Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports’ global director, took a tremendously satisfied look into the future when he discovered recently in private developmental testing that the all-electric Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype could cover the quarter-mile in 8.27 seconds at 168 mph and reach 1,502 peak wheel horsepower.
“We’ve continued to fine-tune it,” he said, “and now know we’re just scratching the surface of what we may be able to achieve with this much electric horsepower in a drag-racing setting.”
Don’t look for this demonstrator hot off the Ford Performance press to be integrated immediately into, say, the National Hot Rod Association’s Factory Stock Showdown class to duel with its gas-powered cousins. But Brian Novak, engineering supervisor on the Cobra Jet 1400, as well as the Mustang Mach-E that Ford just recently released, said Thursday as NHRA Funny Car pilot and Ford dealer Bob Tasca III put it through its initial public paces at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, “We’re right at the beginning of that.
“We’re working together with NHRA to work on electrification rules for the series. It’s something that we’re looking forward to as we go along, the electrification,” Novak said during the first day of the NHRA’s showcase Denso U.S. Nationals.
Calling the project “great but challenging” for Ford Performance, Rushbrook said, “The opportunities to learn with the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400, as well as the Mustang Mach-E 1400 we recently introduced, gives us great insight into what may be possible in high-performance all-electric vehicles for Ford going forward. We are very interested in continuing to work with NHRA to determine how electrification can be part of the sport and to show off the Cobra Jet 1400 at max power in due course as regulations develop.”
Brad Gerber, vice-president of sales and chief development officer for the NHRA, said, “Drag racing has always been where Detroit proves its most advanced powertrains. The U.S. Nationals is the sport’s quintessential stage for reaching enthusiasts wanting a glimpse at the future technology of performance vehicles. Our fans are fascinated by horsepower in all forms, and the electrification of an iconic vehicle like the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 shows that innovation at Ford Motor Company never rests. We look forward to seeing the Cobra Jet 1400 and continuing discussions with Ford about the future of electrification in drag racing.”
Rob Johnston, global marketing manager at Ford Performance, said, “We’ve always thought that racing was a great platform to develop technology and performance and certainly showcase the excitement we can have in our vehicles. So technology transfer is really important, and what we’re doing here is basically to support the over $11.5 billion investment the Ford Motor Company is making through 2022: a lot of investment, a lot of exploration into what we can do.
“Through this vehicle and the Mustang Mach-E that we did recently. The Mach-E 1400 is a phenomenal vehicle [which Formula Drift legend Vaughn Gittin Jr. has driven]. That, along with this vehicle, and our partnership with Bob Tasca, and all the things we do at Ford Performance to showcase the technology is going to be a lot of fun for our engineers,” he said. “We’re out here this weekend to showcase what it can do. We’re here to learn. There’s a whole bunch of engineers running around here, taking notes.”
Novak said the goal for the Cobra Jet 1400 was, as the name implies, to reach 1400 horsepower.
“In this case,” he said, “we brought a car here that’s 1500 horsepower. So it’s 1500 rear-wheel horsepower. So we’ve exceeded our goal. Ford has invested $11.5 billion in electrification technology and moved that forward. That is a big future for our company. So our job at Ford Performance is to push that stuff to the limit and learn as much as we can from it and be able to transfer that information back to the mainstream. We’ve gone and built two very over-the-top performance demonstrators in the Mustang Mach-E and the Cobra Jet 1400, (and) we’re able to take this electric technology and push it to the absolute limits, as far as we can: as much battery amperage as we can draw, as much horsepower and torque as we can get out of the electric motor. They’re two completely different configurations, different control systems, different motor types, different transmissions. It’s just all us expanding into different things we can learn and expand upon and take that to the mainstream.
“That’s our main goal with Ford Performance, especially with these demonstrators, to demonstrate what we at Ford Motor Company can do and learn as much as we can from it. We’ve got a bunch of our engineers to work on the car, and we’ll just move forward with that all weekend,” Novak said.
That private test session clocking was the equivalent to the combined output of more than three 2021 Mustang GT V8 engines. This Cobra Jet 1400 was developed to parallel the recently unveiled Mustang Mach-E 1400 prototype, both cars were built to demonstrate Ford’s technological capabilities and innovation skillset in EV technologies.
Ford Performance collaborated with Cascadia Motion to power the Cobra Jet 1400. With four PN-250-DZR inverters coupled to a pair of DS-250-115s, giving four motors total and spinning at up to 10,000 revolutions per minute. These motor-inverter packages run at 800 volts and up to 700 amps, with maximum output of 350kW per motor.
To manage such a potent propulsion package, AEM-EV and Ford Performance jointly developed an advanced data and control system that features a control algorithm unique to the Cobra Jet 1400. The sheer amount of power has also required a different approach with chassis tuning strategies, which MLe, Ford’s build and integration collaborator for the project, has delivered with input from Ford Performance’s longtime Cobra Jet build collaborators at Watson.
Ford Mustang Funny Car racer Tasca, a third-generation Northeast Ford dealer and an entrenched Ford steering committee member, was instrumental in this project from the beginning.
“Bob had worked with our partners at MLe Race Cars. He talked with them at some of the NHRA events, and that was part of the introduction with them,” Novak said. “We found out all of our ideals kind of align. So Bob was at it from the beginning. We’ve gone and done a lot of development. It’s kind of the first time, because of COVID, that we’ve done a test with Bob. So this is Bob’s time in a brand-new car, and we’ll get him up to speed in it.”
Tasca took the Cobra Jet to the starting line three times Thursday, without any real chance of showing it off the way he had hoped. “It’s Bob’s trial by fire. But we’ll be OK,” Novak said, indicating the engineers were testing and tweaking for a late run Thursday and several more throughout the course of the U.S. Nationals this weekend.
The U.S. Nationals provide the perfect venue to unveil the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400. Tasca will wheel the prototype against two-time Funny Car champion and FOX broadcaster Tony Pedregon, who will drive one of Ford’s internal-combustion engine Mustang Cobra Jets, which have proven winners in the NHRA sportsman ranks.
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