Ford Was Pretty Anxious About Making The Mustang Mach-E

Illustration for article titled Ford Was Pretty Anxious About Making The Mustang Mach-E
Photo: Ford
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Ford executives had lots of conversations about the Mustang Mach-E, Tesla is already an S&P 500 downer, and Volkswagen. All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 23, 2020.

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1st Gear: The Back Story Behind Ford’s Electric Mustang Move

I recommend reading this story in the Detroit Free Press in full despite its hilarious oversell of being the “secret story” behind the Mustang Mach-E and the Bronco. Basically, some middle-aged gentlemen had a few conversations. They eventually decided, sure, let’s build an electric Mustang.

Bill Ford has admitted publicly his first reaction was, well, no way.

[Former Ford CEO Jim Hackett], [Current Ford CEO Jim Farley] and [Ford Chairman Bill Ford] met repeatedly. Ford said it would take a lot of convincing to get him to sign off on changing the silhouette of the pony car. They knew it would bring controversy, and it has.

In early 2019, the three executives were joined by Hau Thai-Tang, longtime chief of product development, on the 12th Floor of Ford World Headquarters. The walls were covered with images of the vehicle, the Mach-E lined up with other Mustangs to illustrate how it compared, along with market research and the business case in an otherwise empty conference room.

The team went through step by step with Bill Ford, helping him get comfortable with the idea. He asked tough questions.

Farley acknowledged the discomfort, and Ford indicated he was warming to the idea but wanted to drive the vehicle and see it in the flesh.

“The designers were unleashed,” [Ford Vice President of Communications Mark Truby] recalled. “We had a lot of debate about the Mach-E with Mustang cues or so far as putting the pony on the badge and calling it a Mustang.”

The Mustang Mach-E is very obviously a Tesla Model Y competitor, nothing more and nothing less. The fact that there was so much consternation at Ford about whether to build it at all tells you all you need to know about the Big Three.

2nd Gear: Tesla Has Been Down Since Joining The S&P 500

[Sad trombone]

Tesla stock is down 10 percent since Friday, a somewhat unexpected result given that Tesla officially joined the S&P 500 on Monday. This all is apparently because of Apple’s reported car plans. Reuters seems to be having fun with it.

For a second day, Tesla’s stock contributed more than any other to the S&P 500’s decline. The S&P 500 was last down 0.1%.

Losses on Monday accelerated late in the session after Reuters reported that Apple is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology.

Whether Apple will produce a car or not remains extremely dubious, though investors, who are lemmings, bought Apple stock anyway on the strength of the news, according to a different Reuters report.

Shares in Apple Inc jumped more than 3% on Tuesday, adding more than General Motors’ entire market capitalization to the value of the iPhone maker on signs it was planning to move forward swiftly with electric car production.

Sources told Reuters on Monday that Apple, whose automotive efforts had proceeded unevenly since 2014, was now targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that would include its own breakthrough battery technology.

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Reuters should probably take a timeout from any Apple car-related coverage.

3rd Gear: More Apple Car Nonsense

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess sounds a little spooked. Will-they-or-won’t-they has been a question about Apple making a car for years, I’m not sure what is different about now. Wake me up when Apple actually makes something.

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From Bloomberg:

Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess said cash-rich technology giants invading the auto industry pose a much bigger challenge for the German manufacturer than traditional rivals like Toyota Motor Corp.

“We look forward to new competitors who will certainly accelerate the change in our industry and bring in new skills,” Diess said in a LinkedIn post when asked about reports that Apple Inc. is developing a self-driving car. “The unbelievable valuation and the practically unlimited access to resources instill a lot of respect in us.”

Diess, 62, received a fresh vote of confidence from the VW supervisory board this month to make the sprawling industrial conglomerate more nimble after internal wrangling had spooked investors. VW faces a critical year in 2021 to escalate its electric-car push with new models like the ID.4 compact SUV and a more spacious version of the Porsche Taycan.

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The ID.4 will flop badly in the US, I would put $2.63 on it. It’s the best thing to happen for Tesla in a while.

4th Gear: Something Weird Is Going On With Hino

Hino makes trucks and is owned by Toyota. But it will soon stop making trucks in North America. Something about engine certification!

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From Bloomberg:

Hino will suspend production at its West Virginia plant in the U.S. and its Woodstock plant in Canada until the end of September next year, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The decision came after Hino’s board of directors met earlier in the day.

The production halt follows “challenges in the required U.S. engine certification testing process” for new model years of a number of the company’s engines for the North American market. Hino is investigating the impact of the suspension on its earnings and will provide any updates in due course, it said.

Hino vehicle sales are projected to drop sharply in North America, falling 53% year-on-year to 8,000 units for the fiscal year ending March, according to Wednesday’s statement. Global sales are forecast to decrease 21% over the same period.

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Hino’s press release includes the following table:

Illustration for article titled Ford Was Pretty Anxious About Making The Mustang Mach-E
Photo: Hino
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5th Gear: Magna And LG Are Teaming Up On EVs

The two suppliers know that the future is electric. At this point electric is a mere inevitability.

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From Automotive News:

Financial terms of the deal were not released, although Reuters reported that LG on Wednesday in South Korea said it agreed to set up a $1 billion joint venture with Magna.

The new LG Magna e-Powertrain will immediately supply General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover, with an eye to land more automakers.

Incoming Magna International CEO Swamy Kotagiri, who replaces the retiring Don Walker on Jan. 1, told Automotive News Canada in a phone interview that the supplier is always on the hunt for “deliberate, scaleable, modular building blocks” in the EV supply chain.

“Two of the most important blocks are the inverters and e-motors,” Kotagiri said.

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Reverse: This Has Nothing To Do With Cars But Sheesh This Movie Is Good

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Neutral: How Are You?

It’s Christmas Eve Eve; I got nothing going on this year, going to buy myself some kind of decadent meal and watch a bunch of old Top Gear on Christmas Day, and probably also watch It’s A Wonderful Life again. The Christmas cards will be late, but won’t be short on sentiment.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

DISCUSSION

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1st Gear: Is it me, or does that article make it seem like the name Mustang was where the hesitation was, not the building of the electric car.

ALSO, speaking of the Mach-E, I found out yesterday that the “volume knob” on the screen is just glued to the screen itself, and not a physical connection. It just takes the rotating wheel and slides it on the screen, like a finger would. I don’t know if it’s just me, but this is wild. If the screen hiccups (which they do in all vehicles with them), you could potentially be unable to control your volume.

.

This thing: