Ford’s history is filled with iconic nameplates, whichever Ford you’re familiar with. Australians tell stories of the BA Falcon while here in Britain it’s the RS Cosworths. But it’s America’s Ford, the company’s true home, that is known throughout the world. The F-Series pickups are among the best-selling vehicles on earth and Starsky & Hutch ensured that the Gran Torino became a household name the world over.
But it’s the Mustang that has become the firm’s most iconic model. Even the Model T is not quite as recognisable by the general public as the little muscle car. It remains the only car to lend its name to an entire genre of car; the pony cars, smaller siblings to the full-size muscle cars, were named after the Mustang. The Camaro, Challenger, Barracuda, Javelin, and Firebird were all designed specifically to battle Ford, but the ‘Stang remains the most recognizable and iconic of the breed.
So when the blue oval decided it wanted to launch an electric car of its own, it seemed only natural to make use of that success. But to many people’s horror, the Mustang Mach-E is not a fastback coupe as we’ve become familiar with. Instead it’s yet another crossover SUV!
At first this would seem almost blasphemous. Even worse than when the Dodge Charger was revived in 2006 as a four-door saloon. But actually, this might be one of the most business savvy moves the company has made in a long time. First of all, SUVs and crossovers are all the rage now. In its home market Ford has actually pledged to cut its lineup to just SUVs and trucks as well as the regular Mustang. This means that iconic models such as the Taurus, the great grandchild of the Gran Torino, will be a thing of the past.
Second, why has it taken this long for the Mustang brand to be used like this? It has its own logo and is far more recognisable than anything else the company has made. If Porsche, Lamborghini, and Maserati have taught us anything, it’s that this scheme of slapping a sports car badge onto a 4×4 is a genius one. The Cayenne, Urus, and Levante have helped ensure a future for these niche brands. Of course, Ford is as far away from a niche brand as it’s possible to be. But without the horse on the nose, this would just be any other station wagon on stilts. It wouldn’t stand out among the Rav 4s and X3s that litter any supermarket car park. There have even been rumours throughout the year of the Corvette getting the same treatment.
There are different schools of thought about how to enter the EV game. You can electrify your current models as Peugeot is doing with the 208 and 2008. You can invent an entirely new concept as with Chevrolet’s Bolt and Jaguar I-Pace, or even a new brand such as BMW’s ‘i’ cars. The Mustang Mach-E combines all of these and it’s safe to predict that Ford’s gamble will pay off immensely, even if purists will continue to hate it.