Ford Mustang Lithium: will the electric muscle car reach production?
Zero-emission machine with manual gearbox shows EVs can be drivers’ cars
Ford has unveiled an all-electric version of its Mustang muscle car that’s equipped with an unorthodox choice of gearbox for an EV.
Revealed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (Sema) motor show in Las Vegas, the Mustang Lithium is a driver-focused EV that comes with a manually-operated gearbox – something that has never been seen on a road-going electric car before.
The prototype is based on the current-generation Mustang platform and adopts the muscle car’s iconic front-engined design.
However, the model should not be confused with the upcoming Mustang-inspired SUV, which will be unveiled in full on 18 November.
With many driving fans fearing that the dawn of the electric car will result in more automated cars, the Mustang Lithium suggests that EV powertrains and an engaging driving experience are not mutually exclusive.
But questions remain over whether the electrified coupe will make its way into production.
Unlike electric cars that are built from the ground up on EV production platforms, the electrified Mustang adopts a far more conventional form.
While a traditional electric car has show overhangs and a long wheelbase to accommodate its battery pack, often situated underneath the cabin, the Mustang Lithium is almost identical to the combustion-engined model - albeit with an electric motor in place of the usual 5.0-litre V8.
There are, however, a few visual differences that set the EV apart. The Lithium sits one inch lower than the regular model, has a slightly wider track and 20in forged wheels, says Tech Crunch.
Below the front bumper is a carbon fibre splitter, providing extra turn-in grip when on a circuit, while a large diffuser devoid of exhaust pipes sits below the rear bumper.
The Lithium’s look is completed with a unique bonnet graphic that resembles a circuit board, hinting at the electric powertrain below.
Battery specs and performance
Under the bonnet sits an electric motor that’s connected to an 800-volt battery system, CNet’s Roadshow reports. The powertrain is capable of delivering “a full megawatt” of energy, which is “more force than nearly any standard-issue electric car on sale today”.
Power is channelled to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, the tech site days. It’s an unusual system, given that most electric cars come with automatic transmissions, but should give a level of driver involvement that is often missing from an EV powertrain.
Overall, the Mustang Lithium produces a supercar-rivalling 888bhp and 1,000lb-ft of torque.
Other additions include Ford’s Performance Track Handling Pack, bringing with it upgraded suspension components and six-piston Brembo brakes on the front wheels, says Autocar. Drivers can select four different modes for the powertrain, which are “staggered in order of performance”.
Will it reach production?
Not at the moment, no. Ford stresses that the vehicle is strictly a one-off, so “you probably won’t roll out of a dealership with a toned-down Mustang EV any time soon”, says Engadget.
That said, the car does serve as a test bed for “battery and heat control technologies” that will one day trickle down into production models, the tech site says. It’s also possible that the manual transmission option could make its way into other EVs, if there’s enough demand from buyers.
In the meantime, Ford will be releasing a Mustang-inspired electric SUV, rumoured to be called the Mach-E, in less than two weeks’ time. It will be the company’s first mass-production electric car, potentially paving the way for a zero-emission muscle car in the future.