One of the most exciting cars at SEMA isn’t a production vehicle. Though the all-electric Mustang is a one-off prototype, it does successfully prove that electric muscle cars from Ford can be exciting and fun. Producing 900 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque is just the beginning of what makes this Mustang so jaw-droppingly awesome. It also gets us excited for the potential of a hybrid trim with the 2023 Mustang S650.
One of the features that makes this particular electric vehicle so unique is its manual transmission. A manual transmission on an electric vehicle is essentially unheard of, but most enthusiasts prefer to have a lot of control over how their vehicle performs. Figuring out a way to include that control with an electric powerline proves that Ford is interested in creating electric cars that appeal to enthusiasts.
CJ Pony Parts’ Bill Tumas got the opportunity to see the electric Mustang in person and speak to one of the many individuals who helped create this prototype. Here’s our exclusive peek inside of this unique vehicle.
Webasto and Ford Performance
The electric Mustang is a collaboration project between Ford Performance and Webasto and is subsequently full of performance parts. Webasto provided an 800-volt battery system divided into two batteries, one for the front and one for the rear. By distributing the battery packs in this manner the weight of the Mustang stays perfectly balanced, providing a better handling experience.
The electric Mustang began its life as a standard 2019 Mustang fastback. From there, the team at Webasto removed its gasoline engine and put in its place a powerful electric motor and the necessary battery packs. They were able to mate the electric motor to the factory Getrag MT82 transmission.
Though the primary purpose of this prototype is demonstrating performance and gauging interest, it also provided a way of testing a heat management system. Dealing with heat in any vehicle is an important concern, but in electric vehicles it’s particularly important since hard use causes them to heat up more quickly.
In addition to information on the screen about the approximate heat of both the battery and the engine, the electric Mustang also has multiple ways of dealing with heat.
Shifting in an Electric Car
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting aspects of this electric car is its manual transmission. Because of the way electric cars work, they don’t need more than one speed. Unfortunately, this is at odds with the way enthusiast drivers work, who do need more than one speed.
Josh Lupu at Webasto said that they included a manual transmission in this vehicle because it “puts control of the vehicle back in the driver’s hands.” It’s a great idea, and the execution works well although it required a little more engineering than you might expect. Though they used the stock MT82 transmission, it had to be modified in order to handle the 1,000 lb-ft of torque that the electric car can produce.
Shifting works the same way in this car that it would in a gasoline-powered car. In order to time your shifts, you can either rely on feel or the RPM. According to one of the creators who drove the Mustang, you can in fact feel it stop pulling when it’s time to shift, just like you would in a gasoline-powered vehicle.
For those who don’t want to shift though, the transmission can be left in third gear for a more typical electric car experience.
800 Volt Battery
Most electric cars run on 400-volt batteries, the notable exception to this being the Porsche Taycan which has an 800-volt battery.
Porsche claims that this battery is why it can charge so quickly, but Ford didn’t reveal battery range or charge time so we can only guess as to how the Mustang would compare. The Taycan is listed as having a range of 279 miles, but the sport version gets considerably less around 220 miles. Naturally, one variable affecting range is how it’s driven, and it’s hard to be conservative with a sporty vehicle. The Taycan can charge up to 80 percent in 22.5 minutes.
In addition to the manual transmission, there are several other ways for drivers to adjust the driving feel of the Electric Mustang. There are four drive modes: Valet, Sport, Track, and Beast. Valet is designed for pulling into a showroom or other place where you may want to restrict power and caps the torque at 25 percent. From there, each mode adds an additional 25% of the available torque, with Beast mode offering the full 1,000 lb-ft.
Drivers can also adjust the regenerative braking in order to create the pedal feel that they want.
Performance and Design Features
There are a few other performance features that make this Mustang noteworthy, with or without the electric motor. The design is obviously meant to broadcast the electric powertrain, and while it’s a little on the nose with bright blue accents and bold “Lithium” decals on the chin spoiler and brake calipers, it’s still eye-catching.
Additionally, the hood has two see-through windows so that you can look in and see the electric motor at work.
The electric Mustang comes equipped with an 8.8-inch Torsen limited-slip differential and twisting Ford Performance half-shafts, a necessity given the torque output of the engine. Though the brake calipers are printed with “Lithium” rather than “Brembo,” they are the same six-piston front brakes that can currently be spotted on the Shelby GT350R.
Ford Performance’s track handling pack comes installed, complete with strut tower brace for a little extra support while handling corners.
The electric Mustang has obviously been lowered and has wide tires with Forgeline wheels. All of which come together to create an electric vehicle that looks aggressive and sporty. So far, the electric Mustang has gotten a warm reception from enthusiasts, who can appreciate the impressive 900 hp and 1,000 lb-ft of torque and love the idea of an electric car with a stick shift. Hopefully, we’ll see a production version in the near future. In the meantime, the new 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover is making big waves in the industry. We'll have to hold out to see how this technology is applied to the Mustang coupe down the road.
Source: Webasto and Ford Team Up for Mustang Lithium, Ford | Ford Reveals Electric Mustang with Stunning Acceleration, CNN | Ford Built and Electric Mustang with a Manual Transmission and We're Mad, TechCrunch |