Sergio Rodriguez finally decided to just go for it.
But that’s not what he initially planned. He was apprehensive at first.
The military contractor flew from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Diego to pick up his new 2021 all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV at the Ford dealership on Feb. 19, drove it around a few days and then shipped it cross- country to his home in Saint Marys, Georgia, two hours south of Savannah on the Atlantic Coast.
Frankly, he didn’t know whether the Mach-E would be comfortable enough to travel in for 2,428 miles.
“My 2013 Audi A6, for long road trips, is horrible. Yes, it’s a midsize sedan. My 2020 Tesla Model X Performance is uncomfortable for long road trips. And my 2017 Hyundai Ioniq is just OK,” Rodriguez said.
“So I was debating,” he said. “The Mustang Mach-E was super comfortable, sitting in it for long periods of time. It looks like the seat is flat but it actually contours to you. I thought, if I’m not comfortable, I’m not going to drive that far because it’s going to be painful. I had no kind of back pain or hip pain experience.”
He was a little shocked, frankly.
No driving hassles on a trip that takes 35 hours if you don’t stop.
Battery-range anxiety didn’t come into play, either.
“Once I left Murrieta, California, the car told me to stop in El Centro, California. But I was able to look at the percentage of what it would be if I just continued to Yuma. So, I just kept on driving,” said Rodriguez, 41, a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and specialized in explosive ordnance disposal.
“I felt confident, based on my driving and watching the efficiency of the battery. The car tells you where you need to go; Tesla does too. Hyundai does not. I got 224 miles on that Mach-E charge,” he said. “When I pulled up with just 5% left … it was a faster charge than I anticipated. The longest I sat was 38 minutes charging during the whole trip.”
During that whole trip, he spent 586 minutes charging at a cost of $159.85. He charged exclusively at DC fast chargers en route, with no overnight charging. “None of the hotels outside California had any” chargers.
A feature that made the trip especially efficient, he said, is one shared by Ford and Hyundai that allows the vehicle to coast — it’s called “free wheeling.” The less resistance the car has, the less energy it uses, Rodriguez explained.
“You can turn off the regeneration and, if you’re going down a hill, the car will do almost a neutral phase, just let it roll. You can coast to 80 mph. And you’re not using any fuel,” he said. “Imagine a gas car and putting it into neutral and not use gas. Tesla automatically regenerates as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator, and it slows down.”
He has waited a long time since placing a $500 Mach-E reservation on Nov. 18, 2019, and then submitting an official order on June 30 for about $59,400 before incentives. The dealership near his old home, Gosch Ford Hemet, was so great he wanted to stick with them despite moving away.
The journey began Feb. 25 and ended on March 2, after a series of stops to see friends and family along the way.
“I’m just impressed with what Ford did with the Mach-E because they took notes from other manufacturers of what works and what doesn’t,” Rodriguez said Monday. “I feel like this car is solid. I’ve had zero issues. Well, yesterday I had one.”
He said he climbed into his SUV and all the music stations he had saved were reset.
“It was really weird. Like, where is my music?” he said. “It was playing what it wanted to play and I didn’t want to hear that. But I love electric cars and technology. Ford piqued my interest.”
Additional thoughts from this seasoned consumer:
- “My problem with Tesla is their quality of service and workmanship. Some people accept it. But if you look at the body panels, they sometimes don’t line up. Some cars didn’t have paint on the fenders on some parts. My Tesla costs $130,000. You open the door and in between the fender and the door, it’s not painted. My car is blue. I paid extra to have it blue. You open it up and it looks like a primer color, like it didn’t get painted all the way. In the Mach-E, everything looks nice.”
- “If you open the hood on the front of Tesla, you can see where it’s painted and not painted. It’s like a blue and then a taupe or a weird color in between. How do you open the hood and look at that nastiness? You open the hood of a Mach-E and it has a cover with a horse embedded in it.”
- “What I like about Tesla is performance. If you want to get up and go, get out of the way or show off real quick, that car will slam you in your seat.”
‘Are you kidding me?’
He didn’t mind potential repair hiccups in the Mach-E, knowing it’s a brand-new product. Tesla owners are used to such things, Rodriguez said, referring to a recall Ford announced Friday for fewer than 75 Mach-E SUVs for a loose bolt on the subframe.
“It’s a subframe bolt. I don’t care,” Rodriguez said. When I’ve got things falling off my Tesla? Please, girl. Look, when I had a 2019 Model X 100D, I used to hit a puddle and water would shoot up from the dashboard in my car. That car cost me almost $90,000. They couldn’t figure it out. They told me just deal with it. I’m not going to just deal with it. People actually told me maybe you shouldn’t hit puddles and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ “
The Mach-E is perfect for somebody new to electric vehicles, Rodriguez said. It has gauges that are easy to understand, shifting is easy, and Mach-E tells the driver how many miles remain on the battery charge.
“Tesla gives you crazy numbers that require arithmetic to figure out what you’re getting per mile. What the Mach-E does is show how many miles per kilowatt hour, which is more like miles per gallon. It’s more user-friendly,” he said, still loyal to the Tesla brand.
