Bill Ford tells Joe Biden about the first time he drove a Mustang Mach-E

President Joe Biden was circling around an orange Ford Mustang Mach-E when the self-described "car guy" had a question: "Does it have a launch button?"

He was next to the automaker's Chairman Bill Ford on the launch day of the Detroit Auto Show, touring several of the vehicles on display for the big day. 

"Exactly," Ford replied. "I'll tell you a funny story."

It's been a pivotal couple years for the auto industry as American manufacturers in Detroit and others around the world revealed what the next generation of electric vehicles would look like. The excitement has arrived with a mixture of skepticism from many consumers not ready to give-up a gas-powered car.

And, according to Bill Ford's telling of his first drive in the Mustang Mach-E, even he was unconvinced the company's iconic sports car could embrace an electric version of itself.

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"The guys came to me and said 'we have a new Mustang' and I said 'well tell me about it,'" he told Biden. 

"It's an electric -- I said 'stop right there. We can't have an electric Mustang'" And they said 'well it also kind of looks like an SUV.' I said 'no chance we're going to call this thing a Mustang. No chance.' And they said 'why?'"

"I said 'a Mustang has to have a V8, has to have a stick shift, has to sound good.' And the teams said 'well, would you at least drive a prototype?' and I said 'sure, but we're not calling it a Mustang.'"

"I got in the prototype and I never had so much fun and I came back in on Monday and said 'okay guys, we can call it a Mustang'"

"That's amazing. The speed," Biden said.

Ford could also be heard mentioning to the president about the value of its vehicles and how they could change "when you leave office at some point in six years or whatever it is."

Prior to meeting with Ford, Biden also walked the show floor at Huntington Place with GM CEO Mary Barra, taking a seat in the company's new electric Silverado pickup truck. 

The president was in Detroit Wednesday for the city's first auto show in nearly three years. The look and feel of the show is about as different as the makeup of the industry. Electric vehicle purchases in the U.S. surged to their highest rate ever in 2021. According to the Department of Energy, more than 600,000 plug-in hybrid and fully-electric cars and trucks were sold in 2021.

It's progress, but represents only a blip in the overall car market in the U.S.

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And yet, sales of Ford's Mach-E is outpacing the company's traditional Mustang model in some months this year. Media reports from the company's July 2022 sales announcement found it was also seeing some of the best figures yet for its F-150 Lightning.

GM also has high hopes for its electric vehicles, with Barra telling the Associated Press this July that the company will sell more electric vehicles than Tesla by the middle of the decade - though it will require making more of the vehicles affordable.

Many of the industry's new electric vehicle models will be showcased at this year's auto show.