Watch out, Tesla—Ford gets serious with Mustang Mach-E electric crossover

  • Ford wanted its first long-range EV to be unambiguously a Ford, so it decided to make it a Mustang. Ford
  • The original plan was for a front-wheel drive compliance car. That got shelved in 2017, and this sketch shows some of the changes that were made. The green line is the original BEV, the black outline shows the actual Mach-E. Ford
  • In person, the Mach-E is actually quite attractive, at least from most angles. Ford
  • The blanked-off nose can be a bit challenging in some colors. Ford
  • The Mach-E GT will get a polycarbonate insert here, along with more optimized aerodynamics on the front bumper.
  • The Mach-E looks best in profile. The black section of roof really works to minimize the car's visual bulk when seen side-on. Ford
  • The taillights could only be a Mustang. Ford
  • The interior owes more to Elon Musk's Tesla than Lee Iacocca's pony car. Ford
  • Yes, you read it here first—Ford has developed a darn good infotainment UI. Ford
  • The display is a touchscreen, and almost no function should require more than two button presses to get to. CarPlay and Android Auto will be present, and both will work wirelessly. Ford
  • The dash is a really cool mix of materials. A soundbar-like speaker runs its width. Ford
  • Rear leg room is very good. Ford
  • The front trunk has been rubberized, and there's a drain plug so you can make a mess and then wash it out. Ford
  • DC fast charging is at up to 150kW. Ford
  • The front doors have these odd little pulls on them. Ford
  • As you might expect, there's an app to plan journeys with chargers and so on. Ford

Ford provided one night in a hotel and air travel from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles for this story.

LOS ANGELES—The electric car market is about to get extremely interesting. After what feels like an interminable wait, the battery EV may soon finally cross over from curio to the big time as a slew of new models arrive in 2020. Each targets the all-important crossover buyer, and all in roughly the same $40,000 to $60,000 price range. After slurping up most everyone's sporty sedan sales, Tesla will start shipping the Model Y. Volkswagen will reveal its ID.4 on Tuesday at the LA Auto Show, and the MEB-based BEV is destined for US production in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Volvo's excellent XC40 crossover is getting a big-old battery pack and shares its tech with the exciting Polestar 2. And then there's the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which made its formal debut at a live-streamed event on Sunday evening.

Compliance car to Mustang

It was a contentious move, using the Mustang brand. It wasn't the plan, either—not at first. Originally Ford was working on what it openly described as "a compliance car," one built simply to meet incoming emissions rules in the US and Europe. But in 2017 it threw out those plans, putting together an internal skunk works called Team Edison with a brief to reimagine the project. Its goal was to design a BEV that could only be a Ford, and there's little that's more iconically Ford than the galloping pony.

In just over a year, and with heavy reliance on VR instead of clay models, Team Edison pulled at the shape to get away from a more generic take on the crossover. The main electric motor moved from the front of the car to the rear. The wheelbase grew by 8.5 inches (216mm), and the dash-to-axle ratio was lengthened. The A-pillar was pulled back toward the rear of the car, lengthening the hood line, and there's a clever visual trick with the roof rails that really works to place the Mach-E within the Mustang family when you see the car in profile or from the rear three-quarter angle.

It's a more challenging design seen head-on. The headlights shout 'Stang, as do the creases that run the length of the hood. But it can also look a bit tall and narrow, particularly when painted in darker colors. The best-looking variant is the Mach-E GT, set to show up in spring 2021. This has unique front styling, with optimized aerodynamics and a polycarbonate insert that ticks the box in your brain that expects to find a grille at the front of a car. None of the engineers would get specific beyond telling us that the Mach-E's drag coefficient was "below 0.3."

Tesla's influence is clear

The timing of Team Edison's tearing up of the compliance car does not seem accidental. (Nor does the choice of the Los Angeles Jet Center as the site of the reveal; it is literally next door to SpaceX in Hawthorne, California.) 2017 was when the first Tesla Model 3s reached the public, and that car's influence on the Mach-E is clear the moment you open a door and step inside. A door you open by pushing a button; door handles are too passé here.

Like the Model 3, it's basically a button-free zone. The center stack is dominated by a 15.5-inch touchscreen, portrait-style and proud on the dash. It runs Ford's latest QNX-based Sync 4, with an elegant and intuitive tile-based UI that shares design principles with both Tesla's and Volvo's latest infotainment systems. At the bottom of the screen Read More – Source