Ford finally showed the world its highly anticipated all-electric crossover, the Mustang Mach-E. The vehicle, which was unveiled Sunday at the Hawthorne Airport and in Tesla’s backyard, marks a series of firsts for Ford and the Mustang badge.
It’s the first vehicle to come out of Team Edison, the automaker’s dedicated electric vehicle organization. It’s not only the first electric Mustang, it’s also an SUV.
TechCrunch has had an up-close look and ride in the Mach-E, the first variant of which will become available in fall 2020. While there’s a lot to highlight, here are some of the details that stood out.
Ford went an entirely new direction with the door handles on the Mustang Mach-E. You won’t find any Tesla lookalike door handles here. The doors seem to be lacking handles at all. A closer look though reveals illuminated buttons on the B and C pillars. The front doors also have a small, protruding handle located just under the button to grab onto.
Pressing the button for the backdoor immediately pops it open just slightly. Then the passenger reaches into the ajar door to hit the latch. This might sound dangerous and apt for a crushed finger. Except there’s an immediate safety in place that doesn’t allow the door to close. TechCrunch tested it out.
Owners also will be able to use their smartphone to unlock the Mustang Mach-E. This phone as a key technology is new to Ford.
It’s a seemingly small detail, but so many automakers ignore that their customers have smartphones and want to put these devices somewhere other than a cup holder. Behold the tech tray, which has a wireless charging pad.
The cup holders, located just below the tech tray, can be used to hold actual cups.
The 15.5-inch screen will get a lot of attention, perhaps because its location and vertical placement is reminiscent of the Tesla Model S. But then there’s the physical dial placed on the bottom of the screen to control the volume.
While not everyone will love this feature, it’s interesting how this dial came to be. Team Edison was assembled in 2017 to do more than create a new electric vehicle. It was created to do it differently and much faster than a typical vehicle program.
How the look and functionality of the infotainment system was developed is an example of this newfound nimbleness. A group of just over a dozen people with minimal oversight started with a research trip to China. Further customer research revealed that people wanted native apps in their car’s infotainment system and they didn’t want to learn anything new, Philip Mason, who is on Team Edison’s user experience, said during a backgrounder event prior to unveiling.
A prototype of the physical dial was put together quickly — no fancy prototypes — and research groups responded positively.
The infotainment system is also cloud connected, allowing it to show traffic in real time in the navigation feature; has natural language, activated by one of four “wake words” like “OK, Ford”; and allows users to create personal profiles. The system learns the behavior and likes of the user over time.
And the entire system will be updated and improved via over-the-air software updates.
Ford is hardly the first to move away from leather for its interior. Tesla has dropped leather and the Porsche Taycan is also vegan. Now the interior of the Mustang Mach-E also qualifies.
The synthetic material is among the better faux leather materials TechCrunch has come across. Even the steering wheel, a challenging area for synthetics, feels good.
A front trunk in an all-electric vehicle is nothing new. The Mustang Mach-E doesn’t have the biggest frunk on the market; it’s not the smallest either.
But there is something interesting about this 4.8-cubic-foot frunk. It’s drainable and plastic lined. Josh Greiner, senior interior designer on the Mach-E, was quick to note during a backgrounder prior to the unveiling that the frunk could be packed with ice and used while tailgating.
One more bonus item
Right above the steering wheel is a driver monitoring system. This might come in handy for the automaker’s eventual plans to offer a hands-free driver assist system in Mach-E.