To say the reaction to the 2021 Mustang Mach-E has been mixed might be generous. Everyday consumers see it as a viable, stylish option to more expensive battery electric vehicles, while many Mustang enthusiasts see it as a betrayal of their beloved brand. For those who think the company made the decision lightly, a new video details the decision and the process that led to the arrival of this new vehicle.
And it was actually Jim Farley who suggested, ‘What if we made it a Mustang?’ — Hau Tai Tang, Chief Product Development Officer, Ford
“We wanted to deliver something that was magical. Then we started to ask ourselves, what would get people excited about an electric product?” Darren Palmer, Global Programs Director for BEVs, said.
Adding the Mustang name was a sure way to go all-in on the excitement level, but that idea began with someone who has a long history with the Mustang — Jim Farley, president, New Businesses, Technology & Strategy, at Ford.
“And it was actually Jim Farley who suggested, ‘What if we made it a Mustang?’” Hau Tai Tang, Chief Product Development Officer, said.
As for the process of transitioning from a compliance vehicle that wouldn’t stir many souls to a Mustang-inspired vehicle to a full-fledged member of the stable, there was definitely hesitance. That resistance came from all the way at the top.
“I was absolutely adamant that it not be a Mustang because, to me, it couldn’t possibly deliver upon the Mustang promise,” Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford, said.
As the process moved along, there seemed to be more confidence that the unthinkable could become a reality.
“When I saw that it was gonna be an SUV, I really dug my heels in. Mustangs are two doors, not four. They’re a coupe, not an SUV. And, we were doing a four-door SUV, electric. Holy cow, right?” Dave Pericak, Global Director, Icons at Ford, said. “This is where the magic happens. This is the spirit of Ford. Once I started to look at the prototypes of this idea, I knew we had lightning in a bottle.”
When this project became a Mustang, the stakes were as high as they could get, so the man who fathered the S550 and led the Ford GT to Le Mans victory held the engineers to the Mustang standard.
“Once we convinced ourselves analytically that we had all of the ingredients to deliver spirit of Mustang, we needed to test,” Pericak added. “But when you’re developing an all-new vehicle, you have to go and torture these things in a way that would just blow most people’s minds, but they have to be robust, it has to be real, and it has to be able to wear the pony.”
The process of earning that badge is documented in the 20-minute film above, which debuted in advance of a screening of Ford v. Ferrari on the Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles on November 19, 2019. Enthusiasts were invited to celebrate the new member of the stable by lighting up the Pony for a photo and video (see below) before the film, and your author was in attendance.
Before the show began, several guests spoke, including Dave Pericak, professional driver Ben Collins (formerly The Stig from Top Gear), and Joe Hinrichs (Ford’s President, Automotive). Hinrichs told the audience that the company expects to build 50,000 Mustang Mach-Es for sale across the globe in the first model year. He elaborated that production was only restrained by battery availability.
So, if you are onboard with the electric Mustang concept, you can spec out your ideal Mustang Mach-E — First Edition, Select, California Rt. 1, Premium, or GT — and place a $500 deposit to reserve yours for when they arrive in late 2020 (or spring of 2021 in the case of the Mustang Mach-E GT). Keep in mind the First Edition is truly limited, so get your order in quickly if that is the one you’ve got your eye on.