Why The Mustang Mach-E Isn’t a Mustang


London Williams

Clean lines, sporty, aggressive styling, a futuristic look to match its battery-electric drivetrain and zero emissions. Environmentally friendly, stylish, and versatile, Ford’s new all-electric SUV is the perfect car for the 21st century. Yet among all the innovative design features, the greatest flaw can be found glowing proudly on the front of the vehicle: the iconic galloping horse, the signature of the Ford Mustang. The problem is not a physical issue or technical fault, but simply the badge itself. The fact is, no matter how much Ford wants to convince consumers, the Mach-E is not a Mustang at all. 

The engine has not been downsized, but discarded entirely; the bold, blocky styling and low, sporty silhouette has been replaced by a tall, rounded, hunched shape that can’t decide whether it is a sports coupe or an SUV. It is no longer a car for excited young adults enjoying the adrenaline of a proper muscle car, but a middle-aged mother’s tool for grocery runs and soccer practice. The spirit of the Mustang, the essence of the muscle car, has been stripped away, leaving many like me with bitter feelings and a sad sense of nostalgia, seeing an old culture beginning to die.

Now, as a vehicle, the Mach-E is a genuinely impressive, progressive car. Zero emissions and electric motors, all the practicality of a well-designed SUV, and packed with all the latest technology, the Mustang Mach-E is Environmental, Economical, Ergonomical, and surprisingly quick. Ultimately, the fault is not within the car itself but the branding. Had it been the 2021 Ford Escape-E, Ford Focus EV, or perhaps a new unique model name, this would likely be a word of praise. Yet Ford decided to call it a “Mustang” and brand it with the iconic galloping horse that unfortunately ruined their new SUV for many car enthusiasts.

The Ford Mustang was first introduced in the 1960s as a new breed of sports cars that began in 1950s America. Powerful, bold, and very affordable, the era of American muscle cars took off in the sixties, with now-iconic models such as the Dodge Charger, Pontiac GTO, Chevy Camaro, and of course, the Ford Mustang. With big, grumbling V8 engines, bold styling, and a price tag of just $2,400 (about $20,000 in today’s money), muscle cars quickly became one of the cultural icons of the Swingin Sixties, and certainly a symbol of 1960s car culture in America. 

Times change, however, and muscle cars evolved with the rest of the world. The Ford Mustang of today is in many ways far from the original 1960s model. While recent models such as the 4-cylinder EcoBoost and V6 Mustang have decreased engine size to accommodate the push for more environmentally friendly cars, the deep, growling V8 has remained an option as well as many visual features similar to the original Mustang. The culture around the Mustang,  and muscle cars in general, has remained the same as well.

Now how much does all of this matter to the ordinary person? Not much. To laypeople, it seems like an outdated concept has been adapted to fit modern times, and that all the changes have been to make a more advanced, environmentally friendly vehicle that reckless young men can still enjoy. 

Yet to car enthusiasts like me who have built a complex culture around a common passion for automobiles, there is a lot more at stake. With worsening atmospheric conditions and catastrophic climate change, now more than ever before, environmentally-friendly vehicles are in high demand. For the most part, car enthusiasts have — albeit reluctantly — embraced many changes in cars like the Mustang — namely the 4-cylinder model which stretches the boundaries but is still accepted in acknowledgment of the necessity for more “green” cars — but the Mustang Mach-E pushes too far. 

Perhaps the designers overlooked or simply ignored muscle car culture, as the new electric vehicle disappoints many of us. The history of the Mustang, the unique sound of the V8 and the feeling of the powerful, clumsy block of American muscle means a lot to those with a genuine love for such automobiles. However, the 2021 Mustang Mach-E dismisses all of it, tragically marking the beginning of the end for the Ford Mustang. This is all exacerbated by the “Mach” label, a nostalgic call back to the best models in golden days of the Mustang. In all, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is an innovative glimpse into the future of automotive transportation. Yet, when it comes to the philosophy, the spirit, the soul of the vehicle, it lacks the essence of a Mustang.