Comparisons with Tesla Motors models like the forthcoming Model Y were always going to be inevitable for Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, but here’s something no Tesla can boast; the Mustang Mach-E has no door handles. Seriously, look at it. We don’t mean “has no door handles” like the handles are of the sort that retract into the door when not in use. We mean it literally does not possess traditional door handles.
Of course, that is very much by design, and Motor1 spoke to Mach-E Design Director Gordon Platto to get the scoop on why. And how.
For starters, small though they are, door handles add to a vehicle’s aerodynamic drag coefficient – the overall measure of how efficiently a shape can slip through the air. It’s expressed as a number typically between 0.20 and 0.60 for a production vehicle, where lower is better. Ford hasn’t yet revealed exactly how efficient the Mustang Mach-E is, but according to Ford, it’s below 0.30 – pretty darn good already.
On an EV like the Mach-E, keeping aerodynamic drag low is crucial as it allows the battery pack to go further. (As it so happens, it’s also more easily accomplished on an EV because there’s no need for a big, gaping grille to feed air through a typical gas engine radiator, and there are fewer turbulence-generating items hanging underneath.)
Just as important, however, is how the Mustang Mach-E’s lack of traditional door handles contributes to its sleek, clean design. Remember: Ford hasn’t had the best of luck with pure-electric vehicles, selling fewer than ten thousand examples of the Ford Focus Electric in the U.S. over seven years. This time around, Ford needed something different – something magnetic. That meant styling the battery-electric Mach-E after the Mustang pony car and, in a polarizing move, even lending it the ‘Stang’s nameplate.
It also meant leaving off the traditional door handles. Instead, the vehicle is accessed with a couple of subtle-looking buttons on the B- and C-pillars. Each button, when pressed, opens the appropriate door about an inch or so. Rear-seat passengers will then have to pull the door open by the edge, where the driver and front-seat passenger get a small, retractable pull handle that appears near the base of the window.
Is the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s lack of traditional door handles a solution in search of a problem? Maybe a little bit. But it’s a pretty darn cool-looking solution, don’t you think?