The Hybrid Mustang Makes My Teeth Hurt

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At the Detroit Auto Show reveal of the soon-to-be-produced hybrid Ford Mustang, marketing manager Mark Schaller said the following: “The world has figured out a way to take that technology and use it for performance… that will be the way we use that technology for this car . . .  it’s not meant to be a hyper-miler car; Mustang is all about having fun while you drive.” (Italics added.)

And the trained seals clapped.

But, excuse me, please. If the object of this exercise isn’t mileage then why go to the trouble? I mean, what is the point, exactly?

To show it can be done?

Like the pyramids?

A hybrid drivetrain makes no sense except as a way to reduce the amount of gasoline a vehicle burns. In other words, to make it more economical to drive. 

second drivetrain is added – the electric motor and its battery pack – in order to relieve the gas-burning engine of the chore of propelling the car as much as conditions permit (as when the car is stationary or just creeping along at low speed, in heavy traffic) in order to reduce fuel consumption.

In order to save money.

You accept a reduction in performance – and fun –  as the price of that.

Remember your Dr. Strangelove? His explanation of the reason for making public the existence of the Doomsday device? It’s the point of the thing, you see.

The fact that you can make a “performance” hybrid doesn’t mean it should be made. It is like keeping the Doomsday machine a secret.

Why?

First, it adds weight – the weight of a second drivetrain. As a for-instance: The hybrid Lexus GS450h sport sedan – another “performance” hybrid – weighs 4,112 lbs. The regular, non-hybrid GS350 weighs 3,726 lbs. The hybrid is lugging around 386 pounds of electric motors and batteries – roughly the equivalent of a small block Chevy V8 sitting in the passenger seat.

Or a pair of Oprahs.

This (more weight) tends to . . .  decrease both efficiency and performance – for the same reason it’s hard to have hot ice cubes.

The GS450h has more total power (338 hp vs. 311 for the GS350) because it has two power sources (gas engine and electric motor/battery pack) but because of that almost 400 pounds of extra beef, the GS450 is only just barely quicker than the GS350: 5.6 seconds to 60 vs. 5.7 for the non-hybrid GS.

Remind me again what the point is?

You could fix this by adding a larger/stronger IC engine – but that will burn up more gas. Or you could install a larger, more powerful electric motor/battery pack to make up for a small, gas—sippy but not-too-powerful IC engine. But that will make the car even heavier which will make it less efficient – and also more clumsy. Handling will be affected and probably not for the better.

This may matter to people who purchase cars like the Mustang, which is not a car like the Prius.

Second, expense. It is the enemy of economy.

An expensive technology is pretty much by definition not economical technology. Solar panels come to mind. It’s a lovely idea but the cost to replace an asphalt shingle roof with a solar panel roof is much too high to make it worth doing in economic terms. Do it because you think it’s neat or because you like the idea of not being tied to the grid, all fine. But from an economic point of view, it is rubber roomy.

Same goes for a “performance” hybrid like the Lexus GS450 . . . or a hybrid Mustang. Hot ice cubes . . .

A hybrid necessarily costs more than an otherwise similar non-hybrid car. Because it has more stuff. A motor (or motors) and a battery pack, plus the peripherals – in addition to the IC side of the equation. This is ok if the hybrid’s higher cost to buy is made up for in as-you-drive savings. The Prius, for instance. It averages in the mid-50s, and only costs about $2,000 more than an otherwise similar but non-hybrid economy sedan/hatchback.

It is, however, not quick. And this is acceptable because the object is to save money, not cut a snappy 0-60 run. Or to corner athletically.

But a performance hybrid?

In order to perform, it becomes less efficient. And more expensive.

The Lexus GS450h’s base price is $63,635 – vs. $50,695 for the fundamentally the same but non-hybrid GS350.

The difference is $12,940.

But the difference in mileage isn’t much, because the performance hybrid must also deliver the 0-60 goods. So: 29 city, 34 highway for the GS450h vs. 20 city, 28 highway for the GS350. This is a 9 MPG uptick in city driving and 6 on the highway.

This works out to about 8 MPG overall.

For this, you pay nearly $13,000 more. You don’t lose a step, 0-60. But you lose a lot of money.

Work the problem, as they said in Apollo 13.

Or, pass the crack pipe.

The extra cost of the hybrid gear is only justifiable in economic terms if the resultant (more expensive) car significantly lowers your costs to drive the car.

But Schaller openly tells us that such considerations do not apply to the hybrid Mustang. That it will be “fun to drive” and “performance oriented.” He – Ford – says that the hybrid Mustang will deliver “V8 performance.”

Okay, why not just install a V8, then?

