Ford Mustang Mach-E: Right Car, Wrong Name

Mach-E. Image: Ford

I mentioned it before, when ripping that Ford ad that got me riled during an NFL Sunday, but I still strongly believe the Ford Mustang Mach-E shouldn’t have “Mustang” in its name.

(Yeah, it’s Mach-E week around these parts. If you couldn’t tell. More to come on the Mach-E later today or Monday.)

Not because it’s electric. Or because it has four doors. Or because it’s a bit raised, in terms of ground clearance (though I don’t think it’s really a crossover, either, and it bothers me that Ford folks seem to insist it be classified as such).

Let me be clear as can be – I have no issue with an electric Mustang. I mentioned being intrigued by the one-off I saw at Ford’s display at SEMA last year. The idea of a pony-car with instant torque is appealing, and while the V8 sounds would be lost, I could see a true EV Mustang being a blast to drive.

Yes, I hope the Mustang remains available with an ICE for as long as possible, but the idea of an electric motor in a Mustang doesn’t fill me with nausea. Maybe it would’ve 20 years ago, but I am older now, and wiser, I hope.

I’m not even bothered by a member of the “Mustang family” having four doors. A Mustang-based sedan on a RWD/AWD platform would be cool, if unlikely to happen in our current crossover-crazed market.

I’d be a bit more verklempt if Ford slapped the Mustang badge on a crossover, even if said crossover shared a platform with the ‘Stang and/or used the Coyote V8. That would seem like a dilution of the name. But as mentioned above, the Mach-E isn’t really a crossover, at least not in my opinion – it’s more of a raised hatchback.

Of course, that doesn’t stop Ford from calling it a crossover, forcing most auto journalists to follow its lead. I could also be wrong – a journalist I discussed this with believes the Mach-E is a crossover (although he won’t indulge Ford’s classification of it as an SUV).


Debates over whether the Mach-E is or isn’t a crossover aside, my problem with the use of the Mustang name goes back to what I said a while back – the new car has virtually nothing in common with the actual Mustang, save for the name itself, badging, and some styling influences. It’s on a different platform, for one thing.

The Mach-E also has a different mission from other Mustangs. While it may be sporty and fun to drive, it isn’t a pure sports car like the Mustang. It’s meant to be a family hauler with EV technology and some verve.

And that’s fine! I don’t have a problem with Ford building an EV five-seater that’s fun to drive and offers utility. I like the Mach-E as an idea. And I can’t wait to drive one. If it wasn’t for Covid restrictions on travel imposed by my home state, I’d have driven it already.

I just wish the company had called it something else, instead of cynically using the Mustang name to garner attention. As if the Mach-E wouldn’t have gotten attention anyway.

I do understand the argument that Ford was actually smart to use the Mustang name. This line of thinking suggests that recognition of the Mustang name among the hoi polloi will make it easier for Ford to introduce this vehicle, and EV tech, to the masses. And it is entirely possible that this is what will happen. From Ford’s perspective, this choice may work out well, even if it rankles the purists.

Me? I side with the purists on this one. This is why I write about cars, instead of running a company that builds them.

Ford has plenty of names it could’ve used from its history. Falcon. Fairlane. Taurus. Probe (OK, scratch that last one). Or it could’ve dreamt up something new. It could’ve shifted the Puma name over from Europe, where it’s used on a subcompact crossover. With the Fusion eventually being phased out, Ford could’ve called this car the next Fusion, instead of using that name for the planned Fusion Active crossover.

That last one has recent recognition among people who don’t know cars and sounds vaguely related to the generation of electricity.

Instead, we have the potential for confusion. It will be difficult for owners to explain to the curious that the Mach-E is a Mustang but also not really a Mustang.

The Mustang Mach-E appears, by all accounts, to be a fine car. The reviews I read this week were mostly positive – we weren’t the only ones who liked it. As I said, I can’t wait for one to grace my garage for evaluation.

I just wish it bore a different name.

[Images: Ford]

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