The legacy automaker known for laying the stepping stones used by all automakers today has recently been receiving praise among EV aficionados. Adding to the ever-growing list of electric car options out there, the Ford Mustang Mach E, unlike most, notably doesn’t suck. Its 300-mile range and comparable specs places it just below the top player in the space, Tesla.
In the current state of automakers all announcing distant future concepts and highly-priced EVs, Ford unveiled a mass-produced affordable electric car ready to hit the road near the end of next year, the Mustang Mach E. This immense feat was commended by current electric car owners but condemned by long-time Ford enthusiasts. Using the famed Mustang namesake really struck a chord with the Mustang zealots. Worst of all, it’s a crossover! What was Ford thinking?
Fact is, Ford was thinking ahead. Our future is electric, at this point there’s no doubt about it. Just about every manufacturer has stated plans to transition towards sustainable vehicles, Ford included. Whether due to tightening regulations or simply doing what’s best for the planet, major changes are happening in the automotive industry.
Crossovers are the largest vehicle segment in the U.S. taking up nearly half of all new cars sold this year. Add that alongside the historic Mustang brand and you have yourself a recipe for success. See, Ford isn’t trying to sell the Mach E to Tesla customers, they’re trying to put the idea of electric car ownership in the minds of the general public. The Tesla Cybertruck unveiling covered “unbreakable” glass while Ford spent a large portion speaking highly of electric cars as a whole, even breaking some misconceptions. Sure, some Mustang owners aren’t happy about the change, but this is bigger than that.
And that’s exactly where the issue lies. If the intention behind the Mach E is conversion to EVs and high sales, Ford made the right call choosing a crossover with the Mustang namesake. The company is seemingly taking this vehicle serious with major global ad campaigns already taking place. But there’s one major flaw which they’ve failed to overcome; proper customer education.
With Ford, that starts at the dealership level. When potential future owners call in asking questions about the vehicle or electric cars in general, staff need to be well informed on the subject. This isn’t simply choosing between a 4-door car and a coupe or the pros and cons of an SUV, it’s a whole lifestyle change. Gasoline vehicle and related maintenance aren’t just things people are already used to, they grew up with them. When making the change, people have questions or more commonly, misinformation regarding electrification.
Questions related to simply charging a Tesla shoot up to almost 100,000 monthly online searches across the board. For those in the know, the answers are simple but each of us began with similar inquiries. A large part of Tesla’s success comes down to having outlets for answering questions of those skeptical. Whether through their stores or online communities, concerns are rectified. The Tesla Reddit community alone has over half a million registered users ready to help. This is where Ford is drastically slacking. There has been exactly zero training done in relation to electric car ownership at Ford Dealerships and there’s no incentive to even begin.
To test my hypothesis we set out to call each and every Ford dealership within a 200-mile radius. With electric cars already a taboo subject and the Tesla Model Y electric crossover around the corner, these things won’t be selling themselves. Asking very straightforward questions regarding both the Mustang Mach E and general electric vehicle ownership, the results were baffling. My expectations were already low but some of the statements made were simply outrageous.
The calls took place three weeks after the unveiling giving Ford ample time to get their ducks in a row. Of the 15 dealerships called, a single sales rep was informed enough to actually hold a conversation. Each initial rep transferred us to someone who was “more informed”. In some cases, the “more informed” rep transferred us for a second time or even a third. It was transfer limbo until some poor, relatively uninformed, fella decided to take a crack at giving us the time of day. In other calls, the “more informed” staff member was not available and as such, they couldn’t even attempt to answer any of our questions.
The calls were met with what would be best described as an abundance of confusion and fear. Those who attempted to help, albeit tried their best, shared nothing of merit. Google seemed to be the go-to resource for answers to basic questions like “how do you charge an electric car?”. I can assure you, there would be no Googling if my same, moderately simple, questions were related to traditional vehicles. Due to what seemed like panicking, most of the Googled results were shared like a game of telephone. There was no “gotcha” intention, just introductory questions we assumed would be asked by anyone considering a shift to an electric vehicle household. How to charge, range, availability, the basics.
Absolutely nothing but misinformation was sold to me. You can’t charge a Mustang Mach E at home, they can use Tesla Superchargers, it doesn’t have enough range, a plug-in hybrid is better, etc. Nothing of importance because it’s all, simply put, wrong. According to one dealership, a Tesla is better than the Mach E but because Tesla’s start at $100,000, the Mach E is a better buy…
How Ford plans to convert a single traditional driver over to the Mustang Mach E beats me. Yet Ford claims to be working heavily towards electric trucks as well. It might be a year away but they began taking reservations on the day of the unveiling. Currently, those calling in and inquiring about the EV are just being turned off. Staff need to have a bit more than just the landing page as knowledge, they need to be trained in overall EV awareness. The mass spread of misinformation will be our demise.
It’s not about pushing a narrative and forcefully pushing people onto electric cars, it’s about sharing facts. The Ford Mustang Mach E starts at $43,895 before incentives, it has up to a 300-mile range, and yes, you can charge it at your house.
Update: Just revisiting this post to clarify a few things. Each dealership called was EV certified according to Ford’s interactive dealership map. Everyone in the calls were aware they were being recorded. Most importantly, we believe the misinformation shared was not intentional. We do not believe any of the reps were trying to upsell us into a Ford or purposely downplay electric cars as a whole. The issue here is not deception, it’s the spread of misinformation. None of the dealerships mentioned coming in to look at any other vehicle nor did they try to sway us into purchasing a vehicle that day. We did however leave a callback number and an email for more information. None of the dealerships have got back to us. As usual, we also reached out to Ford with no reply.