The most anticipated car over the past year or so has been the Ford Mustang MACH-E. It has also garnered a lot of hate and discontent from long-time Mustang aficionados who feel that a Mustang should not be an SUV, and should not be electric powered. And while I can understand some of those feelings, once many of those people drive this all-electric BEV SUV, they will be pleasantly surprised. And in reality this all-elelctric SUV will make consumers feel comfortable about driving an electric vehicle much like the Model T did with driving a car in general.
A well priced, sensible vehicle that drivers will find a lot of similarity in other Ford products, just that it is powered by electrons, and the concerns over charging, where to charge, the cost and concerns will be alleviated as they find how easy it is. The real question is did people look at the Model T and say how stylish and modern it is, like they do with the MACH-E?
It was a little over a year ago when it was revealed at the LA Auto Show which we were not able to attend. Ford then held a presentation in New York City, that we did attend. Then later we got our first ride in a MACH-E at the media opening of the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. Then earlier this Spring were invited to attend a local dealer launch.
Each time I spent time with this vehicle, I knew that it would indeed be a game changer for electric cars and the acceptance of battery powered vehicles by the public.
The Ford MACH-E will be more than a Tesla fighter, it will do exactly what the Model T did, bring the world of driving an automobile, in this case, and electric powered automobile, to the masses. At a price point of around $50K, more when you option it up, this is the EV that will make people say I can drive electric. Tesla Fan Bois are not too thrilled with this car, or people who are falling in love with it. You hear the backlash often on social media posts. Which is a sad thing, because not everyone is going to buy a Tesla, like not everyone will by a Ford MACH-E. Though we know more and more consumers will be taken by battery powered cars and trucks, as they come to market.
MACH-E – It’s a Normal Car
The one thing that I was more impressed by than anything else is how normal the MACH-E is. If you were not paying attention, you would think that there is a fossil fuel powerplant under the hood. Size wise it is just a tad bigger than the Ford’s Escape and a tad smaller than Ford’s Edge. Modern cars are becoming rolling mobile smart phones with larger and larger screens, this vehicle is really no different with its large center display with a lot of information broken up into what Ford calls Drawers. It will also be integrated with the owner’s Mobile Phone through the Ford Pass System. Making the phone a key to the car. This technology identifies who is going to be the driver, alerting the car to that person’s preferences. Seating position, radio stations, HVAC settings, even locations you go to regularly. You walk up to the car, it will unlock and you slip into the driver’s seat and push the ignition button and select your gear and off you go.
More Than Just Electric Powered
While yes the MACH-E is battery powered, it has so much more technology in it than that. The FordPass™ System, the smart key, the fact that it uses cameras to identify what is around the vehicle. All of this is available in other Ford products. Bringing it together with the BEV powertrain just seems so high tech. But in reality, cars have been communicating through digital means for a few years now. Picking up radio signals, using radar, and now cellular data through the built-in modem. This car can receive over the air updates to its software and communicate to a remotely located mainframe that your mobile device, android or Apple interacts with.
FordPass™ is the link that you connect to your vehicle to let it know you want it locked or unlocked, to check on the status of it, like is it charging, or how far along in the charging process the car is (for battery powered vehicles.) Or where is the vehicle, where did I park it? How about service reminders, it can do that too. It also now includes its own wallet so you can pay for things via the app. While I downloaded the app during the operation of this vehicle, I never got final approval to connect to this short term media loan car. Though it did ping me regularly with promotions and other information. Which makes me realize, that I need to look further into this technology in a future report.
The Rearing Horse in the Room
Electric charging – where, how and when? The biggest concern most drivers have is where will they charge an electric powered vehicle. They have been used to going to a gas station, and ten minutes later pull away with a full tank and a sixty-dollar charge for fuel that will take them maybe 400 miles, until they have to do it all over again. Many people do that once a week or once every two weeks, as they drive around town going about their errands, to work, school, shopping or wherever.
A concern is that when you would go on a long distance trip, where will you be able to charge an electric vehicle? Will there be chargers available? Will they be operational? Will there be a line waiting to charge? How much time will that add to my trip? Anyone who has ever waited in line at a fueling station on the New Jersey Turnpike on a holiday weekend, knows that frustration. And that is with gasoline powered vehicles. What if there were 40 or more EV’s waiting in line to charge? Well right now as EV’s are not the norm, those experiences are few and far between. Though pre-pandemic, they were experienced over high-volume driving holidays like Thanksgiving 2019.
Home: is a great place to charge, as your car sits there when you are not using it awaiting your next trip, just plug it in to a power outlet. Now that works if you have a garage, or an off-street parking spot that has power. It may not work if you live in an apartment building with a multi-car public garage, or you live in a city that only has on-street parking. – But there are ways around that – See Public Charging below. If you do have the afore mentioned garage or off street parking spot, you can install an EV charger, and get a rebate for doing so from many power companies right now. That will be a Level-2 charger that runs off 240 volts, and maybe 32 AMPS, not unlike your electric clothes dryer or electric stove. Or maybe all you have, like I do, a 120v outlet that you might power a vacuum or other regular household appliance with. The FORD, like all EV makers, gives you a plug-in charger to charge your EV. What Ford does that we have not seen other automakers do is that this charger from Ford has two adapter plugs, one for 120, and one for 240 volts. So you may not even need to buy a separate level 2 home charger, just install the 240 plug nearby and use that and the supplied charge cord with the 240 plug adaptor. Also this Ford supplied plug-in charger is longer than most, and a heavier gauge wire than other cords that the other manufacturers provide. Because it is set up for the 240-volt power as well as the 120-volt use.
