Ford Motor Co. will invest more than $11 billion on battery cars over the next three years and we’ll get a first look at what it’s spending its money on later this month when the “Mustang-inspired” Mach-e SUV makes its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Mustang tie-in is meant to add an iconic touch to what might otherwise become a generic, all-electric utility vehicle. But could Ford electrify the icon itself? Apparently, that’s a very real possibility, as the automaker is demonstrating with the debut of the Mustang “Lithium” Concept at this year’s SEMA Show, an annual trade show for the automotive aftermarket industry in Las Vegas.
- This electric Mustang can punch out 900 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque – much more than any current gasoline-powered Mustang.
- The Lithium concept uses an 800-volt electric drive system to boost power while also speeding up charging.
- Only a concept? Perhaps, but Ford acknowledges it’s a “testbed” for EV research.
Muscle cars have a low-tech reputation, but all that could change if Ford puts a Mustang EV into production.
While Ford is cautiously describing the battery-electric coupe as a “one-off prototype,” several well-placed insiders have told Ride in recent weeks that the carmaker is giving serious thought to various ways it could “electrify” the classic Mustang, everything from a conventional hybrid to a plug-in and even an all-electric model like the Lithium.
“Ford has made no secret of the fact that we are electrifying our most popular nameplates,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s Chief Product Development, said in a statement describing the project, which was developed in partnership with supplier Webasto. “This one-off Mustang prototype is a great opportunity for us, together with Webasto, to showcase to our customers what a new electrified powertrain can do for performance in a car they already know and love.”
While early electrified vehicles may have put the emphasis on efficiency, automakers from Acura to Volvo have been focusing on another attribute: the incredible, instant-on torque electric motors can deliver.
What Ford is describing as an “electrified and street-ready beast” could readily blow the doors off the V-8-powered Mustang GT, and perhaps even the new Shelby GT500. That’s the most powerful version of the Mustang, which uses a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 to make 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque. But the Mustang Lithium delivers an astonishing 900 hp and 1,000 lb-ft.
Have EVs gone so mainstream that buyers would accept a plug-in Mustang? If it is quicker than the Porsche Taycan, we imagine they will adapt. (Photo: Ford)
Ford vs. Porsche?
While no one is talking hard performance numbers, considering the less powerful Shelby GT500 can blast through a quarter-mile in 11 seconds or less at over 130 miles per hour, the added power and torque of the Mustang Lithium could pose a threat to pretty much anything in its league – perhaps even exotics like the Porsche Taycan Turbo S. Ford sources have told Ride that is one of the targets they’d like to beat with an electrified Mustang.
Even so, an all-electric Mustang would likely be targeted for at least 230 to 250 miles range, and perhaps as much as 300, based on what Ford sees as the minimum customers now would accept. Like the Taycan, incidentally, the Mustang Lithium features an 800-volt drive system which helps speed up charging times. The Porsche can go from 10-80% charge in little more than 20 minutes.
One of the most unusual features is Lithium’s six-speed manual gearbox. Of all the EVs so far on the road or planned, most have opted for single-speed transmissions, save for the Porsche Taycan which uses a two-speed gearbox on one axle. A manual gearbox would certainly help engender acceptance amongst enthusiasts, who may be skeptical of an electric ‘Stang.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Ford has big EV plans. While the Mustang Lithium is, for now, just a concept vehicle, it could be a hint at what’s to come for the classic pony car in an electrified future..