Ford Is Going To Succeed Just By Trying

Photo: Ford

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is coming, you know that, as is an electric F-150, and of course the Bronco, but this blog is really about those first two cars, since they are more game-changing, at least for Ford. For those of us on the outside this merely constitutes trying.

I don’t mean to be snide. Electric cars are the future, but if there is no market for them, or if there is only a small market for them, you can’t expect big automakers to care much about them, even if our planet is dying and all that. But the funny thing is that there is a big market for electric cars that people want—and it sure sounds like the Mustang Mach-E is an electric car that people want.

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For a certain kind of car buyer, it checks every box: It’s a crossover, it should go quick if you want it to, it’ll be cheaper than a Model S or X, and it’s named after one of the most iconic sporty American cars ever made. And while Ford didn’t tell the Detroit News how many $500 reservations have been made for the Mach-E, the newspaper did catch up with dealers and potential buyers, all of whom sound properly excited.

“It’s been exciting for the store,” said Tim Hovik, owner and general manager of San Tan Ford outside of Phoenix. He is one of the top Ford dealers in the U.S., and had taken 47 reservations for the Mach-E as of Monday morning. “I’ve been doing this 27 years, and you can kind of count on one hand the times we’ve dipped our toe into a completely new segment.”

[...]

Then there are customers like 41-year-old Glendale, Arizona, resident Travis Myrick, who reserved his Mach-E GT last Tuesday. Myrick has an F-150 and a 2015 Mustang GT in his garage. He drove to Hovik’s dealership to reserve his spot in line for the fastest trim of the Mach-E after catching a few Mach-E commercials and reading about it online.

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“It’s going to be basically half the price of a Tesla, and I’ve got to think the technology is going to be better,” he said. “I honestly think it looks better. To me, it seems like a perfect fit.”

Production will be capped at 50,000 Mach-Es its first year because of limitations on battery availability, but if Ford managed to sell even close to that number of Mach-Es that would qualify as a raging success. It would also prove that there is a big market for an almost-reasonably priced ($43,895 base price, Ford says) electric car.

This is good news for Ford but also good news for Tesla, since the Model Y slots into that same segment, the only two cars, for now, that will operate there, though surely there will be more to come. Tesla, of course, has been doing this for a while now but the Mustang Mach-E represents something new for Ford, after two-and-a-half years under CEO Jim Hackett who has so far been keen to take things away.

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Hackett’s strategy, such as it is, seems to be a slow evolution, but with the electric F-150 also coming up (and I would put a small amount of money down on that being a success) it’s also worth pointing out that he isn’t doing anything particularly groundbreaking. An electric crossover and an electric truck are clear winners these days. Ford’s electric crossover even managed to be slightly interesting.

And you can’t always expect even slightly interesting from Ford when they are led by men who say things like this (from a new interview with Automotive News):

“I see a dramatic improvement in the business,” Hackett said in an interview last week at Ford’s headquarters. “When I came in, it was my observation that it had been frozen a little bit, like caught in amber. Everything that was great about it was frozen. ... Ford needed to break the amber and start to transform.”

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Turns out, if you try even a little bit to make new cars people want, people might want them. How about that.

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About the author

Erik Shilling

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.