I feel like every electric car I’ve written about so far has come with an asterisk. We all want the future of widely available, fun-to-drive, zero emissions vehicles to be here already, but to-date, everything has been a little slow, a little boring, or so limited in range that most of us couldn’t or wouldn’t drive them. Or, they’ve been expensive and available in limited numbers. This new Ford Mustang Mach-E is the car that will change that. It’s fast. It’s practical. It’s affordable. And, most importantly, you’ll be able to buy one just like any other normal car.
Let’s get some specs out of the way. The Mach-E, which will go on sale late in 2020, starts at $43,895. That’s before the $7,500 federal EV tax credit. That base model is rear-wheel drive, and comes with a 75.7 kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack good for a 230-mile range. Its 0 to 60 miles per hour time is in the mid-six-second range, and there are three trim levels between that base model and range-topping GT. Depending on how you mix the options—all-wheel drive, a 98.8 kWh battery pack, more powerful motors—you can take that price as high as $60,500, drop the 0-to-60 time as low as mid-three seconds, and push range as far as 300 miles.
The average transaction price for a new car in the United States right now is $30,000. Ford is pegging the Mach-E’s premium not only on zero emissions, but also on performance. The slowest version makes 332 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. The most powerful version makes 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet. As a point of comparison, the 2020 Ford Mustang GT—the one with the V8 internal combustion engine—starts at $35,630 and makes 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet, which is good for a 0-60 time just under four seconds. Unlike the Mach-E, it can’t seat five people in comfort, and obviously emits dead dino fumes.
Neither does the ICE Mustang come with a frunk (short for front trunk). The Mach-E’s frunk won’t just be large enough to swallow a standard carry-on bag, but Ford says its lining will be waterproof, and that it’ll come with a drain plug so you can fill it with ice and use it take cold beverages on camping trips.
The Mach-E’s Mustang connection is already proving controversial in car nerd circles. Obviously this four-door, five-seat electric crossover shares no parts with the old-school muscle car, and a current Mustang’s gasoline-swilling image stands in total contrast to that of EVs. But, ask the kind of normal people who have jobs and families and who want to buy a $44,000 electric car to name a fast Ford, and I bet that 100 percent of them will answer Mustang. Ford’s rolled in Mustang design elements throughout the badging, grill, and lighting elements. That Ford is using its most valuable badge for this Mach-E speaks not only to this vehicle’s make-or-break importance to the automaker, but also to the way EVs are beginning to resonate with the buying public. Teslas aren’t just exciting because they’re green; they’re exciting because they’re fast. Some things never change: people still prefer buying fast cars, especially ones that pollute less.
The Mach-E’s overall proportions and interior are very similar to those of a Tesla Model X. The Model X starts at $81,000 and is only available in limited numbers. But that Tesla’s innovative image has come to define what a desirable car looks like as we enter the earliest stage of the transition away from internal combustion. That Ford is offering pretty much the same thing at around half the price is significant. What press photos can’t capture, though, are all the ways a massive corporation like Ford is able to leverage its economies of scale for your benefit.
Live in San Francisco and want to drive a Tesla? Your life’s going to be reasonably easy. Live in Kansas? Not so much. Unlike a Tesla, you’re going to find Mach-Es in any color you like at the Ford dealer in every town in America starting late next year. Want to take one for a test drive? No problem. Want to trade in an old Explorer? Same deal. Need to finance your purchase? Ford Motor Credit Company is one of the largest lenders in the world. Have a problem with your new Mach-E? Your local dealer will be able to handle that for you. Stuff like this is the x-factor that’s impossible to sum up in a marketing slogan, but which actually makes this such an important vehicle.
One other area Ford’s scale helps is in charging infrastructure. Plug the Mach-E into the same 240 volt outlet your dryer runs off of and you’ll add 22 miles of range per hour. Use the Ford Connected Charging Station that you can have installed in your garage at an additional cost, and you’ll up that number to 32 miles per hour of charge. Eighty percent of EV charging is currently handled at home, but a traditional barrier to entry for potential buyers has been the ability to charge your car on the go, say, on a road trip. Ford will have a network of 12,500 fast-charging locations (with more than 35,000 individual plugs), from day one. That’ll make it the largest EV charging network in the country. Plug your Mach-E into one of those, and you’ll be able to add 47 miles of range in just 10 minutes—barely longer than what it takes to gas up an internal combustion vehicle. Taking the standard range Mach-E from 10 to 80 percent charge at one of those stations will take just 38 minutes.
The whole idea with the Mach-E is that this won’t just be a car you wish you could own. It’s one you can own, with little to no compromise, and at a reasonable cost. And that’s a big deal; this is the electric car that will make electric cars the new normal.