Weekly Brief: Ford’s First EV Talk of the Town in LA

One of America’s iconic sports cars is about to go electric.

All eyes will be trained this week on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is set to debut at the 2019 LA Auto Show and which will mark Ford’s first entry into the EV marketplace. The Mach-E is a crossover SUV, so it departs from its Mustang lineage in more ways than just the battery pack under its hood.

It looks like a Mustang from the front and the rear, however, with an extra bulge in the middle to accommodate a larger second row and trunk. The Mach-E will come in four trims, starting with a Select Model that has a range of 230 miles and retails for $43,895 and goes on sale in late 2020. The top trim is the California Route 1, which starts at $52,400, has 280bhp and an extended range battery pack that delivers a 300-mile range.

This is a big moment for Ford. The carmaker was slow to recognize the potential of the EV revolution, just as it was slow to recognize the importance of investing in autonomous driving technology. Its cross-town Detroit rival General Motors has been more progressive on both fronts and has reaped the benefits with first-to-market advantage and stronger stock value. Last year Ford pledged to spend $11Bn by 2022 in an attempt to catch up with General Motors on the EV front. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is the first concrete result of that investment.

Showgoers will be able to see the Mach-E from later this week at the LA Convention Center. A number of other EVs will be on display as well, including two range-topping models from Audi, as our Paul Myles detailed in an article last week.

The question is whether any of them will be able to compete with Tesla’s big reveal that will take place 20 minutes to the south, near the SpaceX rocket factory. Elon Musk has a habit of stealing spotlights. He’s at it again this week with the debut of the Tesla CyberTruck pickup, which has matched the Ford Mustang Mach-E in the hype department over the past year. Musk has claimed that the Tesla CyberTruck pickup will be “a better truck than an F-150 in terms of truck-like functionality and be a better sports car than a standard Porsche 911”. If that doesn’t sound like a man spewing hyperbole, I don’t know what does.

That being said, it will be interesting to see how the CyberTruck stacks up against the Ford F-150, which is the best-selling vehicle in America and is widely considered to be the best pickup on the market. Musk has suggested that the truck will have a range of 400 to 500 miles and will sell for less than $50,000, as compared to the F-150 which ranges in price from $30,000 to $65,000. As with the Mustang Mach-E for Ford, the CyberTruck pickup is an important moment for Tesla, because it continues to try and expand its market presence and make inroads with different types of customers.

The pickup truck community in particular tends to be a more hardscrabble, burly crowd than the folks who are buying all-electric sports cars. Then again, plenty of suburban dads who don’t really need a pickup truck end up buying pickup trucks, just as plenty of people who don’t need guns end up buying guns. The market may be there for the CyberTruck after all. If it is, Tesla will seize an important head start over Ford, which is planning an electric version of the F-150 in its 2021 model.


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