Ford risks repeating Mustang mistakes with the Capri

American OEM Ford has relaunched the Capri, its European version of the late-1960s/mid-1980s Mustang, as another electric SUV. But just as the Mustang Mach-E faced criticism for having little in common with its iconic predecessor, the initial reaction suggests Ford has repeated the same mistake with the Capri.

And while it will be specifically a Ford problem if the new Capri (much like the firm’s recently launched Explorer EV, a product largely built on VW’s architecture) fails to sell, it is potentially useless for wider EV adoption.

For buyers more sceptical about the adoption of electric mobility, what they see as a dilution of the heritage of classic vehicles by associating their names with relatively generic electric SUVs could risk erecting another barrier to their switching to EVs.

There is at least some understanding that Ford couldn’t just make an updated, all-electric version of the old Capri. It was a low-slung, fastback-bodied, two-door coupe (to be fair, this author, as a kid in the ’80s, thought it was perhaps the coolest non-sports car you could ever own), and changing tastes have eroded the potential size of the market for such a vehicle.

“I understand that coupes are no longer selling and it is difficult to convert them into EVs at a reasonable price,” says one commenter on LinkedIn. “Low-slung two-door, four-seat vehicles are no longer selling well; everyone is buying SUV models,” agrees another.

There are even some commentators who think that attaching the Capri name to a rather drab electric SUV might be a good marketing ploy. “Leveraging the brand’s heritage to help change the type of vehicles that actually sell is no problem,” suggests one more lenient critic. “Homogenous raised beds that carry you and your passengers around in rather bland comfort, safety, efficiency and space are the order of the day.”

“Reintroducing the Capri name is probably a marketing strategy – interested people will research the name, it will gain popularity, and then there is the historical connection which again adds some extra praise on some level,” another posits.

But these voices are being countered by a much larger groundswell of discontent around the use of the Capri name for something so far removed from the original, with many also again voicing their displeasure with the Mustang label on the Mach-E. Below is a selection of comments on LinkedIn:

—You can’t just slap an old name on something and expect it to sell. This thing looks really awful, a piece of design-by-committee garbage that we see from a lot of old-school OEMs. I doubt it will sell.

—For me, a Capri will always be a stylish two-door coupe. Of all the names in Ford’s history, I don’t think they should have used Capri.

—It seems they just rebranded the Mach-E as the Capri.

—That’s not a Capri

— If you want to appeal to older generations, why do you remove the iconic body shape, headlights and any identifiable styling?

— Electric box on wheels, with a nod to the colors of the 70s. A wasted opportunity, the Capris were never four-door family vehicles.

—I question Ford’s marketing strategy for the Mustang and Capri. It’s clear that neither of them is a homage to the Mustang or the Capri, so what’s the point?

— It looks like everything else on the road. The appeal of the original Ford Capri was that its shape set it apart from the rest and it was instantly recognisable. This new version will be forgotten very quickly.

—Not at all worthy of the name Capri.

—Why do car manufacturers insist on “reinventing” great cars as mediocre mid-size SUVs?

— Where is Capri’s DNA? The design language? The part where I can see the evolutionary journey from A to B? The “vrooooom…” feeling! This is disgusting. It looks like a regular electronic shopping cart.

—That’s just another box on wheels that looks like every other box on wheels these days.

—In my humble opinion, it is not a Capri by any means and, with an infinite number of possible names, I see no valid justification for reusing it. Bland is also five letters; it is just another nondescript box on wheels for the A to B masses out there.

— It’s not a Capri, it’s just called that. A real missed opportunity to create something attractive, instead it looks like it was designed on commission.

—I removed the Ford emblem from the front and couldn’t tell it apart from a host of very similar looking modern cars, which is a shame, the Capri was iconic.

— Was the design goal “to make something that didn’t look anything like a Capri”? Just another massive “Eurobox” – without the name, you wouldn’t know what you were looking at?

—It looks like 40 other electric vehicles. It’s big, bulky and quite ugly. It lacks fun, elegance and history.

—You might want to reconsider calling it Capri.

— Ford is once again exploiting past success, the Mach-E is as far from a Mustang as it gets, this new effort is as far from a Capri as it gets.

—They ruined the Mustang name with the Mach-E, and now the Capri, too.

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So it’s fair to say that the initial reviews haven’t been good. A bigger problem for the EV industry, particularly with the concept of reviving historic brands and models with EV relaunches, is whether these hurt feelings among enthusiasts of the automotive brand’s rich history start to identify EVs themselves as part of the problem, rather than generic design and ill-conceived marketing strategies being the issue.