Published on November 21st, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan0
Ford Mustang Mach-E Is A Tesla Ally, Ford Escape & Edge Killer (Maybe)
November 21st, 2019 by Zachary Shahan
There’s a lot of temptation to compare the Ford Mustang Mach-E to the Tesla Model Y. Indeed, they’re basically in the same class, are in the same price range, have similar specs, and are both electric. Furthermore, Ford very clearly picked up a number of features and design cues from Tesla — even being the first to do so in some cases. And both the Mustang name and Tesla are known for performance. Nonetheless, I see them much more as allies and actually only to a very limited degree competitors.
First of all, of all the Tesla owners I’ve met, I don’t recall any of them saying they came from a Ford. I’m sure some do, but it appears they much more heavily come from BMW, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, and other brands. There are clear sub-cultures of auto brand buyers, and I don’t think there’s a lot of crossover between the Tesla driver community and the Ford (or GM, for that matter) driver community. The Mustang Mach-E is a cool electric vehicle with a lot to offer. I imagine there are a handful of people who were thinking about buying a Tesla Model Y who prefer the Mustang Mach-E’s look & feel and will switch to that, but I don’t expect that to be a high portion of potential Model Y buyers.
So, who would buy a Mustang Mach-E, and what vehicles would they be choosing it over? My first guess is that the prime audience or market is people who would have bought a Ford anyway. Perhaps they could also pull some people from Dodge, Chevrolet, Toyota, and other brands, but my first assumption is that most buyers will be repeat Ford buyers. So, the question then is, which models would they buy if not the Mustang Mach-E?
Most directly, Ford could be shifting Mustang buyers into the Mustang Mach-E, which makes sense for a few reasons. First of all, a lot of current and previous Mustang owners are probably on the older end of the spectrum. I’m not quite 40 and am unhappy to share that I have a knee issue, which I have to consider when doing many normal things. I’m not the only one. As knees become more and more of an issue, people tend to prefer crossovers or SUVs since they’re easier to get in and out of. Perhaps some of those ~80,000 US Mustang buyers a year will be thrilled to stick to the Mustang brand while evolving from a car to a crossover.
As shown above, you’ve got the Mustang starting at just under $27,000 and going up to $73,000, a big spread. I assume most purchases are somewhere in the middle range. Here are 6 Mustang middle trims:
The Mustang Mach-E has $60,000 First Edition and GT trims, which are essentially the same in price as the Shelby GT350. More importantly, there are three other Mustang Mach-E trims that much more closely match the pricing of the medium-priced Mustang trims.
And remember: with its electric powertrain, operational costs for the Mustang Mach-E should be much lower than operational costs (gasoline and service costs) than the Mustang cars.
Plus, Ford buyers are still eligible for the full $7,500 US federal tax credit if they buy an electric vehicle from the automaker.
So, the question is, how many Mustang owners and potential Mustang buyers will decide they’d happily by a Mustang Mach-E crossover with a powerful and efficient electric powertrain instead of a traditional Mustang? Nobody knows. We’ll get a sense of that in the coming years.
But hey, if a Ford fan wants a crossover, Ford sells gasoline versions of those, too.
Indeed, Ford has the Escape and Edge, two popular models that are probably the most similar to the Mustang Mach-E when it comes to body style and interior space. The Escape had 272,000 US sales in 2018, the Edge 134,000. How many of those annual buyers will happily scoot over to a Mach-E and enjoy all the benefits of an electric powertrain (greater acceleration, greater safety, a smoother drive quality, and more advanced tech overall)? That’s the billion-dollar question.
