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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
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.)
- 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.
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.
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:
- Back in to all parking spots
- Back in to the garage
- Install tow stickers (see here) (purchase here)
- Keep a tow card in the car (see here)
- Know the procedure for a dead LVB jump (refer to the manual here) – Page 267
- Know how to emergency tow the vehicle. Don’t rely on the tow company. (refer to the manual here) – Page 271
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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Established car manufacturer Volvo to join the upstart EV producers in selling EVs online only
In a surprising move, Volvo announced that it will transition its sales offerings entirely to electrics by 2030 (no ICEs or hybrids after that date), and that it will sell the electrics online only. This online-sales only announcement is a surprise because Volvo has an established car dealer network (though the nearest to the Four Corners is Corley’s Volvo Cars in Albuquerque) and a majority of states prohibit non-dealership sales of new cars. My source is an AP wire report Mar 2, 2021 by Matt Ott (accessed from Greenwire – eenews.com – which is unfortunately behind a paywall).
Volvo did promise that dealerships “…will remain a crucial part of the customer experience and will continue to be responsible for a variety of important services such as selling, preparing, delivering, and servicing cars. However, a Four Corner’s buyer would be inclined to take purchase locally, and seek service locally, rather than have to return a potentially disabled car to Albuquerque for routine service.
The prevailing business model for car sales is that new cars are sold with minimal profit in exchange for creating a captive audience of owners beholden, or at least greatly encouraged, to use the dealership for highly lucrative service. This business model is under threat from EVs, both because so many upstarts (Tesla, Rivian, etc.) are not following the plan, and EVs themselves need very little servicing.
In response to previous economic threats to dealerships, several states, including Colorado and New Mexico, have restrictions or total bans on the non-dealer sales of new cars. Colorado recently amended its laws to allow several additional manufacturers to permit in-state sales of cars without dealers (Tesla has a dealership in Denver and is therefore exempt). Volvo’s plan may run afoul of the dealership-protection laws in some states.
In addition to shaking up the business relationship between manufacturers and dealerships, Volvo’s push into EVs is startling in its ambition. Volvo has stated that it expects 50% of global sales to be fully electric by 2025 (US sales of pure electrics are about 2% now; about 100,000 of Volvo’s global sales of about 600,000 vehicles per year are in the US). Volvo’s first entry into the all-electric field, the XC-40 Recharge (crossover SUV) is currently held up in ports of entry, as an essential software update is needed before they can be sold to the public. That hiccup aside, Volvo is getting good technical reviews for their EVs.
Although Volvo’s timeline for the phase-out of ICE (internal combustion engine) cars is among the most aggressive of the major manufacturers, others are not far behind. BMW expects 50% of its global sales to be all-electric vehicles by 2030 (versus 2025 for Volvo). BMW has not announced a date for completing the phase-out of ICEs; they expect to sell hybrids for some time. GM is more aggressive for the end of the phase-out of ICEs (2035), but GM expresses it more as an aspiration than a commitment. Jaguar, on the other hand, has promised the earliest phase-out (2025), but of course, if you could afford a Jaguar, why would you settle for anything less than an electric.