In our Mustang Mach-E v FAQs series, we’re breaking down the inner-workings of the first Ford all-electric vehicle built from the ground up. In this, part one of a three-part series, we drive on into the world of torque.
I’d never really thought much about torque when it comes to the driving experience. In fact ... I wasn’t even sure I fully grasped the concept. But when people started talking about the impressive torque experienced while driving the Mustang Mach-E, I had to know more. For one, what does truly impressive torque actually feel like? How does it impact handling? And what sensory holdovers from gas vehicles found their way into this next generation of SUV? To find out, I spoke with the exclusive team who helped engineer the Mustang Mach-E to learn more about how it feels to accelerate in this all-electric SUV.
We’ll get into what, exactly, torque is in just a moment. But let’s start with how it feels.
One of the biggest ways we “measure” torque, without even realizing we’re measuring it, is the feeling of our head going back as our vehicle quickly increases in speed. And that’s a sensation really felt in the Mustang Mach-E, which is incredibly fast off the line, reaching 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds with the GT Performance Edition.*
In a traditional gas vehicle, when you put your foot down on the accelerator, “you measure micrograms of fuel and air,” says Robert Iorio, Vehicle Engineering Manager for the Mustang Mach-E. “It’s got to go in, you’ve got to ignite it. All these things happen very quickly, but there’s this delay. With a gas car, the feeling is a feeling of ramping up.” And it’s a feeling to which drivers have become very accustomed.
But in an all-electric vehicle, that delay is almost completely eliminated. “The speed at which your head goes back with the electric SUV is like a light switch.” In other words, you turn that “light switch” on, and those wheels start turning almost immediately.
So what, exactly, is torque, beyond a buzzword that elicits images of sports cars barrelling down dusty desert roads? Technically speaking, torque is a measure of the ability of a rotating element (i.e. a car tire) to overcome resistance to its turning. “Think about that tire just twisting against the pavement,” says Iorio, “and how fast that tire starts to twist.” The higher that twisting force of the tire on the road, the faster you’re going to launch.
“One of our big objectives was to get to 300 miles range,” says Ron Heiser, Mustang Mach-E Chief Engineer. He’s referring to the ability of the Mustang Mach-E California Route 1 with an extended-range battery and RWD that exceeded expectations with an EPA-estimated range of 305 miles between charges.** To get to that incredible number, everything about the Mustang Mach-E had to be efficient, including challenging the electric powertrain team, “to push ourselves on how quickly the motors were spinning, and taking that speed up.” This helped with that goal of efficiency, but also needed to be carefully monitored so that the motors still elicit the feeling of power Mustang drivers expect.
This impressive torque also plays a critical role in how the Mustang Mach-E handles. “It’s a fun SUV, feels a little bit like it has rear wheel drive in slippery conditions,” says Iorio, “and that fine tuning of the motor controls allows you to react very quickly. Think back to a gas car, you sort of wait for the rear wheels to slip and then you’ll actuate these clutches, and then you send torques to the front wheels.” It’s a traditionally slower process, but now “you can just immediately get torque where you want it, when you want it. So you have very fine control.” And that specific control only better serves the driver.
But what about the natural sound of a gas engine? Is that element missing in an all-electric vehicle? “We still wanted to give them that sound feedback,” says Heiser. “Because for some people that sound feedback is something that they inherently relate to how quickly they’re accelerating.” So the team engineered a way to pipe it in artificially through the Mustang Mach-E audio system. And while many people still rely on the sound of an engine revving up to help them interpret how fast they’re going, “other people have fallen absolutely in love with the total silence,” Heiser explains.
Heiser says the in-house slogan for the Mustang Mach-E engineering team is “Better Every Day,” which is in part thanks to new software updates from Ford. “We are really serious about continuous improvement,” says Heiser, “especially now with the connectivity we have, we can provide a lot of that continuous improvement over the air seamlessly to our customers over time.” These software updates can help improve the capabilities, features and experiences of the Mustang Mach-E over time.
From its first burst of impressive torque out of the driveway to seamless updates and piped in engine sounds, driving a Mustang Mach-E feels like a natural blend of power, ingenuity, and thoughtful engineering — all with a kick of seriously impressive torque.
*Ford test data based on typical industry methodology using 1-ft rollout. Your results may vary.
**Based on full charge. Actual range varies with conditions such as external environment, vehicle use, driving behaviors, vehicle maintenance, lithium ion battery age and state of health.
Giaco Furino is Senior Writer for G/O Media Studios.