Ford said it has officially filled all advance orders for the First Edition Mustang Mach-E, a limited version of the Detroit automaker’s first long-range battery-electric vehicle.
Unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, the Mach-E will be offered in five different versions, with prices starting at $47,000 and pushing up towards $70,000 for a GT version expected to be as fast as a Porsche 911 GTS. But it’s the upcoming Tesla Model Y that Ford’s electric SUV will most directly take aim at.
“This is a direct competitor to the Tesla Model Y and has the potential to be quite successful,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal automotive analyst with Navigant Research. “I think they have the right vehicle in the right segment with the right characteristics.”
Ford was an early proponent of battery propulsion, launching a mix of hybrids, plug-ins and pure BEVs. But the Mach-E is its first long-range model, with versions ordered with an optional battery pack expected to get more than 300 miles per charge – though final EPA testing has not yet been completed.
When Ford first began work on an electric SUV, it focused on developing what industry types like to call a “compliance car,” a vehicle that would just meet the stringent zero-emissions standards set by the state of California. Demand was expected to be modest and largely limited to states adopting the California mandates.
About two years ago, however, then-new Ford CEO Jim Hackett ordered a review of the company’s EV plans, the development team deciding to tear up the original design in favor of a more sporty looking at decidedly more powerful vehicle. It was originally meant to draw inspiration from the automaker’s long-lived Mustang. As development progressed, however, and it became obvious that the new SUV could match the coupe in terms of performance and handling, Ford officials decided it should also be called a Mustang.
“Our base model will be faster than a base Porsche Macan and close to the Macan Turbo,” which can hit 60 in as little as 4.1 seconds, powertrain chief Ron Heiser said last November during the pre-L.A. Auto Show briefing. The Mach-E GT, meanwhile, “will be within spitting distance of a Porsche 911 GTS,” which sprints to 60 mph in about just over three seconds.
Ford isn’t the only automaker talking performance. To expand the appeal of electric vehicles, the industry, on the whole, is beginning to shift away from focusing on the green benefits of SUVs in order to also promote the tremendous power that can be delivered by electric motors, said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal and chief judge of the Green Car of the Year awards.
While Ford says it has filled the U.S. order bank for the First Edition Mustang Mach-E, it hasn’t said what that translates into in raw numbers. But analyst Abuelsamid said the believes they will be building "about 10,000 of them.” Overall, company insiders have hinted they would be pleased to sell 50,000 Mustang Mach-E SUVs worldwide during the first year of production.
Tesla hasn’t given any estimates on sales plans for the Model Y, either. But CEO Elon Musk has, on several occasions, suggested it could generate twice the demand of the Model 3 sedan, now topping 300,000 a year, due to the growing shift from sedans to SUVs.