Is the next-generation Ford Mustang going to have a fully electric option to sell alongside its V8?
Talk about having an each way bet. While you could barely find the entrance to the 2019 SEMA auto show through clouds of thick tyre smoke from Ford Mustangs doing burnouts and drifting demonstrations in the car park, the company took a green approach inside the Las Vegas exhibition halls.
The Ford Mustang Lithium is an “ultra-high-performance battery electric Mustang fastback prototype”.
It has a claimed 670kW of power and an astonishing 1355Nm of torque (900 horsepower and 1000 foot-pound of torque in the old money) that Ford claims is “instantaneously available” due to the way electric motors deliver their acceleration.
Ford says the Mustang Lithium “amps muscle car performance to a new level and helps gauge the level of interest the next wave of performance customers have in lightning-quick performance that only fully electric powertrains can deliver”.
To tame this phenomenal power, the Ford Mustang Lithium has four drive modes that limit output depending on the scenario: Valet, Sport, Track and Beast.
Perhaps there should be another mode for “leaving a cars-and-coffee event”, to curb the endless videos on YouTube of Mustang V8s making grand departures only to end up in a fender bender.
The Mustang Lithium is not just a show car, “but a testbed for battery and thermal management technologies in ultra-high-performance electric vehicles”, says Ford.
“Ford has made no secret of the fact that we are electrifying our most popular nameplates,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product development and purchasing officer in a media statement.
“This one-off Mustang prototype is a great opportunity … to showcase to our customers what new electrified powertrains can do for performance in a car they already know and love.”
The “street-ready” Mustang Lithium has custom carbon fibre body panels, a 1.0-inch lowered stance and 20-inch forged alloy wheels (wider at the rear for extra grip).
Under the bonnet the V8 has been replaced by a dual-core electric motor and dual power inverters, powered by an 800-volt Webasto battery system with EVDrive Technology that can discharge a mega-watt of electrical energy.
With 800 volts the Mustang Lithium has twice the voltage of most electric cars on the road today. Ford says this allows the system to be “lighter, more powerful and generate less heat, and more electric force than most battery-electric systems”.
Unlike every other electric car on sale today, the Ford Mustang Lithium has a manual transmission (for the rev heads it’s a drag-strip-ready Calimer-version of the Getrag MT82 six-speed manual with billet internals to handle the epic torque).
Power is sent to the rear wheels via a heavy duty differential and Ford Performance half shafts.
Additional features include the V8 Mustang’s optional Track Handling Pack and strut tower brace, and race-ready six-piston front brakes from the Shelby GT350R.
A statement from battery supplier Webasto said: “Very similar to Ford’s push for vehicle electrification, this is an innovative way to further the technologies we're developing to enable vehicle electrification while creating a vision of how cool the future of electric performance will be”.
Now, about the sound of electric cars…