Tesla made the first modern electric cars, beginning about 15 years ago. It also made the first electric cars that weren’t focused on being economical or practical cars – as the first electric cars (like the Baker electrics) were designed to be, some 120 years ago.
Tesla’s concept was to make electric performance cars – so as to make them exciting cars. But this also made them expensive cars.
It also has some practical attributes – because it’s more a crossover than a car.
The bad news is it’s still pretty expensive – and just became a lot more so.
What It Is
The Mach e is a compact-sized, five passenger electric performance crossover designed to evoke Mustang-ish associations.
It does not have a V8 engine – and it has five rather than two doors – but it does have rear-wheel-drive, just like a Mustang (AWD is available optionally) as well as Mustang-ish sounds, if you turn them on. It also has Mustang tail-lights and a front end that emulates the look of a Mustang.
It is also a less pricey alternative to a Tesla Model Y – which stickers for $65,290 to start.
You can buy a new Mach e for $48,195 to start. This one comes with a 266 horsepower electric motor, a 70kWh battery pack and 247 miles of advertised range on a full charge. If you opt for AWD, the advertised range dips to 224 miles but you get an increase in torque output to 428 ft.-lbs. from the rear-drive model’s 317 ft.-lbs. because you get another motor.
California Route 1 trims ($64,875 to start) come standard with the stronger/longer-range battery and AWD.
The top-of-the-line GT trim )$71,195) comes standard with the strongest battery – 480 horsepower – and AWD, too. Range dips to 270 miles – the price you pay for the additional horsepower. It dips to 260 if you opt for the Performance Edition, which is the price you pay to get (once again) more torque: 634 ft.-lbs vs. 600.
That latter – either figure – is more than almost any V8 ever made produces.
What’s New for 2023
The distance you can potentially go in a Mach e with the extended range battery has been increased by 13 miles vs. last year and all trims now come standard with Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver assistance tech, which includes BlueCruise self-driving.
There is also a new Nite Pony Package for the Premium and GT trims. It includes 19 or 20-inch gloss black wheels and unique-to-this trim black-themed exterior and interior styling treatment to match.
A performance electric car that’s more useful than the typical electric performance car.
Electric GT is quicker to 60 (3.5 seconds) than a V8 Mustang GT (4.2 seconds).
“Level 2” (240V) home charge equipment included.
What’s Not So Good
Extended range battery is expensive ($8,600).
Use of this car’s performance quickly saps the range.
Under The Hood
It’s more like under the seats.
This is where most electric cars have their battery packs, spread out as much as possible to take up as little room as possible. So when you pop the hood, there’s not much to see.
The motor – or motors – are generally positioned close to the wheels and drive them directly. Rear-drive models have the motor in the rear, directly driving the rear wheels. AWD versions an additional motor powering the front wheels. This eliminates power transfer between front and rear wheels via a transmission and driveshaft. Computers determine the amount of power delivered by each motor to each pair of wheels, automatically modulating the delivery to eliminate wheelslip.
But if you want the wheels to slip a little, this EV will let you – just like the Mustang it’s named after. This one (the rear-drive version) also gets to 60 in 5.2 seconds. The heavier AWD version (with two motors) gets there in 5.8 seconds. When equipped with the optional/stronger battery, this goes down to 4.8 seconds.
Very few gas-engined crossovers are this quick.
Even fewer are as quick as the GT version of the Mach e. This one is AWD-only, probably because the 600-plus ft.-lbs. of torque available would either overwhelm the rear wheels or break something. The dual motor system spreads out the power delivered to all four wheels and that’s how this one gets to 60 in 3.8 seconds.
3.5 seconds, for the Performance Edition.
That is quicker than the Mustang GT.
However, this quickness is limited-use only. It is available for 5 seconds bursts, the limit being imposed in all likelihood to prevent overheating the motors or over-taxing the battery pack.
