Forget badge squabbles - Q1 2021 Mustang Mach-E sales tell the real story

Mustang fans may still be divided over whether Ford's new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover is worthy of the iconic badge, but that doesn't seem to be putting a dampener of demand for the EV. The automaker confirmed Q1 2021 sales today, and it's an impressive showing for the electric pony car, regardless of whether or not you think it deserves the nameplate.

Q1 sales of the 2021 Mustang Mach-E totaled 6,614 vehicles, Ford confirmed. The EV wasn't available for most of the quarter, it's worth noting, deliveries having only begun in February. That makes the fact that the electric car managed around 38-percent of the sales of Mustang convertibles and coupes in the three month period all the more impressive.

Ford has been flirting with controversy around how it opted to brand the EV since the beginning. Indeed, the origins of the Mustang Mach-E called for a very different car: a more traditional electric crossover, without the sporting ambitions of the current model. Instead, Ford execs did an about-face, and opted to carry some of the cache of the legendary branding to give its electric efforts a boost out of the gate.

Now, there are some obvious provisos when you compare Mustang to Mustang EV here. For a start, the Mach-E is a new, high-demand model: Ford has been taking reservations for some time now, and delivering them all in Q1 2021. That's obviously going to skew things.

At the same time, the regular Mustang in coupe and convertible form isn't new in the same way. Still, Ford says demand there was still strong: GT premium and Mustang Shelby GT360 and GT500 models were up 11.9-percent. In short, the more traditional Mustang may be a fairly familiar sight now, but that doesn't mean interest is slumping.

Meanwhile, that's before you consider the Mustang Mach-E GT and its GT Performance version. Sales of those most-potent models haven't begun yet, with deliveries kicking off later in 2021.

The Mustang Mach-E's performance is even more impressive when you compare it to the rest of the automaker's wares. Bar the Corsair/MKC, the electric crossover outsold each of Lincoln's models, for example. With the state of Lincoln's electric vehicle plans still fairly confusing, it hardly seems too much of a stretch to suggest that the time is ripe for Ford's premium division to go all-EV.

Of course, there's still plenty of room to grow. F-Series sales, for example, are orders of magnitude higher: Ford sold almost 204,000 of them in the quarter, up 9.2-percent year on year. Of the F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid – the first gas-electric version of the bestseller – Ford says 7,176 were sold in Q1.

The reality is that, though for the moment the traditional, gas-powered Mustang has the performance edge, it's only a matter of time before Mach-E variants take the lead in power. That's not to say the writing is on the wall for the Mustang which fans know and love – it did, after all, survive Ford's big car cull a few years back – but we're soon going to see which enthusiasts are there for the combustion heritage and which are just interested in going fast at an attainable price.