Ford bets on electric Mustang to charge turnaround


It will be sacrilege to traditionalists.

There wasn't a rumbling V8 engine in sight when Ford unveiled a new electric version of its Mustang late Sunday (November 17).

The new version is also an SUV, not a sportscar.

Dubbed the Mustang Mach E, it's a big test for Ford.

Its turnaround efforts have been marred by profit warnings and quality problems.

Asked if the company could make money with the new car, Chairman Bill Ford was bullish:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BILL FORD, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF FORD MOTOR COMPANY:

"This vehicle will be profitable from the start. And so yes we can. Now the customers over time will tell us what they prefer. And we will let them lead us to ultimately what they desire."

The Mustang brand has a long association with the movies.

Think Steve McQueen tearing round San Francisco in Bullitt.

On Sunday a new-generation star was on hand.

But British actor Idris Elba said it was more than just another corporate gig for him:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) IDRIS ELBA, ACTOR, ON HIS PARTNERSHIP WITH FORD, SAYING:

"Listen, I used to work for Ford. My dad worked for Ford as employees. I did two years on the night shift. When they were launching this car, the legacy of a Mustang, the fact that it's an all electric car, it felt like a natural place for me to jump into the endorsement area of working with a car."

The Mach E will start at about 43 thousand dollars.

That's likely to put it in direct competition with Tesla's upcoming compact SUV - the Model Y.

As for any customers missing an engine growl, Ford has a solution.

The Mach E can generate noise in three modes - Whisper, Engage and Unbridled.