I mean, if that’s the goal – what’s the point of going to all this trouble and expense to duplicate the performance of a V8 Mustang without the V8 but with a fatter price tag and without a meaningful reduction in cost to drive?

You are making a more expensive and complex and heavier and likely worse-handling Mustang  . . . just so you can tout that it’s a hybrid?   

You are – as one of my hillbilly friends used to put it – going around the block to cross the street.

The only reason for this pyramid-on-wheels is to buff Ford’s “green” credentials. And to enable people who want to preen “green” a way to do so. That it doesn’t make economic or functional or even performance sense doesn’t matter. We live in a loony room era, in which such considerations do not apply.

My teeth are beginning to hurt.

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89 COMMENTS

  1. What bugs me the most about the whole “hybrid powertrain” garbage is how we taxpayers will be subsidizing the crap. Because the reality is, if the government wasn’t using taxpayer money to subsidize that junk, it would never be on the market in the first place. Any halfwit can see how expensive they are to produce. The only reason Elon Musk started Tesla was because of being funded by the taxpayer through the violent force of gooberment. It is sickening. Why don’t we just live in Fascist Italy under Mussolini?

  2. Sorry, Eric, I have to disagree with you on principle here. Do I think the hybrid Mustang is stupid and not cost-effective? Yes. Do I think most hybrids and electrics are stupid and not cost-effective? YES.

    BUT I’m not buying one! I just bought a brand-new Focus for under $13,000 with the rebates. (Compare that to the hybrids and the electric Focus, which lists for about $30,000. ) In researching Ford’s product line, I saw a LOT of “green” crap that costs more money for little or no gas mileage improvement. Apparently they think they can sell the stuff to people who feel good about buying it. So what? They won’t be selling it to me.

    From a libertarian perspective, if somebody gets all jacked up by buying a V-8 performance car instead of a 4-cyl econobox, or a red car instead of a blue car, that’s their free choice, even if it doesn’t make economic sense to you or me. Same thing if somebody gets turned on by burning their own money on a hybrid Mustang.

    The only objection I have to all this “green” crap is when the government gives grants to manufacturers, or tax rebates to purchasers, and forces you and me to subsidize it, the way they force us to subsidize Tesla. Or if government mandates that we MUST buy it against our will.

    Aside from that, if some eco-weenie wants to burn his hard-earned cash on a stupid car, God bless him. It’s HIS money, not mine.

  3. Frankly, as far as economy goes, no new car makes sense. Case in point, my 94 Toyota 4-Runner that I bought four or five years ago for 2 grand. It only gets 16-17 mpg, but even with the occasional $400 repair once or twice a year, it will still be cheaper to own and operate than any new car. I only have to have minimum liability insurance, not full coverage, and register and smog it. And when it gives up the ghost, I’ll just buy another one, and probably get $500 just for junking it. I’ll let the suckers buy the new ones, and I’ll take my discount every ten years. If I need to take a long trip and don’t trust the clunker, I’ll rent. It’s ridiculously cheap.

  4. The point is adding the torque of an electric motor. Like Ferrari , McLaren, Porsche…. their current crop of new supercars all use the hybrid system to add torque not fuel economy. Hell, the Ferrari doesn’t even HAVE batteries – you can’t go anywhere on just the electric motor, it’s just there to add torque. As Jeremy Clarkson put it, it’s “like weaponizing a wind farm.”

    This first time you’ve been just plain wrong, Eric. Granted, it’s possible that Ford dicks this up, but I’m giving them the benefit of doubt on this one.

    • Yes, but what does a 918 cost? A Ferrari… a McLaren?

      How much can a Mustang cost and still be a Mustang? Still be viable as a mass-market car?

      In the article, I discussed the cost-benefit of the hybrid drivetrain. This matters when we’re dealing with a mass produced (rather than exotic) car.

      If you just want to spend money, fine. If you just like the hybrid drivetrain and don’t mind what it costs, fine. But cost matters to most people.

      What will this thing cost vs. the performance it delivers?

      Will it cost more than a V8 GT?

      Almost certainly.

      In which case, unless it is much quicker and handles betterwhy bother?

      A Prius hybrid makes sense, because it saves you money to drive it; enough to make it worth buying it. A 918 might make sense, too – because cost is no object. Lots of torque, great.

      But a hybrid Mustang – unless it gives you at least equal performance for the same money as a performance-equivalent non hybrid – is as loopy as sending bacon to Mecca.

      And they ask me why I drink…

        • Actually, they sell in very small numbers.

          A fraction of total Mustang (and Challenger) production. The ones that sell like hotcakes are the entry-level four and six cylinder versions. Which are affordable.

          I’d love to own a GT500 or Hellcat… but I can’t afford one. Most people can’t afford one.

