Ford Mach-E Electric SUV leak reveals the first serious Tesla competitor

Competition is ultimately good for consumers and after seeing Ford’s upcoming 2021 Mach-E leak all over the internet, it looks like Tesla are finally going to get some competition....

Competition is ultimately good for consumers and after seeing Ford’s upcoming 2021 Mach-E leak all over the internet, it looks like Tesla are finally going to get some competition.

There’s a number of startups like Rivian, Faraday Future, Lucid Motors and NIO to name a few. There’s also a number of legacy brands that are talking a big game, but few actually have products in the market, or a believable trajectory to ship Evs in a serious way.

Ford’s Mustang-inspired all-electric SUV should give the Tesla Model Y some real competition and that’s fantastic. Ultimately competition encourages manufactures to fight for your dollars and the net result should be a better car for less money over time.

The Ford Mach-E showed up on Ford’s website this afternoon and showed many of the important details that were supposed to be secret until their big unveiling event early next week. So now a number of photos are out and the most important performance and range metrics are known, let’s talk about them.

Design

When we heard the SUV was going to be Mustang-inspired, it was naturally going to take cues from the famous Mustang taillights, and featuring the pony badge rather than the blue oval lets you know if comes from their performance division.

In this transition to electric vehicles, the Mustang is an interesting place to start. I know Ford had a Focus Electric, I was at the launch, but it never shipped to Aus, nor did it take the market by storm, so that makes the decision to select a flagship product like the Mustang to convert to EV (at least an SUV version) and important choice for Ford.

The front looks bold, but certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It has a lot of vertical surface area, which is unlikely to be very aerodynamically efficient. The finish in the feature photos makes the car look very plastic, but that may be attributable to paint finish, lighting or just a bad photo.

The big muscular lines in the bonnet are there, however not really followed through the rear hips of the vehicle. The shot of the roof reveals at least one of the models will have a glass roof, not unsimilar to what Tesla offer, to provide a more light and open feel in the cabin, as well as additional headroom.

The internal design shows a large vertical display, replacing the knobs and dials we’ve been told for years that Ford customers demanded. I agree with the decision to ditch these as the job of internationalisation is made dramatically easier by doing region-specific customisation through software.

The primary screen doesn’t look like it faces the driver at all, enabling the passenger and those in the rear seat, a great view of the content. There is a supplementary widescreen in front of the wheel, to replace the instrument cluster.

Production

Ford is famous for revolutionising the vehicle manufacturing workflow, but in this century, it’s unclear if they can build new production lines that rival the end-to-end chain of raw product in, car out, that founder Henry Ford pioneered.

With global distribution of a number of nameplates (the Focus for example) and the top selling F150 in the US, Ford are one of the most resource-rich companies but EV resets almost everything.

Producing an electric vehicle firstly means you need batteries and lost of them. Where Ford will source their batteries from is still unknown for now, but if you want to ship these in any serious volume, you need to secure an ongoing supply of batteries, or even better, make your own, although that path is insanely expensive.

Add to that the cost of developing electric motors and new driver assists that work on a completely different drivetrain than you’re used to.

Performance

The car is said to have a mid-3 second acceleration time from 0-60mph (or 0-100km/hr). Sure you’ll have to ask the kids to get out, but that level of acceleration would be seriously impressive.

The car comes in 5 versions – Select, California RT.1, Premium, First Edition and GT. Certainly, don’t be surprised if not all of them make it to Australia.

The lower tiers are offered with RWD as the default and AWD as an option, but nowhere does it say the AWD is achieved by dual-motors. We’ll have to wait for the official launch for that confirmation as well as any detail on the autonomous or safety systems in the car.

The peak power output for the GT simply lists ‘coming soon’ which isn’t entirely surprising given the estimate arrival date in March 2021 for that version.

Range

The Mach-E comes in a number of trims, with the GT edition capable of 300 miles, or around 480km of range. By way of comparison, the Model Y is rated (WLTP) at 540km of range. Having over 400kms, this is a serious competitor as many customers need to have a car the provides the ability to drive those distances.

This week I drove my Model 3 to Melbourne from Wodonga (around 350km) on a single charge and still had enough battery to drive around when I got there. It’s these kind of trips that are real-world use cases that have to be supported by the battery size and efficiency.

Price

So how much can you expect to pay for the Ford Mach-E, that depends on the model you choose, but ranges from US$43,895 to US$60,500. Translate that to Aussie dollars and you’re talking $64,446.02 + GST of 10% and you’re starting at $70,890.622 before state taxes and other on-road costs.

Thankfully that means there’s a chance the Mach-E could sneak in under the $75,526 luxury car tax threshold for fuel-efficient vehicles. The top-end GT model is likely to cost A$88,825.25 + 10% GST, making it $97,707.77 before on-roads. That certainly will attract LCT which I still hope the government dumps for EVs.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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