There is no doubting that Ford took a bold, new step when it slapped the galloping horse on the snout of its all-new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E. The internet went abuzz with both admirers and those who would never have imagined Mustang as an SUV. To say the landscape is drastically changing would be an understatement, but is it a sign customers are changing as well?
Not since the baby-boomers began burning up fuel and rubber, have the OEMs been so concerned about the youth market when it comes to car design and styling. A quick look inside any new vehicle will clearly prove, “This isn’t your father’s Olds, Chrysler, Chevy or FORD!” Charging ports no longer resemble the pop-out cigarette-lighter power outlets and today’s version also serves as multi-directional, USB-style data transfer points for our connected devices. Touch screens have replaced the tactile feel of knobs and levers and voice commands take it one step further, superseding both forms of laborious control. Back in the day, securing a vehicle simply meant using the door lock. Today’s vehicles are becoming more prone to digital hackers and malware and the systems that bring us so much power, performance and economy must also have several layers of encryption to keep us, and our information safe.
In the midst of this changing tide, Ma Ford is seeking to lead, not follow the market, and the question arises, how far ahead can you go and still have followers? The all-electric Mustang Mach-E seeks to find the answer to that question.
Being the ONLY vehicle model in constant production with well-over half a century of history, Ford was well aware of the formula that has kept them out front in the pony wars. When Mustang was first introduced, it was an instant success, setting records that still hold to this day. As Mustang’s designers and engineers created each new generation of pony car, they would infuse the car’s production numbers with a boost over the outgoing model.
While each new iteration would still enjoy six-figure production for a year or two, sales would repeatedly, over time, reach below 100,000 units. At that point, the car manufacturer (and those tasked with moving the metal) have some serious questions to answer. When it comes to selling future generations of buyers and what part electrification will play in the market, all manufacturers are asking the same questions, and hoping for better answers than their competitors.
What Do They Want?
Many folks oversimplify the answer by assuming electric cars are the goal of tomorrow’s buyers. I don’t think they really care what powers their car. They’re more interested in the benefits of each form of propulsion. For them and their devices, having the entire car speak the same language just makes sense. The fact it isn’t noisy and they don’t need to fuss with pesky shifters simply adds more nails to the internal combustion engine’s coffin. Their world comes to them through a screen, and the Mach-E’s designers made sure they had one in their vehicle. A BIG one!
Communicating with their car in much the same way they communicate with each other means more to them than horsepower and torque numbers, or the sound of a sweet dual exhaust.
Communicating with their car in much the same way they communicate with each other means more to them than horsepower and torque numbers, or the sound of a sweet dual exhaust. They’ll enjoy the performance, and Ford was wise to ensure that the Mach-E met certain performance criteria. But, as those who know how to tune a carburetor fade into the dark night, connectivity will likely overrule corner-carving for the masses.
Another thing this new generation of buyer wants is something we’ve all wanted for thousands of years— babies! The most important component of future buyers is having buyers in the future! That said, they’ve got to haul all the accompanying stuff for said babies, such as strollers, diapers, and whatnot. Today’s Mustangs’ hauling capacity is measured in miles-per-hour, not by the square foot.
Tomorrow’s Mustang – Today
Some feel that Ford “sold out” to those who have been faithful to the brand for so long. Ford assures them they have not, but are simply looking ahead to not only wrap themselves around the purse strings of tomorrow’s buyers but also adapt to the increasingly, ever-changing market. If you were to ask the parents of those who were buying up all the big-blocks and multi-carb’d monsters back in the sixties, what they thought about those new cars, they’d likely feel as disconnected as Dana Carvey’s Church Lady in the middle of Comic-Con.
Looking back, many of us revere that time as the golden age of hot-rodding. Many of those belching behemoths have become prized items of our youth. We have yet to see how far-reaching concepts such as the Mach-E will play into the automotive landscape, but just like when engineers and designers first tried to convince the higher-ups that shoe-horning a big engine into a little car was a good idea, perhaps Ford’s team is onto something. Time will tell, and if the Mach-E has any say about it, we’ll have both a front- and a rear-seat to view it from.