Five Minutes Talking Mustang with Raj Nair, Ford’s VP of Global Product Development

Five Minutes with Raj Nair

After our second ride—shotgun, in the passenger seat, driving having been off-limits—in the 2015 Mustang, we cornered Ford’s top engineering boss Raj Nair to gather a few facts about the brand’s latest pony car. During his 27 years with Ford, Nair has enjoyed a wealth of company experience, including a stint on the elite Ford GT engineering team a decade ago. He has a longstanding reputation for not answering probing questions with concrete facts, a reputation we can say precedes him, but we were able to harvest a few worthwhile nuggets of info.
Car and Driver: Can you share specific Mustang power figures?

Raj Nair: ”Not yet. All I can say is to expect better performance throughout the product line.”

C/D: Was this program delayed?  The fall on-sale date is nearly half a year after the 50th anniversary!

RN: We don’t gear our business plans, plant switchovers, and engineering programs to birthdays and anniversaries.  We’ll sell the new Mustang when the development program is complete and the car is ready for customers. The order bank is now open. Both the coupe and the convertible will be out before the end of the year.

Five Minutes with Raj Nair

C/D: How much does the new Mustang weigh, and what efforts were invested in minimizing the gain over the previous edition?

RN: It will be a few more months before we can share specific weight figures. Throughout the car we carefully assess which materials will meet our goal of improving every measurable performance aspect. So we selected aluminum for the hood, front fenders, and deck lid of all cars. The differential carrier is cast aluminum in cars equipped with a manual transmission. Using our computer aided engineering tools, we redesigned virtually every part in the car to trim weight while optimizing the design even where the specific material didn’t change.

C/D: Does the switch to independent rear suspension add weight?

RN: Yes, in general, independent suspension designs are heavier than the rigid axle alternative.

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C/D: What can you reveal about the new Mustang’s aerodynamic drag?

RN: I don’t have any specifics to offer but the increase in the car’s overall width is nearly the same as the amount we lowered its height, so frontal area should be about the same. The new smoother and sleeker shape definitely yields a lower drag coefficient, though we’re not ready to announce that figure. Also, a lot of effort was invested in smoothing out under-car airflow, especially in front, with tire air curtains and other tuning details. The slight increase in width gave us the opportunity to use wider tracks and to recoup some of the rear seat room lost to the lower, sleeker roof design.

Five Minutes with Raj Nair

C/D: The compacted graphite iron block engineered for use in the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 (code name “Nano”) is an interesting F-150 pickup development.  Do you see that as a potential Mustang engine in the future?

RN: We have a wealth of EcoBoost engines to choose from ranging from 1.0–3.5 liters. All of our engines are engineered for both car and truck use. There’s growing enthusiasm for the Mustang’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost because of its excellent balance of performance and efficiency. CGI is a very attractive material for engine blocks because of its strength, weight, and cost attributes. But we’re also watching for additional applications of that material in our cars and trucks.

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