Multiple driver-selectable modes (Whisper, Engage and Unbridled) are available that alter the feel of power delivery and the amount of regenerative braking, which works like engine braking/gearing down in a non-electric car. It also recovers some of the charge you’ve spent getting to 60 in 3.5 seconds; however, to get anything significant back you’ll need to find a long downhill stretch to get it.
Electric high-performance vehicles like the Mach e offer more performance than almost all non-electric performance cars. Like rail guns, they are silent but deadly – to those who challenge their ability to move, quickly.
At any speed, too.
The Mach e doesn’t need to wait for power to be made – then transferred – from an engine that must first rev to make power and then has to send its power through a transmission before the power gets to the wheels. A transmission that must then shift repeatedly to maintain the mechanical leverage needed for optimum acceleration. The Mach e’s motors just rotate – right now. And off you go – compressed back in the seat without any whiplash effect, because the power just keeps on flowing. The sensation is much like that of a powerful jet airplane on its take-off roll, but even more so because the jet’s engines have to spool up before the jet starts its roll.
EV thrust is immediate – and utterly silent, unless you select the Mach e’s Propulsion Sound, which emits a V8-like sound as the vehicle jumps forward.
However, that seemingly infinite thrust begins to fade as speed builds – probably because of the weight.
4,838 pounds – empty – for the GT. This is about 1,000 pounds heavier than this writer’s classic muscle car. It’s a lot of weight to bully through the slipstream but few will notice because few drive fast enough to notice it. From zero to 70-ish, the Mach e is so fast the speedo can barely keep up.
But there is one really important difference between electric performance cars and engine’d performance cars.
Both kinds of performance cars lose range quickly if you use their performance. But electric performance cars lose range (charge) more quickly. Cold – and the use of electric accessories – accelerates that. And because there wasn’t as much range to start with, you’ll be recharging more often if you drive quickly for any distance.
The GT I tested has a putative range of 290 miles. “Putative” in italics because the actual distance an EV travels is – at least in this tester’s experience – about 10-20 percent less than indicated, unless the EV is driven very slowly – in which case, its quickness capability is a kind of futility, like buying a ribeye you dare not eat.
The Mustang GT doesn’t have tremendous range, either – 240 miles in city driving and about 380 on the highway – and that will go down, too, if its performance is used. But the range doesn’t vary as much (e.g., using the heater/heated seats has no effect on an engine’d car’s range and even bitter cold has no meaningful effect on how far the gas in the tank will take you).
Plus you have more range – about 310, averaging the Mustang GT’s its city/highway ranges – to start with.
Driving the Mach e is like driving the Mustang GT around with the tank always less than half full.
But that’s not the fundamental problem.
The problem is the time it takes to restore the range you’ve lost. In the Mustang GT, it’s a simple of matter of stopping at any gas station and filling back up. In about five minutes, you have a full tank. In the Mach e GT, it will take at least half an hour to recover a partial charge – the equivalent of few gallons of gas – at a commercial “fast” charger. A full charge will take considerably longer. At home, it takes overnight to recover a partial charge, using standard (120V) household current.
If you pay to have your house wired for 240V “Level 2” charging you can cut the time down to several hours.
Ford includes a charge cord that has a switchable cord end that can be used to “Level 2” and “Level 1” (standard 120V household) charge the Mach e. With some EVs (including the F-150 Lightning I recently reviewed) you must buy a separate charging apparatus to be able to “Level 2” charge at home.
That includes the third way, by the way. The “fast” charge way. At least half an hour, remember. Which may be why Ford includes a sketch pad to doodle upon while you wait.
Because I didn’t have the time to drive to the “fast” charger – and wait there – I was obliged to wait for the Mach e to recover charge at home, slowly. For this reason, I was not able to drive it every day, as I always have with every engine’d vehicle I’ve been sent to test drive.
If I owned the Mach e (or any EV, for that matter) I would either need to have another EV as a back-up (much as one will have a spare battery for a power tool on the charger, so that you can keep on working when the battery in the tool runs out of charge) or another vehicle with an engine. This may not be an issue for people whose daily driving is well within the radius of the EV’s actual range and who for that reason rarely find themselves having to stop (and wait) for 30 minutes at a “fast” charger.
