The new Ford Mustang Mach-E isn’t just an iconic muscle vehicle with headline-grabbing features. It’s a ride that was designed with exhilaration-seeking drivers in mind, high quality materials, and an eye towards the future. Every detail of the all-electric SUV was researched and designed meticulously — and it shows.
G/O Media Studios spoke to the dynamic team of designers and engineers who worked tirelessly to bring the Mustang Mach-E to life. They explained what makes the vehicle’s tech cutting edge and why it excels as an SUV. They also showed us that it’s worthy of praise as an all-electric vehicle on its own — one with more soul and character than you’d imagine.
Distilling the Mustang essence into an all-electric vehicle wasn’t easy. “A lot of electric vehicles look like science projects,” said Chris Walter, Exterior Design Manager at Ford. Walter and his colleagues strove to retain the integrity of the Mustang while reimagining it as an efficient, all-electric vehicle. “We wanted her to be smooth, feel lightweight, and to have that flow to it,” Walter explained.
To achieve the perfect balance, Walter and his teammates honed in on proportion. A longer wheelbase and dash-to-axle distance not only evoked classic Mustang design with rear wheel drive, but allowed for a denser battery pack and more leeway for a groundbreaking interior. The front of the vehicle, meanwhile, was designed with an implied grille, melding a classic Mustang front with a smooth all-electric vehicle face. A sleek backdrop frames the classic pony logo, which was subtly tweaked and outlined to convey an air of electricity (the upcoming Mustang Mach-E GT will feature an illuminated pony — another stylish nod to the Mustang’s new all-electric stable mate.).
The design choices weren’t purely visual, but added to the vehicle’s efficiency. “That smooth front and those outward lower corners, they really helped aero,” Walter said.
The result is an all-electric vehicle that’s understated and aesthetically pleasing. “It just looks beautiful and sculpted. It’s got a lot of full volumes,” said interior designer Josh Greiner. “Every other EV looks like every decision was made for aero.” The Mustang Mach-E, Greiner said, is more thoughtful. “It looks like you designed it to be beautiful and it just happens to be aerodynamic,” he told Walter.
As with the exterior, the vehicle’s interior designers sought to weave the classic Mustang DNA into a forward-looking ride. “We had hundreds of discussions on how to keep [the vehicle’s] lineage without making it retro,” Greiner said. The team opted for subtle changes, keeping only the most emblematic lines inside, such as the Mustang’s iconic double brow and waterfall line.
In keeping with the vehicle’s all-electric upgrade, elements were designed to look and feel futuristic. Round vents were nixed in favor of vents that look hidden — a choice that allowed the designers to pull up the soundbar and give it a floating quality. Conventional door handles were lost too. “When you open [the door], you have this little element that you just push. It’s electric and so different from what you’re used to,” said interior designer Rachael Robinson. “It shouts EV, it shouts electric, and it shouts futuristic.”
To the designers, a sense of intelligence permeates the vehicle, giving it an extra je ne sais quoi over purely utilitarian all-electric vehicles. In addition to the physical elements that convey savviness, drivers can choose from three drive modes — Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled, each with their own sound, driving dynamics and graphics — and can highlight nearby charging stations in the vehicle’s cloud-connected navigation on a 15.5-inch touchscreen. The Mustang Mach-E is literally smart, too: Thanks to machine learning, the vehicle’s Intelligent Range feature calculates based on individual driver behaviors, climate, road conditions and more factors, adjusting the estimated range automatically. “You get in this and everything seems intelligent. That’s different than the stark, product-oriented EVs that are out there,” Greiner said.
Above all else, the designers emphasized that the Mustang Mach-E has a soul — that it’s special and unlike any other vehicle.
To Robinson, nothing evokes the character of the vehicle more than the soundbar-inspired modern B&O sound system. Because all-electric vehicles are quiet, without the loud rumble of the engine, the sound experience had to be reimagined. The team studied the sounds and volume levels preferred by drivers, incorporating the results into the vehicle’s drive modes. The delicate shaping of the acoustics and placement of the speakers further enhanced the experience. “It’s just so unique and so different from any other car,” Robinson said. “You feel surrounded by the sound.”
“Bringing the vehicle to life was a life-altering job,” the designers stated — but seeing users’ enthusiasm for it has been even more rewarding. “It’s just the proof that we did things the right way. We asked the right questions and transformed it with our team’s design sensibility to do something really, really precious,” Robinson said. “It was a beautiful journey from start to end.”
Angela Wang is a freelance writer living in Queens.