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.