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If the Mustang Is Too Good to Go All-Electric, Why Buy a Ford EV?

CEO Jim Farley said Ford will never build a true all-electric Mustang. What does that say about the brand's enthusiast EVs?
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Last week, we received plenty of insight about the future of the Mustang from Ford CEO Jim Farley. The standout piece of news was Farley’s philosophy around the growth of the nameplate into a proper family of vehicles, something we’ve seen Dearborn begin with the Mustang Mach-E. But there was another bit that caught my attention: the chief exec drew a line in the sand, saying flat out that there will never be a purely battery-powered pony car. I wonder if he’ll need to walk that back in 10 or 15 years.

“One thing I can promise, however, is that we will never make an all-electric Mustang,” Farley said to Autocar. “I look at other users of pure-electric power such as Formula E, and even companies like Rimac, and I just don’t think that would be right for Mustang. Great for other Fords—look at the worldwide success of Transit—but not for Mustang.”

As my colleague Nico and many others have already pointed out, there’s some obvious shade flung the Mach-E’s way in that quote, intentionally or not. That’s as savage as it is funny, but the bigger story is why Farley would make such a definitive, forward-reaching statement, and what he expects it to do for Ford’s efforts selling electric cars. Because I’d wager it won’t help the cause.

At best, promising to never build an all-electric Mustang is short-sighted. One day, the overwhelming majority of cars sold to the public, excusing six-, seven-figure Porsches and Lamborghinis swilling the most premium craft blends of synthetic fuels, are going to be electric. What was once cheap, then made obsolete, will become an analog luxury not unlike vinyl records and tube TVs. Sure, it definitely isn’t happening by 2030. But 2040, 2045? Who knows? It’s a step the global population must take for the environment, and once the technology and infrastructure get to a point where we can take it with few or zero concessions to cost and convenience, we will. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement.

But, suppose you do. Forget about later—Ford’s trying to sell EVs right now. More specifically, it’s trying to inspire enthusiasts with them, with a rally-primed version of the Mach-E as well as a GT-badged one that can hit 60 mph from a standstill in well under four seconds. When Farley says in effect that those other, fake Mustangs can be EVs, but a real Mustang never will, he’s echoing a sentiment that’s permeated the comment section of nearly every article we’ve written about the Mach-E over the last four years—and it’s hardly friendly to Ford.

For enthusiasts, the math is simple: If Ford’s head honcho, a legitimate racing driver who’s itching to race all of his peers in their best hypercars, earnestly believes that electric powertrains aren’t deserving of the company’s flagship sports car, why should I want to buy any electric Ford that professes performance? Like EVs or not, if you’re running a business and trying to sell products that excite people, why would you say that?

It’s exceedingly obvious at this point that the Big Three are throwing everything at the wall in a desperate attempt to market EVs, particularly enthusiast-oriented ones, but the tone’s been wide of the mark every time. GM President Mark Reuss appears to be taking a stance completely opposite to Farley’s, ruminating over a four-door Camaro that’s accessibly priced and fun to drive, but not necessarily powerful. That’s not a Camaro—that’s a Cobalt SS sedan at best, and I’m sure the Camaro’s present clientele is just going to love it.

Meanwhile, Dodge has demonstrated none of the caution Ford has in refusing to bestow its most iconic nameplates on electric cars. That sounds almost progressive, until you catch soon-departing CEO Tim Kuniskis appealing to the bleeding heart gas-stove coalition about how the Charger Daytona is an EV “they” don’t “want the brotherhood to have.” Who are “they,” and what does this group have against “the brotherhood?” That sounds like a cult; do I have to be a member to get the car? This all seems very dramatic and complicated. I’ll just go buy a Hyundai.

Until there’s evidence that this very public, corporate existential crisis is really winning over buyers, maybe Detroit can just try acting normal for a change? There were plenty of things people loved about gas cars, and there are going to be plenty of things people will love about electric cars. Some of those things will be the same, some won’t! However they work, build them your way, the best you can, just like you’ve always done. That seems like a pretty level-headed, optimistic stance to me, if the strategies of internalized shame or setting up arbitrary rules about what EVs can and can’t be don’t work out.

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