The Ford Mustang Mach-E is probably the talked-about new vehicle bowing at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. So important, in fact, that Ford couldn’t wait until the show actually began to reveal it. Still, nothing compares with seeing the car in person and talking with the people who made it. Here are nine key details about the new Mustang Mach-E that we picked up while chatting with Ford personnel.
Ford knows how big of a deal it is to call the Mach-E a Mustang
It’s fair to be skeptical of the idea that an electric crossover is really paying respect to the Mustang that we all know and love. But this isn’t a decision Ford took lightly, and the company isn’t keen to squander a half-century of goodwill. Ford says it is proud of the fact that the Mustang brought new, loyal Ford customers to the fold 55 years ago; everything about the Mach-E, from its design, to its performance credentials, to its important role in the company’s future, is intended to pay tribute to the Mustang’s pedigree, rather than break from it.
It was originally a compliance car
Ford didn’t set out to make a performance EV. In fact, the original brief was to create a compliance car—a low-volume zero-emissions vehicle designed to comply with environmental regulations. About a year into the project, designers were churning out sketches that looked like every other EV out there, when the order came down from above to turn this compliance car into a Mustang. The old sketches shot out the proverbial window, and in short order, the design team set about raising the nose, pulling back the A-pillar, and pushing the front wheel forward for a premium, rear-wheel-drive look and feel.
Late changes inspired new design processes
Once it was clear the Mach-E would be Mustang-branded, Ford’s teams were inspired to shake things up. Design Director Gordon Platto and interior designer Chris Walter said they began rethinking the typical vehicle design process. Thanks to the new 3D modeling and VR tools, design and engineering teams were able to collaborate directly, rather than passing their work back and forth. It was a bold risk so late in the game, but Ford’s designers say it made the process go much more smoothly.
Ford really wants to make charging easier
The company understands that for the Mach-E to meet its full potential, it has to capture the attention of, and convert, consumers who are averse or indifferent to EVs. The Mach-E’s infotainment system shows the Ford Pass charging network to help incorporate charging into your trip as seamlessly as possible. It’ll show you all major charging networks as well as real-time availability of specific chargers, ratings and reviews from other users, and amenities that are available, so you can use the time to your advantage. On top of that, the Mach-E’s navigation system incorporates necessary charging time into your route and ETA. The Plug and Charge system securely stores and transmits payment information so you can simply plug in the car and walk away.
Every trim level is vegan...seriously
Color and materials designer Brittany Moss said the Mach-E team came up with an interior free of animal products to respect environmentally-conscious consumers. A smooth, durable synthetic leather upholstery comes standard, and synthetic suede is available as an upgrade. The cabin is so upscale and comfortable, we’re betting most buyers won’t even be able to tell the difference.
The next-generation Sync infotainment system is on the way
The Mach-E is our first look at the future of Ford’s connectivity technology, and despite the frankly overwhelming size of the center-mounted tablet, at 15.5 inches, it’s clear that Ford wants to make it as simple to use as possible. While it’s likely that some version of this system will eventually land in other Ford vehicles, Ford reiterates that it was designed specifically for the Mach-E, and for now, it’s a Mach-E exclusive.
It’s music to your ears
Electric cars are naturally nearly silent, which is a danger to pedestrians, so federal regulations are requiring automakers to bring noise back into the equation. Noise won’t cut it for the Mach-E, though. The sound design team tested and workshopped more than 30 unique sounds, specifically chosen to represent acceleration and deceleration. Then, the team used virtual reality tools to make the sounds match the visual experience, tested on various roads around the world. The final result is filtered down to one “throaty, acceleration-based sound,” which is then adapted to the Mach-E’s three drive modes, Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled, to match what the car is doing at any given time. Purists might shrug at an electric Mustang no matter what, but for the rest of us, this is a pretty clever bit of engineering.
More driving modes may be on the way
For now, the Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled modes will keep most drivers satisfied, providing a relaxed, balanced, and aggressive driving experience, respectively. But there’s potential for more. Ford’s engineering team says that the car’s over-the-air updates enable the possibility for new driving experience modes to be added later.
“Frunk” is an annoying word, but the concept is great
The Mach-E’s powertrain is incorporated into the platform, which frees up space under the long, sculpted hood, where an engine would go in a regular gas or hybrid vehicle. The industry-preferred portmanteau for this feature is “frunk,” which we guess we’re going to have to learn to live with, because they’re only going to become more common. In the case of the Mustang Mach-E, it’s hard to complain. The space, measuring 4.8 cubic feet, was designed to accommodate carry-on luggage. If you’re not using the space for travel, you can take advantage of the waterproof lining, built-in cup holders, and drains that make it a perfect impromptu party cooler.