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Ford says its performance cars need to be about more than 0-60 times

The man responsible for Ford's "icon" cars talks about how the company will keep performance alive in the future.

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- 02:22

Performance isn't going anywhere at Ford, even as countries make it harder to accomplish.

Ford

Stricter fuel economy and emissions regulations threaten performance cars as we know them. It's that simple. Dave Pericak, the man responsible for Ford's "icon cars" such as Mustang, GT and the upcoming Bronco, is pretty blunt about it.

"A lot of countries are changing regulations so quickly, and so much, they're almost forcing the performance products out," Pericak told Roadshow at the Chicago Auto Show last week, which hosted the 2020 Ford GT's debut. This, of course, is a direct threat to the vehicles Pericak adores, but as he explained, Ford is hard at work to minimize the threat to fun.

"Our job is going to be two-fold," he said. "One is to figure out how to continue to make performance that will exist in some of these regulated countries, even our own, and how do you do it so it's a global offering?" Ford doesn't want to be in the business of building specific cars to meet various degrees of regulations around the world.

So, no, don't expect a big V8 solely for America, and an electrified turbo-four for Europe in the same car. Pericak pointed to the Mustang's future as a perfect example of these exact discussions going on right now.

"What we would never do is compromise," he declared. "If it's a Mustang, it'll be a Mustang. Whatever is offered will be a Mustang and live up to the Mustang expectation."

Yet this fluid regulatory conversation perhaps coincides with a shift in how a new, younger generation of car buyers looks at performance. Pericak was candid about Ford research that shows in-your-face quarter mile times may not be the be-all and end-all. Instead, he said there's a shift to focus on the performance "experience."

Say a performance vehicle will run the quarter mile in 11 seconds. That may be fine and dandy to a younger buyer, "But what are they going to feel? What are they going to experience? How are they going to engage with the vehicle in a way they can feel the acceleration and power?" Those are the questions that surround next-generation performance cars for Ford.

"It doesn't mean we still won't make the car go like a bat out of hell," Pericak added, "But maybe (0-to-60 mph times) aren't the way we talk about it."

Where that specifically takes Ford's "icons" in the future, we don't know. However, with a smirk and chipper tone, Pericak told us to stay tuned as the GT supercar prepares to exit the limelight in two years.

"We've been racing since (the company) was created and racing's in our blood," he said, but any motorsport endeavor must bring something relevant back to the automaker. Does that mean Ford has an eye on racing with an electrified twist?

"We're always looking at what's out there and where it might apply. We're always looking at it."

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