          That’s what makes my teeth ache about the hybrid Mustang. It will cost more (it has to cost more) and that takes away from the economics of the proposition and makes the mileage gains (if any) irrelevant.

          So it’s just another toy.

          Which is fine, but spare us the “green” preening!

          • I see, yes it’s just another toy. Replacing the super charger on a gt 500 with an electric drive might not cost much more and may give even better performance. No these are not everyday mass market cars but they might use less fuel. I’m still not sure why that matters?

            • Hi Todd,

              I question whether overall performance would be better (leaving aside cost considerations). Hybrids are very heavy. Typically, about 400 pounds heavier than an otherwise identical, non-hybrid version of the same car. Maybe the electric motor/battery pack will make it quick – possibly, quicker than (as a point of comparison) a V8 GT. But all that additional weight will undermine the handling.

              Again, what’s the point?

        • GT500s were (and GT350s are) dealer reward cars. Dealers get to sell them depending on whatever sales figures ford decides to use. This allows dealers to sell them at a premium and get their reward. They are built way under demand to allow dealers to tack on $10K premiums above sticker.

          I don’t think Ford is going to do a mustang hybrid to be the top performer. They’ll never make that back unless they break with their instant-collectable marketing scheme of dealer reward cars. More likely it will be something between the 4cyl and the V8.

    • Ford has to make CAFE and CAFE will be increasing dramatically. So the point will be to replace torque lost to achieve fuel economy numbers. I think we may be seeing the beginnings of a scheme to pass the test.

      Fuel economy testing does not require spirited driving. It’s like your uncle clover would drive. That guy who merges on to the interstate gradually increasing speed until he jams into traffic at 20-40mph slower than it is moving. The guy who takes a mile or more to get up to the 45mph speed limit from a traffic light. As a result Ford could keep the Mustang’s ICE from ever doing much of anything under the test conditions. The result will be a very nice theoretical fuel economy number that will be used to calculate Ford’s CAFE scores.

      So yeah, torque is the point, to a point. The only way it will be used the way super cars do may be in some sort of dealer rewards car. Otherwise it’s just to compensate for torque losses to make unrealistic fuel economy and emissions numbers.

  5. Not to go off topic but “What is the point?” is one of the most profound and revealing questions in the course of human affairs. All questions are enemies of tyranny and therefore The State but some questions – like What is the point? – are simply devastating to The Busybodies That Be and their useful idiot sycophants.

    Question everything. Always.

    • Hi Skunk,

      Have you noticed that most of the comments critical of my article completely ignore the economic aspect? I find that people have been conditioned to bark like seals whenever some All New! thing has been trotted out (especially if it is “green”) and never, ever ask: What is the point?

      Much less: What is it going to cost?

      • Eric, yes it is amazing how ignorant the average US amerikan is concerning economics. The actual concept of “value” – and what that means – seems to have gone the same way as the concept of actual Liberty. Many say they want and support them both but in actuality it is mostly just lip service.

        • Hi Skunk,

          Just had to repost my previous comment to another person who criticized me for not admiring all that torque the hybrid Mustang will have.

          And a Saturn V produces all kinds of thrust, too…

          • Eric.. None of that makes any difference. They do it because they want to. All the car companies do the same thing, they have done this for decades. Whether it is pushed by the feds or by keeping up with the jones and needing to appear “cutting edge” I’m not sure.

            Look at cars all the way back, they all basically look the same, they mostly functioned the same. Even the 50’s with big fins, they all had big fins. Then look at current cars, they are basically the same, the new mustang and camaro are more similar than different. All the trucks look the same.

            As long as people keep buying them, they will keep throwing more crap at them. I suppose the point is appearance.

  6. Eric, while some of your stats on current hybrids are true regarding performance gains versus economy, the main point of the hybrid system is a more powerful experience when it’s needed, and saving when you don’t. This car will be the same price(pending inflation) as the current options. I predict this based on Ford’s ability to pioneer the use of mass produced aluminum bodies for the f150 without significant cost increases. The automotive world said it couldn’t be done, but Chevy, their biggest critic, is following suit in the next couple of years. Hybrid means performance and savings for the future Mustang.

    • Hi Peter,

      Can you give me an example of a hybrid that costs less than a gas-engined equivalent? One that performs as well or better while costing the same or less?

      A hybrid has additional equipment. Unless these cost nothing to manufacture and install, it is unavoidable that the resultant car will cost more, to reflect the higher cost to make it.

      As regards the aluminum body: This is being done to eke out fractional MPG gains, for CAFE purposes only. And the costs are – again – passed on to the buyer.

  7. The state is a doomsday device; enslaving us, taking our resources and costing us tooth enamel.
    Ford’s marketing people know Mustang buyers have too much self-respect for this abomination.
    They would never have emasculated the series so – if the cadres had not issued little reminders of their destructive potential.
    A monument with chiselled names of the victims of the overbearing state will have to include the Ford Mustang.

