Nascar's Hybrid Pace Car

Donning racecar-like artwork, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid will take to the national stage this Sunday in Miami, becoming the first hybrid vehicle to serve as official pace car at a Nascar race. The car’s appearance at the Ford 400 will precede its scheduled world debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show later this month.

The event will build upon a recent publicity blitz for the Fusion Hybrid which began with an online unveiling of the car, followed by the introduction of its new SmartGauge technology. The hybrid has also been named a finalist by the Green Car Journal for the magazine’s Green Car of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the LA Auto Show.

The Fusion Hybrid powertrain couples a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a next-generation, high-voltage electric motor. In electric-only mode, the car is capable of reaching up to 47 miles per hour. (Most hybrids have an electric-only top speed around 30 miles per hour.) “Because our hybrid can run at a much higher speed in electric mode, you can do so much more in city driving situations,” said Gil Poralatin, Ford’s Hybrid Applications Manager, in a company press release. “Under the right conditions, you can drive in your neighborhood or in mall parking lots without using a drop of gas.”

The city fuel economy for the Ford Fusion Hybrid will be approximately 39 miles per gallon—beating the Camry Hybrid by 5 mpg. Furthermore, the car has a vehicle range of more than 700 miles on a single tank of gas. That’s about 300 laps at the Homestead-Miami Speedway—without having to refuel.

Many racing associations and circuits have been spotlighting eco-friendly alternatives like diesel and ethanol in recent years, but this level of exposure for a hybrid vehicle is unprecedented. Nascar’s fanbase is larger than professional football and baseball, combined. With more than 80,000 race attendees and roughly 20 million television viewers, this could prove to be the ultimate hybrid endorsement.


  • Bryce

    This article forgot to mention that there is another pace car, the one with the 3.5L non-hybrid engine. that is the one that is actually going to pace the cars and this thing is just going to ride in front before the race starts. it is a nice gesture though and I will appreciate it as that.

    On another note, the up to 47 mph electric capability is impressive and I commend Ford for the engineering of this vehicle. Very impressive. : )

  • Skeptic

    I’ll leave the phony pace car stuff aside.

    700 miles on a tank. Not bad. 47 mph before dino-juice is used. Not bad.

    I’m not too familiar with the Fusion, but they compare it to the Camry – is it in the same market segment? Are they the same size?

    Good for Ford. Guess that’s why they’re not (yet) about to run out of cash like the “maker” of Chevy Volt. You know, the magical hybrid that doesn’t exist.

  • X_Drive

    700 miles at 47 mph or less isn’t gonna win any race. But at least they are trying, which is better than GM. GM seems to be trying to make a Hummer hybrid. Something that you can start up on less than a gallon of gas.

    I can’t believe how far behind the US car manufacturers are.

    I’ll keep my Prius any day!

  • J

    It’s good that they are setting this example. I know a lot of people say what happens in sports doesn’t matter to the main stream, but it really does. A decade ago I wouldn’t have known anyone in high school using steroids, but my sister knows several now. I think it will be the same thing with cars. As NASCAR changes it’s image, fans will be more likely to follow or at least keep an open mind to their options.

  • steved28

    @X_Drive sigh… No one said the 700 mile range is staying below 47mph. The Average fuel economy is said to be 38mpg. Evidently, combined with the tank size, this provides you with a 700+ mile tank.

    I love my Nissan Altima hybrid, and with a 20 gallon tank, I can get 700, even 800 miles if I tried hard enough. But this car (Fusion) looks better (on paper) than my car in many respects. I applaud Ford and depending upon the price it is offered, I’m a bit sad It was not available when I was in the market.

    Those of us who own Altimas and Camrys know how important the 47mph thing is. Mine is set at 42mph and there are sooo many times I wish I could stay in EV for just a few more mph. As most traffic around here seems to travel just beyond my EV range. Honestly, it’s a huge improvement. And 38mpg for this size car will be an industry leader by quite a margin.

