Only 40 minutes from the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada, Ford’s Bronco Off-Roadeo awaits eager new owners learning how to push their SUVs to the limit. The brand-new Bronco Raptor Experience can be found in Raptor Valley— about an hour’s journey across the rocky desert terrain. Here is where Bronco Raptor drivers can skid across a desert running course and jump their SUVs off a tabletop obstacle. It’s pure rally adrenaline on 37-inch wheels.
This in-the-dirt experience isn’t only limited to gas-powered cars. Drivers of Ford’s Mach-E all-electric SUVs will now be able to get in on the fun. The Blue Oval decided to create a new variant called the Mach-E Rally, designed to tackle rougher roads off the asphalt. This car is unusual in several ways, as this is the first Mustang built for dirt and speed together; it’s also the company’s first foray into all-electric rally racing.
Read on to learn more about how the Mach-E Rally fits into the world of off-roading, desert racing and beyond.
EV market ready for more off-road adventures
The Mach-E Rally made its public debut this month at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, driven by former World Rally champion and driver of the M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 entry Ott Tänak.
Specs aren’t available yet, and for the Mach-E to successfully transition to an off-road career, it would need more ground clearance and different tires than the low-rolling-resistance types on the street-ready Mach-E. Ford offers a signup for curious tire-kickers who want to know more about the Mach-E Rally, with more information coming in the future.
Ford has seen success with its F-150 Raptor pickup and Bronco Raptor SUV, both of which appeal to the increasing number of drivers seeking off-road adventures. It makes sense for the automaker to expand its footprint in the dirt on the EV side.
While that concept is still rare, it’s not unheard of: EV company Rivian has proven its vehicles are adept at off-roading, bringing its R1T pickup and R1S SUV into the desert for the punishing Rebelle Rally. Three years ago, Rivian sent two of its nascent EVs on a cross-continent trip from the southernmost part of South America to Los Angeles, California through 13,000 miles of tough topography. Porsche and Volkswagen have also sent vehicles on off-roading ventures to show their versatility.
Mach-E Rally on trend
According to Emme Hall with Edmunds, the idea to create the Mach-E Rally started about a year ago with an internet rendering of a Mach-E accessorized for off-pavement activities. Ford chief advanced product development and technology officer Doug Field saw opportunity there and presented the concept to CEO Jim Farley, who gave it the green light soon after.
The Mach-E Rally development is on trend. Aftermarket parts organization SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) predicts that the light-truck segment (pickups, vans, SUVs and CUVs) will account for close to 80 percent of all new vehicle sales by 2027. In that segment, pickups alone will make up nearly 50 percent of all new vehicles sold. These figures translate directly to Americans’ growing zeal for the outdoors, especially during the pandemic. Mordor Intelligence says the off-road vehicle market was valued at $14 billion in 2020 and will reach $18 billion by 2026.
As EV adoption increases (assisted by new agreements between Tesla and Ford, GM, Rivian, Volvo, Nissan, and more to adopt Tesla’s charging standard), the Mach-E and all of its variations have an excellent chance of succeeding with consumers. Currently, Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is doing quite well: sales increased 45 percent to 39,458 vehicles from 2021 to 2022. Ford is trying to keep up with this demand by building three battery plants: two in Kentucky and another in Tennessee in partnership with South Korean firm SK On.
To give drivers a chance to learn about all the things their electric vehicle can do, Ford offers new Bronco owners an entire day of professional instruction at one of its Off-Roadeo locations in Nevada, Utah, Texas, and New Hampshire. Could a dirt-racing school for the Mach-E Rally be far behind? It wouldn’t surprise us.