The forthcoming, seventh-generation “S650” Mustang — either a 2023 or 2024 model depending on who you ask — may very well be the last with an internal-combustion engine and available manual transmission. Up until now, the rumor mill suggested it would also be the first Mustang to offer a hybrid powertrain and/or all-wheel drive. But now, Ford has apparently put that idea on ice.
This reality check comes courtesy of Automotive News, citing three anonymous industry sources familiar with Dearborn’s plans. The new Mustang will debut at the Detroit Auto Show on September 14, so we’ll only have to wait about a week to know for sure. From the article:
Enter the 2024 Mustang. The car has a new platform, called S650, but it’s not expected to depart drastically from the current S550 model. A hybrid variant that was planned for mid-decade has been scrapped, according to three people familiar with the plans, and the car isn’t expected to get a long-rumored all-wheel-drive configuration, instead continuing as a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe.
Ford has told suppliers it’s stretching the product’s lifecycle from six to eight years, all but ensuring this will be the final gasoline-powered Mustang before an expected switch to battery power around 2030.
The S650 Mustang isn’t expected to deviate significantly from the existing model in style or substance. If that’s the case, a hybrid, all-wheel-drive variant could have gone a long way toward making the pony car feel fresh, attracting a different segment of buyers while still giving the internal-combustion Mustang a proper sendoff, maximizing legacy and future technologies alike. The supposed cancellation strikes as a missed opportunity; something at least worth trying now, because there likely won’t be another chance.
The question, of course, is why Ford would scuttle such plans, if indeed it has. Did the very concept of an electrified Mustang — let’s say with one or two motors installed on the front axle to achieve all-wheel drive, as many were predicting — run afoul of the pony car’s ethos? Such a rigid mindset isn’t going to fly when the next Mustang goes fully electric, which is all but certain given the trends in the industry.
Perhaps Ford wanted to stretch out the final tried-and-true, rear-wheel-drive internal-combustion version for as long as possible before making a monumental change. That would certainly track, if what Auto News says about an even longer lifespan for this forthcoming generation is also true.
With the V8-powered Dodge Challenger finished after 2024, giving way to “Fratzonic exhausts,” and the Camaro also thought to be on its way out, the Mustang will essentially have the gas-powered muscle market to itself for the remainder of this decade. Therefore, Ford wouldn’t have to do much to make the Mustang relevant — to the right kind of buyer, anyway. To the rest of us, we’ll just have to dream about what the ultimate modern Mustang could’ve been.