Ford Makes a Misstep in Its Race Against Tesla

Ford  (F) – Get Ford Motor Company Report doesn’t want to see setbacks in its race against Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report

The legacy carmaker — and everyone else — lags behind the world’s No. 1 in electric vehicles based on production, deliveries and market share. 

And if in recent weeks the wind has seemed to be at Ford’s back — with the first deliveries of the long-awaited F-150 Lightning, the electric version of the best-selling F-150 pickup — things can still go awry. That’s at least partly because Tesla is not ready to acquiesce at all to its many rivals.

Ford, aware of this sharp competitive approach, has so far managed to execute its plans well. It aims to produce 2 million electric vehicles a year by the end of 2026 while strengthening the company’s gasoline-car lines.

First was the reorganization of the group, which separated internal-combustion-engine cars (or gasoline-powered cars) from battery powered vehicles. The two new divisions respectively are Ford Blue are Ford e.

The Dearborn, Mich., group, led by Chief Executive Jim Farley, then started production of the F-150 Lightning without a hitch while managing the (industrywide) problems of chip shortages, supply-chain disruptions and soaring raw-materials costs.

Ford Is Recalling 49,000 Mustang Mach-E Cars

But the perfect music just went a bit off key. Ford has just informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it will recall roughly 48,924 Ford Mustang Mach-E vehicles. That’s the company’s electric crossover, which competes directly with the Tesla Model Y.

The recalled cars are part of a total of 100,000 vehicles produced between May 27, 2020, and May 24, 2022, at its Cuautitlan plant in Mexico.

The potential problem in these vehicles relates to a safety defect that could prevent them from starting.

“On affected vehicles, Direct Current fast charging and repeated wide open pedal events can cause the high voltage battery main contactors to overheat,” Said Deep, a spokesperson, told TheStreet in an emailed statement.

“Overheating may lead to arcing and deformation of the electrical contact surfaces, which can result in a contactor that remains open or a contactor that welds closed.

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“An overheated contactor that opens while driving can result in a loss of motive power, which can increase the risk of an accident.”

A Delivery Hold and a Software Update 

Ford has also asked its dealers to stop delivering the Mustang Mach-E. 

“It is not a stop sale. Dealers can still sell,” Deep said. “They just can’t deliver the vehicle. No different than any other safety recall notice. It is a delivery hold.”

The automaker says no investigation by NHTSA is underway regarding this recall.

To remedy this problem, Ford will update the software, Deep said.

“The remedy for this program is a secondary on-board diagnostic control module and battery energy control module software update,” the spokesperson added. 

Ford plans to start to deploy the update over-the-air in July. 

“[Alternatively], owners will have the option to take their vehicle to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to complete the software update.”

This recall is the sixth involving the Ford Mustang Mach-E since its launch. (Five recalls are on NHTSA’s website.) The most recent was May 13 for a software error that could cause a number of issues, according to a notice addressed to NHTSA. 

“The powertrain control module functional safety software may fail to detect a software error, resulting in unintended acceleration, unintended deceleration, or a loss of drive power,” the car manufacturer said at the time.

A total of 464 model-year 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E vehicles were affected.

The other four recalls date back to 2021.