When is a promo video not a promo video? When it's disguised (quite badly as it turns out) as a spy video. The clip in question captures the incoming Ford Mach E electric SUV ripping some serious skids at a US test facility - but while the action itself is worthy, the way it's being shared is raising the ire of the internet.
The all-action clip has it all; bush camouflage, slightly ad-hoc filming quality, and a compelling main character in Ford's contentious electric SUV, which has been stripped for war and primed to kill its tyres.
The Mach E is slated for release this year, COVID-19 notwithstanding, which raises the first question - why is Ford flogging around in a roughhouse version of a finalised family SUV (below) this late in the game?
The way the action unfolds, too, seems a little too convenient for our supposedly fearless photog, who is given numerous opportunities to film the stationary car before fleeing the scene... which raises another question.
The video is shot at the North Carolina Centre for Automotive Research (NCCAR), a privately owned facility which, according to Google Earth, looks pretty remote and offers little in the way of access for the videographer.
Unless our pap had access to the venue (pictured below), there's little chance that he bush-bashed in to get this close to the skidpan - and even less chance that he could make a successful escape without being detained and his mobile phone footage deleted.
The red marker shows where the videographer was standing
Adding to the aroma of not-quite-right is the fact that the video channel in question is brand spanking new.
Our theory is that the machine in question actually belongs to Ford-sponsored driftmeister, Ken Block, who's been associated with the Mach E as a spokesperson for about a year, and has been part of the Blue Oval family for a decade now.
Block also happens to run a successful media house, which has orchestrated his wildly popular Gymkhana videos.
The Mach E in the clip is not only missing its bumpers, but it appears to already be sporting modifications that might point to a future appearance in a Block video.
The deep-dish alloy rims indicate an effort to increase the track width of the stock car, while a brace of thermo-fans that are visible on the rear of the Mach E point to efforts to keep the rear-mounted electric motor cool during prolonged efforts.
A full roll-cage has been installed, and all of the car's trim panels and glass is missing, indicating that it's being prepped for a repaint or vinyl wrap. And those missing body panels may be forming the basis of a more aggressive body kit that would more closely fit the Hoonigan motif.
Of course, the art of the automotive pap is a long and distinguished one. The crew at Wheels magazine had it down to a fine art, tormenting the likes of Holden for years with stories like this world-first scoop on the home-grown VE Commodore.
Car company PRs weren't above planting the odd 'spy' shot, though; I once received a pic in the mail of a forthcoming Toyota Camry that was pin-sharp, shot from a road not far from Toyota's head office and printed on suspiciously glossy paper!
So while the 'spy video' is pretty convincing, ultimately we'll have to mark it down as an F... but then again, we've written a story about it. So who's the sucker now?