I was sitting at the computer last night, watching an electric car reveal, and it wasn’t a Tesla. In many ways, this seemed like quite the inflection point in the evolution of electric mobility in the United States, not just because it’s a different company doing an online reveal — I watched the reveal of the updated Nissan Leaf a few years ago — but because Ford is really pushing this thing.
I was actually thinking about writing an article about how strange it was that every time I logged into Facebook for the past three months, there were Ford ads about its electric car lineup. The only problem being, Ford didn’t really have an electric car lineup to speak of.
That changed last night, as Ford was bringing the Ford Mustang Mach-E with some serious buzz, both because Ford is using the Mustang name — a brand for Ford that has an iconic performance edge to it — but also because Ford is turning it electric with a significant advertising push. (As I type this, I’m one of over 65,000 people watching this reveal, which topped at over 75,000. That’s pretty significant, especially compared to the couple thousand who watched the Leaf reveal.)
So, how did I think it went? I wrote the following article in real time, so this is more of a stream of thought as it goes … and here we go!
The first thing that strikes me is how different the presentation is than a normal Tesla one is. They start with Idris Elba presenting, who introduces a video, then they have Elba interview Bill Ford, and then it moves to another video, and then Jim Hackett arrives to introduce the interface. Unlike when Elon Musk presents, you can tell that they are reading off a script, and at times the camera angles actually show the script.
The controls part of the presentation is interesting. It’s clear that they looked at the display that Tesla made for the Model 3 and tried to make it their own. They even threw in the fact that they would have things directly behind the wheel itself.
Having said that, in this reveal, they continue to discuss how simple they think that the vehicle is, but in looking at it, they are including a ton of information on it at any given point in time. They did say that it will have over-the-air updates, and they are going to continually update it, so the experience will change as you go. Just have to say — it’s about time someone that isn’t Tesla has done this!
Oh, and what’s next, your smartphone is your key! Ford Pass is essentially a copy of the Tesla app. In fact, it’s interesting hearing how Ford is talking about all of this stuff like it’s new to automobiles. And it is, if you aren’t looking at anything that Tesla has done.
Honestly, at this point in the presentation — 26 minutes in — I’m pretty impressed that we finally have a company that has decided to step up to the plate to challenge Tesla, although I’m waiting to hear how many they are intending to make. Knowing that Ford has almost its entire tax credit left, I don’t know what other Ford vehicle challenges this.
Ford is now talking about range. 300 miles of range, and they also mentioned there are no oil changes. Not bad.
30 minutes in, the car is presented with the Detroit Youth Choir singing. Admittedly, I don’t watch many car reveals — I was never interested in cars at all before electric mobility beyond their function — but it is fascinating watching how Ford is choosing to really make this showy. The car comes out in near darkness, drives around the stage, and is joined by a second one.
As they are describing the car, I’m struck again by the fact that I expect that this is the first real challenger to anything that Tesla is doing. They then come to unveil the new GT model, and they do it by showing the new Mach-E GT giving a series of gas Mustangs a head start, and then catching up and passing them. It rolls out onto the stage, they mention that it will get to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds, and…
Okay, wow, they are finishing the presentation right now, which seems extremely sudden. I feel like this presentation was much higher on the glitz and much lower on actual details. I feel like I have to head to the Ford site to actually learn more about the details, which is kind of odd. There was also no overly surprising moment, other than the fact that we finally have a company that looks like it seriously wants to compete with Tesla, and it is going to.
And I guess that’s what struck me here. The Leaf is the other major reveal we’ve had recently like this, and it was surprising just how strongly Ford came out to make this seem like the Mach-E is going to be Ford’s future. Price wise, with the tax credit included, the Mach-E is going to be extremely competitive with the current Ford lineup. And the fact that Ford stuck its iconic Mustang name on the vehicle shows just how serious the company is about this entry.
The future just got a lot more interesting. I still have a TON of questions, and I do feel that the Mach-E is an extreme risk for Ford itself, but it’s about time that we finally see some actual competition to Tesla out there, and the Mach-E looks like the first serious attempt at that. I’m extremely curious about a number of things. Overall, though, kudos to Ford on this one, and welcome to the future.
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