DETROIT -- Of the 13 electrified vehicles Ford Motor Co. plans to bring to market in the next five years, the Mustang Hybrid may be the toughest sell.
Company officials at the 2017 Detroit auto show acknowledged Mustang fans are their most passionate and are quick to voice displeasure with even minor tweaks they don't like.
Ford risks alienating die-hard enthusiasts who prefer their pony cars with the ear-deafening exhaust notes of a gas-guzzling V-8. But executives are confident their fans will accept the new powertrain.
"I think we've proven if you can deliver what they're really buying the Mustang for -- affordable performance -- they're willing to accept that," Raj Nair, Ford's development chief, said.
He likened the acceptance of a hybrid to that of a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine or an independent rear suspension, both of which were introduced on the 2015 Mustang and have been generally well-regarded.
"As we continue to modernize the vehicle, as long as we stay true to why they're buying the Mustang to begin with, I think we'll do right by them," Nair said.