When I first seen the announcement that Ford had made a version of their Mach-E that could drift, I thought great, they’ve added track mode, but the reality is much different.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400 is a one-off build was created in collaboration with Vaughn Gittin Jr’s RTR shop. This partnership with Ford Performance included more than 10,000 hours of work.
The exterior looks amazing, like a proper race car, a really great livery that wraps a body full for flared fenders and loads of aerodynamic changes like a massive front bar, rear wing and has a stance that makes it look like a Mustang on protein shakes, than a Mach-E on a diet.
Underneath there’s also substantial changes. Forget the 2 electric motors the Mach-E will ship with, this has no less than 7 Yasa electric motors. These motors are powered by a 56.8-kilowatt hour battery pack, made of nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) pouch cells.
This combined power of this very special EV drivetrain is 1,400HP at its peak, hence the name. With that much power, it’s easy to fry the tyres, and we see that many, many times in the release video.
Now here’s the question – What does any of this have to do with Ford executing on their plan for electrification?
You might argue that it’s a bit of fun from some passionate members of the team, that is used to promote how powerful EVs are and help prime Ford customers to get excited about the Mach-E’s release.
The problem with that though process is this. The Mach-E 1400 in no way represents the car customers are buying. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, will already know that EVs mean performance, something demonstrated by the competition for the best part of a decade now.
My biggest issue with the whole project is this. It’s a distraction. Does Ford really have time for its best engineering talent to be focused on anything other than the production of the Mach-E, or on the next EV from Ford).
While Ford introduced the Focus Electric way back in 2012, it’s basically been radio silence since then until the Mach-E was announced in November last year. During that period, Ford, like many other legacy automakers really dropped the ball and are now playing catchup to others who are shipping their second, third or fourth EV.
Back in 2018, Ford announced they were investing $11 billion to electrify 40 vehicles by 2022, 16 of which would be fully electric vehicles. The Mach-E which is due out later 2020 will be the first.
In July last year, Ford showed off another experiment, a F-150 EV prototype that pulled a train in another online video. Then came the Ford’s fully electric dragster prototype, the Cobra Jet 1400 in April this year.
Right now, it feels like Ford are great at making 1 off vehicles that create online buzz and get millions of eyeballs on these specialty vehicles.
It’s now late July 2020 and the world doesn’t really need a corporate version of Ken Block, the world actually needs is a high-volume automaker like Ford, to actually start shipping EVs in a big way. Find cost efficiencies and start to ship more affordable electric cars. Go down the lineup of vehicles and one-by-one move them to an EV platform.
With a rapid reduction in the cost of batteries, we’re rapidly approaching the point where an EV could be price competitive with an ICE car. When that happens, selling an ICE vehicle, with higher running costs, will be a ridiculous proposition.
If the market is only a couple of years away from that crossover, then any vehicle manufacture would be crazy to embark on a new vehicle development program (typically 4-5 years) that doesn’t include electric.
Here’s the final challenge for Ford, it was only last week when they announced the brand-new Ford Bronco. The cute little Ute is nice, but it’s quite the contrast to have the company last week promote ICE is amazing, then just days later tell everyone to look at how amazing EVs are.
There are always internal tensions inside large businesses, which often have competing priorities (looking at you Microsoft), but I don’t think you can be half pregnant on EVs. If you want the industry to recognise you as a progressive, forward-leaning company that embraces the electric future, then you really do have to go all in and I’m yet to be convinced Ford is really at that point.
It’s easy to say you’re investing more than $11.5 billion in electric vehicles worldwide, it’s harder and more impressive to say your no longer investing in ICE.