    • Hi JC,

      When hybrids first appeared, they were touted as money savers, which they are when gas is $4 a gallon. Now, they are being touted as performance enhancers, which they can be – but not economically. And, in addition to the higher cost, you have the additional equipment – the motor and battery pack- which adds weight. This reduces performance. Maybe not always acceleration, but handling for sure.

      Except as a way to save money – or when money isn’t a consideration (as in the 918 Porsche mentioned by another poster) hybrids are a waste of money.

      • Hybrids don’t save money at $4/gal gas either. Back at that time I ran the numbers for a base civic vs. a hybrid civic. The car was beyond end of life before it made the up front money back. For a reasonable pay back gasoline would have to be double that or more.

        They hybrid people would complain about how I compared it to base gas saving civic instead of something else because of how the hybrid was equipped or some such. If the point is economy it is apples to apples to compare it to the conventional economy version of the same model. Plus it was so wildly in favor of the conventional civic the mpg impact of a few options would not have changed the conclusion anyway.

      • eric, this century has been one corporate boondoggle vehicle after the other, creatures that would have made some of the old cars that didn’t catch on like the Edsel look great. After all, the Edsel was just a strange looking beast and wasn’t so much different in operation than anything else Ford made.

        I don’t recall what year it was that GM made that rolling office pickup with 120V on the inside and lots of 12V outlets as well as crap you could slide in and out to write on and other such things. It was one of those cut the engine when you stop things but always shown as to be the pickup on the construction site the engineer or some such needed. As far as I know, I never saw one and never knew anybody who even saw one or was aware it was made. I’d deem the number made was next to nothing and rightly so. This is young, edgy, out of touch marketing.

        You’re sitting on a construction site, 100 degrees in the shade and you need to stay cool for various reasons including not sticking to blueprints or being miserably hot and the thing is sitting there trying to run the a/c off a battery pack. That’s a bad joke and for people who stop a lot or sit at a site, a pickup running off a battery pack is a joke. We had pickups in the patch that were never shut off during the day so you could go cool off or have a decent temp to eat in.

        The wife rented a Malibu she detested right away since it would cut off when you came to a stop and then start when you hit the gas. There were so many things about it she didn’t like she wouldn’t take one again and wanted everyone to know when she called for a reservation.

        Maybe a car like that would sorta work for somebody like me who views every stop sign as a yield sign but it was an uncomfortable bastard to boot. I bet they went cheap when sold, not only to the rental company but especially when the rental company sold it.

        Probably that year, ’08, when gas and diesel got so expensive it hit the diesel pickup market badly. I was paying over $5.20/gal for diesel and damned sure wasn’t looking to buy a new one that supposedly for 2-3 mpg better mileage than my old 6.5. That 38 gallon fuel tank didn’t get topped off since a fill-up was $200. I’d pull into the pumps at a truck stop and everybody there looked like they’d just lost their best friend, esp. the truckers. Just the difference in price for insurance for a new 4X4 one ton diesel is going to buy many tanks of fuel plus that big payment on $50K. We probably have the manufacturers to thank for the brevity of that period as much as anything. Everyone I knew who had a working pickup was glad it worked and they weren’t looking for a new one.

    • Ford has attempted to kill the mustang a few times over. Each time the customer has eventually won out forcing ford back to the V8 and RWD.

  8. The world has gone insane. I’ve accepted that fact long ago. Corporations are run by idiots who pander to other idiots.

    What’s the point of a hybrid Mustang? To make the car cost more, and to make it less durable, so that in the near future, there will be no such thing as a cheap old used car, and you will be forever tied to a new car and new car payment, because once out of warranty, these Rube Goldberg contraptions of complexity will just have to thrown away.

    But people will buy them, because they think they are “saving the earth” by doing so.

    Wow…just wow…..

    • Nunzio, you beat me to it. My first thought reading the article was that they are trying to make fools desire planned obsolescence. We already have it with 10 year old cars being uneconomic to repair due to specialty electronics, nonstandard engines and drivetrains, and air bags. Now with a hybrid battery pack costing more than the 5 year old hybrid is worth they are squeezing that window tighter.

      As for myself, I will keep my relics running as long as allowed, but at some point when they are lawyered off the road, I will get worse mileage for having to carry a ton or 2 of armor and armament. But i suppose I won’t have to deal with the decreased mileage for too long…

      • Ernie, the funny thing is the same people who want to buy into the rental society are the same people who will preach to us, those of us who keep our stuff for a long time, about the evil corporations and their environment destroying planed obsolescence.

