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Ford's Team Edison moves fast on electric crossover

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

Ford Motor Co. says its upcoming long-range battery-electric crossover -- tentatively called Mach 1 -- is inspired by the Mustang.

It's also inspired by the Ford GT.

The group in charge of making the electric vehicle, dubbed Team Edison, was formed last year and has been modeled after the small, close-knit bunch that created the latest Ford GT supercar in a secret basement room in a far corner of the company's product development center.

Details about the Mach 1, due in 2020, have been scarce (Ford still won't even confirm the name), but Hau Thai-Tang, head of product development and purchasing, has offered some insight into its development.

Team Edison was recently in China to study EV buyers there and discovered that they like larger display screens than what was originally planned for the Mach 1. Some wanted to suggest changing the size of the display, but others hesitated because the traditional Ford product development process says it's too late for a change that substantial.

"Everybody felt they were doing the right thing," Thai-Tang said. "One team was trying to react to customer trends; the other was trying to protect engineering discipline."

That's when he reminded them to think of the GT team.

"The Ford GT had a very singular mission: Go back to Le Mans and beat Ferrari," he said. "If we have a singular mission now, it's to launch this car in 2020 and for it to be our best BEV vehicle. If the GT team found out Ferrari had some competitive advantage that would give them the edge at Le Mans, how would we react? We'd do anything possible to figure out how to replicate it and beat them. Why are we not taking the same approach?"

They did, and decided to make the late change.

Thai-Tang wouldn't reveal what size the display will be and was mum on any other details about the car.

But when you finally get behind the wheel and glance at the display, you can thank the GT -- and Ferrari -- if the size feels just right.

You can reach Michael Martinez at mdmartinez@crain.com -- Follow Michael on Twitter: @MikeMartinez_AN

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