Ford Mustang Lithium EV Shocks SEMA With 900 HP, Six-Speed Manual
6 November 2019 - Motor1
Not even the new GT500 has a manual transmission.
Ford's Mustang-inspired electric crossover is waiting in the wings for a grand debut on November 17, but if you're really curious about Mustang's future, the Blue Oval offers a glimpse right now at the 2019 SEMA Show. This isn't Mustang-inspired – it's a full-on pony called the Mustang Lithium prototype and as the name suggests, it's a battery-electric vehicle. Before you start throwing up your hands in disgust about an EV Mustang, there are two very important facts you need to know. It has over 900 horsepower (671 kilowatts) under the hood. And you can manage that power with an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual transmission.
The Blue Oval team partnered up with Webasto to create this one-off prototype, and regardless of how you feel about electric cars, there's no denying the performance capabilities of this machine. Nestled where you'd normally find a thumping V8 is a Phi-Power dual-core electric motor with dual power inverters. An 800-volt Webasto battery system provides the electricity, and it has the capability to discharge a megawatt of power. For those not familiar with EV performance, that's essentially double the capability of most electric cars you can buy today, and the single-motor system is lighter while generating less heat. That all translates to more usable power, and from what we see thus far, there's considerable potential for epic performance in this package.
Perhaps the bigger news for enthusiasts is that Ford pairs the power to an old-school six-speed manual transmission. The gearbox is a tweaked version of the Getrag MT82, beefed up to withstand 1,000 pound-feet (1,356 Newton-meters) of instant torque. A Super 8.8 Torsen differential with Ford Performance half shafts ultimately connects the power to the rear wheels, where we suspect tires don't last long. A lowered suspension with the Ford Performance Track Handling Package, strut tower brace, and six-piston Brembos borrowed from the Shelby GT350 help the electric Pony handle curves, and of course it wears a body kit for added visual punch.
Mustang fans might be interested at this point, but EV followers are likely rolling their eyes at the notion of a manual transmission. The whole point of a gearbox is to keep the engine in its sweet spot for peak power, but an electric motor is always in its sweet spot. If anything, the manual transmission will hamper power delivery and make the Mustang Lithium slower than it could be, but that's so not the point here.
The biggest cry from enthusiasts over the advent of electric vehicles is the lack of soul and involvement behind the wheel. This prototype might be slower because of its manual, but it could be infinitely more engaging to drive. With Ford planning to move heavily into the electric realm in the coming years, a machine such as this could serve as a bridge to woo enthusiasts into a new Mustang generation. With 900 horsepower and cogs to swap, it certainly has our attention.