Ford Chairman Bill Ford and Chairman and CEO Jim Farley speak in front of the new Mustang Dark Horse at the Stampede in downtown Detroit on September 14, 2022.
DETROIT — Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley was in his element Wednesday night, surrounded by gearheads and the automaker’s new 2024 Mustang models, including a surprise new high-performance version called “Dark Horse.”
There was no mention of electric vehicles or sustainability at the Detroit auto show unveiling. Just engines revving and tires screeching, to the applause of the hundreds of Mustang owners in attendance.
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The scene unfolded in stark contrast to other recent events for Farley and Ford, which have touted electrification and green goals. Indeed, despite the transition to electric vehicles, Mustang is sticking with gasoline engines for the seventh-generation vehicle in 2024.
This may come as a surprise, given Ford’s plans to invest $50 billion in new electric vehicles in the coming years, as well as plans for the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro – the Mustang’s biggest rivals. – go electric.
So why did Ford stick to gasoline engines for the new vehicle? Farley said, basically, because it could…and because it makes good business sense for the foreseeable future.
The Ford Mustang could be in a segment of its own for years to come, forcing those who still crave an American coupe muscle car to turn to the brand. This includes non-US customers, which account for about 20% of Mustang sales.
“People are leaving the segment, like Dodge, so we have a chance to really showcase something new on the Mustang,” Farley said after the 2024 Mustang’s debut. “It’s going to give us a big advantage because a lot of people still love this kind of car.”
Ford Mustang Dark Horse 2024
Although the American muscle car segment has shrunk from what it once was, there is still a demand for the vehicles, which may also attract attention and new customers for their respective brands.
As Ford invests in electric vehicles, Farley says the automaker will continue to invest in its traditional business. It’s part of the CEO’s new plan to boost sales in its traditional businesses, electric vehicles and utility vehicles.
Farley and Ford Chairman Bill Ford declined to comment on whether the seventh-generation Mustang should be the last gas-powered version of the car.
“If people don’t want it anymore, it will go away, but I personally think people will want this vehicle for a while,” Ford said, adding “that day will come with a tear in my eye.”
Farley said a big reason Ford is continuing with gasoline-powered Mustangs is, ironically, the success of the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover that first went on sale in late 2020 and has actually outdated the gasoline version for some months.
The Mach-E, which shares almost nothing with the gas-powered Mustang other than a name, has led Ford to become the second best-selling electric vehicle brand in the country.
This success of electric vehicles has given the automaker more flexibility to pursue gasoline-powered models, compared to rival automakers who must pursue electric vehicle sales and the regulatory emissions credits allocated to them.
Automakers are required to have a certain number of regulatory credits each year. If a company cannot meet the goal, it can buy the credits from other companies, such as Tesla, that have excess credits.
“The Mustang Mach-E, in a way, made this car happen,” Farley said. “Competitors buy credits for emissions, and they can’t get away with that kind of vehicle.”
US President Joe Biden stands next to a Ford Mustang Mach-E (Electric) SUV during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show, to highlight America’s electric vehicle manufacturing, in Detroit, Michigan, September 14, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Dodge said those emissions regulations are among the reasons it is ending production of its gas-powered Charger and Challenger cars late next year. Chevrolet is expected to end production of the gas-powered Chevy Camaro in the coming years as part of General Motors’ plans to offer exclusively electric vehicles by 2035.
A spokesperson for Dodge, a division of Stellantis, said when announcing the electric muscle cars that the company was “celebrating the end of an era – and the start of a bright new electrified future.”
A Chevrolet spokesperson said the company was not commenting on future production, but added, “The Camaro continues to play an important role in Chevrolet’s performance lineup and remains a high-demand vehicle that our customers love. .”
Ford’s biggest rival GM, which is phasing out its gas-powered products, aims to better compete with Tesla, the leader in electric vehicle sales.
Farley, meanwhile, said he wants to grow his traditional business through “opinionated products” that attract debate and attention like the 2024 Mustang, including the new “Dark Horse” variant.
“I had a shirt at the dealership show that said ‘Ford against everybody.’ That’s kind of our attitude,” Farley said. “We want to be a dark horse. We’re a dark horse against Tesla in the electric vehicle business. We want to bring a new game.”
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