By Dave Ashton
The unwanted elephant in the room for most muscle car fans is electric vehicles. The big looming beast isn’t quite in the room yet, rather it’s sticking its sizeable trunk inside and having a good sniff. It’s most likely that muscle cars will be at odds with EV’s until we all go fully electric. The transition will most likely be slow and tentative, which begs the question is the Ford Mustang Mach-E the first electric muscle car?
Obviously, the Ford Mustang Mach-E is not out to replace the regular Mustang as it’s a full-blown SUV. The regular V8 Mustang is still available and selling in droves both in the US and Europe. The Mustang Mach-E is the start of a slow getting used to process of attaching pony and muscle car brands to the electric concept.
Using the Mustang Name
Before the release of the Mustang Mach-E, slapping the pony name on an electric SUV could have been a gamble that fell on its face. Putting the Mustang name on an SUV was one thing, but on an EV could have been a step too far. However, if you’re not a Mustang fan per se, probably most of the SUV market, the borrowed name is just an added essence of cool.
For Mustang fans it wasn’t just using the word ‘Mustang’ but also the ‘Mach’ bit that ruffled feathers. The original Mach 1 as below was a high-performance car dating back to the late 1960s. The Mach 1 could house a V8 engine up to a 428Cu. or 429cu. or 7L in new money. The car looked and sounded the part. Those very familiar with the Mustang and the Mach 1 saw the name borrowing as a negative.
Ford Mustang Mach-E: Does it live up to Expectations?
Now everyone has had a bit of time to acclimatize to the Mustang Mach-E, the big question is does it live up to expectations? Most reviews come across as positive, with the vehicle having a reasonable range, plenty of room, and the only negatives being some cheap interior fittings.
One quote from a pistonheads.com review of the vehicle states, ‘the Mustang influence has given it a character sorely lacking from a lot of EVs, while a focus on the important electric vehicle stuff – range, most notably – has ensured that the car is good where it counts.’
If the Mustang Mach-E popped into existence without any heritage, would it achieve the same reaction? Most car reviewers are well aware of the traditional Mustang, so there will always be a slight bit of comparing apples to oranges. In other words, there’s no getting around the Mustang name being attached to this SUV. However, it does seem like the vehicle is a step in the right direction.
Is the Ford Mustang Mach-E a Muscle Car?
The answer to the question is the Ford Mustang Mach-E a muscle car is strictly no. But it is the closest we have to a mainstream muscle/pony car brand dipping its toe into the EV market. It’s just too early days for a full-blown Mustang to go fully electric. It’s a bit like Bob Dylan going fully electric in 1965. Electric guitars had been around since the 1950s, but by 1965 artists like Hendrix started to appear, making the electric guitar the future option. Now, most people are happy with Dylan playing acoustic and electric. But back in the day, the swap was a huge deal. If Dylan had swapped to electric in the 1950s, it may have been a step too far.
Therefore, the Mustang Mach-E isn’t strictly a muscle car, but an acclimatization vehicle. Although the Mustang Mach-E has utilitarian features, it can still perform. The Ford media website has the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition down as achieving a 0-60 mph time in 3.5 seconds. That’s the equivalent of 480 hp and 634 lb.-ft. of torque in old money. It also has an estimated range of 235 miles. That’s not too shabby for an affordable SUV.
This means that the performance levels are currently available for an all-electric muscle car. But the devil is in the detail when it comes to nailing the muscle car concept in an electric package. The ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes a muscle is more than just a 0 to 60 time. Its many elements make up the experience. That’s why the big muscle car makers are in no hurry to produce the first legit electric muscle car. The getting used to process will take some time.
I don’t think we will see a Dodge Challenger SUV any time soon. At this point, that seems too much like heresy. But we may see in the next 5 years some sort of acclimatization vehicle to test the waters with the public. Squeezing all the goodness from a traditional V8 into an electric vehicle is no small task.
The flipside of the coin is not to be left behind. This is why we are talking about electric vehicles on a muscle car website. It’s better to plan for the future than hope for EV vehicles to go away or hope e-fuels ultimately win the race. A good analogy is the camera industry. While film still has its place, the digital medium is now the norm. Some companies were slow to transition or got lost along the way. We don’t want the same thing to happen to muscle cars.
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