Last week, Ford unveiled the sixth generation of its Mustang muscle car, coinciding with the model’s fiftieth year of production. Powerful, fast, and one of the most instantly recognisable cars since the Ford Model T, the Mustang has traditionally stood for gas-guzzling, testosterone-filled driving fun.
Due to go on sale in 2014 as a 2015 model year, the all-new Mustang does away with the retro-stylings of its previous model, but keeps its usual choice of 3.7 litre V6 or 5-litre V8 engines to power it. For those more concerned with fuel consumption than sheer power however, there’s even a four-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost option available, but despite Ford’s intentions, its prancing pony is still a gas-guzzling muscle car.
But according to Australian news site GoAuto, the mighty Mustang could get a new lease of life — as an eco-concious electric model.
Talking with GoAuto at the Mustang’s global launch last week, Bob Fascetti, Ford’s global power train boss, said the automaker was looking at alternative drivetrain options for the next-genration Mustang, including diesel, hybrid and perhaps an electric model. That might make traditional muscle cars raise an eyebrow, but in order to meet tough fuel economy and emissions standards, Ford needs something other than the Mustang’s trademark V-8 roar to keep it from a world of regulatory hurt.
“Given where we need to go with fuel consumption, we are looking at all our options,” said Fascetti. “Diesel is one of those options, along with hybrids and electric.”
The idea of an all-electric or plug-in hybrid Mustang may sound sacrilegious, but we thing it’s a sure thing — at least at some point. That’s because unlike Nissan or Renault’s plug-in strategy for example, which relies on the construction of all-new electric-only models, Ford’s strategy is to design all new cars with the flexibility to take any drivetrain needed. That includes plug-in options.
Take the Ford Focus, for example. When Ford engineers were designing the current Focus, they designed it in such a way that different power trains could be added side by side on the production line, making it easy to change production volumes as and when required by customer demand. It also allows Ford — which still remains vocally sceptical on the future of plug-in cars — the ability to hedge its bets on the technology. It can continue to focus on its EcoBoost turbocharged engine technology, while simultaneously preparing its range for future plug-in models without jumping, feet-first, into the plug-in marketplace.
There’s also a second benefit for Ford: offering a plug-in Mustang alongside its other models allows Ford to improve its fuel economy figures. That’s because Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the U.S. set average fuel economy figures for an entire brand, not specific cars. Therefore, if Ford offers plug-in cars alongside its gasoline and diesel models, the entire average fuel economy across the fleet will improve, even if Ford still offers a gas-guzzling V8 Mustang.
Finally, there’s the whole element of performance. As anyone who has driven an electric car will tell you, electric motors provide the most torque at or near standstill. That equates to impressive acceleration and a sporty driving experience. An appropriately-sized electric motor would give an all-electric Mustang acceleration equal to or better than any gasoline version, while a plug-in hybrid version with a small, efficient turbocharged EcoBoost engine could offer the ideal blend of round-town zero emissions without completely losing the roar of an engine when wanted.
It’s worth noting too that electric Mustangs aren’t new. While Ford hasn’t offered them officially, Mustangs are often converted to electric by EV enthusiasts around the world, some of which equal or better their gasoline performance.
But should muscle cars like the Mustang get a plug — or should they be left to die like the fossil-burning engines they have inside them? Leave your thoughts below.
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