DETROIT – Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley was in his element on Wednesday night, surrounded by transmissions and new 2024 Mustang models, including a surprising new performance version called “Dark Horse”.
There was no question of electric vehicles or sustainability at the unveiling for the Detroit auto show. Just the rotation of the engines and the screeching of tires, to the applause of hundreds of current Mustang owners.
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The scene unfolded in stark contrast to other recent events for Farley and Ford which touted electrification and green goals. This is because, despite switching to EV, the Mustang sticks to the gas-powered engines of the seventh generation vehicle in 2024.
This may come as a surprise given Ford’s plans to invest $ 50 billion in new electric vehicles in the coming years, as well as anticipated plans to bring the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro – Mustang’s biggest rivals – electric.
So why did Ford stick to gas engines in the new vehicle? Farley said basically because it can… and because it makes business sense for the foreseeable future.
The only survivor?
The Ford Mustang may find itself in the segment on its own in the coming years, forcing those who still crave the American muscle car to come to the brand. This includes customers outside the US who account for approximately 20% of the Mustang’s sales.
“People are leaving the segment like the Dodge, so we have a chance to really present something new in the Mustang,” Farley said after the Mustang debuted in 2024. “This will give us a big advantage because many people still love this type of car.”
2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse
While the American muscle car segment has shrunk from what it used to be, there is still a demand for vehicles that can also attract attention and new customers to their brands.
As Ford invests in electric vehicles, Farley says the auto maker will continue to invest in its traditional business. This is part of the CEO’s new plan to boost sales from legacy companies, electric vehicles and utility vehicles.
Farley and Ford CEO Bill Ford declined to state whether the seventh-generation Mustang would be the last gas-powered version of the car.
“If people don’t need them anymore it will go away, but I personally believe people will want this vehicle for a long time,” said Ford, adding “this day will come with tears in his eye.”
Farley said the main reason Ford continues its gas Mustangs is ironically the success of the Mustang Mach-E, the all-electric crossover that first went on sale in late 2020 months.
The Mach-E, which has little to do with a gas-powered Mustang aside from the name, has made Ford the second-best-selling electric vehicle brand in the country.
This success of electric vehicles has given the carmaker more flexibility to continue with gas-powered models, compared to competing car makers who have to chase the sale of electric vehicles and the regulatory emission credits granted to them.
Car manufacturers are required to have a certain number of regulatory credits each year. If a business cannot meet its target, it can buy loans from other companies, such as Tesla, that have excess credit.
“The Mustang Mach-E, somehow created, made this car possible,” said Farley. “Competitors buy carbon credits and can’t get out with this type of vehicle.”
U.S. President Joe Biden stands next to a Ford Mustang Mach-E (electric) SUV during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show to highlight electric vehicle production in America, in Detroit, Michigan, September 14, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Dodge said such emissions regulations are one of the reasons why it will end production of its gas-powered Charger and Challenger late next year. Chevrolet is expected to end production of the gas-powered Chevy Camaro in the coming years as part of General Motors’ plans to offer electric vehicles only by 2035.
A spokesman for Dodge, a Stellantis division, said, announcing the electric muscle cars, that the company “is celebrating the end of an era – and the beginning of a bright new electrified future.”
A Chevrolet spokesman said the company did not comment on future production, but added: “The Camaro continues to play an important role in Chevrolet’s performance car range and remains a high-demand vehicle that our customers love.”
Ford’s biggest rival, GM, which is phasing out its gas-powered products, wants to better compete with Tesla, the leader in electric vehicle sales.
Meanwhile, Farley said he wanted to expand his traditional business through “peer-reviewed products” that attract debate and attention, such as the Mustang 2024, including the new “Dark Horse” variant.
“I had a T-shirt at the dealership show that said” Ford vs Everyone. ” That’s our approach, ”said Farley. “We want to be a black horse. We are a dark horse against Tesla in the EV business. We want to introduce a new game. “