As more electric vehicle concepts and production models are being revealed, one of the oldest car companies has been conspicuous in its absence of battery-powered vehicles.
Ford has not been at the vanguard of electrification.
The American brand has remained committed to its profitable bakkies, SUVs, and Mustangs. In the last year it has also sacrificed much of its traditional passenger car business globally.
Followers of the Ford brand have wondered when the company’s leadership was going to recognise that electric vehicles are a crucial part of its destiny. The answer to that has now happened as Ford revealed its audacious Mustang Mach-E.
It is a very daring move by Ford, to add a four-door crossover, powered by batteries, to its traditional Mustang model range. What it shows, is that Ford’s R&D spend has certainly altered.
How important is the Mach-E? For South Africans, it might not be on our immediate product horizon, but this first true battery-powered Ford product might tell us more about future blue oval gravel travel vehicles.
Understanding Ford’s battery and bakkie strategy
In April 2019, Ford made a massive R7.4bn investment in Californian electric vehicle company Rivian. With the debut of Mach-E, that investment suddenly makes a lot of sense and if you like Ford’s bakkies, you should be very interested in the Mach-E’s configuration.
Rivian is different from Tesla and many other electric vehicle start-ups in that it is a bakkie and SUV company. Most of Ford’s profits also source from bakkies and SUVs. Recognising that it would have to electrify these vehicles in the future, Ford has decided to buy-in the best technology it could identity: and that was Rivian.
Engineer's sketch. Image: Ford
Although component sourcing for the Mach-E isn’t being detailed, an uneducated guess supposes that most this battery-powered Mustang could be repurposed Rivian technology. And that means that Mach-E could serve as an early indication of where Ford’s future SUV electric vehicle structure will trend.
For South Africans who jealously look at vehicles such as the F-Series bakkies and Explorer SUVs, the heartening fact is that Mach-E is much more comparable in size to a Ranger or Everest. And that's important.
Would it be disingenuous of us to suggest that the next-generation Ranger will feature a Mach-E platform? Yes. That is not possible, because of the load box and rugged rear-axle configuration required in a bakkie. But the Mach-E’s batteries and electric motors is a sign of what Ford could use in most of its future vehicles which are similar in size.
There is a greater likelihood of Everest possibly becoming more of a large crossover, based on the Mach-E. Or perhaps, a vehicle between Kuga and Everest. If you look at how long the Mustang Mach-E’s wheelbase is, the numbers start to make sense. A current Ford Everest stretches a 2 850mm wheelbase, and the Mach-E’s axles are even wider apart at 2 971mm.
The new Ford electric vehicle structure is certainly big enough to build a seven-seater. Ford has also chosen to configure the Mach-E in both rear- and all-wheel drive, which again acts as a clue that this could, in fact, become Ford’s future mid-size SUV/crossover platform.
And the best part are those two battery packs, sized at 75.7kWh and 98.8kWh. They offer a compelling energy density which can provide up to 800Nm of torque and more than 400km in range.
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