The Birth of the Mustang Mach-E Rally: Engineering for the Extreme

A Ford Mustang Mach-E doing early testing on a rally course for the Mach-E Rally.

The Mustang Mach-E® Rally‘s journey began in a casual setting—an engineering breakroom—where a simple yet intriguing question sparked a groundbreaking project: “Can we make a rally-inspired version of the Mustang Mach-E?” This was the challenge faced by Ford’s product planners Peter Schultz and Craig Migliori one morning in 2022, setting the stage for a transformative automotive development. 

Early Experimentation: Proving Ground Trials

The initial phase involved taking a standard Mach-E GT and outfitting it with new wheels and off-road tires. The team then took this prototype to Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds to test its capabilities on a rugged dirt track. The results were overwhelmingly positive, confirming the vehicle’s potential in rallycross environments. 

Ford engineers around a Mustang Mach-E doing early tests for the Mach-E Rally.

Design and Engineering: Building a Rally Warrior

Understanding that the Mach-E Rally needed to embody both the aesthetic and functional aspects of rallycross, the team implemented several enhancements. A 1-inch lift from the normal Mustang Mach-E GT suspension height was introduced, along with RallyCross-tuned shocks and springs. This setup was designed to tackle rough terrain effectively. The vehicle was also equipped with gloss-white 19-inch wheels, Michelin® CrossClimate2 tires, and robust underbody shielding to protect against dirt and debris. 

Performance Enhancements: Crafting a Racing Persona

To emphasize its high-performance nature, the Mach-E Rally was adorned with striking design elements. These included contrasting body moldings, an aggressive front splitter and rear spoiler, a black painted steel roof, and built-in rally-inspired fog lights. These features not only enhanced the vehicle’s visual appeal but also its aerodynamic performance. 

A professional driver doing early testing for the Mustang Mach-E Rally.

Rigorous Testing: Ensuring Durability and Capability

Chris Berchin, a Ford off-road attributes engineer, and Jay Kistler, vehicle engineering supervisor, spearheaded the drive testing phase. They conducted a comprehensive 500-mile torture test that simulated ten years of rallycross racing. This rigorous testing protocol was crucial in ensuring that the Mach-E Rally could withstand diverse weather conditions and varied dirt track compositions. 

A Mustang Mach-E doing early testing on a rally course for the Mach-E Rally.

Course Development: Simulating Real-World Rallycross

The development team transformed a once grassy field at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds into a fully functional rallycross testing course. Before construction, the team gathered insights from real rallycross events and consulted with professional drivers to ensure authenticity. They also utilized computer-aided engineering analysis to meticulously design the course, focusing on elevation changes, expected speeds, and timing. 

Secretive Success: Internal Recognition

The in-house development strategy not only saved costs and time but also maintained the secrecy of the project. This approach ultimately led to the Mustang Mach-E Rally team receiving a Vehicle Engineering Validation award from Ford, recognizing their innovative efforts and successful project completion. 

The new Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally in a beautiful, wooded setting.

Ready for Action

After over two years of dedicated development, the Mustang Mach-E Rally is poised to hit the market and the dirt tracks. It represents a remarkable achievement in automotive engineering, showcasing Ford’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. The Mustang Mach-E Rally, with its specialized RallySport drive mode, is a testament to the power of curiosity and the relentless pursuit of excellence in car manufacturing. 



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