Until recently, we could have sworn that Ford “got it” – where “it” refers to the magical mix of performance, innovation, nostalgia, and edginess required to attract die-hard brand loyalists. In recent years, the automaker united all its various sporting divisions under a single “Ford Performance” banner, reintroduced the legendary GT supercar, won Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class exactly five decades after its first victory there, dropped a high-revving V8 with better than 100 horsepower-per-liter into a Mustang, gave its new Focus RS a comically irresponsible “Drift” driving mode, etc. etc.
But then came Sunday’s announcement that “Mach 1” – a name that debuted on an especially cool, performance-oriented variant of the 1969 Mustang with a matte black hood with a scoop and race-inspired hood pins – would live on in the form of a new “high-performance” electric crossover. Mustang fans across the country let out a collective grimace.
The way in which the news first broke was nearly as bad as the message itself. Shortly after having Steve McQueen’s granddaughter Molly help pull the wraps off of the 2019 Bullitt Mustang, Ford showed a cryptic video (above) that depicted a Mustang and an Explorer entering the company’s new Corktown office space, and emerging as a single, fast-moving beam of blue and red light shortly after lightning struck the building.
Hey, at least the music is cool.
So obscure was the video that upon watching it, we mistook it to mean that “Mach 1” might be the name of Ford’s forthcoming Mustang hybrid – a proposition that’s somewhere around 20 to 50 times more appealing than the actual truth. Later in the evening, Ford North America Product Communications Manager Mike Levine took to Twitter to specify that the name would, in fact, describe a “high performance battery electric SUV inspired by a sports car and utility.”
The plan shows such complete and utter obtuseness on the part of Ford leadership that we could almost swear the automaker is intentionally trolling its most passionate enthusiasts. For a company that seems to care so deeply about tradition and heritage to even suggest that the “Mach 1” name could adorn an electric crossover would have been unfathomable just a week ago.
But not everyone at Ford is so oblivious, and in fact, The Truth About Cars spoke to one high-level employee who seemed quite a bit less than 100% behind the plan. “The issue isn’t that it’s an electric crossover; the issue is the name,” he said. “I knew this was going to be a problem.”
Thankfully, a suggestion is all that “Mach 1” seems to have been in this case; later on Sunday evening, Mike Levine clarified via Twitter that “Ford will gauge reaction from potential customers before making a final decision on naming.” There’s time, then, to convince Ford to abandon its plan to throw away the legendary “Mach 1” name on an electric crossover.
Much more distressing than the prospect of that single nameplate’s ruination, however, is what this says about certain members of Ford’s leadership and their apparent inability to grasp what die-hard Ford loyalists want (and don’t want) to see. We don’t know that that’s something any amount of petitioning can fix.