – especially one with as much functionality as the screen in the Mustang Mach-E — is unacceptable. The 15.5-inch touch screen in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E uses a special application of Dragontrail glass to ensure its durability. It sits on top of a high-strength magnesium mounting that is able to withstand being pulled or bumped.

“The screen in the Mustang Mach-E is so crucial to the driving experience. It’s the centerpiece of the interior and people’s eyes just naturally go right to it,” said Dickson. “We knew we had to go above and beyond to make sure it is durable enough to withstand daily customer interactions — think purses and bags hitting it, pets bumping into it, children playing with it and so on. You need that deep customer understanding to identify the potential issues and work to prevent them.”

Mustang Mach-E gravel tested

No stone left unturned
A Mustang is a wild horse and wild horses love the open road. Mustang Mach-E customers, likewise, can be confident that they can drive their pony where the pavement ends and gravel roads begin, and not come back with a new “speckled” paint job.

To do this, Ford engineers subjected Mustang Mach-E to 300 miles of stone-chip testing on gravel roads to evaluate damage caused to body paint by small rocks and cinder. Ford used two different grades of gravel stones to test as professional drivers fishtailed Mustang Mach-E over a miles-long stretch of scattered gravel on pavement at 60 mph nearly 200 times.

Once the first test was completed, the team then switched out the gravel with an even sharper grade of stone and repeated the test all over again.

“Electric vehicles shouldn’t be limited to nicely paved city streets and suburbia,” said Dickson “We tested Mustang Mach-E so that customers can confidently live on or adventure down gravel roads and not worry about their paint easily chipping.”

Before anyone gets too upset about using the F-Series Built Ford Tough moniker, Ford is not doing that. They’re just showing that some of the trepidation over EVs should be put aside as the Mustang Mach-E should hold up over the long haul. Be sure to check out my story that Jim Farley, Ford's CEO, retweeted to his followers, related to the Mustang Mach-E and its controversial name.

What are your thoughts about this torture test? Do you still have concerns when it comes to EVs like the Mach-E? Share your thoughts below.

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.


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