Build an electric car that people want and desire

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It’s not unexpected these days for an automotive executive to claim some aspect of Apple as a role model for what it does, like having a distinctive minimalist design language or an app-based monetization strategy.

But when Darren Palmer quotes Apple, it’s for an entirely different reason, that which aims to advance the understanding of what Ford works to accomplish with the Mustang Mach-E.

Palmer is one of the original members of the Ford Edison team, the group that was organized in 2017 to advance the development and adoption of the battery. electric vehicles (BEV). And today, he’s Ford’s global director for BEVs, which means he’s responsible for launching the portfolio of electrical products Ford is rolling out, with the Mach-E at the forefront. Palmer says he was in the room the day the Mach-E was designed.

The analogy with Apple

So what about Apple? Palmer says that when the iPhone launched in 2007, not only did capacitive touchscreen technology deviate from the norm, but “they changed the use of what was just a phone to a portal. Internet.” Yet while people saw the lack of buttons, the change in use case went unrecognized.

He remember talk to people back then and ask them what they thought of the iPhone. Ordinary people – not tech freaks – just said it was a phone without a keypad, then tended to add, “But you have to charge it every night, and my phone lasts for three days.” In other words, they weren’t impressed. They saw the gaps, not what he could do.

Palmer says that when a friend or family member who had experience with an iPhone demonstrated it – usually enthusiastically – to those same people and then got a chance to try it out, “They were like, ‘Oh my word, why haven’t I tried this before? It’s a revelation for me.

“Electric cars can be like that.”

That’s why the Mustang Mach-E is what it is.

Amplify attributes

Palmer talks about “amplifying attributes”, clarifying functions and benefits.

The Mach-E development team was well aware that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were nothing new. They also discovered – through surveys of BEV owners in areas such as California, Norway, Europe and China – that it was important to create a ‘need’ rather than a ‘duty’. : people had to want to the vehicle rather than being put into one by law.

“When people see the real benefits of electric vehicles, it sparks that desire and that desire,” says Palmer.

“We want to resume early adoption from the majority,” says Palmer. It’s not looking for a niche, it’s looking for more. This is one of the reasons the Mustang Mach-E is a small crossing: “We sell hundreds of thousands of them. They are very useful in people’s lives. Putting the Mach-E in a form that has built-in demand removes a barrier to acceptance.

Palmer also admits that the battery technology – the Mach-E is available with both 68 kWh and 88 kWh lithium-ion batteries – is such that the batteries take up space that can be more easily accommodated by a small SUV than a small one. sports sedan. He says that at some point, the density of the battery will allow the conditioning (and range) of a “more traditional sports coupe.”

A Mustang is a Mustang

One of the attributes the Mach-E emphasizes is performance. “It’s tuned to feel like rear-wheel drive,” says Palmer. “When you step on the accelerator, you feel the car spin around the center, pushed by the rear wheels. This car is distinctly tuned to feel like a Mustang. In the BEV space, vehicles generally feel flat or as if they are front-wheel drive. “

Another attribute related to this is the throttle response. “We didn’t choose to make it look like a gasoline car.” Palmer says he responds to the accelerator in 0.1 seconds. “Someone told me that a blink lasts 0.3 seconds.”

Maximum torque is reached, he says, in 0.5 seconds. And he quotes a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds.

All of this seems to indicate that they are looking for the avid buyer.

This is not quite the case. There are also all these potential buyers of things like Escapes.

“For a lot of people who drive this – a new majority – this will be the first time they’ve driven a Electric car. They will experience the feeling and be delighted, ”says Palmer.

Plus, there are things like the 15.5-inch center display that provides information for everything from range to the nearest network charger; the ability to select separate (and quite noticeable) driving modes called Unbridled, Whisper and Engage; and upcoming hands-free driving via CoPilot360, a feature that will be provided via a live update.

Beyond Mach-E

If the Mustang Mach-E amplifies the performance aspects of what a BEV can be, then the following models Ford releases have their own important characteristics.

E-Transit 2022 is positioned as having a lower total cost of ownership than gasoline vehicles (eg 40% reduction in maintenance costs over eight years), which is essential for commercial customers. It is a point of amplification.

Palmer describes the F-150 as “the best tool in the world,” and he says the electric version will be used to amplify what this truck can do.

While buyers of some EVs have had to come to terms with some flaws, Palmer says this is not acceptable to Ford. “The doors fit together properly, the plastics and other materials are color matched, the bumpers don’t fall off, the roof doesn’t come off when you wash it, the door handles don’t get stuck in cold weather.” … “

This is a strategy to deliver electric vehicles to people who are unwilling to compromise – and who won’t need them.

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