And it has nothing to do with the vehicle itself.
There's no doubt Ford worked extremely hard to design and engineer its all-new all-electric crossover. With its muscle car exterior styling, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is the first of a new Mustang family of vehicles. BoastingTesla-rivaling range, performance, and high-tech features, the Mach-E won't arrive in dealerships until next year as a 2021 model, but there could be some further debate about it before that happens.
CNBC reports that despite being a groundbreaking vehicle for the Blue Oval, the Mach-E could potentially spark some political backlash for one specific reason: it won't be built in the US, unlike the regular Mustang. That car is manufactured at Ford's Flat Rock assembly plant near Detroit, Michigan. The Mach-E, however, will be built in Mexico.
This news isn't new, but politics could enter the picture, especially since we're heading into an election year. President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for American automakers choosing to build their cars outside of the US, particularly when those vehicles will be sold to Americans. Trump publicly attacked automakers for importing vehicles from not just Mexico, but also China and other countries. He also went after Ford for not supporting his administration's goal to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules. Ford has sided with the state of California and its continued quest for stricter regulations. Combined with the new Mustang Mach-E's arrival, this seems like an opportunity Trump may simply be unable to resist.
"The last thing Ford wants is for one of its new vehicles to be swept up in such a polarized political environment, especially when big competitors like Tesla can emphasize that their vehicles are American-made," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of Industry Analysis at Edmunds.
The good news is that a majority of auto industry analysts don't expect to see Ford receive too much backlash for its Mach-E production location decision. "As time goes on, the majority of consumers understand nationality about a brand more than they necessarily pay attention to production location," said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. "I don't think that it will help or hurt its acceptance overall." We'll know fairly soon whether President Trump goes after Ford again.