By B. O’Hare
It goes without saying 2020 was a difficult year for many, however when it came to EVs plenty was still delivered upon. Yes, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic meant many delays – notably the release of the Jaguar XJ EV was pushed back until late 2021, the Rivian R1S and R1T were delayed until next summer and Ford had to cancel plans for a Lincoln EV based on Rivian’s skeleton platform. However, 2020 still saw the release of a slew of new EVs which were all eligible for this award. Our top candidates, as well as the Mach-E, included the Tesla Model Y, Honda E, Volkswagen ID.3 and Polestar 2, among a select few others. For reference our ‘Car of the Year’ award is exclusively for EVs that saw first customer deliveries this year either in North America, Europe or both. EVs exclusively available in China are not currently eligible due to a lack of access for testing.
So, why the Mach-E? Well Ford’s first mainstream EV since the (mostly terrible) Focus Electric certainly lives up to the hype. With a real-world range of around 300 miles in RWD, Extended-Range spec the Mach-E is seriously competitive with its main rival, the Tesla Model Y. Couple that with full access to the vast Electrify America // Canada network in North America and the Ionity network in Europe and you’ve got a fierce fight for sales on your hands between the Mustang-inspired E and Tesla’s crossover. So then, why did we pick it for Car of the Year over the Model Y, it’s primary rival? Well, two main reasons.
Firstly, price. In the US the Mach-E starts at $35,395 after the FTC, and you can get your hands on an AWD Select variant for well under $40k after incentives, whilst a Premium Extended Range RWD Mach-E with a 300 mile range comes in at $45,000 after the FTC has been applied. The Tesla Model Y on the other hand will set you back at least $49,990. Yes, for that price you get AWD and a real-world range of around 300 miles per charge, but in our opinion the Y is a lot more bland both inside and out than the Mach-E (effectively an enlarged Model 3 with a better internal wiring setup) and according to testers isn’t as engaging to drive as the Mach-E. Plus for those of you in Europe, where both cars will be available next year, the price gap is even bigger. In Germany for example, the Mach-E will start at €46,900 ($56,900) meanwhile the Giga Berlin-built Long Range Y will retail at €58,620 ($71,100).
Secondly, significance. The Mach-E is a massive step for Ford and is arguably the first direct mainstream rival to Tesla. Given first deliveries took place in December 2020, it has succeeded in hitting the market before the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4 and Nissan Ariya and will go on sale in Europe before the Model Y does. It’s built from the ground up, unlike the likes of the Model Y, BMW iX3 and Volvo XC40 Recharge, and features a clear and intuitive infotainment setup and instrument cluster similar in scale to that of the Tesla Model S and X – but for a fraction of the price and with the latest hardware behind it all. Given Ford’s massive dealership network it will undoubtedly be responsible for converting hundreds of thousands of ICE drivers to EVs over the next 3-4 years (Ford’s 50,000 unit annul production run for the Mach-E will be drastically expanded from 2022 onwards).
Reasonable pricing, great range and fantastic tech. What more? Practicality. With plenty of boot space (402 liters) and a large ‘frunk’ as well as seating for five adults the E is great for mid-sized families. The only downside we can see is the lack of a 7-seat interior option – something which the Model Y has. However, the ride position is great, the interior feels spacious, comfortable and tech-packed and for the driver there’s Ford Co-Pilot autonomy to make long trips easier. Plus OTA (Over-The-Air) updates ensure the Mach-E gets better over time.
Whilst there were many alternative options we could have gone for, we felt overall the Mach-E deserved the award most. The Honda E for example looks amazing, is fun to drive and has one of the coolest interiors in the car industry – but it only manages around 110 miles per charge in real-world driving conditions and for €30,000 ($36,400) one would expect more space inside – even for a city car. The Volkswagen ID.3 on the other hand has good range, space and tech but just doesn’t feel like the gigantic leap forward VW promised – plus the 77kWh ID.3 with a 342 mile WLTP range will set you back at least €40,000 ($48,000) – serious money for a hatchback that isn’t even particularly sporty. Equally the Polestar 2, which we can now reveal is our runner-up, features plenty of Scandi-cool and great tech but was ultimately plagued by issues at launch and, thanks to a lack of partnership with other manufacturers, has poor access to charging infrastructure – particularly in North America. We could go on, but I think you get the point. Factoring in a wide array of areas discussed above, the Mach-E came out on top. Below we’ve revealed our top five picks for our ‘Car of the Year 2020’, voted on by our team. We plan on running a readers poll in a few days time, where you will get the chance to vote for what you think was the best EV of 2020.
Electric Car News Car of the Year Awards 2020: The Top 5
(1) Ford Mustang Mach-E
(2) Polestar 2
(3) Volkswagen ID.3
(4) Tesla Model Y
(5) Honda E
So there you have it folks, congratulations to Ford and their electrification team responsible for the Mach-E for winning our second ever car of the year award, following on from last year’s winner – the Porsche Taycan. Who do you think should have won? Let us know in the replies section below.