And I think I’ve finally figured out what bothers me the most about this.

Ford’s initial threat to resurrect the Mach 1 name and slap it on an electric crossover/SUV brought harsh but well-deserved criticism from, well, just about everyone. The backlash appeared to work, and Ford seemed to back off... until now.

The Drive reports that Ford has filed for trademarks on the names “Mach E” and “Mach-E” in reference to “motor vehicles, namely, electric vehicles, passenger automobiles, trucks, sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles, and structural parts, fittings, and badges therefor; metal license plate frames.”

Mach 1 was obviously too blatant of a rip-off, but Ford seems to think that “Mach E” is a far enough departure from that to differentiate the upcoming vehicle while upholding their insistence that it’s “Mustang-inspired” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

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What IS that supposed to mean anyway? It’s one thing to say a vehicle is inspired by the Mustang; it’s another to use a name to suggest that it’s inspired by a performance variant of the Mustang.

Teaser image (but of what?): Ford

So which is it? Because here’s the thing: the Mach 1 was always a trim level/option package, not a model name. It represented a faster breed... of Mustang. And it works well like that (except for, y’know, the whole thing about the car not even being close to the speed of sound). Mach 1 wouldn’t make a very good standalone model name. And “Mach E” wouldn’t be any better.

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(And yes, I’m keenly aware of the existence of the Ford GT and its heritage with the old GT40s. Great cars, but lazy names. Alphanumerics work much better as chassis/platform/VIN codes, and “GT” is a well-established, widely-used trim level popular not only on Fords, but throughout the automotive industry. Making it a car’s model name was always a bad idea. And don’t even get me started on the Chevy SS...)

Now internal combustion is great and all, but I’m not so hung up on it that I wouldn’t accept a “Mach E” Mustang. In fact, it would be a pretty clever way to name an electric variant of the Mustang. We’ve learned that electric cars can be fast, and this would be a nice nod to the old Mach 1 while avoiding false statements about its top speed. And the trademark filing does mention “passenger cars”... so if this is what they want to call the upcoming hybrid Mustang, I could get on board with that.

Maybe not so much with “trucks, sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles”, though. Or would that be too closed-minded? I mean, we can argue all day long about whether it was appropriate to expand the ST trim for use on an Edge, or for Chevy to use the SS trim on a pickup truck. But Ford kept the Mach 1 name exclusive to Mustangs for five whole decades. Applying a “Mach” trim level to a different car would be even more jarring than those other examples...

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But “Mach E” does not deserve to be the main model name. Not on a passenger car, and not on a truck, SUV, whatever either. If Ford intends to use any variant of the “Mach” name on a SUV/crossover, not only should it follow a real model name, it should specifically be a performance-oriented version of that vehicle. It’s the only way to justify the existence of a Mach-anything SUV.