Ever since the new Ford Mustang Mach-E was unleashed onto the market, it’s been making headlines and raking in awards. It’s easy to understand why: Not only is it an SUV-meets-all-electric-vehicle, but it’s functional, technologically cutting edge, and beautiful to boot. It’s a fast, sleek sports SUV that offers versatility and comfortable seating for five.
The multifaceted team who brought the Mustang Mach-E to life wax poetic about the thoughtful and rigorous design process that went into the SUV. G/O Media Studios spoke to three designers who were instrumental in imagining the vehicle. Like the engineers, it’s clear that the designers approached creating the SUV with an eye trained on the user’s experience. The result is an SUV that’s truly special.
When Ford designers set out to reimagine the iconic Mustang, they were understandably daunted. Turning the company’s crown jewel — a muscle car — into an SUV was enormously ambitious. “Everybody is so used to the two-door coupe sports car,” said Rachael Robinson, an Interior Designer at Ford. “That was the biggest challenge — to bring the heritage into the interior.”
They started with a copious amount of design research, presenting various mock-ups and asking their audience what they wanted in an SUV. While conducting consumer research during the vehicle design phase, the team observed how users drove and interacted with the vehicle. “We wanted to understand our customer better,” Robinson explained. “We gave them objects that we asked them to put where they thought was best, and to act like they were driving in a normal scenario.”
Insights gleaned from the team’s research led to numerous details meant to make life easier for users. Drivers don’t like to put their purses and bags between the front seats next to their feet, so Ford interior designers incorporated flip-up armrests where bags can easily be stored. Similarly, areas were designed for both drivers and passengers to place their phones, complete with wireless charging pad. Speakers were moved to optimize space in the SUV’s door pockets for storing items such as umbrellas.
A unique feature of the Mustang Mach-E, its 4.7-cubic-foot frunk—or front trunk—is all lined, plastic, and furnished with a drainage hole. The logic behind it, the designers said, is for users to be able to store anything from dirty hiking boots to groceries, without worrying about getting the vehicle wet or grimy. The drain makes it easy to wash.
When customers buy the Mustang Mach-E, they’ll understand that their needs were taken into consideration. “They gave us feedback on where they wanted their things and what they wanted to do with it,” said Interior Designer Josh Greiner. “They’ll know that they helped design the SUV.”
Utility is the hallmark of an SUV, characterized by heftiness, huge wheel arches, visible clearance, and tons of storage space. Ford designers focused on the same practical features, but disguised behind a streamlined profile — bringing the Mustang’s signature style to the vehicle without losing its functionality.
“We were pushing the limits of the proportions and working with our counterparts in engineering to challenge things like roof height to give it a sleek profile,” exterior design manager Chris Walter told G/O Media Studios. The team created what Walter describes as a glossy, blacked out roof ditch. “It tricks the eye in that you’ve got this sleek silhouette,” Walter said. The resulting roofline looks like a coupe, despite a spacious interior with plenty of head space.
“You can tell ... how rugged and utilitarian typical SUVs are by looking at them,” Greiner explained. “The Mustang Mach-E hides a lot of it. It doesn’t boast much.”
The luxurious simplicity applies to virtually every other feature of the SUV, with high-quality materials used on both the interior and exterior. New grains were chosen for the seats not only to look beautiful, but to add comfort. Every element is refined, precise, and detailed, Robinson told G/O Media Studios. The available B&O® Sound System by Bang and Olufsen soundbar* was one of Robinson’s favorite elements to design. “It has a very luxurious quality that you usually see in a nice home,” she said.
Another testament to the simplicity of the Mustang Mach-E is its instrument cluster. Unlike a large cluster, overcrowded with unnecessary data, it’s modern and minimal. “It’s pared down so that when you’re driving, you’re not distracted by extra graphics and colors,” Greiner said. “A big portion of the interior was making everything very calm and relaxing.”
To the interior design team, serenity — no bombastic, in-your-face features from complex dashboards to clunky vents — is a big part of what sets the Mustang Mach-E apart. “I think that’s the crux of the Mustang Mach-E: It’s more timeless than most SUVs are,” Greiner said.
Mustangs have a history of pushing the boundaries, and this vehicle is a natural extension of the Ford lineup that pushes the car behemoth into the future. The Mustang Mach-E brings the pony car lifestyle to new swaths of the market, including families. “It’s giving all those wonderful traits that people expect with their Mustang,” Walter said. “But it also plays to the strengths of what we do well at Ford, and that’s SUVs.”
Ford has been making cars for more than a century — ample time to refine both engineering and design — and it shows in the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, which combines performance with both style and function.
The accolades won by the Mustang Mach-E have affirmed that the designers’ choices were on point. ”I knew it was a good vehicle,” Greiner said. “I was hoping that people would see that — and it turns out people love it.”
*BANG & OLUFSEN© 2021 and B&O© 2021. BANG & OLUFSEN™ and B&O™ are registered trademarks of Bang & Olufsen Group. Licensed by Harman Becker Automotive Systems Manufacturing Kft. All rights reserved.
Angela Wang is a freelance writer living in Queens.