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Ford electrifies icons for US buyers unfazed by pump prices

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Ford is hoping the sex appeal of an electric model invoking the performance of the Mustang (above) and a battery-powered F-150 pickup will trickle down to other models.

[MICHIGAN] Ford Motor Co says fear of high gas prices no longer motivates buyers to seek out low-emission vehicles, so it's leveraging the reputations of its two most renowned models to spark interest in upcoming electric vehicles across its lineup.

"People are now used to US$4- or US$5-a-gallon gasoline. They might gulp at US$5 gas, but they wouldn't have the same reaction today as was occurring 10 or 20 years ago," said Bob Taenaka, senior technical leader of Ford's electrified vehicles. It would take pump prices rising to double those record levels to change consumer behaviour, he said.

So Ford is hoping the sex appeal of an electric model invoking the performance of the Mustang muscle car and a battery-powered F-150 pickup will trickle down to other models, much as large-displacement engines once were the source of bragging rights. "These are two of the most iconic vehicles that we produce," Mr Taenaka told reporters following a speech at an electric vehicle forum in suburban Detroit.

The strategy is to show EVs can be fast and tough and are not just science projects, Mr Taenaka said. In July, the company released a video of an electric F-150 prototype pulling 1 million pounds of rail cars.

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Ford plans to start selling what it's described as a "Mustang-inspired" electric crossover next year, to be followed shortly thereafter by a battery-powered version of its top-selling F-150.

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