Dave Waddell, Windsor Star
November 20, 2019

Ford Motor Company’s willingness to risk use its iconic Mustang nameplate on the new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV crossover represents a significant moment in the evolution of vehicle electrification, according to some auto analysts.

Ford recently unveiled the Mustang Mach-E, with the first vehicles to be available about a year from now.

“This (Mach-E) is a game-changer in my view,” said Peter Frise, director of the University of Windsor’s Centre of Automotive Research and Education.

“It’s an important signal, from a mainstream auto manufacturer, that the transformation to electric is here or well underway.

“This area (Southwestern Ontario) is well-positioned to take advantage of that, but we have to prove ourselves every day to the industry.”

Frise said Ford’s ability to produce a vehicle with the combination of a range of close to 400 kilometres on a single charge, plenty of horsepower and comfort while keeping the price tag starting at $50,495 should ease consumers’ anxiety.

Ford has also created North America’s largest charging network called Ford Pass. There’ll be 12,000 charging locations with 1,400 of those located in Canada.

“They’ve created a product with appeal, that’s as good or better than existing traditional product that isn’t that far off current average transaction price for a vehicle ($34,000-$39,000),” said Frise, noting government rebate programs could close the price gap significantly.

“Electric cars are also much cheaper to maintain and operate. Ford has taken away the trade offs, the sacrifices you would have to make to buy electric previously.”

Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association president Flavio Volpe said Mach-E’s ‘obvious Mustang DNA’, the Ford name and the vehicle’s price point will be a plus for the electric car market.

“It’s the kind of thing that raises the heartbeat of the market,” Volpe said. “I think it’ll draw in even more people.”

Unlike some previous electric vehicles, Ford officials announced the zero-emission Mach-E would be profitable from the first unit.

“This is Ford saying there’s critical mass and traction for the EV market,” Volpe said. “It’ll also help them meet emission standard requirements.”

Volpe said Ford has taken a big risk with its Mustang brand, but the potential rewards are huge. It also doesn’t surprise him that Ford has been so bold.

The interior of Ford’s first mass-market electric car the Mustang Mach-E, which is an all-electric vehicle that bears the name of the companys iconic muscle car at a ceremony in Hawthorne, California on November 17, 2019. – This is Ford’s first serious attempt at making a long-range EV and will be the flagship of a new lineup that will include an electric F-150 pickup truck. MARK RALSTON / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

“This is the same company that went all aluminum with its number one platform (Ford 150 pickup) in the U.S. five years ago,” Volpe said. “That’s proven a tremendous success.”

Though still in its infancy, EV vehicles are slowly gaining traction with Canadian consumers.

According to Statistics Canada, 2018 sales of EVs increased by 115 per cent over the previous year. Through the first nine months of 2019, there have been 40,400 EVs sold, up 22 per cent and EVs have gained nearly one point in total market share to 3.3 per cent.

There are now more than 100,000 EVs on Canadian roads. The Tesla Model 3, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion lead the sales race.

Tesla 3 and GM’s Bolt are the top sellers among all-electric cars.

“Tesla, Fisker and General Motors were the evangelicals for electric vehicles,” Volpe said. “They prepared the ground for vehicles like the Mach-E and the others to come. We’re entering a very exciting period.”

Frise also senses the launch of the Mach-E, along with the many models expected to follow, is a signal the industry’s traditional manufacturers are ready to take the initiative back.

“My sense is the big companies are going to pull ahead in this area,” Frise said.

“It’s a sign mainstream products are coming. This area is going to remain a major player in the industry.”

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