Ford recalls the Mustang Mach-E, a solid reason to get your next new car in a fun color, adorable microcar news. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
More Ponies, More Problems
Building cars is hard, and electric cars can be a whole different sort of hard. As such, Ford has recalled 48,924 Mach-E electric crossovers built between May 27, 2020 and May 24, 2022 for high voltage contactors that could overheat and either open up or weld themselves shut. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly seem ideal to me. NHTSA’s Recall Report breaks down how high current through the contactors can lead to problems:
Direct Current (“DC”) fast charging and repeated wide open pedal events can cause the high voltage battery main contactors to overheat. 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.
So how does a failed high voltage contactor manifest itself, and what are the next steps? Well, the first part is easy to answer. Mustang Mach-E models that experience high voltage contactor failure will typically display one of two failure signals. NHTSA recall documents break it down:
If the contactor opens while driving, a powertrain malfunction warning light will be illuminated and the vehicle will display ‘Stop Safely Now’ in the cluster when the vehicle experiences an immediate loss of motive power. Should the contactors weld closed while driving, a powertrain malfunction warning light will be illuminated on the next drive cycle, along with a no start condition.”
So, no big chance of fiery death, no sparks, rather undramatic. That doesn’t mean it’s not a pain to have a car crap out on the freeway, but it could definitely be worse. Since it kind of sucks to suffer this sort of failure, Automotive News reports that Ford’s issued a stop-sale on in-stock Mach-E units until they receive proper repair. So what about the fix? Well, it’s simple and complicated all at once. The simplicity comes by way of an over-the-air software update for the Secondary On-Board Diagnostic Control Module and Battery Energy Control Module. The complexity comes by questions of what the software update’s effect on performance might be. From NHTSA documentation:
The remedy for this program is a Secondary On-Board Diagnostic Control Module (SOBDMC) and Battery Energy Control Module (BECM) software update. Ford is anticipated to begin Over-The-Air (OTA) deployment to update the SOBDMC an BECM software for affected vehicles in July 2022. Alternatively, owners will have the option to take their vehicle to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to complete the software update. There will be no charge for this service.
Ford provided the general reimbursement plan for the cost of remedies paid for by vehicle owners prior to notification of a safety recall in May 2021. The ending date for reimbursement eligibility is estimated to be January 31, 2023
Given that fast charging and wide open throttle (WOT) events are causing the problem, I’m curious if the software updates will affect charging speed or overall vehicle performance. I’ve reached out to Ford for an answer and will keep you updated as further news arises. Honestly, as far as EV recalls go, this one doesn’t feel like a huge deal. It certainly wouldn’t stop me from considering a Mach-E as they’re just so damn fun to drive for what they are.
[Editor’s Note: It’s worth noting that Ford doesn’t know of any accidents or injuries related to this issue, though apparently the company has seen some warranty claims. It’s also worth mentioning that, though there’s no explicit mention of any sort of battery cell thermal concern, contactors represent an important safety component of any electric vehicle. When they open, they isolate the high-voltage pack from the rest of the vehicle. From Texas Instrument’s paper on contactors:
“The battery and the traction inverter are electrically isolated by main contactors when the vehicle is switched off for safety reasons. The main positive contactor is between the positive battery pole and the traction inverter while the main negative contactor is between the negative battery pole and the traction inverter. Both these contactors are required for safety robustness.”
So, though the recall documents only mentions warning lights, loss of “motive power,” and no-start conditions, a failed (especially closed) contactor can theoretically lead to more dire concerns. Frankly, I’m surprised they’re not mentioned in the NHTSA recall document. -DT].
Speaking Of Recalls
Look, we’ve heard warnings about faulty parts like Takata airbags and BMW PCV systems for years now, but it seems like Americans are still hesitant to get recall work done. According to CarFax, more than 50 million American vehicles are subject to open recalls, a rather bad sign considering the seriousness of some defects.
Honestly, there could be many reasons for not taking a car in to get recall work done. Maybe the time off of work just isn’t there, maybe the vehicle’s sitting derelict in your yard, maybe the vehicle’s now a race car and shrapnel-spewing airbags can’t hurt you if they’re not installed. However, if a vehicle with an open recall is being used on public roads and you have the time to get some recall work done, please get it done. It costs nothing and could prevent you from getting hurt or your vehicle from getting damaged.
Get The Good Color
I’m sure you’ve heard the line of thought that greyscale colors are good for resale value time and time again. Hell, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d probably have enough to scoop a PTS allocation on a Porsche 718 Boxster. A good thing, as the belief of greyscale colors boosting resale value might be entirely bogus.
Automotive research site iSeeCars.com has released a study on more than 650,000 listings for three-year-old cars comparing list price to new manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP), then sorting by color to see which colors retained the most value. The results are rather interesting to say the least. Leading the resale value charge are yellow, orange, and purple cars, although those do come with some minor caveats. See, it’s not typical for mass-market cars to offer those colors, so retained value might be skewed by segment. You know what is typically available on most cars though? Red paint, clocking in at just $5,399 below MSRP on average. Green paint is also well-represented at $5,596 below MSRP on average. Mind you, not all colors are winners – brown vehicles experienced an average $7,642 drop from MSRP, making them the biggest losers in this study. Honestly, there’s pretty strong evidence here for optioning your next good car in a good color. Not only can you drive a car in a color you enjoy, you can likely sleep soundly knowing that the next owner will likely pay a premium for it.
Good News, Microlino Deliveries Are Right Around The Corner
With all the doom and gloom of recalls and supply chain shortages, it’s time for a bit of levity. How about a tribute to the Isetta that’s about as adorable as a basket of Golden Retriever puppies? Yes, deliveries of the Microlino are about to start and man, I just love it so much.
The first Pioneer Series models of the Microlino 2.0 are being made in Turin, with first deliveries expected this summer. Legally-speaking, the Microlino is a quadricycle because it doesn’t offer much in the way of footprint or performance. Top speed is a modest 55 mph, weight clocks in at just 1,179 pounds, and range with the big 14 kWh battery is officially quoted as a “sufficient” 142 miles. Rather low figures, but its makers have never been shy about honesty. Hell, if you go to the Microlino’s website, the tagline reads, “This is not a car!” How can you not find that cute? While the Pioneer Series Microlino 2.0 retails for 20,999 Swiss Francs ($21,002 USD), the base model clocks in at 14,990 CHF ($14,992 USD). A bit pricey for a city-focused EV, but really not bad for such a fantastic fashion statement.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Say, this microcar talk has me wondering. Let’s say that you have unlimited money to buy two cars, but they need to have a combined length of less than 21 feet. What are you picking?
Lead photo credit: Ford