In an effort to boost hybrid visibility, Toyota has lent Nascar a Camry hybrid to be used as an official pace car in the Coca-Cola 600 race to be run next month. It will be the second hybrid car to serve in this capacity. The first was the Ford Fusion hybrid at Nascar’s Ford 400 in Miami last November.
Yesterday, Nascar driver Denny Hamlin gave people rides around Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina to demonstrate the Camry Hybrid’s track prowess.
But the car also had to be put to a test in order to earn the coveted pace car assignment. In order to be approved by Nascar, the Camry hybrid had to take off from a standstill position on pit road and reach 100 miles per hour by the time it got to the second turn of the racetrack. The car was able to hit the magic number and average about 105 miles per hour over multiple laps.
“That’s pretty impressive, considering that we’re talking about a hybrid here. It’s going to help dispel the notion that hybrid cars are synonymous with being slow and underpowered,” said Ben Davis, a track test driver and road test producer for PBS’ MotorWeek.
The Camry Hybrid is built in Georgetown, Kentucky. Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain combines for a total of 187 horsepower. Government fuel economy is 34 miles per gallon, and the car has earned an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) certification.
Featuring hybrid cars in this manner is not only a strong marketing and promotional strategy, but it also serves as a barometer to measure the strength of greener transportation alternatives with regards to both the consumer market and public consciousness, as a whole. The Camry hybrid is slated to run as a pace car in several more Nascar races this year.