It has become fashionable to lambaste legacy automakers for being quick to promise electrification of their product lineups but slow to actually do so. But some are actually starting to put their money where their mouth is. Volkswagen — which has committed $33 billion to bringing electric cars to market — is one. Ford is another.
Before we get to discussing products, let’s give a shoutout to Ford for doing some things other manufacturers refuse to do. With sales of the Mustang Mach-E — Ford’s first battery electric SUV — set to begin later this year, it has made a commitment to train every one of its dealers how to sell and service electric cars. It has created partnerships with EV charging networks so its EV customers will always have a place to charge their cars seamlessly whether at home or away.
The Go Electric Roadshow
One of the things Ford should be applauded for is mounting an education campaign designed to address the concerns of potential customers. There is a lot of misinformation out there, which leads to doubt, which leads to hesitancy to actually purchase an electric car. In the UK, Ford has created a Go Electric campaign that will tour the country, bringing the word about electric cars to every city and village in the country between now and the end of the year before moving on to several European countries. Ford calls it “a unique, immersive, and interactive experience designed to help consumers make an informed choice on electrified vehicles. Hands-on, engaging activities will help de-mystify electrification and inspire confidence in consumers who often remain confused about the different types of electrified powertrains available and their benefits.”
It began at London’s Marble Arch in February, where the new Mustang Mach-E and other electrified Ford products were on display. In an interview with Business Car, Andy Barratt, managing director for Ford of Britain, said “We want to put the best foot forward for electrification. We want to demonstrate the great strengths of electrification and make it aspirational, so the products that will come beneath it will start with credibility, and our customers will understand what is coming from Ford.” He added the roadshow is designed to “demonstrate how to do electric properly, with a product that is very aspirational as well, with great driving dynamics. It doesn’t compromise and trade off all the things we love about a vehicle in order for it to be electric.”
Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, said “Ford is at the forefront of real change, and we’re committed to providing all of our customers with the broadest choice of electrification options. We made a commitment to make electrification relevant and attainable for more drivers than ever before. By the end of 2020 we’ll have delivered on that commitment, with no fewer than 14 electrified vehicles in Europe, and 18 coming by the end of 2021. Our Go Electric roadshow will help consumers understand that electrified vehicles are ready and waiting to slip seamlessly into their lives.”
Partnership With Volkswagen
Last year, Volkswagen put the word out that it was happy to share its new MEB electric car platform with other manufacturers and Ford was one of the first to accept the offer. Barratt said at the Marble Arch show, “We can jointly share the scale effect on that MEB platform, and that is really important because the market is very small at the moment, and so we really need to amplify that volume and get the scale benefits. Working with Volkswagen is really going to allow us to do that and get those products to market at an affordable level, but still with all the functionality and features you would expect.” In other words, Ford will not be a one trick pony when it comes to electrification. The Mustang Mach-E is the lead-off batter but there will be an entire lineup of smaller, less expensive electric cars coming right behind it.
Mustang Mach-E Tuned For European Drivers
Ford makes it clear that the development of the Mustang Mach-E took into account the needs and desires of European drivers. The company says, “Ford of Europe engineering teams were involved from the outset to deliver vehicle architecture, hardware and software characteristics that support the needs of European customers. Mustang Mach-E spring and damper specifications, electric power-assisted steering, electronic stability control and Mach-E 4 all-wheel drive settings are tuned specifically for European roads and driving styles. The Mustang Mach-E will feature three unique drive modes — Whisper, Engage and Unbridled. Each mode fine tunes driving dynamics, ambient lighting ,and dynamic cluster animations to match the desired character.”
“Everything about Mustang Mach-E has been designed from scratch with the customer at its core, from the all-electric powertrain to the next generation SYNC system,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president for sales and marketing at Ford of Europe. “Even the purchase and ownership experience is new. Mustang Mach-E is the first Ford that customers can order, configure, customize, and even arrange delivery for, all online.” Every indications is that Mustang Mach-E will be a tasty little crumpet indeed.