American car maker Ford has partnered with battery maker Webasto to preview an electric muscle car prototype named after the iconic Mustang at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show in Las Vegas.
Dubbed with the ultra-cool moniker “Mustang Lithium”, the one-off preview vehicle from Ford aims to provide a testing ground for extreme electric vehicle performance, while also gauging interest in what it hopes could be a game changer for the automotive industry.
It has come smack bang in the middle of a week heralding a major shift to zero emissions mobility, as German car giant Volkswagen celebrated the first ID3 electric hatchback that rolled of the production line in Zwickau.
While everyday vehicles like Volkswagen’s ID3, the popular Nissan Leaf or Hyundai’s electric Kona SUV and Ioniq fastback will eek their way into everyday lives, the engine-loving rev-heads will take more convincing to switch to over to electromobility.
Tesla, with its Model 3, takes the concept of vehicle ownership to a new level with the intention of making driving fun, reducing the need to focus attention on the more boring aspects of the daily commute and turning it instead to activities like Caraoke.
Ford takes a different view – one that listens to the v8 and muscle-car fanbase.
“Ford has made no secret of the fact that we are electrifying our most popular nameplates,” said Ford chief product development office Hau Thai-Tang in a statement to the press, referring no doubt to the electric F-150.
“This one-off Mustang prototype is a great opportunity for us, together with Webasto, to showcase to our customers what a new electrified powertrains can do for performance in a car they already know and love.”
The new Lithium prototype, says Ford, includes Phi-Power dual-core electric motor and dual power inverters coupled to an 800 volt battery system from Webasto with “EVDrive” technology that can deliver 1000kW of power and 1355Nm torque.
It’s no mistake that the Lithium uses an 800 volt architecture previously seen only in the Porsche Taycan to date (most EVs operate on 400 volts).
“At 800 volts, that’s twice the voltage of most electric cars on the road today. This allows the system to be lighter, more powerful and generate less heat, and more electric force than most battery-electric systems on the road today,” Ford said in a statement.
In addition to the 800 volt architecture and incredible amounts of power, Ford have worked in a manual Getrag MT82 6-speed transmission that has been proven on drag strips to handle the 1,355Nm torque.
Add to this Ford Performance’s Track Handling Pack and strut tower brace, Brembo six-piston front brakes from the Shelby GT350R, side splitters and rear diffuser from Sankuer Composite Technologies, and Webasto hood with transparent polycarbonate windows, and you’ve got one mean lean racing machine.
While it’s not the Mustang-inspired EV we’ve been waiting for from Ford, this vehicle will no doubt draw the attention and enthusiasm seen in recent races and lap times between electric sportscars such as the Porsche Taycan and Tesla’s flagship electric sedan, the Model S.
To handle different driving conditions, the Lithium has a range of driving modes designed ot handle the torque according to various scenarios called Valet, Sport, Track and Beast that can be accessed by a 10.4″ in-dash touchscreen. We can assume the last three are Ford’s answer to Tesla’s Ludicrous or Launch mode.
“Very similar to Ford’s push for vehicle electrification, this is an innovative way to further the technologies we’re developing to enable vehicle electrification while creating a vision of how cool the future of electric performance will be,” said Webasto North America CEO Mark Denny in a statement.
All in all, Ford is investing more than $US11.5 billion ($A16.7 billion) into electrification of its vehicle range by 2022, including the aforementioned Mustang-inspired EV and electric F-150 (a hybrid version will be available from 2020).
Ford has also invested a massive $US500 million ($A725 million) in Michigan-based startup Rivian, that is bringing to market an all-electric SUV called R1S and ute called R1T, as well as 100,000 electric vans for online retail giant and fellow Rivian investor Amazon.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.