Public Charging – Free: Many stores and shopping centers now offer free public chargers for their customers to use. Here in my area, the Washington DC area, you find them at local supermarkets, like Safeway Giant, MOMs Organic Markets, and Whole foods. I have even found one at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. These are equipped with the J1772 plug and provide 240v power and will give you a nice boost. There are some that request you only stay parked while charging, and others that have a set limit of time. Do notice that those chargers in more affluent neighborhoods where there are a lot of EV’s will have more use, thus the chargers will be occupied more often. Also check the various EV Charger Apps like Plugspot and others to see what the status of the charger is. Because these chargers are not profit centers, many times the chargers are broken or offline, and not maintained very well. One thing to note is that you will find some ChargePoint Chargers will be free to use, they tend to be better maintained, and that may be just the ones I have found over the last few years.
Public Charging – Pay to Charge: Large public charging stations like EV Go – Electrify America and others will have larger more powerful chargers that will include the CMS chargers as well as CHADAMO (Notice the Ford Mustang uses the J1772 and CMS charger.) This will be much more like going to a gasoline station, though it may take a tad longer, and it will be just as costly for an almost fill up.
The MACH-E Battery
While you can order a base MACH-E with a standard 230-mile range 68 kWh battery, the one we are testing out for this article and accompanying YouTube Video was equipped with the extended 305-mile range 88 kWh battery. The difference is the standard range battery has 288 Lithium Ion (Li-On) cells in it while the extended range battery holds 376 Li-On cells. Think a couple hundred rechargeable batteries like you would put in a flashlight all strung together with a computer that monitored each one and their state of charge.
Eventually these batteries will recharge wirelessly like phones do today, either when parked or traveling down the road. Yet another emerging technology.
Inside the MACH-E
The vehicle is well-appointed and nicely designed, but do not expect elaborate finishes or materials. It uses a nice mix of leather like vinyl. Ford calls it Activex. This is handsome looking and has stitching on the seats and dash. Tasteful trim that is not in your face in design. And a gray men’s suit-like fabric that covers parts of the door and dash. The Bang and Olufsen audio system provides an exceptional good experience. The interior is not unlike you would find in other mainstream Ford products.
The MACH-E uses a rotary dial electric gear selector, that you find on many other ford products today. Which once you get used to is OK. I found it not to feel as solid as I would like when I selected a drive mode, and often would select drive when I wanted reverse.
While there was not a heads-up display in this test vehicle, it did have a very information rich clean and easy to read dash display. The large center screen is full of info, though I found it somewhat distracting while trying to drive and control functions like the HVAC. The steering wheel has the basic controls for cruise control, audio, and of course the common turn signal stalk, low-high beams, and wiper controls.
The all-glass roof while well-tinted, does not have an adjustable sun shade, which I can imagine may be problematic in high sun areas of the country. I would have preferred a solid roof with maybe a sunroof fore and aft with a sunshade.
One Pedal Driving
Something that has become quite an electric vehicle thing, is that the accelerator pedal also operates as a brake, though of course there is a brake pedal that you will indeed use. One-Pedal Driving takes some getting used to. Letting your foot up off the pedal induces the regeneration braking to commence and the vehicles slows down to a stop and will stay at a stop. While at first I worried that the brake light would not go on, we tested it and indeed it did illuminate when the vehicle was slowing down. Good engineering right there Ford!
This is something that you have to experience to appreciate and will find that you get used to it after the initial exposure to it. The MACH-E has so far in all the EV’s I have tested the best version of this on the market.
Drive Modes pretty self-explanatory, they are Whisper Engage and Unbridled, all provided plenty of power, though we have to admit Unbridled was our favorite. And it was hard for me to tell the difference between Whisper and Engage. Unbridled on the other hand, you knew when that was selected. I was quite pleased to see that after you selected one mode, turned the car off and returned later, it stayed in that mode until you selected another.
Would I buy this vehicle? Yes, absolutely, I would. It is very versatile and well-priced with a lot of built-in value. A good exterior and interior design, great driving dynamics and just a nice car to drive. While I have a few complaints, the distractive large screen (I am not a fan of center screens in the first place) the lack of a sunshade on the glass roof and the gear selector. The positives of this vehicle outweigh the negatives.
While the MACH-E is new, and in demand, there are plenty of them that are showing up at Ford dealers around the country. The key is which one do you want, the First Edition, the Select, the California Route one, the Premium, like the one we tested. I, myself, would op for the extended range battery, though if you are going to use this car around town, the standard range battery would be just fine.
Take a test drive and experience a MACH-E for yourself – Even if you are not interested in buying an electric car, it is worth the time to see what all the excitement of driving electric is about.
Words and Images by William West Hopper.
Mr. Hopper has been an avid car enthusiast since he was a small child, with his first words being car-car. That could have been because his family had a 1959 Ford Country Squire station wagon, or maybe it was just that he was the car guy in the family. He has served on the Board of the Washington Automotive Press Association in a variety of positions, serving as its President, Vice President and Treasurer. Mr. Hopper is also a member of the International Automotive Press Association. He can be found on Twitter @wwhopper and Instagram @DCCarGuy
No compensation was provided for the production of this article and or the accompanying YouTube Videos. This 2021 Ford Mustang MACH-E was provided by Ford Motor Company for review, it came with a tolling pass and 3/4 charged batteries. I covered the cost of recharging this vehicle during the week it was in my possession for this review.