        I never understood environmentalists’ desire to throw stuff away. I have a useful whatever. Sure it’s not the most efficient new thing but it works, gets the job done and nobody has to go mining or manufacturing or anything to make a new one. But they say the efficient one makes it back. Maybe. In some cases on energy balance. But someone had to make a deeper hole in the earth to get the stuff to make it from.

        Speaking of an old fleet. I am being very tempted to add another… someone has a near duplicate of my ’97 but with less than 1/3 the miles on it for sale. I am so tempted…. so tempted.

        • And it’s far more then just cars too. Many household items and house parts don’t last very long anymore either.

          In the mid 1990’s i had to replace my 1960’s era HVAC in the house. A leak down the chimney had made the furnace core rust and the feds had banned the freon for the now leaky a/c. So in went a new system. Thankfully they didn’t talk me into top of the line (with the best efficiency green nonsense).

          Why am I glad I didn’t get the top of the line? Because that system is already in the landfill. In 2009, it arced (thankfully my new electric panel stopped it from setting the house on fire) frying all the many electronics on it. Oh, the feds have banned the freon for this a/c unit too, and it leaked too. It was going to cost $300+ to recharge it, every year from now on too (had the electronics not fried).

          So it got replaced again. And I know this system probably won’t last as long as the 90’s system even. It is finicky and has loads of condensation when the a/c is running, which i discovered when the pump failed (I now have it draining into a floor drain rather then pumping it up.

          My brother built his house in 2004 and has already replaced the HVAC. Also four windows (needs to do four more). Some of the vinyl siding is already crumbing, so its likely he will have to reside the house before its 20.

          Most of today’s major appliances don’t last longer then a decade anymore either.

          How the hell is this all green?

          • Rich: It isn’t supposed to be green. Just how corporations are cutting costs to generate the fat bonuses for their top execs. Customers end up holding the bag, not to mention the added costs of lost incomes from the same corporations offshoring production.

          • Hi Rich,

            I am gonna need a new wood stove next year. But I won’t be buying a new one. They all have mandatory “green” design features that make them expensive and more problem-prone. Nein, danke.

            Luckily, I have friends in low places. Including a metal fab guy who can build me what I need, totally off the books!

          • There are completely serviceable units out there but they cost big up front money and because its HVAC even if you can find someone willing to sell you the parts it will still cost you. The upside is they do last a long time without breaking down and you can fix them.

            My grandparents bought some German made furnace in the 1970s. A relative has that house now and the furnace is still going.

      • Ernie, can you imagine these cars 10 years from now? They’ll open the hood and look at the electronics or the battery pack, and snicker “Would ya look at that!”- like the way we look at a digital camera from 1998.

        “Can you fix it?”. “Nah, they stopped making THOSE kinda contacts 6 years ago, and Ford no longer supports the software nor the ABCXYZ system; and if you could still find one of those batteries, it would cost half as much as buying a new car”.

        This is what happens when you use technology to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.The technology becomes the problem. Most people haven’t figured it out yet- they want the “latest and greatest” , the newest, highest-tech…. Somehow, it has not yet registered the price that they pay for this crap- both short-term and long-term.

        They buy a car, and in a year or two it turns out to be a disappointment, so then they buy another, with yet more complexity and do-dads, thinking surely that MORE is better, and that having more and newer will mean an improvement over the last one- never stopping to think, that until recently, you didn’t need $15K worth of electronics just to make an engine run and a car drive down the road.

        • Quickly becoming like cell phones, used for a short time and dumped. A cell phone made in 2013 may as well have been made 1713 as far as Apple and Google are concerned. People look at me funny when I pull out my iphone4, and I am like, I bought this brand new only in 2013, it should work for at least 5 years, 10 would be better. Two years (and less is quite insane). But most “smart” phones are under 2 years of age, and many people have a hard time even getting them to the second year.

          • The only cell phone I use is a Tracfone I keep in my glove compartment, and just turn on maybe once or twice a year when I need to make a call. I got a message recently that my ancient phone was no longer going to work on their “updated network”….. So they sent me a newc one- for free.

            I don’t understand all of this “upgrading” that is always going on with everything. Call quality on my landline is not as good today as it was in 1968 with an old rotary phone, but now they’re going to upgrade the landline wires to fiber optic.

            The upgrades always seem to be about frills, and just spending pointless money, which I have a feeling comes ultimately from the taxpayers. Quality never seems to improve, but quantity of frills and things they can charge more for just keeps on trucking along.

            Yeah, we really need fiber optics in this little rural county where the biggest town has a population of 1500. They have dreams that if the infrastructure is there, one day they can destroy this nice place, and make it another sea of parking lots, restaurants and subsidized tax-abated factories…..