Or overnight, at home.
But for people who need to drive more than short distances – and want to be able to just drive, every day – having to worry about range and wait for the recharge can become a drag, quickly.
If the range could be increased to compensate for the time it takes to recharge, this problem would be solved. Or, if recharge times could be reduced to less than 10 minutes – but that seems hugely improbable absent a completely new kind of battery chemistry and an infrastructure capable of supplying the massive amount of electrical power it would take.
The Mach e – in spite of its five doors – is a slightly smaller car than the two-door Mustang, which is 188.9 inches long vs. 186.7 for its electric namesake. And yet, in spite of that fact, the Mach e is a much more spacious car inside, for both passengers and cargo.
The Mustang has back seats, but they are all-but-unusable. Passengers can only get in (and out) if the driver (or front seat passenger) gets out first. And if they can get back there – a near-impossibility for most adults – there is so little room (29 inches) for their legs and heads (34.8 inches) that traveling back there is a kind of punishment. The Mustang also hasn’t got much room for their stuff – or yours, either. Its trunk is 13.5 cubic feet, which is actually pretty large for the type of car the Mustang is – but it’s small compared with the 64.4 cubic feet of total cargo capacity you have available in the Mach e. Even with the back seats up, you still have more than twice as much space (34.4 cubic feet) in the Mach e – plus 38.1 inches of legroom (nine inches more than in the Mustang) and 39.3 inches of headroom (five-plus inches more than in the Mustang).
Plus, the “frunk” up front.
This makes the Mach e the “Mustang” for people who need to be able to carry more than one passenger – and more than just a gym bag.
Ford did a lot to make the Mach e look like a Mustang on the outside, too. Or at least, to make you think of one. It looks most like a Mustang when viewed from head-on, or when viewed from the rear. But more work could have been done on the inside – where it looks nothing like a Mustang.
There is a small rectangular LCD display that serves as the main instrument cluster and a Tesla-like very large rectangular tablet display that is the center stack. As in a Tesla, almost every accessory/function is accessed and controlled via the big display. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld used to say. But it’s nothing distinctive – and certainly nothing Mustang-like. It might have been fun if Ford had given the Mach e a more Mustang-like rather than generic EV interior.
All trims come standard with finger-touch door locks and smartphone accessibility. California Route 1, Premium and GT trims come standard with an enormous, full-length fixed glass roof, heated seats and steering wheel. The Premium also comes standard with an upgraded 10 speaker B&O audio system with 10 speakers.
GT trims get a firmer-riding suspension (adaptive dampers, with the Performance Edition), a 20-inch wheel/tire package, sport buckets and upgraded brakes with contrast-colored calipers.
You may have already heard that Mach e prices are up – a lot. Last year’s base Select trim stickered for $44,995 vs. $48,195 this year, an uptick of $3,200. Trims with the extended range battery now cost $6,075-$8,675 more than the same trims (with the same extended range battery) did last year.
Because “materials costs” – read, the materials that go into making the huge batteries in EVs – have become more costly. This is contrary to the assertions made by EV proponents that battery costs would go down as EV production increased. It is also a potential deal-killer for EVs as mass-market vehicles if the prices don’t go down. Even though the Mach e is a bargain compared with a Tesla Y, both are still much too expensive to be mass-market vehicles, leaving aside the range/recharge issues. Even if people like these vehicles, most people cannot afford these vehicles. If prices keep going up rather than down, even fewer will be able to afford these vehicles.
And that will call a halt to “electrification” as a mass-market thing.
The Bottom Line
This isn’t your great grandfather’s electric car. But if the prices don’t come down, a lot – and soon – this electric car might end up going the way of the Baker electric car.
. . .
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here. If that fails, email me at EPeters952@yahoo.com and I will send you a copy directly!