Ford Motor Company President Bill Ford and President and CEO Jim Farley speak in front of the newly revealed Mustang Dark Horse in a stampede in downtown Detroit on September 14, 2022.
DETROIT — Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley was in place Wednesday night, surrounded by the gearheads and the automaker’s new 2024 Mustang models, including a new high-performance version called the “Dark Horse.”
There was no talk of electric cars or sustainability during the unveiling of the Detroit Auto Show. Just the revving of the engines and the screeching of the tires, to the applause of the hundreds of Mustang owners present.
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The scene was revealed in stark contrast to other recent events by Farley and Ford, which promoted electric and green goals. That’s because despite the electric vehicle transition, the Mustang is sticking with gas-powered engines for its seventh generation vehicle in 2024.
That might come as a surprise, given Ford’s plans to invest $50 billion in new electric vehicles in the coming years, as well as the expected plans of the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro — Mustang’s biggest rivals — to go electric.
So why is Ford sticking with the new car’s gas engines? Mainly, Farley said, because it can…and because it’s good for business for the foreseeable future.
the only survivor?
The Ford Mustang could be in a segment on its own in the coming years, forcing those still hungry for a muscular American coupe to come to the brand. This includes non-US customers, who account for about 20% of Mustang sales.
“People are leaving the segment, like Dodge, so we have a chance to introduce something really new about the Mustang,” Farley said following the debut of the 2024 Mustang. “This will give us a huge advantage because a lot of people still love this type of car.”
2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse
While the American muscle car segment is smaller than it used to be, there is still a demand for vehicles, which can also attract attention and new customers for their own brands.
While Ford invests in electric vehicles, Farley says the automaker will continue to invest in its traditional business. It’s part of the CEO’s new plan to increase sales across its traditional, electric and commercial vehicle businesses.
Bill Ford, president of Farley and Ford, declined to say whether the seventh-generation Mustang was expected to be the last gas-powered version of the car.
“If people don’t want them anymore, it’s going to go away, but I personally think people are going to want to have this car for a while,” Ford said, adding, “That day will come with tears in my eyes.”
Farley said the main reason Ford continues to produce gas-powered Mustangs is, ironically, the success of the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover that first went on sale in late 2020 and has already outpaced the gas-powered version during period of months.
The Mach-E, which has nothing in common with the gas-powered Mustang other than the name, has led to Ford becoming the second best-selling electric vehicle brand in the country.
This success of electric vehicles has given the automaker more flexibility to go ahead with gas-powered models, compared to competing automakers that have to chase electric vehicle sales and the regulatory emissions credits granted to them.
Automakers are required to receive a certain amount of regulatory credit each year. If the company can’t hit the target, it can buy credits from other companies, like Tesla, that have excess credits.
“Making the Mustang Mac-E somehow, he let this car happen,” Farley said. “Competitors are buying emissions credits, and they can’t come up with this type of vehicle.”
US President Joe Biden stands next to a Ford Mustang Mach-E (electric) during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show, highlighting America’s electric car industry, in Detroit, Michigan, September 14, 2022.
Kevin Lamarck | Reuters
Dodge said such emissions regulations are among the reasons it should end production of its gas-powered Charger and Challenger at the end of next year. Chevrolet is expected to end production of the gas-powered Chevrolet Camaro in the coming years as part of General Motors’ plans to offer exclusively electric vehicles by 2035.
In announcing the electric muscle cars, a Dodge spokesperson, a division of Stellants, said the company is “celebrating the end of an era — and the beginning of a bright new electrified future.”
A Chevrolet spokesperson said the company does not comment on future production, but added, “The Camaro continues to play an important role in Chevrolet’s lineup of high-performance vehicles and remains a highly sought-after vehicle that our customers love.”
General Motors, Ford’s biggest competitor in Crosstown, aims to better compete against Tesla, the leader in electric vehicle sales.
Meanwhile, Farley said he wants to grow his traditional business with “open products” that attract discussion and interest like the 2024 Mustang, including the new “Dark Horse” variant.
“I had a T-shirt at the dealership that said ‘Ford versus everyone.’ That’s kind of our attitude,” Farley said. “We want to be a black horse. We are a dark horse against Tesla in the electric vehicle field. We want to introduce a new game.”
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