Ford Motor Company stole the show at Pebble Beach last week with the debut of the awe-inspiring, world-beating S650 Mustang GTD. An 800-horsepower super muscle car built by Multimatic Motorsports, this race car for the road will be available as soon as late 2024, starting at $300,000 USD. Indeed, that’s an absurd price for a Mustang — the sports car for the people — but with a targeted Nürburgring lap time of under 7-minutes (likely well under that mark), the best hardware is required. However, that doesn’t appear to be the only big story in this recent news cycle, as a Ford Mustang hybrid was also hinted by company CEO Jim Farley.
“So when you say: Could it be a fully electric Mustang coupe? Nah, probably not. But could there be a partially electrified Mustang coupe—and it be world-class? Yeah,” said Farley in a recent interview.
Interesting, no? Nevertheless, a timetable for when/if a Ford Mustang hybrid may surface was not given.
In the past couple of years, Ford has revealed a few electric Mustang coupes, such as the Cobra Jet 1400 drag racing demonstrator. Ford also teamed up with a few leading suppliers to make a 900-horsepower all-electric Mustang Lithium coupe for the 2019 SEMA Show. Even Bill Ford Jr. hinted at an electric Mustang coupe, but not a hybrid. Additionally, some reports have indicated that an electric Mustang coupe would eventually surface by the end of the decade. But, again, not a Mustang hybrid.
Previous rumors of a Ford Mustang hybrid coupe ultimately proved to go nowhere, and an exclusive MC&T interview with former S650 Mustang chief engineer Ed Krenz revealed that the program was “never a thing.” Krenz has since graduated to be the chief engineer of the Ford Bronco.
Why Make A Ford Mustang Hybrid?
Farley explained that the electric drivetrain can be designed around obtaining a specific goal, performance, fuel economy, or even something in between. Over at Stellantis, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has said similar things when it comes to electrified performance. Indeed, there are benefits, particularly when it comes to quickness. Instantaneous torque from an electrified car can help pay big dividends in the 0-60 department.
In the case of the Mustang coupe, that would be getting the most performance possible from both an electric motor and the engine. It’s a similar perspective to what Chevrolet is doing with the C8 Corvette E-Ray, and what Stellantis is doing with Jeep 4xe, and likely a few Dodge performance products down the road.
Another benefit that comes with a hybrid car (especially a plug-in hybrid car) is the great fuel economy improvements. Even if the primary objective is performance. In the case of a plug-in hybrid, users can enjoy an existing charging network that electric vehicles currently use, as well as the abundant fueling stations populated all over the world, wherever there’s civilization.
The Drawbacks Of Hybrid Cars
While the end-user may enjoy the duality of increased performance, improved fuel economy, and the ability to utilize both fuel and charging infrastructures, hybrid vehicles do come with their own fair share of compromise. Primarily, they are expensive, relative to a standalone ICE product. This is because of the added complexities of having to engineer, source and produce two powertrains — an engine and electric motors — and that added cost is passed down to the consumer.
Secondly, the “hand-off” between power units in many hybrid vehicles can be best described as unpleasant. Often sporadic and clunky, engines are often doing all sorts of things on their own to charge the battery pack, usually revving to a midrange RPM and holding there for a period of time. Too often, hybrids give high NVH levels during this period, especially plug-in hybrids that run out of a charge. This clunky experience can sink customer satisfaction levels, where they would rather have the smoother operation of an ICE vehicle (or a full-electric) instead.
Thirdly, long term ownership is suspect. Nobody wants to be stuck with fixing an out-of-warranty hybrid car, as too often the bill for maintaining the powertrain is eye-watering, often well into five figures if the battery needs replacing. Lastly, hybrids bring a weight penalty when compared to ICE vehicles. This could mean accelerated brake, suspension and tire wear relative to a lighter ICE offering, or the need for heavier-duty (expensive) chassis components.