Ford goes beast mode in 900-hp electric Mustang ... and it's a manual
Prior to today's start of SEMA 2019, we would have expected a collaboration between Ford and Webasto to relate to a commercial vehicle or perhaps a camper van like the Ford Transit Nugget. Instead, the two partner together on one of the show's most aggressive sports cars, an electrified Mustang capable of developing 900 hp and 1,000 lb-ft. Ford distributes all that torque with a fortified six-speed manual transmission, exploring the potential for a thrilling, engaging breed of electric sports car as it gets ready for a production EV offensive. Will the future of pony cars look like the Mustang Lithium?
Ford's already detailed its plans to expand its electrified vehicle lineup, starting with a Mustang-inspired electric SUV later this month, with hybrid and all-electric F-150 pickups to follow down the line. It's already opened the checkbook and plans to spend $11.5 million on electrified vehicle development by 2022.
So with this year's SEMA build, Ford worked with Webasto to explore what an all-electric Mustang would look like. Webasto supplies an 800V battery system capable of discharging a full megawatt. That battery fires up the Phi-Power dual-core electric motor that peeks out from under the see-through polycarbonate panels of the Webasto hood. In an unexpected twist for an electric vehicle, Ford routes output from the 900-hp e-motor through a six-speed manual, specifically a drag-grade Calimer Getrag MT82 transmission with billet internals built up to handle the 1,000 lb-ft of torque. Ford Performance half shafts and a Super 8.8 Torsen differential further distribute power to the lightweight 20-in Forgeline wheels wrapped up in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
Ford helps drivers manage all that electrified muscle via four individual modes with controlled amounts of torque. Valet, sport, track and beast modes are selected on the custom 10.4-in touchscreen.
Beyond the powertrain overhaul, Ford drops the Lithium by an inch (2.5 cm), cuts weight with custom carbon components, adds in a Ford Performance Track Handling Pack, bolts on Sankuer Composite Technologies side splitters and rear diffuser, and borrows Brembo six-piston front brakes from the Shelby GT350R.
"Ford has made no secret of the fact that we are electrifying our most popular nameplates,” says Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s Chief Product Development and Purchasing Officer. "This one-off Mustang prototype is a great opportunity for us, together with Webasto, to showcase what new electrified powertrains can do for performance in a car they already know and love."
Unfortunately, Ford doesn't yet provide an indication of what the Mustang Lithium's 800V electric powertrain can do for performance, offering no acceleration or top speed estimates more specific than "stunning quarter-mile acceleration." We have to imagine it'll leave the standard Mustang feeling a slight bit sluggish on the 0-60 sprint.
There should be more to come. The Mustang Lithium isn't presented merely as a SEMA show car never to be heard from again but as an active test bed for battery and thermal management technologies Ford and Webasto hope to bring to market. It's also designed to gauge market interest in an all-out performance electric car, and it's going to be hard to do that without giving the world a better feel for what "beast mode" is all about.
For now, we'll have to settle for seeing it standing still under the lights of SEMA, which runs through Friday.