It’s not clear what space inside the Mach-E is like, but it appears to have good ground-up EV design that maximizes space thanks to the simple and lean electric powertrain. The main Mach-E webpage states, “An impressively spacious interior with plenty of legroom means everyone will love the ride.” That’s under a subheading titled, “THE LUXURY OF SPACE.” We’ll have to wait to get more time in the vehicles or have Jennifer chime in to say if the Mach-E interior feels more like the inside of the Escape or Edge. That said, Ford is comparing Mach-E costs to Escape costs and rumor is that the Mach-E was initially going to be an electric Escape. Still, I think it’s worth emphasizing to anyone who doesn’t have an EV that an EV with the same shell of a gas vehicle can easily have a lot more space inside (for people and/or stuff) if designed well.
Using Ford’s own cost savings analysis for the Mach-E versus an Escape, if you cut $13,390 off of the Mach-E Select’s $43,895 recommended price tag, you get $30,505, a bit less than the Edge and about $5,000 more than the Escape. (By the way, kudos to Ford for providing a cost savings calculator!)
So, what you have here is a core fundamental question: are potential Escape and Edge buyers going to find it worthwhile to switch to a Mach-E. I think there are a handful of questions that undergird that:
- Will they understand the dramatic drive-quality advantages of the electric powertrain?
- Will Ford take advantage of and promote clear safety benefits of the Mach-E’s electric powertrain (just on the surface it’s obvious the Mach-E will be much less likely to suffer rollover accidents, which have a high chance of fatality, due to the lower center of gravity coming from the battery pack on the bottom)?
- Will consumers learn about the operational cost savings and federal tax credit? (The website does a superb job pointing these out, which is a great sign, but you also have the question of how much auto dealers will discuss these benefits.)
- Will many consumers be too scared to make a technology leap?
- Will many customers be shown or notice the “luxury of space” benefits, including the “front-load freedom” of the frunk? (Again, Ford’s website does a good job highlighting this EV feature.)
The Ford website and marketing around the Mach-E’s EV benefits, even comparing the crossover to gasoline crossovers in Ford’s lineup, offer a lot of hope. I think it’s clear from Ford’s communications alone that the Mustang Mach-E is a far superior vehicle to the Escape and even to the Edge. I can’t imagine choosing an Edge or Escape over a Mach-E, of course. And while I question if I am too enthusiastically misreading the communications and jumping to conclusions, remember, Ford gave this model the Mustang branding. That’s a strong show of support and a testament to the fact that Ford’s team sees the Mach-E as a high-performance, more prestigious vehicle than its gasoline siblings. There is no Mustang Edge or Mustang Escape!
Getting back to those Escape and Edge sales figures, I’m counting 406,000 a year. If the Mach-E pulled ¼ of those sales from those models, that’s 100,000 a year. If it pulled ⅛ of them, that’s 50,000 a year. Reportedly, Ford has a target of 100,000 Mach-E sales a year.
Regarding the traditional Mustang, ¼ of those sales would be ~20,000/year.
There are also all of those similar competing models from other brands, like Chevrolet, Dodge, and others. There’s also the Tesla Model Y, which compares much more similarly to the Mach-E in many regards.
We don’t really have a clue yet how this will all play out. We don’t know Ford’s full production capacity for the Mach-E. We don’t know how well Ford dealers will sell the Mach-E (or anti-sell it). We don’t know how many buyers will be enticed into test driving the Mach-E and discovering how much better the driving quality is than a gasoline crossover, or even a gasoline car. We don’t know how many people will graduate from another Ford model to a Mach-E, or come from a competing brand over to Ford.
Returning to Frugal Moogal’s “Tesla (Competition) Deathwatch” series, though, one has to wonder what would indeed happen if the Mach-E took away ¼ (or even ⅛) of sales away from the Escape, Edge, and Mustang. Would Ford have production ready for that? Would Ford be prepared financially and in other regards for that kind of switch in sales? So far, just about everything indicates that Ford launched the Mustang Mach-E from an aggressive, informed, progressive standpoint. The company also stuck with California and climate-concerned citizens in the fuel economy fight against the Trump administration, rather than joining GM, FCA, and Toyota on the side of pollution.
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