Last night, Ford officially released the Mustang Mach-E to an airplane hangar of journalists and thousands of viewers at home, watching live on Facebook and YouTube. The Mustang Mach-E was revealed late last week as the web team at Ford unintentionally published the vehicle’s details on Ford.com, but I still tuned in to see the reveal. Hastily-captured screenshots don’t have the same effect as an actual product launch. Now that I’ve slept on the reveal, I’ve got some initial thoughts about this all-new electric vehicle and its introduction to the world.
The Mustang Mach-E is Attractive Enough
Ford went to some great lengths to make the Mustang Mach-E an attractive vehicle, and they mostly pulled it off. I’m glad there is a grill up front, though it looks best in contrasting black on the GT trim. The lack of visible door handles appears odd, though it may present better in person. Based on the specs I’ve seen, the Mach-E is a somewhat compact vehicle (about a foot shorter than an Explorer) and has ride height that positions it more as a tall wagon than a true “SUV.”
The interior is simple, for better or worse. I still prefer buttons and knobs to a giant touchscreen. I don’t love the screens on Teslas and what I’m seeing on the Mach-E isn’t much better. At least Ford cleverly integrated a volume knob. The small screen in front of the steering wheel for speed and other crucial “at a glance” information is a nice touch, and shows more care and cost put into the design versus Tesla’s one-screen approach (implemented because it’s cheap, not because it’s the best idea).
The Mustang Mach-E Live Reveal Was Boring
There was, undoubtedly, a lot of time, effort and money involved in hosting a live reveal of the Mustang Mach-E. I was expecting something with more… zazzle, though. Every presenter came across as stilted and scripted. This car is the future of Ford! It’s exciting! We tied it to the Mustang brand because it’s that fun to drive! We didn’t see any of that passion in the presentation, which is unfortunate. My pulse quickened much more for the bravado of the ’86 Taurus wagon’s introductory television commercial than it did last night with the Mustang Mach-E. And I think the Mach-E represents something as significant to Ford as that early Taurus did, which is why I wish the passion had come through more.
Seriously, this Taurus commercial is majestic as all get-out. The Mach-E reveal had… a live rendition of Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us and some overly scripted talking points. It could have been much more showy, and not in a Chevy Volt Dancers kind of way.
“It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s freedom” was the tagline, yet everyone who spoke of “fun” either hardly quantified that claim or somehow equated “fun” with “12,000 charging stations.”
The Mustang Branding is Ridiculous and Possibly Brilliant
The Mustang Mach-E has some styling cues from the actual Mustang, there’s no doubt there. But Ford’s decision to brand this car as “a new pony in the stable” comes across as lofty.
The Mustang has always been a two-door sports coupe (or convertible). To add “Mustang” badging to a four-door, five-seat all-wheel-drive crossover strikes me as disingenuous. Simply calling it the Mach-E would have been fine, or as some have said, using a different retro name like Thunderbird or Lightning could also work. A few people have even asked if the “regular Mustang” still exists with this reveal.
On the flip side, Mustang has decades of brand equity. While some of us nerdy enthusiasts think the name of this crossover is silly, non-enthusiasts will have an easy time remembering what to call it. “Hey, did you see Bill got one of those electric Mustang SUVs?” will immediately conjure up imagery in peoples’ minds, where as “the Ford Mach-E” sounds a bit generic and likely won’t have the same effect.
I’m Not Hating, I Swear
With all of my little nits picked, it’s important to mention that I am, truly, excited for this vehicle. The Mustang Mach-E is the first full-electric “mainstream brand” vehicle that feels like it can compete with what’s on the market otherwise. GM’s Chevrolet Bolt, Volt and Cadillac ELR haven’t resonated with the market, though owners seem to love them. Tesla offers options for many budgets, but has had a rough journey in terms of build quality and repair time. Luxury brands like Jaguar and Porsche are introducing full EVs, but with price tags to match.
Ford has the benefit of a large dealership network, which implies any service or repairs will be easy to come by. The Mustang Mach-E is priced reasonably enough that consumers will see it as attainable, much like the Tesla Model 3. Even with “mainstream brand” EVs, the path to success for now seems to be that of a premium model.
I’m very excited for what this means for Ford’s future. Hopefully, the traditional Mustang coupe holds out with a rip-snorting combustion engine (in some trims, if not all), but diversifying drivetrains will only serve more consumers’ needs. If the potential success of the Mustang Mach-E leads to an electrified Mustang coupe, so much the better. I’d rather an EV Mustang coupe exist than no Mustang coupe at all.
Once the production of the Mustang Mach-E gets started, I’m eager to take a spin behind the wheel. In the meantime, let us know what you think.