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Comparing the New Mustang Mach E and the Tesla Model Y

Chris Kaiser

Ford’s foray into fully electric vehicles begins with the new Mustang Mach E crossover. But how does it compare to the existing competition from Tesla?

The Battle for a “New” Segment Begins

The stakes are high for Ford and the new Mustang Mach E. Not only will the Mach E have to live up to the legendary Mustang name, it’ll have to do so while being a crossover. A tall order indeed.

2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com
2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com

When it comes to performance, one big thing going for the Mustang Mach E is that it is electric. As we’ve seen from the likes of the Tesla Roadster, and now the Porsche Taycan, going full electric can actually be a huge asset when you’re trying to go fast. And while Mustang’s have always been great at straight line speed, Ford has been making strides in the handling of the Mustang. Hopefully, that translates to the Mach E as well.

Apples to Apples

Audi has their eTron, Jaguar has the I-PACE, BMW will soon have their iX3; it appears, given current trends, that we’ll see many more companies adding a fully electric SUV to their offerings over the next few years. The Mach E won’t be taking on those luxury options directly. Instead it’s positioned to take on Tesla’s latest, the Model Y.

2020 Tesla Model Y - tesla.com
2020 Tesla Model Y - tesla.com

Priced starting at $48,000, the Model Y crossover launched in March to favorable reviews. It’s a step down in size from the larger, seven-seat Model X SUV, with its main job being is to full that compact SUV gap in Tesla’s line-up. At that it succeeds ably.

2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com
2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com

The Mustang Mach E has a much bigger role at Ford, as the company’s first major foray into electrifying it’s fleet. It too will slot in as a compact crossover (where the Ford Edge sits) and start at $44,995. Unlike the Model Y, the Mach E carries a hefty automotive legacy with the Mustang name. This ends up a double-edged sword; it adds cachet while raising performance expectations.

The Style

You too might be experiencing some pangs of skepticism when you read that Ford’s new electric SUV is also, somehow, also a Mustang. Rest assured the Mach E will be fast, but the real reason Ford decided to use the Mustang name (which is still quite valuable to them and they don’t want to tarnish or dilute it, not unnecessarily at least) is to add excitement to this release. And, indeed, the Mustang name helps, but its classic design cues are equally valuable.

2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com
2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com

Taking the Tesla Model Y and the Mustang Mach E side-by-side, the Mach E is by far the better looking of the two. This isn’t to say the Model Y is bad, either. It adheres to Tesla’s design language, featuring the same coupe-like profile of its big brother the Model X.

2020 Tesla Model Y - tesla.com
2020 Tesla Model Y - tesla.com

But the Mach E benefits greatly from the subtle and sometimes not so subtle Mustang cues. The Treble taillights, the beefy front end, the grimacing headlights, and inset front panel “grille” all give the Mach E the appearance of a Mustang cousin, if not quite a direct sibling. I too was skeptical of an electric crossover with a Mustang name, but Ford seems to have pulled off a deft balance of old and new.

The Numbers

Just because the Mach E doesn’t have a V8, that doesn’t mean we won’t be obsessing about the numbers on this Mustang. Here the match-up between the Mach E and Model Y is very close.

2020 Tesla Model Y - tesla.com
2020 Tesla Model Y - tesla.com

The Model Y range runs between 230 and 316 miles. The base version with RWD and standard size battery pack will get you a 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds and 230 miles of range. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Performance trim, with a super snappy 3.5 second 0-60 time and an extended range battery good for 315 miles on a full charge.

2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com
2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com

The Mach E also offers a spectrum of ranges and power levels. It will have two battery options, the standard range 75kWh battery and a 98.8kWh extended range battery. The range will go from 280 miles in the base RWD trim all the way to the extended range AWD option at 335 miles. Ford claims the performance version will produce 459hp and 612 lb. ft. of torque good for a 0-60 time “under 4 seconds”. How much under we’ll have to wait and see.

The Makings of a Classic Rivalry?

It’s perhaps too soon to know whether the Mustang Mach E and Tesla Model Y will end up in the kind of heated rivalry we saw in the muscle car days of yore. But the Mach E has already sold out all of its reservations prior to launch and Musk and company are struggling mightily to ramp up production of the Model Y to meet demand. Both vehicles are exciting, well-rounded, and, relatively, affordable. They represent the hottest trend in the already white-hot crossover segment.

2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com
2021 Ford Mach E - ford.com

So, does the Mach E deserve the Mustang halo? The purest in me want to say no. But, given what Ford is trying to achieve with their new electric crossover, I don’t mind them cashing in on the Mustang name to attract buyers. Especially since, as I mentioned above, it’s darn fast.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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