What just happened? Ford partnered with Webasto to come up with the ‘Mustang Lithium,’ an electrified version of its iconic muscle car that not only demonstrates Ford’s upcoming EV technology, but pairs it with an old-school six-speed manual gearbox, probably to address concerns of car enthusiasts who find electric cars not that engaging to drive, since they handle power delivery on their own and don’t make any exciting sounds while doing it.
Ford’s electric ambitions are pretty evident, considering that earlier this year, the company announced plans to electrify its world’s best-selling F-150 pickup truck. There’s also the upcoming Mustang-inspired Mach E electric crossover. However, nothing makes quite an impression as an electric Mustang with 900 hp and 1,000 lb-ft of torque, unveiled at the SEMA 2019 autoshow in Las Vegas, US.
Unlike most EVs that use 400-volt battery tech, the Mustang Lithium features a Porsche Taycan-like 800-volt battery system developed with Webasto and a dual-core electric motor that drives its wheels through a Getrag six-speed manual transmission. Though it’s unlikely for the manual gearbox to appear on future Fords, the company says that the battery and thermal management technologies inside the Mustang Lithium will underpin its future EVs.
Ford is said to have invested $11.5 billion as part of its EV efforts, with some of that money going towards building the Mustang Lithium prototype. The car comes with Ford’s Performance track handling pack, six-piston Brembo brakes from the GT350R painted in electric blue, a customized Webasto hood and Michelin Pilot Sports 4S tires wrapped in 20-inch wheels.
The interior comes with a few special touches too. Light-blue accents are scattered throughout, while a 10.4-inch touchscreen sits vertically in front of the gear knob. The Tesla-like multimedia screen has already been teased for Ford’s upcoming models but is fully revealed here to display the company’s transition of using big multi-function infotainment screens to replace (most) physical knobs and switches.
The manual gearbox has been an interesting choice on Ford’s part since cars propelled by electric motors provide instant torque and don’t require gears for optimal power delivery. It’s very likely that Ford went with a manual gearbox in the Mustang Lithium to please car enthusiasts that complain about an electric vehicle’s lack of soul and driver engagement, given their eerie silence as they whiz past gasoline engined cars.
It remains to be seen if the automaker offers a manual transmission in its future electric vehicles to make them stand out from competitors. Nonetheless, the company’s EV technology is most likely to appear in the upcoming Mach E crossover that’s set to make its debut on November 17.