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Ford unveils newest Mustang, extending petrol-powered life
Published on: Saturday, September 17, 2022
By: AFP, FMT
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The seventh-generation Ford Mustang made its debut in a showy event yesterday. (AFP pic)
DETROIT: Ford yesterday unveiled its seventh-generation Mustang in a brash and boisterous launch event in downtown Detroit that pointed to the staying power of petrol-powered vehicles.

The big reveal had been teased for months by company officials and organised as a celebration of the 58-year-old model. The event, held for Ford employees and Mustang mavens, featured pulsating music, slickly produced videos on wide screens, and a light projection of the brand’s horse logo onto a city building that loomed in the background.

The 50-minute event culminated with the arrival of three sleek new sedans in different trims and, later, a fourth option, a racing vehicle called “Dark Horse” that was introduced dramatically by Ed Krenz, Ford’s chief functional engineer for performance.

“Its name is indicative of its design and its aspirations,” Krenz told a cheering crowd. “Its demeanour: absolutely sinister. Dark Horse is for the enthusiast who wants purebred force of nature.”

Ford, which has dived into electric-vehicle investment as much as any company in recent years, had refrained ahead of Wednesday from saying whether the new Mustang would be electric or petrol-powered.

But the company made no apologies for its choice to go with the internal combustion engine (ICE).

“Investing in another generation of Mustang is a big statement at a time when many of our competitors are exiting the business of internal combustion vehicles,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley in a press release, adding that the company is “turbocharging” ICE growth even as it invests US$50 billion in EV growth through 2026.

Mustang brand manager Jim Owens said some customers prefer the “visceral” feeling of an ICE vehicle, adding that the company has already released an EV version of the Mustang, the Mach-E sport-utility vehicle.

“We know there are customers out there who still want the ICE,” he told AFP in an interview before launch. “There are a lot of late millennials and early Gen Zers who are into the sportscar segment, and we think we have some wonderful things in here that are going to draw them in.”

The ‘Dark Horse’ boasts an internal combustion engine even though the company has invested billions into the growth of electric vehicles. (AFP pic)

Rival muscle cars exit

The latest Mustang – a model seen in some 3,000 movies – features a “fighter jet-inspired” interior and performance features that make it “the most exhilarating and fun-to-drive yet”, Ford said.

The newest Mustang nods to earlier versions in its lighting and grille design, while also employing the latest in digital technology. This includes a key fob that lets drivers who love the sound of an engine revving satisfy their fix with the press of a button.

By extending the Mustang’s run, Ford runs counter to some other brands such as Dodge, which last month said it was phasing out its petrol-powered muscle car models, the Challenger and the Charger.

Ford’s vehicle launch event also harkened back to the spectacle of past car shows, even though the industry has been moving away from that marketing model in favour of online launches.

The Detroit Auto Show of yore was known for stunts such as the 1992 arrival of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which announced itself by crashing through glass.

For yesterday’s launch, Ford organised a “stampede” of earlier Mustangs that caravaned from around the country to Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, creating an impressive row of Mustangs that went on for blocks.

Participants were encouraged to participate in a best-dressed contest of “attire inspired by their favourite period in Mustang history, from the 1960s through today”, with the first-place prize a two-year car lease for a new Mustang.

The event also appeared to be intended as a morale boost for “Motor City”, where the auto show has been revived for the first time since 2019 after pandemic cancellations. Presenters repeatedly acknowledged the contribution of local Ford employees, especially at the nearby Flat Rock Assembly Plant, where the Mustang is built.