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FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT500 CONVERTIBLE WON’T HAPPEN AS S550 PLATFORM REACHES APEX

The S650 Mustang Is Expected To Debut As Soon As Next Year

2021 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 S550
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Ford executives have recently confirmed to MC&T that there are no plans to build an S550 Mustang Shelby GT500 Convertible. This is largely due to engineers reaching the physical limitations of what’s possible with the platform. It’s unclear at this time if this will be the case for the S650 generation.

“When we designed the (S550 platform Mustang) we really looked at the high end and projected what we’ve historically been able to do,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, when asked if the S550 platform was maxed out. “The GT500 I think we projected for. It’s towards the top end of the capabilities of (S550)… one of the things we didn’t do was a convertible variant for that reason. You have to find the bandwidth of the architecture.”

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review S550
Photo copyright Matheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

S550 To S650 Ford Mustang: “Sweating The Asset”

These comments from Hau Thai-Tang come as Ford Motor Company readies the next-generation of the mighty Mustang muscle car; which will ride on the S650 platform. The S650 Mustang will be an extensively revised version of the S550 model on sale today, but will stop short of being all-new. This will include a new exterior and interior design, but the mechanical bits like the engines and transmissions will carry forward. A Mustang sedan is rumored for consideration, but it’s believed that this vehicle will be electric, as will be the Mustang coupe after the S650 generation, expected by 2028 or so.

General Motors did something similar with the Cadillac CT4 and CT5, which ride on an updated architecture from their ATS and CTS predecessors, but isn’t an entirely new platform. As automakers look to transition to electric propulsion, and budgeting the tens of billions of dollars needed to do so, look for this to be more of a common practice. In doing so, OEMs are able to extend the life cycles of existing assets and investments, at a minimal cost relative to all-new architectures that would require extensive manufacturing and tooling investments. Hau describes this practice as “sweating the asset.”

In addition to cost, Ford Motor Company and other OEMs have other regulatory factors to consider, such as CAFE requirements. Hence the introduction of vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.

“You could make the case that the Mach-E is keeping the Mustang going,” said Thai-Tang. “We have to meet a corporate average CO2 requirement, and if we didn’t have products like Mach-E to offset products like Mustang, the Mustang would be short-lived. I don’t think enthusiasts have anything to worry about. They should get in and drive this thing (Mach-E). It’s really going to open their eyes.”

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review Emissions Fuel Economy CAFE Regulations EPA
Photo copyright Matheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

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