            Errr, what was this article about, again? 😀

    • I’m pretty sure most of the hybrids will drive just fine without the battery. At least I know the older Honda Insight will. They are slower for sure but still run and drive fine.

      Just saying we might be able to get really cheap cars, they’ll just be a little slower than new.

  9. The part you guys miss about the economics of it. Who says gas is going to stay cheap? PA just raised our gas tax $.08 a gallon and will gladly raise it even more. There is already people calling for a tax that will keep gas at $4 or more per gallon as a minimum.

    • Here in Indiana a bill was introduced to raise the gas tax annually (no more the 10cent but of course if you increase it by that every year, in a decade you have a full dollar increase). An annual automatic increase determined not by lawmakers, for sure not taxpayers, but the Indiana Department of Revenue. (this bill introduced by a REPUBLICAN). Also a $150 annual fee on electric cars as well (to be raised every 5 years, automatically).

      It was pointed out the the formula they would use would increase taxes the most during recessions, which would of course be the worst time to increase a tax. A similar bill by the same lawmaker was shot down by Governor Pence who of course is no longer in office. Hopefully this will go now where again, but the Republican statehouse seems more interested in tax increases lately it seems.

      Not covered at all by “mainstream” newspapers once again.

  10. Man, driving cars like the Mustang used to be fun. But, a hybrid? Pulleeeze. I seriously doubt I will ever purchase a new car again–refuse to take out a “mortgage” for the transportation of today.

    • Ditto, Harry –

      And with gas around $2.20 in most places, a hybrid (or electric) car will almost never save you money, either.

      Once again: The fact that something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done!

      • Ironically a lease is often better when gas prices are low.

        Right now in California lessees can get a Volt (new version) for a little over $200/month, $1500 down (but you get that $1500 back after ‘green’ rebates).

        Given that state’s much higher-than-average price of gasoline, you can indeed save money from day one if your commute is within the Volt’s 50+ mile electric-only range.

  11. This article is a waste of time. Clearly you don’t know what you are talking about. Electric motors are not just for efficiency. They produce a ton of ft/lbs of torque instantly. They are a great complement to a gas engine. Check out the Porsche 918, maclaren p1, and the Ferrari le Ferrari and delete this article please. Next time before writing stuff like this do some research. Thanks.Clover

    • Levi,

      Yes, but what does a 918 cost? A Ferrari… a McLaren?

      How much can a Mustang cost and still be a Mustang? Still be viable as a mass-market car?

      In the article, I discussed the cost-benefit of the hybrid drivetrain. This matters when we’re dealing with a mass produced (rather than exotic) car.

      If you just want to spend money, fine. If you just like the hybrid drivetrain and don’t mind what it costs, fine. But cost matters to most people.

      What will this thing cost vs. the performance it delivers?

      Will it cost more than a V8 GT?

      Almost certainly.

      In which case, unless it is much quicker and handles betterwhy bother?

      A Prius hybrid makes sense, because it saves you money to drive it; enough to make it worth buying it. A 918 might make sense, too – because cost os no object.

      But a hybrid Mustang – unless it gives you at least equal performance for the same money as a performance-equivalent non hybrid – is as loopy as sending bacon to Mecca.

      And they ask me why I drink…

  12. To shoot a moving target, you cannot aim at where it is now. You must aim where it’s going to be when your bullet arrives.

    To correlate this to Mustang making……You’re right, a hybrid Mustang makes no sense Right Now. That’s because current mpg regs still permit powerful 5.0 V-8 engines to be sold in limited numbers. Right now is the absolute Golden Age of high performance pony and muscle cars. But we all know those regs will get much more restrictive very soon.

    Ten years from now, when the CAFE is something like 50mpg, it will become impossible to sneak through even a few fire breathing gas V-8s without incurring ruinous gas guzzler taxes. So how are going to keep selling genuinely fast Mustangs then, hmmmmm?

    If Ford is looking two or more generations ahead, as it better be, a hybrid Mustang may make a lot of sense.

    • Hi Mike,

      Granted – but who will be able to afford one?

      If the cost of “V8 performance” ascends to $40k-plus (as I predict it would) then these cars are extinct regardless, except as toys for the rich.

      Feed them all fish heads…

      • By 2027, the majority of cars and CUVs probably will have to resort to hybrid systems for the same reason. Thus, they all will get heavier and more expensive. If these conditions are common across the market, the Mustang will not suffer any unique competitive disadvantage.

        When comparing gas saved to the initial added cost, the break even point is way far down the road. But price per gallon over the vehicle’s life is a quantifiable (if still speculative,) factor. “Cost/speed” ratio however, is a purely subjective calculation.

        What will be true both now and then, is……….”You can go as fast as you want…..how much money you got?” If Ford engineers do their job well, a super fast Mustang hybrid will still be a relative bargain.

