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A One Year Review: Ford Mustang Mach E, AWD, ER, Living in the 4C!

Or in long form: A One Year Review, Ford Mustang Mach E, All Wheel Drive, Extended Range, Living in the Four Corners Area

Trying to get it to slip up Forest Road 576 along Hermosa Creek. It wouldn’t.

Our first EV, a 2017 Nissan Leaf, taught us we loved driving an all electric car, but the Leaf’s range was too short (135 miles). Our second EV, a 2018 Chevy Bolt, confirmed long range road trips were possible, but we wanted a faster fast charging rate. With our third EV, the Mustang described in the title, we’ve found our best fit EV (short of an electric AWD pickup truck or true SUV). The short story – while it’s not the perfect car for us, it’s nice enough that we won’t mind waiting until the perfect EV SUV at the right price point comes to market.

Why the Mustang Mach E?

I’ll start with the short comings of the Bolt which were enough to get us to pay 50% more for a car than we’d ever paid before. The Bolt cost about $40k off the lot. The Mustang cost about $60k. (Both prices not including the still generous state and federal tax credits we were able to benefit from.)

Bringing the baby home from Albuquerque.
  • The Bolt’s EPA range was about 230 miles and the Mustang’s is about 270 miles. This is enough to give a larger margin of safety that you will make it to the next available fast charger on a long road trip. However, it’s not quite large enough that you could skip a fast charger in areas of the country where chargers are sparse.
  • The Bolt had a maximum fast charging rate of 50 kW. The Mustang’s max charge rate is 150 kW. This means fast charging stops in the Mustang are 30 – 45 minutes long. In the Bolt, they were 45 – 75 minutes long. Both cars got us from Durango, CO to northern lower Michigan (our longest road trips to date), but the Mustang meant less time sitting in the Walmart parking lots where so many fast chargers are now located.
  • The Mustang has more cargo capacity, by just enough that it makes a difference.
  • The Mustang, with its higher price point, is just a higher quality car. The cabin is very quiet. The ride is exceptionally smooth. The sound system is better. The seating is more comfortable.

Trotting Around Town and Country Close to Home

As a day to day cross-over, the Mustang does great for active mountain living. The range varies from about 170 miles (at 100%) during the coldest days of Durango area winter. This year and last, that has been low single digits at night and 20-30 degrees F during the day. Even at its lowest range you’ve got enough miles to get to the next fast chargers from Durango to the east (Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek, Del Norte), the north (Purgatory, Ouray, Montrose), northwest (Telluride), southwest (Gallup) and southeast (Pagosa Springs, then on to Santa Fe.) And if you can get to all those places, you can also get beyond them with the current fast charging infrastructure. The obvious piece missing for those in Durango is Albuquerque. Hopefully New Mexico will find a way to get a fast charger along Hwy 550 soon! For now, the easiest way is to go down through Santa Fe. Or stop at Aztec and have a long lunch at Rubio’s while charging at Aztec’s town level 2 charger.

In summer, our 2021 Mustang gets 240 to 275 miles depending mostly on outdoor temperature and how it’s being driven. Higher speeds and lots of quick accelerations drive range down the most in warmer conditions.

Durango Truck Accessories installed a Curt hitch receiver on the back so we can use our Kuat bike rack to carry two bikes. This has served well for both local and long distance trips. When the rack is on, we have to disable the safety feature which automatically hits the brakes if the car’s cameras see something behind the car when backing up. The disabling is easily done with a couple taps on the touchscreen inside the car. We haven’t noticed any drop in the range with the fully loaded bike rack on the back.

Taking the bikes on a road trip.

The Mustang’s ground clearance is 5 inches. That’s almost four inches shorter than a Subaru Outback. The ground clearance has been no problem on graded dirt roads. I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on rougher roads if I knew I could drive around the rough spots. However, I wouldn’t take it up anything really rough and rocky.

Driving down an unplowed alley

On snowy days the car has done well on plowed roads and it handles icy conditions really well. I backed it into a bank of heavy snow 6 – 8 inches deep to challenge it and the all-wheel drive kicked in immediately. The front and rear axles quickly alternated to inch the car back on to the snow-packed driveway. This was despite the summer tires the car was delivered with, which are not recommended for use in the snow. I didn’t even know summer tires were a thing! We’ll replace them with all-weather tires as soon as they wear out.

Camping – not Kidding

I took the Mach E to visit friends in Tucson, AZ and then spent a night camping in it on my own down at Patagonia State Park. This is mainly because two people wouldn’t fit in the back for sleeping. I’m 5’10” and on the thin side. I just fit, a little curled up and sideways. The back seats fold down very close to flat. It was actually very nice for one! I’d plugged in at the RV part of the campground because I needed to charge there overnight. I could’ve had the heater on all night if I’d needed it. The AWD extended range Mustang comes with a glass roof. I was lucky to be able to watch a full lunar eclipse through the roof in the middle of the night while lying cozy in my sleeping bag.

