The last of the V8s? Icons Electrified Part 4
How will the Ford Mustang continue without its famous engine?
Welcome to Icons Electrified, a mini-series where I explore the possible electrification of some of the most iconic vehicles and what it could mean for the reputation of the model. In the fourth part, I look at the future of the Ford Mustang, an incredibly famous and long-lasting car symbolised by its V8 engine and the challenges that it will face in this period of electrification.
A Brief History
The first Mustang, named the Mustang I, was designed in 1961 and was first sold in 1965. Sales were extremely high and 1 million were sold within the first 18 months. In 1974, the Mustang II began production and it was smaller than the original in response to the fuel crisis and it was made heavier to comply with US safety laws. The third generation ran from 1979 to 1993 during which there were many trim levels and versions, as well as different styling and body shapes. In late 1993, Ford revealed the Mustang's first major change of style in 15 years. Based on the Fox-4 chassis, the body was redesigned in 1999 to meet the brand's New Edge styling. Ford Racing Australia made a V10 convertible for promotion. The fifth generation was brought out in 2005 and was based on the new D2C platform. In 2012, Ford updated this generation of Mustangs. The sixth generation was revealed in 2015, but had some safety concerns during testing. The Shelby models were updated for the new generation and 2018 saw a Bullitt model being produced commemorating the film which helped to promote the first Mustangs. The Mach 1 was reintroduced in 2021. In late 2020, the Ford Mustang Mach-E first became available. It is a five door electric crossover based on the Mustang and the GT Performance Edition will go on sale later this year.
Why is the Mustang so iconic?
The Mustang is a stylish sports car at a reasonable price. The customization options are great as well and the iconic look further adds to the list. The performance is superb for the price you pay and the formula has been repeated over the 56 years of production. It was also the first 'pony' car and is the cheapest car with a V8 engine in the UK. The number of generations over the years helps, as well as the big community of Mustang owners predominantly in the US. The option to have a manual gearbox to this day makes it a true driver's car.
The Next Generation
There are rumours of a hybrid Mustang for the sixth generation, which would ease the Mustang into electrification. The name could be used to sell an electric sports car, which could be a smart move as there are very few all-electric sports cars on the market at the moment. With the possibility of rivalling Tesla, an electric Mustang could compete with the Roadster as a cheaper offering. An electric Mustang could be more powerful than those on sale today and it is well-known that electric vehicles produce instant torque and have incredible acceleration. The large bonnet would provide space for electrical parts and with the Mustang being quite a heavy car, adding batteries and motors wouldn't affect the weight too much, with it being RWD. The Mach-E has sold more units than the regular Mustang since its launch, showing demand and perhaps persuading Ford that an electric Mustang might not be as unpopular as they thought and with a pledge to be fully electric by 2030, an EV is probably the only way to save the original pony car.
Questions about the next generation
How would an electric or hybrid Mustang go down with enthusiasts? The potential to make the Mustang faster than ever is tempting, but it would reduce the thrill of a Mustang by a long way. The V8 engine is the thing that makes it so iconic and removing it would be like removing its soul. However, the Mustang has stood the test of time and has adapted through the years, so it wouldn't be the most surprising announcement if it were to become an EV. How would the price be affected as well? The cost is a big draw for new Mustangs and going all-electric might make it a less viable option, especially without the V8. The manual gearbox would most likely go, making it even less involving and the range of customization would diminish. What would be the point of a Mustang without its core elements? Would Mach-E owners be interested in a Mustang as well? The owners of an electric crossover are probably different from the owners of V8 muscle cars. How would it sell compared with Dodge's AWD electric muscle car, which is due to be released in 2024? It is hard to see a customer base for a new electric Mustang, with Mach-E owners probably being uninterested and existing Mustang owners most likely snubbing an electric version of the car they love.
The Mustang seems like a car that would be hard to convince people to buy if it were to become an EV. Don't rule out a new electrified variant though, as Ford have no problem with using names to sell cars that don't really reflect the name well as demonstrated by the Mach-E and the new Puma. An EV could be the only way that the Mustang survives, but Ford could choose not to continue it, in order to not alter its legacy and take away from its great history . It would be sad to see, but it seems obvious that the Mustang will survive electrification somehow despite what enthusiasts may think about future versions. The gap for an electric muscle car is there and could be embraced by a different set of customers. However it unfolds, it seems that the formula for the pony car will have to change if it wants to stand the test of time.