Ford's Mustang Mach-E game plan: Build an electric car people 'want and desire'

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Nowadays it is not unexpected for an automotive manager to claim an aspect of Apple as a role model for what they do, such as a distinctive minimalist design language or an app-based monetization strategy.
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But when Darren Palmer quotes Apple, it's for an entirely different reason, to improve understanding of what Ford is trying to achieve with the Mustang Mach-E.
Palmer is one of the original members of Ford's Team Edison, the group founded in 2017 to drive the development and adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). And today he's Ford's global director for BEVs, which means he's responsible for launching the electricity portfolio that Ford is bringing to the avant-garde with the Mach-E. Palmer says he was in the room the day the Mach-E was conceived.
The Apple analogy
So what about Apple? Palmer says that when the iPhone hit the market in 2007, not only was capacitive touchscreen technology a departure from the norm, but "it changed usage from a mere phone to an Internet portal". Although people saw the lack of buttons, the use case change was not recognized.
He remembers speaking to people back then and asking what they think of the iPhone. The common people - not the tech buffs - simply said it was a phone with no keypad, then added, "But you have to charge it every night and my phone lasts for three days." In other words, they weren't impressed. They saw the flaws, not what it could do.
Palmer says when a friend or family member who had experience with an iPhone showed it to the same people - generally enthusiastically - and then they had the opportunity to try, “They said, 'Oh my word, why don't I try not that already? This is a revelation to me. "
"Electric cars can be like that."
That's why the Mustang Mach-E is what it is.
Reinforce attributes
Palmer talks about "reinforcing the attributes" and making the features and benefits clear.
The Mach-E development team was fully aware that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were nothing new. By polling BEV owners in California, Norway, Europe and China, they also found the importance of creating a "need" rather than a "must": people had to want the vehicle rather than legally using one .
"When people see the real benefits of electric vehicles, they who want and want drive," says Palmer.
"We want to take up the early majority takeover," says Palmer. This is not a niche, it is more. This is one of the reasons the Mustang Mach-E is a small crossover: “We sell hundreds of thousands of them. They are very useful in people's lives. "Bringing the Mach-E into a form that has built-in demand removes an obstacle to acceptance.
Palmer also admits that the battery technology - the Mach-E is available with 68kWh and 88kWh lithium-ion batteries - is such that batteries take up space that a small SUV can more easily house than a small sports sedan. He says battery density will eventually allow for the packaging (and range) of a “more traditional sports coupe”.
A mustang is a mustang
One of the attributes that the Mach-E highlights is performance. "It's tuned to feel like rear-wheel drive," says Palmer. “When you step on the accelerator, you feel the car yaw in the middle and being pushed by the rear wheels. This car is clearly tuned to feel like a Mustang. In the BEV room, the vehicles usually feel flat or as if they were front-wheel drive. "
Another associated attribute is the throttle response. "We didn't choose to make it feel like a gasoline-powered car." Palmer says it responds to the accelerator in 0.1 seconds. "Somebody told me that a blink lasts 0.3 seconds."
The maximum torque is achieved in 0.5 seconds. And he cites a 0 to 60 time of 4.8 seconds.
All of this seems to suggest that they are looking for the avid buyer.
That is not entirely the case. There are all these potential buyers of things like escapes too.
"For many people who drive this - a new majority - this will be the first time they drive an electric car. They will discover the feeling and be amazed," says Palmer.
Additionally, there are things like the 15.5-inch screen in the center, which provides information for everything from range to the nearest on-network charger. the ability to select different (and quite noticeable) driving modes known as Unbridled, Whisper, and Engage; and the upcoming hands-free calling via CoPilot360, a functionality provided via a wireless update.
Beyond the Mach-E
With the Mustang Mach-E stepping up the performance aspects of a BEV, the following models Ford launches have their own important characteristics.
The 2022 E-Transit has a lower total cost of ownership than gasoline-powered vehicles (e.g. 40% less maintenance costs over eight years), which is crucial for commercial customers. This is a point of reinforcement.
Palmer describes the F-150 as "the best tool in the world" and says the electric version will serve to improve the performance of this truck.
While some EV buyers have faced certain shortcomings, Palmer says this is unacceptable to Ford. “The doors fit right, the plastics and other materials match in color, the bumpers don't fall off, the roof doesn't come off when washing, the door handles don't get stuck in cold weather. ... "
This is a strategy for delivering electric vehicles to people who don't want to - and don't have to - compromise.
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