Ford Mustang V8 hybrid AWD powertrain: We examine the rumor

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Every year for the past three years, the Ford Mustang hybrid has dumped a new load of grist into the rumormill, and this week, Autocar is reporting that the Blue Oval’s electrified coupe will arrive with the next-generation model in 2022.

Ford has guaranteed the hybrid would make “V8 power and even more low-end torque,” and be a “very, very fun hybrid to drive.” Many took the V8 comment as insinuation that the efficient-yet-fun Mustang wouldn’t house an eight-cylinder, perhaps adding one or two e-motors to the 2.3-liter EcoBoost.

Ford, however, applied to patent a “Twin Motor Drive System for Hybrid Electric Vehicle” in 2017 that illustrated a V8 powering the rear wheels, two electric motors at the front axles and an integrated starter/generator to help charge the battery. Autocar and some other outlets believe we’ll find that patented system in the Mustang hybrid. Considering the output a V8 hybrid could produce, if this comes to pass, we won’t just have our cake and eat it, too, we’ll be devouring every sweet in the bake shop.      

Not everyone’s on board with the V8 hypothesis. First, the patent never makes any claim about a V8 being necessary to the hybrid system, only referring to a generic “engine.” Second, V8 hybrids almost exclusively serve super- and hypercars, and edge cases like the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid cost a lot more than Mustang money — we believe the coming C8 Chevrolet Corvette hybrids will, too. Ford could do a monster V8 hybrid that shoots sparks at the Shelby GT500, but… why? A leaked VIN decoder for the coming F-150, which shares its longitudinal engine layout and transmission with the Mustang, seems to show a 3.5-liter V6 hybrid on the way. The Ford Explorer, built on the CD6 platform that the next-gen Mustang is thought to move to, uses a 3.3-liter V6 as the heart of its hybrid system in the U.S., and a 3.0-liter V6 for the European-market PHEV.

Going down a YouTube wormhole led us to the obligatory conspiracies, but also to a video from Matt Maran Motoring. Maran’s ideas about the Mustang hybrid are all conjecture, naturally, but he makes some thoughtful points. The summary is that since the Bullitt retires next year, to be replaced by the Mach 1, an electrified Mach 1 would make a natural tie-in with the battery-electric Mustang Mach E. Plus, a leaked VIN decoder sheet appears to show the Shelby GT350 retiring as well. With the $49,000 Bullitt and $61,000 Shelby GT350 gone, there would be a fat MSRP hole on the performance coupe side between the $41,000 GT Premium and the $74,000 Shelby GT500. Enter the Mach 1.   

We’re going to go even further. The two incarnations of the Mach 1 starting in 1969 and 2003 have been performance packages, not the top-tier Mustang on sale at the time. The vintage Mach 1s even offered multiple engine choices. Why couldn’t Ford put a V6 hybrid into a Mach 1 as well as a V8? There’d be two price points to fill that MSRP hole, and not only does that keep the Mach 1 tied to its performance package roots, it makes the connection to the Mach E and it leaves the GT trim an all-V8 affair, forestalling complaints from purists about more dilution of the Mustang brand were the GT to house a V6.    

Want to go further? We could confuse matters more by noting that Ford Authority suspects the coming Mustang won’t move to the Explorer’s CD6 platform but stick with its current and modified D2C bones until the eighth-gen Mustang shows in the latter half of the decade. Today’s car has only been on sale for six years, although the original D2C platform dates back to 2004.

But hey, this is all make-believe — we don’t know what’s coming, nor when. We asked Ford about the Mustang hybrid’s arrival date and potential Mach E ties, and a spokesman predictably told us the automaker couldn’t talk about future product nor comment on media speculation. All we know for sure is that Ford’s got more hybridized models in the pipeline, and the Mustang is one of them. Eventually. Probably.

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Saurabh Shukla

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