LOS ANGELES — Will “Ford v Tesla” be boffo box office like the race car drama “Ford v Ferrari,” that crossed the finish line as America’s No. 1 movie last weekend?

It’s too early to say, but there were a few clear Tesla tweaks Sunday as Ford unveiled the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, a sporty electric SUV that leans on the looks and performance of the Blue Oval’s most beloved car.

Instrument panel

Ford employees erupted in applause at the announcement the Mach-E, which should go on sale late next year with a base price just under $44,000, will have an instrument panel that puts the speedometer in front of the driver, not on a tablet-style display in the middle of the dashboard, like the similarly priced Tesla 3 sedan.

Hands-free option

Ford plans to offer true hands-free highway driving in Mach-Es, an obvious difference from Tesla’s Autopilot feature. Tesla has promised to deliver hands-free driving for years but responded to high-profile crashes by warning drivers to always have a hand on the steering wheel. The Mach-E will make sure the driver’s not napping or watching a movie by monitoring their eyes, a safety feature Tesla does not offer.

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Size and price

The Model Y small SUV Tesla plans to build next year is expected to be about the same size and price as the Mach-E. Mach-E prices are expected to start just under $44,000 and top $60,000 for a loaded model.

Tesla is expected to write the next chapter in this story Thursday when it unveils an electric pickup — a clear challenge to Ford’s franchise with the F-150 in a hangar a few doors down from the one where the Mach-E debuted Sunday.

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Stay tuned.

Contact Mark Phelan at 313-222-6731 or  mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.



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