        • This makes my teeth hurt even more, Mike… 🙂

          Hopefully, the regulatory apparat will dial back – because (as I see it) the scenario you describe is not economically viable unless the entire industry or at least most of it goes over to a rent-as-you-go model. Because most people can’t afford a $40,000 hybrid. We are already at the point of not being able to push a car loan out much farther (in order to make monthly payments affordable). You get to six years and most cars are close to being upside down. Get to seven or eight and it’s a near certainty.

          • You’re surely right that sooner or later, even those in the shrinking middle class will not be able to afford their own cars. Exactly when that will happen is really hard to predict.

            Whenever that day does come, you know the feds will be delighted. Unrestricted individual mobility has been one of the cornerstones of personal freedom.

            Of course Eric, this leads us right back to our conundrum where I encourage you to stop preaching to the choir about what’s wrong, and start proposing solutions. 😉

            • The solution is for people to understand the overall game plan. Then they can resist it. Trouble is people won’t do either. The middle class will rent cars for some years before the plug is pulled entirely. See caddy’s new plan. Only $1500 a month.

              • I’m guessing that the CAFE standards might get rolled back soon-ish, as a favor to the Rust Belt states that delivered the presidency to Trump, and because the incoming head of the EPA is gonna be less favorably inclined to this ludicrous CAFE nonsense.

                • At best that would only be a temporary reprieve, if it happens at all. It seems unlikely to me, there are so many pans on the stove for Trump to deal with.

                  It doesn’t help that Obama moved to place in new regulations (including the insane 54mpg reg) that, by law, should have had another year of “discussion” before become a rule. Because he knows the trump regime would maybe want to dial it back, and wants to red tape that. Maybe enough red tape to run them off.

                  I doubt the jihad against VW would stop either. The reality is, its the permanent bureaucracy that are making up the laws. And they aren’t freedom lovers for sure.

                  Even if somehow the rules are dialed back a little, the next president (in either 4 or 8 years) will likely be a Bernie Sanders type, who would immediately put the rules back in play. And the permanent bureaucracy will slow any reform the Trumpsters tries to bring.

                  So I doubt it would change any automaker planning in the long run. Maybe the Dodge Charger or a V8 powered Mustang will get to last a couple years longer, but they are going away no matter what. If you want those cars, you better get them in your garage soon. Many types of vehicles are already gone and wont’ magically return either.

                  Four or eight years of hard fought rollbacks will be gone in the first few minutes of the next unfriendly regime, the bureaucracy will see to that.

      • That is the idea. Reduce and eventually eliminate car ownership for everyone except the ultra rich. The rest of us will be dependent on mass transit and self driving cars.
        Someone I know who works in the auto industry told me that all car makers are planning on autonomous vehicles being the future of the industry.

        • Hi Escher,

          This is exactly it. I, too, know people inside the business… and they tell me the skinny (sotto voce). It’s moving toward the rent-by-the-hour model. In ten years’ time, the landscape will be unrecognizable.

  13. Real, legitimate go-getters, such as Paul “Red” Adair… or “Buffalo” Joe McBryan… or Robert Glenn “Junior” Johnson…today’s world doesn’t do much for minting more of these guys.

    • Hi Aljer,

      I think many such exist – are out there – but they aren’t known because there is no place for such in crony-corporate, government-snuggling modern America.

      • THIS.

        Any employee who is truly innovative or self-starting is a threat to the existing order and is either crushed by the corporatocracy (the HR department is the modern corporation’s equivalent of the Gestapo/KGB/DHS) and thoroughly co-opted into the Mediocratic Borg collective, or leaves and attempts to launch their own business.

        The latter is akin to swimming against a tsunami tide because 1) unless the individual can find interested investors with extremely deep pockets or inherits a fortune from someone, capital will be horrendously difficult to come by; and 2) the current regulatory and tax environment is designed to destroy startup businesses.

        All of this explains the mediocrity that characterizes the operations and output of most large American businesses today, as well as a complete lack of concern for the customer. They’ve effectively bought themselves monopolies (perhaps the more appropriate term is oligopolies, although the result is a difference without distinction) through the corrupt political process. Without competition from upstart startups, quality control is negelected, innovation stagnates, risk taking is penalized, and customer service goes out the window.

        • Yep.
          Today self employment is being a consultant to corporations. Not sure how that’s better than being an employee. Especially when many get sick of hustling for new business.

          • Hi Brent,

            Its worse. You don’t get the benefits, but you get all the obligations. No health insurance/retirement and they can cancel you at will. But you work under the same oppressive strictures.

            This is why I went into The Woods.