  • kengrubb

    The Ford Fusion is the same size and vehicle class as the Toyota Camry. In fact, some have observed this is actually the first time a hybrid vehicle will have direct competition. Each of the hybrids on the market is essentially in it’s own class, the real hybrids with EV only mode not the faux hybrids some car makers have produced.

    Toyota didn’t build a hybrid RAV4 to compete with the Ford Escape, and that would have been a far better choice than the Highlander, IMHO.

    Prius doesn’t have any direct competition, and it remains in doubt as to whether the new Honda Insight sedan will beat the Prius in city fuel economy.

    The dire question is whether Ford, GM or Chrysler will exist 6 months from now to produce any hybrids, PHEVs, EVs, etc.

  • Cobra

    Ford is an American company with better quality then most imports but they are struggling because of the UAW which takes away some much of their profits. But if you were a real American you wouldn’t buy plastic built piece of shit toyota’s and other imports. Keep the money here in AMERICA!!

  • steved28

    Cobra you contradict your own statements. I bought a car made in America, which does not employ UAW workers. It was a Nissan. Am I a bad American? BTW, where was the mid size American hybrid that was offered when I bought my car? Did I miss it? If the Fusion was for sale at that time, I would have seriously considered it.

    I also own a Ford pickup (which, ironically, was made in Canada). It met my needs, and yes, it’s as good if not better than any import in it’s class. It’s up to the car companies to solicit my business, not the other way around.

  • t

    HARD TO ADMIT THE FORD SMOKED THE JAP CAR. YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY

  • JamesSS

    You could have bought a Saturn Aura Hybrid. It has been billed as the most affordable hybrid on the market. If you go to FuelEconomy.org You will see that they get comparative gas mileage while the Aura is only a mild hybrid. You could have saved yourself some money on the initial investment and broke even with gas savings sooner. Plus it qualifies for tax credits.

    Based on average drivers it states that drivers have observed 33.7MPG for the Altima Vs. 30.1 for the Aura. Now of course driving styles vary, but for the cost, you cant beat the Aura.

    On the flip side, GM and Ford now both offer mild Hybrids that are comparative in FE, but almost 2,000 cheaper according to Edmunds.com

  • steved28

    JamesSS, The EPA figures for the Aura are 24/32. Not even close to my Altima (35/33). I drive mostly city type traffic, so the first number is the important one to me. I don’t care what people say they get, I obtain far higher mileage than the EPA sticker too (42/36). But EPA numbers are the only unbiased numbers we have. And I got the full $2,350 tax credit.

    Yes, if you don’t make a real hybrid, then you can bill it as the “most affordable”

  • mikej

    ya know. I KNEW there was going to be a catch to this. It’s all just greenwash from Ford. They dont intend on seriously selling this car if it’s only going to make a 2 minute presentation. This car could easily pace the entire race and THAT would be good advertisement, but no. Ford just doesnt get it. Let them fail miserably.

  • mikej

    Cobra, you’re obviously a disgruntled employee of one of the big three paid to post in here. You really embarass yourself with your comment. Everyone (who has an IQ larger than their shoe size) knows that American cars are inferior in quality to imports. Check the recalls. Check which cars are still on the road after 150,000 miles. Check which “american” companies outsource their labour to foregin countries. And while youre at it, check out where the shirt and shoes you’re wearing are made.

  • Bryce

    well, just to clarify, Toyota had more recalls last year than even Chrysler, so I am not sure where you got your numbers. The recalls were also structural for Toyota (very bad and expensive, luckily under wraranty), whereas Chryslers had to do with software. GM had one too I think, for windsheild wipers though. lol

  • Cobra

    mikej, you are such an ass! I do not work in the automotive industry. Grow up and buy American you little cry baby :)

  • real exams

    Its a very good post.This pace car is awesome. Ford is an American company with better quality.

  • clark

    A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) combines a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) propulsion system with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle, or better performance. A variety of types of HEV exist, and the degree to which they function as EVs varies as well. The most common form of HEV is the hybrid electric car, although hybrid electric trucks (pickups and tractors) also exist.

    Clark
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