On Sunday, Ford will announce what is possibly the biggest change ever in the 55-year history of the Mustang.
The automaker will unveil a vehicle bearing the Mustang brand that’s not a two-door car.
Called the Ford Mustang Mach-E, it’s a fully electric crossover SUV that will wear the Mustang’s chrome pony.
Ford has apparently learned from brands like Porsche, Lamborghini and Jeep that even ardent fans will forgive the use of a brand name on a once-unthinkable type of vehicle. That’s as long as the new vehicle maintains some core aspects of the original and as long as the original vehicle that made the brand carries on as well.
For instance, Porsche fans were once outraged by the Cayenne SUV. But because Porsche still makes sports cars like the 911 and the Cayenne can credibly claim to be “the Porsche of SUVs,” the brand remains strong. Likewise, Jeep has been able to make crossover SUVs that will rarely leave pavement as long as those crossovers are available in tough “Trail Rated” versions and Jeep keeps making the ultra-rugged Wrangler.
Much remains unknown about the Mustang Mach-E, but Ford could ease concerns over the choice of names by ensuring that it offers performance that lives up to the Mustang name.
“It’s a risky move, as slapping the badge on a futuristic, emission-free, sport-utility vehicle is about the last thing that Mustang loyalists are expecting,” said Michael Harley, executive editor at Kelley Blue Book. “If the vehicle is outstanding and well-received, Ford will win big. If it falls short, the company will have another Edsel on its hands.”
There is no sign that Ford will stop producing the Mustang coupe, which is certainly the automaker’s most iconic model worldwide. Ford recently introduced the Shelby GT500, a supercharged 760-horsepower Mustang that is the most powerful factory-produced car the company has ever made.
Once the Mustang Mach-E is revealed Sunday night, interested customers will be able to immediately log onto a website and place a refundable $500 deposit toward purchasing it. Ford will start taking actual orders for the crossover SUV next year.