Ford customer aged 101 YEARS tests its Mustang Mach-E electric car

2 months ago 138

Think you might be too old for an electric car? Think again.

Harold Baggott, 101, has taken Ford's new Mustang Mach-E for a test drive, having held a full driving licence since 1936 - the first year it was introduced.

Having learned to drive in a Model T and at the wheel of a milk float, he is among one of the oldest licence holders in the country - and could possibly be the only centenarian to take to the wheel of an electric vehicle.

Is this the oldest electric car test drive?  Harold Baggott, 101, from Portsmouth contacted his local Ford dealer to ask if he could take a Mustang Mach-E EV for a spin...and they obliged

Having held a driving licence for 85 years and driven a variety of Fords through a number of generations, Ford identified Mr Baggott as the ideal customer to put the £40,000 electric SUV to the test. 

Dedicated to the brand, his first car was a Ford 9 Popular purchased in 1937, followed by an Anglia and up to 20 privately owned Fords since then.

Mr Baggott even bought Ford commercial vehicle chassis in his former role as a  coach company proprietor, running a fleet of 140 buses as part of a travel and coach business.

Born in 1920, Mr Baggott is expected to be one of the oldest motorists to take out an electric vehicle, having held a licence since the first year they were introduced

Still on the road today, he drives on local errands in Port Solent, Portsmouth, contacted the manufacturing giant and requested a test drive in its new electric model, the Mustang Mach-E. 

Having experienced Fords through the generations, it seemed only right that he would have the chance to try vehicles his great grandchildren will likely be driving once the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel models is introduced in 2030 and the car parc shifts to plug-in models thereafter. 

His own interest in electrification prompted the test drive from the British Motor Museum, Beaulieu, to private land near his Hampshire home last Thursday.

Born in 1920, Mr Baggott is likely to be one of the oldest motorists to put an electric car through its paces.

Mt Baggott and his family were treated to a passenger ride in a 1915 Ford Model T, which he had learned to drive in at a very young age

Mr Baggott said he was 'struck by the quietness of electric motoring' during his short - and likely steady - test drive 

 Mr Baggott learnt to drive in a Model T at 10-years-old and has been driving Ford cars ever since

He was also treated to a special Model T passenger ride in a 1915 example from Ford's own heritage collection, before getting to grips with the Mustang Mach-E with his grandchildren in tow.

Read our review of the Ford Mustang Mach-E 

We test drove a Mustang Mach-E on UK roads at the beginning of the year.

Read Ray Massey's in-depth report here

It offers a maximum claimed driving range of up to 379 miles and accelerates from a standstill to 62mph in 3.7 seconds - which is faster than most cars powered by a petrol or diesel engine.  

Mr Baggott said he was 'struck by the quietness of electric motoring' during his short - and likely steady - route from the museum's grounds.

He said: 'Since the age of 10, I’ve retained my interest in motoring and today find myself interested in the switch to electrification following the government phasing out the traditional combustion engines I’m used to. 

'I have reminisced about my driving history with the Model T and seen what the future has in store. 

'It was exciting to get behind the wheel of what I expect to see my great grandchildren will be driving.'

Ford's forthcoming range of electric E-Transits are being tested on European roads before it hits the UK market

The E-Transit will have a range of around 217 miles when it goes on sale from 2022

Ford's Mustang Mach-E will be joined from next year by the brand's first all-electric E-Transit, which is being put through final assessments on European roads by a selection of major fleet operators.

The trial kicks off with ten E-Transit prototypes being put to the test across a variety of intensive real-world operating scenarios in the postal, municipal and utilities, last mile and grocery delivery sectors within Germany, Norway and the UK. 

Among the trial partners are AWB waste disposal, Balfour Beatty, the City of Cologne municipal fleet, DHL Express in the UK, DPD, Norwegian Post, Ocado and Recover Nordic. 

From the oldest test driver to those that aren't human  

While Ford might have allowed one of the oldest motorists in the country to get behind the wheel of one of its latest cars for a test drive, the manufacturer has recently revealed that it has taken on two new official test drivers for its new motors - and they're not human.

A pair of robots have been developed by the brand to replace humans for assessments of how well they cope in extreme climates.

They've been named Shelby and Miles after Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles who developed and created the Ford GT40 to take on the might of Ferrari and Le Mans in 1966 - a story documented by the 2019 film, Ford v Ferrari played by Matt Damon and Christian Bale. 

They're being used at Ford’s ‘Weather Factory’ in Cologne, Germany, to take over car testing in simulated weather conditions that would be almost unbearable for a human technician.

One is being deployed for hot and cold temperature experiments, which replicate using the cars in the most extreme hot and cold climates measured around the world, ranging from +80 degrees Celsius experienced in the Sahara Desert down to -40 felt atop the tallest Alpine peaks in Siberia. 

Fords two new robots are being used at its Cologne factory to undertake tests too extreme for the human body

The second is specifically used for high-altitude measurement, which Ford says is dangerous to replica without the use of robots, requiring plenty of additional safety protocols including reserves of oxygen bottles and medical equipment as well as having paramedics on site so that the driver health can be constantly monitored. 

The robot test driver’s legs extend to the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals, with one arm positioned to change gear and the other used to start and stop the engine. With both tests replicated on rolling roads, there is no need for the robots to control the steering. 

'These two new drivers are fantastic additions to the team, as they can take on the challenging endurance tests at high altitudes and in hot temperatures,' explains Frank Seelig, the wind tunnel testing supervisor for the brand.

'Once the robot is in the driver’s seat, we can run tests through the night without ever having to worry that the driver will need a sandwich or a bathroom break.' 

One is being deployed for hot and cold temperature experiments, which replicate using the cars in the most extreme hot and cold climates measured around the world while the other is used for high-altitude testing

The robots are fitted with small prodders to replicate fingers to activate the start-stop button

The robots - named Shelby and Miles after Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles who created the GT40 race car in the 1960s - even have legs so they can activate the throttle and brake during tests

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