            I’m no longer able to buy hobby cars or do much in the way of projects. But I am not beholden to them. Thanks to the support of the people here, I get by. And I get to write about what I want to write about – and the way I want to write about it.

            I don’t sweat losing my job over – as an example – writing about GM’s PC idiocy.

            They can pull my press car privileges. But they can’t fire me (or shut me up) because I don’t work for them!

  14. Want mpg, get a VW diesel. They’ll run circles around the stupid Prius, without requiring an entire second drivetrain.
    Hybrids are for mainstream idiots that believe anything with the word “science” in the same sentence and get flu shots.

  15. Is Ford just trying to cash in on the popularity of pure-performance hybrid racers (Formula 1, lots of Le Mans prototypes) and hypercars like La Ferrari and Porsche 918, even the Acura NSX? Not saying the Mustang is a good idea, but there are many hybrid cars that are built for performance. Regenerative brakes (the real genius of hybrids) which store energy otherwise lost and then use it to get even more power are something that can’t be achieved with IC engines, sadly. Additionally, the low end torque of electric motors can make up for the lag of turbochargers.

    Just saying I don’t think it’s as ridiculous as the article makes it seem. But, for Mustang money this sort of thing seems out of reach.

    I’m a serious fan of the site, by the way. If Ford is doing this just because of fuel efficiency regulations, then it’s absolutely dumb as rocks.

    • Hi JDG,

      Yes, but those are all exotic cars, with exotic price tags. The Mustang is a mass-market performance car. If this hybrid delivers “V8 performance” but costs more than the V8 GT, what crackhead would buy the hybrid?

    • Yes, this screams “ME TOO!”

      But there’s one thing that might be interesting, if they decide to build this monstrosity. If they open up the controller for track day tuners to hack on it, they might just have something.

  16. Is ford building the complicated green junk that uncle might buy? I really wish the automakers would simplify their products. I wouldn’t even consider buying an albatross hybrid mustang.

    Ford, stop kissing up to the united nations and make your good cars and trucks better for Americans.

  17. Honda made a good case for a performance hybrid with it’s first hybrid Accord, it was a V6 hybrid and was quick in a straight line and got respectable fuel economy – and sold poorly, because hybrid buyers are performane buyers, but not the same performance you or I think of. The Mustang hybrid is going to be a flop that you can write about in your next book about automotive flops.

  18. I have always thought that Ford calling nearly all of its engines “eco” whatever is completely dopey. Largely because they want you to think green as in environment, not green as in low economical cost. A vehicle engine will never remind you of nature and it’s just silly to try to make that comparison.

    • Shoulda called them “Echo”- which is the sound you’ll hear in your safe after all your money is gone from maintaining and fixing the damn things!

  19. “386 pounds of electric motors and batteries – roughly the equivalent of a small block Chevy V8 sitting in the passenger seat. Or a pair of Oprahs.”
    I don’t think so. Maybe 1-1/2, but nowhere close to 2.

    • PtB, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe 1.5….or less Oprah’s.

      I know a couple people who regularly buy new ‘Stangs because they really like them but going with the fastest model is not what they’ve done, not that they wouldn’t like to but because of the price. I’m sure when they(and they know all this stuff well before I hear it because they work in the automotive world)find/found out about this they quite literally hung their heads.

      Then there’s the thing of having to get smog tested just to keep the registration, probably not a big deal in the first few years but definitely a problem down the road so to speak.

      Ol Dent, the Z 71 I bought had been registered in El Paso and had to pass emissions test. I had to put my John Henry on a document saying I wouldn’t be using it for more than 60 days at a time in any of those testing counties. So the old early 90’s pickup I’m still looking for is looking better all the time and hopefully, rural counties will be the last affected by more govt. bs.

      Also, GM went the other direction and reduced the weight of the Camaro by about the same amount as Ford increased the weight on the hybrid Stang. Keeping up with the Jones’s is sometimes driving off the edge of a financial cliff.

  20. “The Lexus GS450h’s base price is $63,635 – vs. $50,695 for the fundamentally the same but non-hybrid GS350.

    The difference is $12,940 … 29 city, 34 highway for the GS450h vs. 20 city, 28 highway for the GS350.”

    Jump the shark time — 650,000 miles of driving just to break even at $2 per gallon gas.

    • And that MPG is hypothetical, Jim- under the best conditions and when the car is new and everything is working flawleslly at full efficiency. As a driver of older vehicles, but who keeps them in very good tune, I’ve learned to never expect more than 75% of the official MPG numbers. And I’ve seen lots of people experience the same with not-so-old cars…. some with brand new ones!

      Betcha if they’d get rid of all the pork and just put a BIGGER IC engine in these cars, which could operate efficiently in the power band at a low RPM, they’d get better MPGs.

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