The great-grandson of Henry Ford says V8 power will live alongside a new range of electric vehicles, as the US car giant echoes Toyota’s call to offer buyers choice.
The Ford Mustang V8 will live-on until customers no longer want one – or it is regulated out of existence.
So says the great-grandson of Henry Ford, William Clay Ford Junior, who unveiled the seventh-generation Mustang muscle car at a public outdoor event in the heart of Detroit overnight.
In a scrum with Australian media shortly after the new model was unveiled in front of assembly line workers and Mustang fanatics – some of whom had driven across the country to attend – Mr Ford said: “People have asked me ‘well, is this the last internal combustion (engine) Mustang’, and the answer is ‘we’ll see’.
“Customers will let us know when that day will come. Firstly, that day will come with a tear in my eye. Because, you know, I’ve loved the Mustangs all the way from 1964 through to (today’s model).”
When asked if government regulations could force the extinction of the V8 Mustang, Mr Ford said: “Well I mean, that’s why … we have a full range (of vehicles). If these things (cars like the Mustang) … if people don’t want them anymore, it’ll go away. But I personally believe that people are going to want this vehicle for quite some time.”
As the executive chair of the company, Mr Ford can drive any car he wants. But he always takes a special interest in the Mustang design and development programs – and often has a Mustang as a company car.
“I’ve got the GT version (dual motor, all-wheel-drive),” he told Australian media. “And it’ll snap to your head back when you drive it, zero to 60 (mph, or 97km/h) in about three and a half seconds.
“I think right now we’re the second largest electric vehicle seller today. And, you know, we have a lot more coming.
“But we’re still in the internal combustion game too, with vehicles like this (V8 Mustang). I mean, we’re really well positioned for wherever our customers are going to take us.”
Meantime, Jim Farley, the president and chief executive officer of Ford globally, echoed Toyota’s words of caution about continuing to give customers choice in the drive towards the electric-car era.
“Everyone wrote the story that (electric vehicles) are, you know, the next cycle of our industry,” Mr Farley told Australian media at the Mustang unveiling in Detroit.
“It’s not that simple. There are different customers who want different things and have different duty cycles (vehicle demands).”
And, Mr Farley noted, more than 60 million new cars are sold each year globally. If all of those switched to pure-electric power tomorrow, there would be impossible demands for precious minerals and rare earths required to manufacture the batteries, and unprecedented load on electricity grids.
Ford’s global boss of electric-vehicle programs, Darren Palmer, told Australian media in Detroit that a sharp increase in the rollout of electric cars could start to put too much pressure on the energy grid in some countries – which is why future Ford models will also be able to power homes.
“When all the neighbourhoods start getting (a high number of) electric vehicles, for a start the infrastructure will have to be upgraded, because they’re going to run out of power for that neighbourhood,” said Mr Palmer.
“Will they (electricity providers) be able to keep up? Will they invest the money? I do not believe they will.
“So what happens is you start to get to scenarios where on a Wednesday afternoon on a hot summer day, when everyone comes back from work and plugs in and turns the air-conditioning on (at home), it’s going to overload that area.
“Well, if the electricity company has got knowledge of that,” said Mr Palmer, it could use large-capacity electric vehicles to “prevent a neighbourhood from browning out.”
“So we’re conducting experiments now. You might call it a virtual battery, where multiple (large capacity electric vehicles) are hooked up and ready to go.
“And when the electricity company needs it (those vehicles) can basically support the grid.”