As the age of the electric car begins, there are plenty of reasons to believe that a V8-powered Ford Mustang may not be long for this world. With Ford announcing that it will offer only EVs in Europe by 2030 it’s worth wondering whether a V8 Mustang will survive past that date.
All we know for now is that an EV Mustang would need to be ready for sale by 2030 if Ford wants to keep selling Mustangs in Europe (and stick to today’s pledge). That may not sound super compelling, but you may be surprised to learn how much of a success Ford Europe considers the current Mustang. Having been reintroduced to Europe only in 2015, Ford now calls it the “world’s best-selling sports coupe.” Does that mean it’s a make or break product for Ford? Probably not. But it is another reason to imagine the automaker will have to seriously consider building an electric Mustang in the form of the current car.
Of course Ford could continue to sell new generations of V8 Mustangs in other markets like the U.S. — alongside an EV version that also gets shipped to Europe after 2030 or whenever. In a sense it’s doing that now with the Mach-E. But I think all of this offers us a few scheduling hard points to work from when imagining what to expect from the upcoming generation of Mustang — which is again, potentially the last to offer a V8.
If we assume Ford will introduce an all-electric Ford Mustang sports car by 2030, that leaves enough of a gap between now and then for what I’m calling a lame-duck generation. I would anticipate the next-generation Mustang will be a light upgrade of the current platform, and obviously still offer the V8 and manual transmission that enthusiasts demand. But how much attention could this car get when Ford’s engineering teams are hard at work on the future electric next-gen? How big will the budget be to make it feel like a new car compared with the current generation?
Those could be important questions, because if this is the last generation to have a V8 engine, people are going to want it to be damn good.
Of course, the current Mustang is incredible. It offers one of the best performance value propositions in the world, is available at just about any price point, with half a dozen engine options, all of which seem able to carry the legacy of the Mustang just fine. But will the next-generation? Even if it’s just a light update, a stop-gap for the EV car? Will it be just be a series of tuned special editions? Or will Ford send off the V8 with something we’ll never forget?
My hope is that Ford will save some special “final days of the V8” cars for after the introduction of the EV Mustang sports car — at the end of the next generation, not this one. That’s when the argument for selling a V8 sports car becomes even tougher to make and Ford actually has to fight to keep the model around in countries like the U.S. while it dies in Europe and elsewhere.
But we’re not there yet, and I don’t want to become preoccupied with what’s to come before we need to, at least not in the specific case of the Mustang. Right now, this is potentially the last opportunity for Ford to sit down and deliver its “wildest dreams” combustion-powered Mustang. I want to imagine it’s being done with the same level of dedication that brought us the latest Ford GT, with secret meetings in basements and pressure to build something that cements Ford’s legacy in motorsports.
Yeah, take up those old plans for taking the Mustang into Le Mans and actually go through with it. The next decade has the potential to be a frenzy of last-ditch enthusiast wish fulfillment, and the re-introduction of the GT and Bronco has proved Ford can really deliver on that stuff. Just give the Mustang the same attention.
We don’t know about the next-gen Mustang yet, nor any future EV version. But of course a new Mustang is coming, and I think it’s worth calling attention to what could be something very exciting — the V8 Mustang’s final form perhaps — while there’s still time.