There is something to be said about the automotive industry’s passion for their heritage. Automakers often reflect upon and draw inspiration from their great success and failures over the last hundred or so years. Ford is certainly no stranger to this sort of behavior, as they have an entire division dedicated to maintaining their most iconic nameplates. It could be for this reason that fans were taken aback by the debut of the Mustang Mach-E. The electric crossover doesn’t follow the same iconic recipe as every Mustang before it, leaving the pony car faithful wondering what was going on in the marketing department. Jason Castriota was the Chief Designer for the Mach-E, and he recently sat down with Road & Track to discuss why the SUV had to wear the beloved nameplate.
Castriota is currently Ford’s Global BEV Brand Director, but has had an illustrious career in the automotive industry. He’s helped pen some unmistakably beautiful cars over the years, including Pininfarina P4/5, Ferrari 599, Maserati Gran Turismo, and SSC Tuatara (pictured below). He also helmed the design team responsible for the Mustang Mach-E, and took great care to bring elements from the coupe to the SUV. And while Ford may like us all to believe the Mach-E was a Mustang from the start, Castriota told R&T otherwise. In fact, Ford was well into the development process for an electric crossover before the decision was ever made to call it a Mustang.
During this development process however, Ford got wind of the onslaught of BEVs heading to the market in the coming years. The automaker did not want their own efforts to be drowned out by the expanding segment, and knew that they needed to differentiate themselves in a serious way. Jason Castriota said that this is when the team began to look at the brand’s icons for inspiration. It then became clear that the best way to make their SUV standout was to make it a Mustang product. This wasn’t just going to be a branding exercise however, as after the decision came the engineers had to completely rework the vehicle’s architecture and performance capabilities. That’s also when Castriota got to work making the thing look like a Mustang as best he could.
Whether or not the Mustang Mach-E nomenclature will truly help set Ford apart, it is clear they aren’t finished with the formula. Castriota gave R&T a not so subtle hint about a high-performance Mach-E variant beyond the upcoming GT model. While we don’t know what this may entail at this point, more horsepower is surely part of the equation. Perhaps some of the learnings from the Mach-E 1400 will be applied to this special pony as well. All we can hope now is that they don’t decide to slap Shelby’s name on its flanks. But they probably will.