Ford’s whetting electric appetites at SEMA this week with its new Mustang Lithium prototype. Officially a one-off model for the show, the automaker said it was present to prove how utterly dope future electric performance vehicles will be. Good timing, too, as the debut of Ford’s all-electric, Mustang-inspired crossover is almost upon us.
Ignoring the timing in relation to the Mach E, it’s mildly curious that the brand would first preview the prototype at an aftermarket trade show. But it’s worth noting that the electric Mustang actually cobbles together quite a few parts from various catalogs. The manufacturer informs us that Lithium is equipped with Ford Performance’s Track Handling Pack and Brembo brakes sourced from the Shelby GT350R — though they’re the tamest inclusions by far.
An electrified street-ready beast, Mustang Lithium is low and sleek, with custom carbon fiber body components, a 1.0-inch lowered stance and 20-inch staggered fitting forged wheels. Under the hood, the differences are electrifying: a Phi-Power dual-core electric motor and dual power inverters – all powered by an 800-volt Webasto battery system with EVDrive Technology that can discharge a mega-watt of electrical energy.
At 800 volts, that’s twice the voltage of most electric cars on the road today. This allows the system to be lighter, more powerful and generate less heat, and more electric force than most battery-electric systems on the road today.
In a unique twist, Mustang Lithium features a manual transmission and uses a drag-strip proven Calimer-version of the Getrag MT82 6-speed transmission with billet internals to handle the 1,000 ft.-lbs. of torque. Ford Performance half shafts and Super 8.8 Torsen differential help supply power to the road via lightweight Forgeline wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
That bit about the transmission almost doesn’t seem real, as we’ve grown accustomed to EVs being a one-gear affair. We’re not even sure what performance benefits multiple gears would have other than upping its top speed (quite possibly at the expense of acceleration). Yet Ford twice confirmed the six-speed with manual gear selection.
The manufacturer claims the ‘Stang generates over 900 horsepower and at last 1,000 ft-lb of instantaneous torque. While it’s unlikely that any hypothetical production models would match that output, it does frame Ford’s slide toward electrification in a positive light — which is the entire point of this Mustang.
“Ford has made no secret of the fact that we are electrifying our most popular nameplates,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s Chief Product Development and Purchasing Officer, said in a statement. “This one-off Mustang prototype is a great opportunity for us, together with Webasto, to showcase to our customers what a new electrified powertrains can do for performance in a car they already know and love.”
Ford estimates that Lithium weighs roughly the same as the GT500 (about 4,200 pounds) due to its battery, adding that the added heft is was worth it, as electrification allows for a much lower center of gravity. For all its improvements, Webasto claims it only supports Level 2 AC charging. Considering it probably doesn’t offer great range when you’re discharging all that energy with right foot planted, the company would have done better with DC fast charging. Perhaps the company just wanted to incorporate its TurboDX at-home charging solution for the display.
Eager to show off the vehicle’s hardware, Webasto added polycarbonate windows to the hood. Sadly for Ford, they don’t show much and play second fiddle to an oversized decal that looks more at home in one of the first three Fast & Furious films. Its color matches the cobalt, black, and white paint scheme, but that’s the most praise this author can give. Otherwise, the car looks like a tastefully stanced custom.
Despite showing off being the Mustang Lithium’s primary goal, its secondary mission is to provide Ford with an opportunity to test the battery and thermal management technologies it’s currently working on with Webasto. The third? Assess the public’s reaction before going whole hog on EVs.