Every fleet manager I’ve spoken to about electric vehicles has told me the best way to get onboard with the EV evolution is to get behind the wheel of one. So when I had the opportunity at the 2023 Merchants Fleet Summit, I couldn’t say no.
As I walked onto the racetrack of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and looked at the lineup of EVs to choose from, I knew I wanted to test one of the popular public sector fleet choices: the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even realize the vehicle was on after I pressed the Start button. That’s a testament to just how quiet the vehicle really is. There’s also no vibration like what you tend to feel when you start an ICE vehicle.
Driving an EV for the First Time: Is There a Learning Curve?
I took the Mach-E for a drive around the racetrack. I know what you’re thinking, but no, I did not drive it like a racecar. I hit 65 mph max.
I learned pretty quickly that the brake pedal was more sensitive than my ICE vehicle’s brake pedal. Granted, EV drivers often use regenerative braking, only touching the brake pedal when immediate stops are needed.
A quick primer for those of you who aren’t familiar with this: per the U.S. Department of Energy, regenerative brakes work by reversing electric motors that propel a vehicle.
The technology works like a generator and feeds energy back into the electric system to help replenish a little bit of range.
The Mustang Mach-E has three levels of regen: whisper, engaged, unbridled. Whisper is the lowest level and unbridled is the strongest.
Despite having this technology available to me, I never used it. Trusting your vehicle to come to a stop when your foot leaves the acceleration pedal can take some time. So in that regard, there is a bit of a learning curve.
Aside from that, the vehicle operates essentially the same as an ICE vehicle. But the ride is significantly smoother than driving an ICE vehicle.
It also takes curves and turns seamlessly. Combine that with the regenerative braking and you should have a smooth turn.
Because EVs are generally heavier than their ICE counterparts, they also seem more stable, in my opinion. EVs have a lower center of gravity due to the location of the battery, making them hug the road in a way. EVs are less likely to tip because of this.
Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Driver Assist Technology is standard across its Mustang Mach-E lineup.
The Ford BlueCruise hands-free driving and 360-degree camera are also available on select models.
Let’s talk about range, because that’s something many fleets are curious about when switching to EVs.
Premium models built with the Extended Range battery will have a targeted EPA-estimated range of 290 miles on all-wheel drive models, up 13 miles. That applies to the vehicles built beginning in fall 2022.
Earlier this year, Ford announced increased range for standard range battery models to a targeted EPA-estimated range of 250 miles for RWD and 226 miles for eAWD, Automotive Fleet reported.
The battery is powered by lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. This change allows the eAWD configuration to gain an additional 45 hp. It also improves the targeted EPA range estimates for standard range RWD and AWD configurations.
For fleets who offer at-home charging, standard range models can charge to 100% more frequently via AC home charging.
When on the road, DC fast charging to 80% battery capacity from 10% is 33 minutes. That’s a five-minute reduction when compared to previous standard range models.
- Standard Range RWD 266 HP/Standard Range eAWD 311 HP.
- Extended Range RWD 290 HP/Extended Range eAWD 346 HP.
- RWD 317 lb.-ft. eAWD 427 lb.-ft.
- Extended Range eAWD 428 lb.-ft.
The Ford Pro Telematics offering, available for the Mach-E, allows fleet managers to keep an eye on their vehicle conditions.
Ford Pro's suite of fleet management solutions, announced in Sept. 2022, is designed to keep managers organized. The program integrates with Ford Pro Telematics.
The Mustang Mach-E seats five. The seats can be adjusted as needed with a 60/40 split-fold second row and adjustable load floor.
Like other EVs, it has a frunk, which offers 4.7 cu. ft. of space for fleet operators to store equipment. The frunk is made of water-resistant construction completely sealed from the elements.
The available panoramic fixed-glass roof has a special coating designed to help the interior stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Situated in front of the center console is the 15.5-in. touchscreen display, which fleet operators can use to access certain vehicle features.