While Tesla (TSLA) has already been competing against high-performance electric cars from luxury automakers at the high end of its lineup, Ford's (F) Mustang Mach-E crossover represents a different kind of challenge.
The Mach-E, which Ford revealed on Sunday, will feature a $43,895 starting price for its base model (the Mach-E Select), and a $60,500 starting price for its costliest model (the Mach-E GT). There will also be a "Premium" version of the car that carries a $50,600 starting price, a "California Route 1" version that sports a $52,400 starting price and a limited-run "First Edition" version that starts at $59,900.
The Select and Premium versions of the Mach-E are available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive; the California Route 1 is only available with rear-wheel drive; and the First Edition and Mach-E are only available with all-wheel drive. There are also multiple battery pack options for the Premium version, and a "Performance" trim for the GT that (judging by the specs) lives up to its name.
The Verge indicates that 0-60 mph times run for "six or seven seconds" for the rear-wheel version of the Mach-E select (the all-wheel version is said to be a second faster), to less than 4 seconds for the standard Mach-E GT and "just over 3 seconds" for the GT Performance. Range runs from 210 to 300 miles, depending on factors such as powertrain, battery pack size and performance. Ford says it estimates a Mach-E with its standard range battery pack can charge from 10% to 80% in about 38 minutes when using a DC fast charging station.
The Premium and First Edition versions will arrive in late 2020, but the other models won't arrive until 2021, with the Select version not launching until spring 2021.
On the whole, the Mustang Mach-E specs, not to mention the positive reactions from those who have taken a ride in the car, suggest it will be a rival to the cheaper cars in Tesla's lineup -- the Model 3 sedan and particularly the upcoming Model Y crossover -- in a way that electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt haven't been. And it's hard not to notice how similar the Mach-E's launch schedule is to the Model Y's.
When it unveiled the Model Y in March, Tesla said the Long Range, Dual Motor AWD and Performance versions of the car, which carry, respectively, starting prices of $47,000, $51,000 and $60,000, would be available in the fall of 2020, and that the $39,000 Standard Range version would be available in the spring of 2021. More recently, Tesla said it expects to start Model Y volume production in the summer of 2020, a little sooner than previously planned.
When it comes to certain specs, Tesla's Model Y lineup also has a lot in common with Ford's Mustang Mach-E line. Zero-to-sixty times run from 5.9 seconds for the Standard Range version to 3.5 seconds for the Performance version, and mileage runs from 230 to 300 miles.
Overall, however, Model Y trims are generally a little cheaper and a little faster than comparable Mustang Mach-E trims (owning a massive battery factory doesn't hurt here). And in the event that an electric car-buyer is up for getting a sedan rather than a crossover, there's also the Model 3, whose trims tend to be $2,000 to $4,000 cheaper than similar Model Y trims.
And it goes without saying that cars don't sell just based on specs such as 0-60 times and range. There are a host of strengths that Tesla brings to the table. Chief among them:
- Its Autopilot system, access to which is now provided with all vehicle purchases (the "full self-driving" option, which remains a work in progress, costs an extra $7,000).
- The popularity and feature set of its touchscreen consoles and smartphone apps.
- The reach of its steadily-expanding Supercharger infrastructure.
And though one wouldn't know it if one spent a lot of time on some corners of Twitter, Tesla's brand and customer satisfaction ratings are strengths as well. This is a company that still doesn't spend a dollar on advertising, and all of the free marketing it gets via word-of-mouth from Tesla owners is a big reason why.
With all that said, the Mustang Mach-E does look like a credible rival to the Model Y, in much the same way that luxury electric cars such as the Porsche Taycan and Jaguar I-PACE are to the Model X. Though still possessing important competitive strengths, Tesla doesn't by any means have a monopoly on producing high-quality electric cars with strong performance and handling.But while it's not the same as being the only game in town, being a pretty competitive player with a software and infrastructure edge -- and from the looks of things, a cost advantage -- in a growing market that features several notable players still isn't such a bad thing.