This video is a great reminder not to loan Sandy Munro your car, because he’s going to tear it apart. That’s just what he and his team does, and as long as it’s not your car, it’s great. We’ve leaned on Munro’s teardowns many times before to learn what’s hiding inside our cars, and today is no exception. This time, Munro has opened up the Ford Mach-E’s battery pack, so let’s see what’s inside.
This video is an initial teardown of the battery pack, focusing on general layout, construction, battery type, general thermal management plan, and so on. A deeper look into the battery packs themselves will follow up this one.
This first one is about 18 minutes long, so yell to everyone to leave you alone for a bit and give it a watch.
Did you see all the Nobe cameos there, by the way?
There’s a lot interesting here; from this initial look it seems that Ford has has designed a robust battery pack that is perhaps less integrated and refined as Teslas, but may offer some advantages, too. It’s engineering, so everything is about compromises, really, so let’s see which ones Ford chose.
For some reason Ford decided it needed a pretty robust cover for their battery pack. Compared to the Volkswagen ID.4 cover, the Ford one is about 32 pounds/14.5 kg, which is about twice that of VW.
Why did Ford decide to make such a robust top cover? The Munro team suspects maybe for NVH reasons, or a bit of additional security from anything that may happen inside the pack.
Sandy was pretty surprised at how many screws are being used to hold the top in place, too: 64, which does seem like an awful lot.
Let’s see what the pack is like inside:
The batteries themselves are pouch cells similar to Chevy Bolt, but with plastic cases instead of metallic covers. Ford uses screw-in dividers/rails on either end to keep pressure on the pouch cells, which the Munro engineers find
“elegant... quite simple compared to other battery packs.”
The batteries themselves are made by SK.
One big issue Munro had with the battery pack is the high wire count — there are an awful lot of wires in there, which adds weight and cost. The battery management system seems to be integrated into the “bow” of pack, at least the management system controlling the pack’s output.
There are two sizes of modules used for the 10-module pack: a smaller 32.26V size for two, and a larger 40.3v pack for the remaining eight.
There are some fuses in the control module that Sandy isn’t willing to touch, along with those white cylinders, which appear to be some manner of relay.
The thermal management for the pack is via the cooling plates on the packs, which you can see here:
You can also see the lots and lots of wires, and below them are lots and lots of coolant lines and connectors, each of which is a potential point of failure. The same goes for all those wires and connections: more points of potential failure.
This is different than how Tesla handles their cooling, which is more integrated, using lasagna-noodle like cooling channels weaving among many, many small cylindrical battery cells.
We looked at this in detail in the Tesla teardown video:
Now, the Tesla setup has fewer points of failure, but it’s also more monolithic: Ford seems to have opted for a more modular approach, with modules that could potentially be removed for service, replacement, or recycling easier than the very large modules found in Tesla’s battery packs.
The casing of Ford’s pack and battery module dividers are made of sheet metal and are quite rugged — Sandy found the Tog-L-Loc system used especially good, for example, perhaps cheaper and better than VW’s cast construction.
All of these details taken together — rugged lid and main casing, lots of connectors and wires, smaller battery modules — suggest a different fundamental battery pack concept than Tesla’s more integrated, monolithic approach.
Sandy did seem to think the overall approach was unusual, saying of the pack
“At the end of the day...I haven’t seen that before.”
What Ford is sacrificing in weight savings, having more potential failure points and maybe some elegance is a battery pack that looks to be more serviceable and recyclable.
Is this a smart compromise? Honestly, I’m not sure. I can see the logic in both approaches, and perhaps it makes sense for a first-generation product, and will get more integrated and lighter as time goes on, manufacturing improves, and confidence rises, allowing for, maybe, a pack with less wires and connections and fewer, bigger modules.
What I can say is that in 25 years or so, if I’m looking to buy a cheap old EV, I think I’d prefer one with this sort of more modular design than a more monolithic one.
It’s interesting to see these various approaches to the same problem, and I’m excited to see what else they learn from the Mach-E’s battery pack.
I saw they weren’t too impressed with the main cooling system:
So, again, if you’re reading this in 2046 as you troll VR Craigslist for a Mach-e, keep that in mind.
UPDATE: It has been (rightly) noted that we should disclose if Sandy Munro owns Tesla stock. While he did at one point, according to an interview Jalopnik did with Sandy early this year, he no longer owns that stock:
“I don’t have stock, and I won’t be buying anymore if that’s the norm for people who are doing what I’m doing.”
I have confirmed that Munro owns no Tesla stock at the present time.