What is going on with the Mustang Mach-E’s weird door handles?

There are a lot of quirks to the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, but one that really stuck out to us is the fact that it seems void of door handles. Then we noticed that weird stationary handle on the front doors, and we had to dig a little further to see just what was going on. There’s a somewhat interesting story here and some potential future problems. Here’s what you need to know about the Mach-E’s weird-ass door handles.

The Front Door Handles are Fixed

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Has Some Interesting and Unique Door Handles Exterior
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When you first glance at the Mach-E, it sure does look like it’s missing door handles altogether.

Right away, we thought that maybe Ford took another play out of Tesla’s playbook, but then we looked into it more. If you look closely, you’ll see illuminated buttons on the B and C-Pillars. They are numbered much like that old-school pin-based lock system on some older vehicles; only these are touch buttons.

Those obviously handle the locking and unlocking function, but how the hell do you actually open the door? If you’re looking at that pull handle (no, it doesn’t pop out from the door, it’s always there, looking a little out of place), you have the right idea, but only to a certain extent. Twist, pull, push, or kick – try as you might – that handle isn’t budging. No, instead, you have to unlock the car with the number pad above (or, presumably, a keyfob) then use that goofy little handle to pull the door open. Once the door is unlocked or triggered to open, an electric actuator actually pushes the door open a bit, and all you have to do is give it a light tug, much like you do with a conventional door handle, minus the upward or outward pivot to trigger the latch mechanism.

The Rear Doors on the Mach-E Don’t Have Handles – How Does That Work?

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Has Some Interesting and Unique Door Handles
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The C-Pillar, right where the door glass and rear quarter glass (if that’s what you’d call it) meet would be an awesome place for a vertically oriented door handle, right? That’s where I looked, and I didn’t see one either. In fact, the rear doors don’t have handles at all, so what gives?

Well, this is where that interesting story I mentioned above comes into play. According to CNET Ford came up with the great idea of adding a pad in the hem area to serve as a pull spot. That seems a little strange, but after Ron Heiser, the Chief Program Engineer of the Mustang Mach-E, explained his thoughts on it, it really does make sense:

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Has Some Interesting and Unique Door Handles
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"First of all, who gets in the backseat of cars?" asked Heiser. "A lot of kids do, right?" He went on to explain that apparently, a lot of kids reach for that hem area anyway and concluded, “So, that’s why we did that."

For what it’s worth, Tech Crunch actually tried to see if they could smash their fingers in between the rear doors and the doorjamb and, apparently, there’s actually a failsafe in place. At least Ford was thinking ahead on that one, right?

Why Does the Mach-E Have Weird Door Handles and What About Freezing?

According to Heiser, the lack of traditional door handles was a design trait meant to cut back complexity and packaging of the doors.

Apparently, it “enhances the total experience” and allows cost-cutting at the same time. But what about the freezing issue in areas that get a lot of snow and ice? Well, apparently, there is no cause for concern, and the door actuators will be powerful enough to break through your typical winter-morning ice. Well, at least that’s what we take away when Heiser says there will be no problem and that "[The design] meets all of our requirements."

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Has Some Interesting and Unique Door Handles Exterior
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That sounds like a slightly sketchy answer to me – almost like it’s hitting him as an afterthought. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not like we haven’t heard freezing doors wouldn’t be a problem in the past….Yes, I’m looking at you Tesla.

Either way, now you know the lowdown on what is up with he Mach-E’s weird door handles, or lack thereof, depending on how you look at it.

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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