Ford Mustang SUV prototype has 7 electric motors
Electric cars aren't just for tree-huggers anymore.
Ford Motor Co.'s performance arm announced the Mustang Mach-E 1400 prototype SUV Tuesday — a 1,400-horsepower electric track-monster with seven electric motors, massive rear wing, and seating for four adventure seekers.
The prototype aims to show that battery-powered vehicles can run with the fastest of their gas-guzzling cousins. The Mach-E 1400's horsepower is on par with the most powerful hypercars made, the million-dollar-plus hybrid Koenigsegg Regera and 16-cylinder Bugatti Chiron, which both turn a claimed 1,479 horsepower — and well above the most powerful Motor City contender, the 840-horsepower Dodge Demon.
The Ford is a one-off prototype with no plans for production.
Developed in collaboration with hot rod-shop RTR Vehicles, the Mach-E 1400 follows on the heels of the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 — Ford's first all-electric, 1,400-horse dragster introduced earlier this year. But while the Cobra Jet is focused on straight-line speed, the Mach-E 1400 is billed as an all-around athlete that can compete in drag strip, road race or drifting competitions.
"The whole intention of this product is to show what the Mustang Mach E is capable of,” Ford Performance chief Mark Rushbrook said in an interview. “The Mach-E 1400 expands the envelope of all aspects of the production car.”
Ford has done halo supercars before, of course — most recently the limited-edition Ford GT supercar that won the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans in race trim. But the Mach-E 1400 project is different.
“The Ford GT was a technical challenge to make a road car that could also win within the limits of an international race series,” said Rushbrook. “In the case of the Mach-E 1400, there are no rules. We were free to do whatever we wanted.”
The result is a Frankenstein’s monster that more than doubles the power of the 647-horse, $500,000 Ford GT. The seven electric motors make an unholy shriek at full power. Without any regulatory restrictions, the Mach-E 1400 is sucked to the earth by more down-force, said Rushbrook, than the Ford GT race car that dazzled Le Mans.
The prototype is built off on the $61,600 Mach-E GT's performance trim (the standard Mach E will sticker for $44,995 when it hits showrooms this fall). Then it was injected with steroids.
Pushing the limits of SUV performance capability, the all-wheel-drive Mach-E 1400 is equipped with four electric motors in the rear and three up front — compared to the production car's one front, one rear. Looming on the rear deck like a scorpion's tail is a massive rear wing that helps generate 2,300-pounds of downforce at 160 mph.
“This car shows that Ford is serious about making electric cars,” said Rushbrook. “We are investing $11 billion in EVs, and we want to make them fun for people to drive.”
Though the prototype is not intended for any race series, Rushbrook and his team have every intention of sharing it with the public. Unlike most race cars that are hollowed out save for a driver’s seat, the Mach-E 1400 comes equipped with four racing seats so that three passengers can enjoy the fun inside a full roll cage.
The Mach-E 1400’s battery is 56.8 kWh — not much different than performance EVs like the Mach-E GT or Tesla Model Y — and well shy of the 100 kWh battery that powers Tesla’s almighty Model S Performance. The Ford team was focused less on range than of raw performance which is why it gets seven electric motors — four more than the Cobra Jet 1400 dragster.
“The 1400 can run for about an hour, then be recharged in an hour,” said Rushbrook. “We want it to be demonstration vehicle for what an EV can do. We want to put a smile on peoples' faces.”
Ford collaborated with RTR and its reputation for making top-dog drift racing cars.
“Getting behind the wheel of this car has completely changed my perspective on what power and torque can be,” said RTR founder and racer Vaughn Gittin Jr. “This experience is like nothing you’ve ever imagined, except for maybe a magnetic roller coaster.”
Look for the Mustang Mach-E 1400 to debut at a NASCAR race later this year, ahead of the production Mach E’s debut in showrooms. NASCAR makes a good fit since the series will be going hybrid-electric in a few years.
Electrification is a trend in racing that Ford intends to exploit as it learns from hellions like the Mach-E 1400 project.
“This prototype can’t race in any current series,” said Rushbrook. “But we are committed to electric racing. The only electric series now is Formula E, but there are a whole lot more options coming in the near future.”
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HenryEPayne.