January 14, 2023
Welcome back to Climate Wheels!
Alan Neuhauser here, and this week I drove the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
- This electric muscle-car is the first that got me to crank Led Zeppelin on the radio.
- And I got to sit in the front seat of an EV police cruiser.
🤟 Let's rock.
1 big thing: The Mach-E revelation and revolution
Ford debuted the Mach-E in 2019, and it was a revelation and a revolution. But three years is three generations in the EV market, and this instant classic needs a refresh.
Why it matters: Sparking a revolution is easy. Staying ahead of it is something else altogether.
Flashback: When introduced in 2019, the Mach-E was a beautiful, thoughtful, attainable SUV that finally gave American drivers a reason to get excited about going electric.
- At the time, Tesla held ~80% of the EV market. The only mainstream alternatives were the gerbil-like Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt — long on virtue, short on vroom.
- There was deep doubt about whether any major automaker — let alone Ford, so deeply mired in bureaucracy it became a central story line in "Ford vs. Ferrari" that same year — could get an EV right.
The intrigue: The vehicle was a jaw-dropper.
- Eye-catching curves, powerful performance, clever design, as much as 300 miles range, and a starting price of $43,995.
- No wonder analysts predicted a sharp drop in Tesla's stock the next day. (Indeed, Ford debuted the car on Elon Musk's doorstep, right outside his company SpaceX.)
What happened: The Mach-E finally reached dealers for model year 2021. It swiftly became the second-bestselling EV in the U.S., trailing Tesla.
Yes, but: The sales haven't generated a profit for Ford.
- The automaker in 2018 announced it would invest at least $11 billion to bring 40 hybrid and electric vehicles to market by 2022.
- The pandemic — and the market woes, factory shutdowns and supply chain turmoil it wrought — slowed that ambitious rollout.
Zoom in: As recently as last summer, Ford CFO John Lawler said inflation and soaring commodity prices had largely wiped out the company's margins on its Mach E.
- However, a company spokesman tells me that the automaker's EV sales overall are profitable.
- Chevy expects to begin deliveries this year of its electric Silverado pickup and Equinox SUV — the latter priced around $30k.
What's next: Ford is hiking prices between $3,000 and nearly $9,000 on its Mach-E, citing battery costs.
- It's not alone. Electric automakers from Polestar to GM bumped their prices for the same reasons.
- Ford has emphasized that it's continuing to introduce new features through over-the-air software updates, even as it increases prices.
- It's increased its investment in electrification to $50 billion through 2026.