“Tesla has the potential to be a phenomenal car. It’s like someone you’re dating, a dysfunctional relationship,” Rodriguez said. “I know they can do better but it’s almost like they don’t have the motivation. Maybe Ford coming out with the Mach-E will spark them to create change.”
The Free Press reached out to other new Mach-E owners across the country to get their thinking on the vehicle that recently won the 2021 North American Utility of the Year award, but has also made headlines for extended quality holds after manufacturing.
‘I did not know’
Tim Campbell, 56, a technology architect for Oracle based in Dearborn, took possession of his Mach-E on Feb. 5. After owning a 2009 Ford Escape hybrid, which replaced his 2005 Escape hybrid, this is his first all-electric vehicle. He has been reading Mach-E forums to learn more.
“I did not know, for example, in the winter when it gets cold that you can lose significant range on the battery,” he said. “When the temperatures go down to the teens or single digits, you may lose 40% of your car’s range. I had no idea. Turns out, I have more than what I need so it’s not an issue.”
Campbell researched the Tesla and decided on the Ford.
“One of the things I didn’t like was, right in front of the steering wheel there was no instrument cluster in a Tesla, no driver information displayed. No buttons other than a central monitor. That was too spartan. Ford has a nice blend of things you expect. And I like that, like range estimates and telling you the current speed limit.”
As for potential hiccups, Campbell said, “I’m really not freaked out about it. Ford knows how to build cars. Previous electric cars from Ford were initially designed to have traditional engines and they adapted them for electric. This is a completely all new electric vehicle from the ground up. And when you get a brand new platform, you’re probably going to experience some issues. The first time I had an issue, Ford called me on a Sunday. They had to apply a software update that had to do with how the car maintained charge status. You don’t have to go into the dealer. For this, there is literally nothing that can’t be done over the air.”
The power of the Mach-E surprised Campbell.
“When you put your foot into it, the Mach-E moves. It really moves. This car has got green features. But it is a muscle car,” he said. “I’m amazed with the performance and it’s not even the GT edition. I had a 2006 Toyota Prius. That car, you’d put your foot on it, count to 10, and the car would start to move.”
‘Never Ford’ buys Mach-E
Hugo Lepur, 51, a mechanical engineer from Santee, California, just northeast of San Diego, vowed to never buy another Ford after it took five months to replace the main battery on his 2013 all-electric Ford Focus. But after researching Tesla and Ford, he took a Mach-E home on March 1. With five drivers in the house, they also have a 2017 BMW X1 crossover, a gas-operated 2013 Ford Focus and a Hyundai hybrid.
“The ride, technology and comfort,” said Lepur, highlighting the top qualities of his new car. “I’m expecting a few glitches, maybe some things not working quite right yet, but I’m confident since Ford gave it the Mustang name that they’re all in with support.”
Following forum discussions, he’s surprised how few buyers realize that temperature can affect batteries.
Kristie Bannister, 44, a special education teacher from Chula Vista, California, just north of the Mexico border, reserved her Mach-E on Nov. 17, 2019, and picked it up on Feb. 8.
“I refuse to buy anything but a Ford, so I just had to wait,” she said.
Her husband, a special education teacher and head football coach, traded his 2015 F-150 for a 2017 premium Mustang with a stick shift while Bannister decided to downsize from her 2013 Flex to a 2017 Fusion Energi; They bought two cars that day.
This time, they bought the 2021 Mach-E and the 2020 Fusion hybrid, adding to their 2019 Ranger, 2019 EcoSport and a 2013 Focus with manual transmission.
She traded her Energi for a Mach-E with a sticker price of $48,940 because she “wanted to go all the way” and commit to all-electric.
“I only work 2 miles from the house and I used it to go to work and the grocery store,” Bannister said. “I was getting 90 miles to a gallon.”
Soon she’ll be able to compare Mach-E mileage.
While Kristie and Howard Bannister drove cross-country in their Ranger in 2020 she wonders about taking the Mach-E through “long stretches of nothing in Wyoming or Montana.” She just took a two-hour trip to Los Angeles, charged at the hotel overnight for free and it was all fine.
Families said owning a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle, in addition to an electric vehicle, adds a “sense of security.”
Anne Thimm, 59, a retired analyst from Alexandria, Virginia, parted with a 2007 Toyota Highlander hybrid that worked like new and had great gas mileage to get the Mach-E, she said. She planned on buying another Toyota until Ford announced the Mach-E.
“I love Mustangs so much,” she said. “I was worried about how the Mach-E would drive. I rarely used the brake on my Highlander. I coasted to stops, around corners, down hills. That allowed the engine to regenerate the battery and get better gas mileage. The Mach-E has one-pedal driving. I use the accelerator pedal to control the engine and braking. … It was so easy to get used to.”
She placed her order in November 2019 and took her Mach-E home on Feb. 23.
“There is such great re-gen on my car on a very short drive to the post office,” Thimm said. “I ended up with the battery charged more than when I left.”