Ford's new EV crossover might be really good, but the Mustang branding is tough to swallow.
People don’t like Ford’s new electric crossover wearing a Mustang badge. That’s an unofficial survey of course, but our time spent talking with colleagues and more than a few Mustang fans clearly reveals far more criticism than praise for this marketing decision. Some folks really don’t like it, with automotive writer and devoted Mustang enthusiast Jimmy Dinsmore being so moved as to start a petition for changing the crossover’s name. Thus far, 900 people have signed on.
“What makes many of us uneasy is abandoning the heritage and history of the company,” Dinsmore said to Motor1.com. “Putting the name Mustang on an all-wheel-drive, four-door crossover is insulting to the Mustang clubs and Mustang enthusiasts who’ve supported this product for more than five decades. I’m imploring Ford to hear our voices and respect Mustang heritage and not bastardize it this way.”
Dinsmore isn’t just a Mustang guy with an opinion, either. He’s a syndicated writer and co-author of Mustang by Design, a comprehensive book that details the Mustang’s development back in the early 1960s. He knows a thing or two about Mustang history, and that certainly comes out in a lengthy Facebook discussion about using the Mustang moniker on an EV crossover. He further points out that the real controversy here isn’t electric power, but the crossover body that goes against the basic concept of what a Mustang really is.
Gallery: 2020 Ford Mustang Mach-E
“Electrification is not the issue with the Mustang Mach-E,” Dinsmore explained. “It’s putting the name on something that isn’t a pony car; the way Gale Halderman originally designed it, as a two-door, low slung, short-deck, long-hood muscle car – not some generic crossover that is common in today’s market.”
He’s certainly not wrong. Different engines have powered Ford’s iconic pony car, but throughout Mustang’s entire 55-year history, the basic formula of a 2+2, two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe never changed. The Mach-E is about as far from that formula as one can get, though proponents for the new Mustang branding argue that this is evolution in action and reflective of changing markets.
Will Dinsmore’s petition lead to Ford reversing course on the Mustang Mach-E? Probably not, and Dinsmore said as much to Motor1.com. However, he also reminds us that Ford faced a similar controversy in the 1980s when the company was poised to reboot Mustang as an aero-shaped front-wheel-drive runabout with Mazda DNA. In that pre-internet age, it took a massive write-in campaign from Mustang owners and enthusiasts to change Ford’s mind, and it actually worked.
The new car ultimately went into production as the Ford Probe, and engineers quickly went to work on an emergency update for the Fox Body Mustang, which was already nearly 10 years old at that point. It’s also why the Fox platform ultimately underpinned the SN95 and New Edge cars through 2004, as Ford never planned to keep the rear-wheel-drive Mustang around that long.
So yeah, Ford has listened to its Mustang enthusiasts in the past. Will the company listen now? If you want to toss your hat into the ring, you can sign Dinsmore's petition right here.