“Go big or go home,” they say. That’s either from the Bible or the Constitution. Maybe both, I can’t remember. But it’s an apt description for buyers of the new 2024 Ford Mustang: they’re overwhelmingly going for the V8 option this time around. I say good for those folks. Who knows how much longer they’ll be able to, right?
That leads off today’s morning roundup, which also comes with some dispatches about the future of another V8 engine; the Japanese automakers’ fortunes in China; and Ford gets an Apple veteran for subscription service stuff. Let’s take a look.
And A Pretty Good Take Rate For The Manual, Too
I haven’t driven the seventh-generation Ford Mustang yet, but from every review I’ve read (including ours) and how much I liked the last one, I imagine it’s an extremely difficult car not to like. But it’s also kind of a dying breed these days; the Chevrolet Camaro (in its current form, anyway) is out, the Dodge Challenger and Charger seem to have an electric future, and the “affordable-ish performance car” is far from what it once was.
Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall—or wanting to enjoy one of the last naturally aspirated V8 engines out there while they still can—the Associated Press reports the 5.0-liter Mustang GT is taking the lion’s share of orders. And a full quarter of buyers are going for the manual version, too; I don’t have a baseline to even compare that too, which illustrates how rare that situation even is.
There are about 13,000 U.S. orders for the 2024 Mustang, Ford says, which also can be equipped with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Of those orders, 67% have the V-8, and more than a quarter of the people seeking that Mustang want the six-speed manual transmission, spokesman Mike Levine says.
[…] Levine wouldn’t say whether this version of the Mustang would be the company’s last gas-powered muscle car. “That remains to be seen,” he said.
There also could be an electric Mustang sports car in the future. Electric cars, with instant torque and a low center of gravity, often are faster and handle better than internal combustion vehicles.
People are going for V-8 Mustangs with stick shifts in part because they may be the last of the gas-powered muscle car era, said Guidehouse Insights eMobility analyst Sam Abuelsamid.
“The most hard-core fans, they’re going to go out and grab one of these because you don’t know when it’s going to end,” he said.
The EcoBoost Mustang is a fine machine, it really is; but these days, given how truly rare V8 engines have become, I think the GT’s most worth springing for. Especially since Mustangs, and cars in general, aren’t as cheap as they used to be; you may as well get the one you want. How long will this engine stick around? Well, the sixth-gen S550 was with us for almost nine full production years, so if Ford’s really serious about going all-electric by 2030, this V8 Mustang could be with us until the end. Enjoy it while you can.
And get the manual too, if at all possible.
The Writing May Be On The Wall For The AMG V8 After All
Another great V8’s future is also in doubt: the delightful 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 used in various AMG cars. Pretty recently, Mercedes’ go-fast division has been dialing down the displacement to focus on smaller, high-performance hybrid engines as Europe faces much stricter fuel economy rules. Recently, Car and Driver floated a rumor that the AMG V8 could make a comeback in a few years to better square off against BMW and Audi.
Two sources tell the magazine the M177 eight-cylinder will return in the two models from 2026, converted to Euro 7. Only minor body changes are required to accommodate the eighth. Other media also report that there is already approval for the V8 for the upcoming CLE in AMG trim (see slideshow).
auto-motor-und-sport.de also asked around at AMG and encountered general shaking of heads. “This is pure nonsense,” said an employee familiar with product development. The engine design for the AMG versions of the C and E classes and the CLE remains the same.
We now have to disappoint many fans of the eight-cylinder. The rumors that the V8 is making a comeback in the AMG C and E class are simply wrong.
Sadly for fans of eight-cylinder AMG fury, the downsizing trends we’ve seen in recent years seem much more plausible for the future than a return to V8 power. Especially as Mercedes focuses its R&D budget on wholly electric power instead.
Japan’s Secret Weapon In China (For Now): A Weak Yen
It’s no secret that the “foreign” automakers are getting clobbered in China these days as buyers increasingly turn to their homegrown brands. I’d wager the Japanese automakers are getting beaten the worst, thanks to their comparatively slow move to the full EVs that are dominating China’s crucial market.
So Reuters reports automakers like Toyota and Nissan are getting “much-needed cover from an old standby”: a weak Japanese yen, which is traditionally a boost for exports when currency conversion happens (though this has its downsides too.) For now, it’s a lifeline, but only a temporary one:
Toyota (7203.T), Honda (7267.T) and Nissan (7201.T) recently reported earnings that topped analyst estimates by 6% to 21% in the three months through June, and all cited the currency as a factor.
“If the yen stays low, they clearly benefit but it doesn’t offset any other concerns,” said Satoru Aoyama, senior director at Fitch Ratings Japan.
“They are struggling in the Chinese market,” he said. “They just don’t have an immediate solution” for their problems there, he added.
Nissan late last month upgraded its full-year operating profit forecast, raising it by 30 billion yen ($208 million) to 550 billion yen. About 20 billion yen of that came from the currency, CFO Stephen Ma told a briefing.
A weak yen has traditionally lifted profits for Japan’s big exporters, although it is no longer as large a boon for automakers that have increased their overseas manufacturing in recent years.
Exchange rates won’t prop Japan up forever, but China’s EV industry is rising so quickly that catching up—or competing—isn’t necessarily a given anymore.
Ford Gets An Apple Exec For New Software Business
V8 engines out, subscription software services in! What a way to describe our current moment. Ford’s eye on the future now includes tapping Peter Stern, a former Apple executive, for a new business unit responsible for software services. Here’s The Detroit News:
Stern served as vice president of services at Apple for more than six years before he left his role in January. He helped launch services including Apple TV+, Apple News+, MLS Season Pass and more. Prior to that, he was an executive at Time Warner Cable. He started his career at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Stern started at Ford Monday. He’ll oversee the newly-created Ford Integrated Services and report directly to CEO Jim Farley, according to a news release. The services developed by the unit will be used by Ford Blue, Model e and Pro, the business units at Ford focused, respectively, on internal combustion engine vehicles, electric vehicles and software, and products and services for fleet customers.
[…] Ford reports having 550,000 paid software and services subscribers, about 80% of which are Ford Pro commercial customers. Farley has touted such services as a major opportunity for Ford, and automakers across the industry are hoping to convince customers to pay for subscription services beyond their vehicle purchase to provide a source of recurring revenue as they make the costly transition to electric vehicles.
Like it or not, the automakers have big plans for “recurring revenue” through software features you’ll have to keep paying for after the purchase of the actual car. But in a time when people’s budgets are squeezed thin as it is, I think they’ll all have a lot of convincing to do.
What car (not a pickup truck or SUV) will end up with the last V8 engine? I think there’s a very good chance it could be the Mustang, and possibly this one.
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