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August 17, 2022
On track in the Mustang Mach-E 1400.Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co., Jamey Price
Ford decided that EVs needed a dose of excitement, so the company partnered with drift racer Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Ready to Rock racing team to create a mind-boggling 1,400-horsepower, all-wheel drive Mustang Mach-E 1400.
This is a rip-snorting EV that Gittin uses to show the public that EVs need not be soulless transportation appliances. Electric power can be as thrilling as combustion power, if it is deployed correctly.
In this case it means packing in seven 200-horsepower YASA motors and an 800-volt, 56.8 kilowatt-hour nickel manganese cobalt battery pack. These three-inch-thick “pancake”-style motors are made to stack in series, so the Mach-E has three of them together in front and four in the rear, driving through a conventional differential.
There is no gearbox with additional gears, but the team changes the ratio in the differentials depending on the venue. For lower-speed, wheel-spinning drift demonstrations, they’ll gear the car for a 90 mph top speed.
For my test drive in the twisty infield road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it is geared for 150 mph at the rear and 130 mph at the front, giving the car the rear-biased feel of a rear-wheel drive car. The straight-cut racing gears in these differentials produce an ear-splitting whine that is the opposite of the placid silence of most EVs.
Another characteristic of this crazy rocketship is that the steering becomes heavy under braking. That’s the warning from Gittin before I slide behind the wheel. The reality is that the car is flat impossible to turn when braking hard. Which makes it impossible to drive the way I’m used to. “You can’t get in it and drive it like a gas car,” he explained. “You were still a little bit of brake-on when you were turning in, and that doesn’t work very well.”
Indeed, it does not. So my laps in the Mach-E 1400 were more ragged than I’d like, with missed turn-in points and apexes due to my wrestling match with the steering wheel. But for a drift-master like Gittin, it is no problem.
The car is built with three passenger seats, so he can give rides to lucky passengers so that they can experience the car’s mayhem first-hand during his public demonstration runs. Burning up sets of tires this way may be the best way to help convince a skeptical public that replacing combustion with electric drive doesn’t have to mean the end of driving excitement. Click through the slide show for more technical details.
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