A Mustang and an Explorer wheel into a Detroit factory. This is not, tragically, the beginning of a joke. Rather, it’s a new (and weirdly ‘80s themed?) Ford promo video. Lightning flashes, synthesizers synthesize, and we behold the carmaker’s next great machine, to debut in 2020: an all-electric SUV, good for 300 miles of driving between charges, called the Mach 1. Well, we behold a glowing sign that reads “Mach 1″—Ford has yet to debut the car, even as a concept or prototype. The fog and light-infused video will have to do for now.
The name is borrowed from the performance-oriented Mustang Mach 1, which hit the road five decades ago. Now the carmaker will trade on that name to launch itself deep in the 21st century, and challenge crosstown rival General Motors on an emerging frontline: electric driving.
“It’s the beginning of a whole new world for our customers, and electrifying the best of Ford,” Jim Farley, who heads up the carmaker’s global markets effort, said on stage at the North American International Auto Show. The Detroit car caucus, the biggest of its kind in the country, is the place where the big US automakers like to trumpet their big plans and ambitions.
Sure, that’s vague. Less vague: Ford’s announcement that it will pump $11 billion into electric vehicles in the next five years, with 24 hybrid and 16 fully electric vehicles to debut by 2022. The company said a year ago it would spend $4.5 billion on EVs by 2020; now it’s nearly doubling that commitment. (The adjustment likely comes from Jim Hackett, who replaced ousted CEO Mark Fields in May.)
When it comes to electrifying announcements, Ford is playing catchup. In October, GM announced it would roll out 20 fully electric models by 2023, and eventually ditch fossil fuels altogether. Volvo will debut five battery electrics between 2019 and 2021, and stop designing cars without batteries next year. Jaguar Land Rover makes zero electric cars right now, but says every new model it produces from 2020 onward will come in an electric or hybrid variety. Nissan, one of the earliest electric proponents, just announced Infiniti will launch its first EV in 2021, and says half of the luxury brand’s 2025 global sales will be electrified. Even smaller carmakers are getting in on the act: Aston Martin’s electric RapidE debuts in 2019.
Right now, Ford makes a grand total of one fully electric car, a variant of the Focus that offers just over 100 miles of range—far short of the long-legged models from GM and Tesla. And while it has done plenty of talking about the future, this is the first time Ford has made a detailed public commitment to building EVs.
It’s no mistake that Farley, Ford’s global head, presided over the Mach 1’s “debut” this week. The gold rush on electric is all about the international market. Chinese drivers buy half the world’s EVs, and new regulations demand manufacturers’ electric vehicles account for 12 percent of their Chinese sales by 2020. Ford won’t get there with one model, and it doesn’t want to give up on China, where it sold more than a million cars in 2017.
Meanwhile, the European Union will implement more aggressive CO2 emissions limits in 2020. France and the UK plan to ban the sale of nonelectric cars by 2040. On the domestic front, California is mulling the same move.
Whatever the Left Coast does, US customer enthusiasm definitely is not powering these electric dreams. According to the website InsideEVs, Americans bought just under 200,000 plug-in electric vehicles in 2017. That’s up 25 percent over 2016, but still a pittance in a market that moves 17 million cars a year.
So no wonder that, in Detroit, Ford also showed off a restocked stable of musclebound steeds. The limited-edition Mustang Bullitt will emerge this summer with a 5.0-liter V8 engine, good for 475 horsepower and a top speed of 163 mph. And the carmaker introduced the 2019 Ford Ranger, a midsize truck for the off-roading set. Electric is coming, but in the meantime: Fill ’er up, ‘Merica!
© 2018 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.
Frank’s source: https://www.wired.com/story/ford-electric-cars-plan-mach-1-suv/
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