Good news for Elon Musk: Ford's Mustang EV has been delayed

Tesla gets a few more months of reprieve.

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Ford’s forthcoming all-electric Mustang Mach-E is going to be the first serious challenge to Tesla to come out of the Detroit-based motoring giant. But now the coronavirus could see the launch of one of the most eagerly anticipated EVs of 2020 delayed, leaving Tesla to further extend its dominance in the sector... assuming anyone's still planning to buy a car this year, that is. Electrek reports Norwegian consumers who’ve reserved a Mach-E have been told they’ll only be able to configure their cars online in June or July, with deliveries of the first units slated for November, a month later than initially expected.

Assuming it’s good, the Mach-E could be a genuine Tesla challenger. Though it looks more like a Jaguar E-Pace than a Mustang, we can’t blame Ford for wanting to capitalize on the name recognition that comes with the Mustang marque. And even if its looks are controversial, the Mach-E should be great more than just good — it should be great. Because Ford does, after 117 years, know a thing or three about building cars.

Ford knows what it’s doing — Historical prowess in automotive mass production aside, Ford is really good at making vehicle technology. It was the first car maker to bring high-end in-car infotainment systems — Ford Sync — to even its entry-level vehicles, and its shown an appetite for the unusual, like making 3D printed custom wheel nuts based on consumers’ voices.

It also knows what mass-market appeal looks like. The F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for an astounding 43 consecutive years.

COVID-19 is affecting everything — A Ford spokesperson told Electrek the company will have more information about timing for the Mach-E production and release once its factories are back online. Pricing will also only be confirmed when the online configurator goes live. Ford has been repurposing some of its facilities to manufacture respirators and ventilators to help combat the coronavirus, so no one — other than investors or excited Mach-E buyers, perhaps — will begrudge it the delay.

The pony we really want daddy to buy us.Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Mach-E will be the first Ford built using the company’s new platform intended for EVs, and it’s likely to prove an important yardstick for the automakers’ prospects in the increasingly crowded EV market. Legacy carmakers like BMW and Cadillac are building all-electric cars (Cadillac’s is also experiencing coronavirus-related delays), Hyundai is taking real design risks in the space, and Tesla’s early mover advantage continues to pay dividends with the company’s market value now exceeding Ford and GM’s combined.

Everyone wants to wear the crown — We don’t expect Tesla to rest on its laurels, though. It knows consumers are fickle — it managed to win many of them over from fossil-fuel burning rides, after all. But there’s no reason to think they’ll remain loyal to Tesla if another company can offer an equally eco-friendly, good-looking, and competitively priced alternative. With the $44k Mach-E, Ford’s taking its shot, it’s just going to be slower out of the blocks than initially hoped.