When Ford unveiled the all-electric Mustang Mach-E in November, it held the event next door to Tesla’s Southern California design center.

Now a Ford dealership eight miles from Tesla’s Silicon Valley headquarters in Palo Alto, California, says it received 40 reservations that night — and is up to 100 orders.

“I just think the market is ripe, and it’s ready for something other than Tesla,” said the owner of Sunnyvale Ford.

Steve Fuentes, president of Sunnyvale Ford, told the Detroit Free Press:

We’re up to 100 reservations now. The Mustang Mach-E has had a tremendous positive response. This is one of the biggest game-changers we’ve ever had.

I just think the market is ripe, and it’s ready for something other than Tesla. Our all-electric SUV with a 300-mile range is super cool and functional.

Suspicious minds might infer that Ford is making a point to talk up the Mach-E near Tesla’s stomping grounds. Of course, those locations are also hot spots for EV adoption.

From a video of the Ford Mustang Mach-E being shown at Sunnyvale Ford.

A still from a video of the Ford Mustang Mach-E at Sunnyvale Ford

At the official unveiling of the Ford Mustang Mach-E in November near Los Angeles, the company’s chairman, Bill Ford, acknowledged that the event was taking place one block from Tesla’s design center. “That’s a coincidence,” he said with a smile. When pressed about how Elon Musk might respond to the event’s location, Ford quipped, “I didn’t see him in the audience. Is he here?”

The following day, Musk tweeted:

Congratulations on the Mach E! Sustainable/electric cars are the future!! Excited to see this announcement from Ford, as it will encourage other carmakers to go electric too.

A survey released soon after the unveiling showed consumers had nearly identical levels of interest in the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the upcoming Tesla Model Y. More than 1 in 4 buyers of the now sold-out first edition version of the Mach-E lives in California.

Earlier this week, Ford confirmed that “2021 Mustang Mach-E First Edition reservations are full.” Ford said that more than 80% of U.S. customers are reserving Mach-E with an extended-range battery providing up to about 300 miles on a single charge.

The article in the Detroit Free Press about Mustang Mach-E reservations made several references to Tesla.

One Mach-E reservation holder from Birmingham, Michigan, said:

I like the idea of a Tesla, but I don’t trust Tesla. I would’ve bought a Chevrolet Bolt, but it wasn’t very attractive. Right now, I’m driving a 2020 Camry hybrid. I love it. This new vehicle will replace my wife’s 2017 Dodge Journey.

Matt Stanford, general manager at Varsity Ford in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said he has 70 orders for the Mach-E. He told the Free Press:

Tesla has owned the market. Tesla is just killing it. There’s a sexiness to the Tesla vehicle. It’s a status symbol, almost a way of life for some people. It’s a sleek, nice looking car. So Ford’s going at ’em.

Electrek’s Take

Competition is a good thing. And of course, makers of new EVs hitting the market have to lure customers away from the clear leader in the space. But we’re way past the tired old headlines about Tesla killers. Besides, what makes the Mustang Mach-E a compelling entrant to the EV market is that it will appeal to a different type of customer. As we argued at the unveiling, the Mustang Mach-E is arguably the first EV for the American heartland.

Ford showing up on Tesla’s turf to promote the Mach-E has been innocent and playful so far. But it doesn’t make much sense.

If Californians hold one-quarter of Mach-E reservations, that means three-quarters of those customers are outside the Golden State. To date, California has represented about half of all EV sales. That needs to spread out, and every automaker can help EVs grow, including by expanding electric-car sales outside where electric cars are currently popular.

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