The only trouble with camping was I used the key fob to close the rear gate once I got in and to open it to get out. The car would honk once each time I opened the rear gate. I’m sure my RV neighbors didn’t appreciate that when I went for midnight and early morning outings.

Galloping Out on the Open Road

Long distance road tripping in the Mustang is great. The car’s comfort, quiet cabin, super smooth ride and very good climate control help take the suffering out of long hours in the car. Ford’s Trip Planner (which you can use from an app on your phone or through the navigation screen of the big screen on the dashboard) generally does a good job of choosing mapped routes with chargers identified at the right intervals. We’ve driven it twice to northern Michigan, to Flagstaff and Tucson, Arizona, to Santa Fe and Albuquerque and to the Denver area both by way of 160 & 285, and up through Grand Junction then east on I-70. The car’s 2 – 3 hours of driving range and 30 – 45 minutes per fast charge are a perfect balance for us. After 2 – 3 hours we’re both happy to exit the car and walk around a bit, even if it is just at a Walmart!

Clouds on the Horizon?

There has been a recall on our model-year for a problem which has resulted, in a small percentage of cars, “bricking”. In this case that means giving a “Stop safely NOW” message before completely and suddenly losing all power. It was not a comfort to learn of this problem just as we were preparing to leave for our second trip back to Michigan. Since then, a safety recall has been issued, which resulted in a “fix” which consisted of a software update. This isn’t exactly comforting either, because the problem was found to be with the electrical system.

Currently on the Mustang Mach E Forum, they have the following recommendations:

The only place we’ve found these recommendations is on the www.macheforum.com. (See: Stop Safely Now (HVBJB): Mach-E Owners Biggest Fear – Facts and Info Thread.) We never got any official communication from Ford with these recommendations. We also learned it is a real pain in the butt to jump start the low voltage battery (LVB)! It involves first using jump power to just get the frunk open, and then you have to remove these big luggage compartment covers which involve unscrewing a number of awkwardly located screws so you can access the 12 volt (low voltage) battery. And the reason they recommend backing into parking spots is that it’s more expensive and needs a special type of tow truck to tow a Mach E backwards.

So far, no problems with our Mach E, but we remain prepared to deal with it if this problem occurs. We figure it’s part of being early adopters, and Ford has in all other ways treated us well and built a wonderful EV. Recall problems are not uncommon with fossil fuel powered cars either.

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Local EV owners have an opportunity to showcase their rides and to meet Colorado’s foremost EV activist on July 30th in Mancos

Local EV owners have an opportunity to showcase their rides and to meet Colorado’s foremost EV activist on July 30th in Mancos
Who doesn't like a parade?

Mancos is a small town with a diverse populace, part tourism hub – gateway to Mesa Verde NP – part art colony, and part ranching community. The town’s premier annual social event is Mancos Days, which will feature a main street parade on the 30th of July, followed by a car show at Boyle Park (https://www.mancosdays.com/). EV owners are being encouraged to bring their EVs to join in the fun, by none other than David McNeil, Colorado’s pre-eminent EV activist (normally ensconced in Denver) returning to his hometown (Mancos HS class of 1962!) for the event. If you might be interested, contact David at [email protected], so he can organize EV participation.

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Denver Electric Vehicle Council – March Newsletter

We’ve gotten out of the habit of posting the Denver Electric Vehicle Council (DEVC) monthly newsletter. We want to get back in it! You’ll find the pdf below.

There are a couple of interesting articles in this month’s DEVC issue on batteries – new advances in energy density, an update on battery recycling, and a new EV (Lucid Air) which touts a battery with higher energy density than Tesla’s (reprinted from ev4corners!)

For a comprehensive overview of why battery recycling and technology improvements are so important, see David Roberts’ (Volts) story on problems related to minerals needed for the clean-energy transition. You don’t have to be a scientist or economist to understand the information provided in this article. Mr. Roberts does a really good job of breaking it down for those not as technically minded, as well as giving plenty of concise information of interest to those who are.

The DEVC newsletter also includes some articles on changes to the schedule in retiring some of the San Juan Generating Station’s coal-fired generation units, which are relevant to us in the Four Corners area (San Juan Generating Station is located not too far west of Farmington, NM.)

Enjoy the newsletter! Better yet, go to www.devc.info and sign up to receive it yourself. DEVC is the Colorado affiliate of the national Electric Vehicle Association. They are one of the oldest national electric vehicle volunteer organizations. “The Electric Vehicle Association educates and advocates for the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.” To join them, and DEVC, to https://www.myeva.org to become a member. When you sign up, you can choose DEVC as your affiliated chapter.

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Design contest: How best to design an EV from scratch, taking full advantage of the benefits of electrification?

EVs are often designed by the same thinking that turned carriages into “horseless carriages” without fully incorporating the advantages of automobiles. What EV advantages can be improved by redesigning the automobile? Send us your ideas for our design contest.

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