After being unveiled in a public ceremony today at the Virginia State Capitol, the 2012 Focus Electric pace cars are ready for their historic race weekend when they become the first all-electric vehicles to pace a NASCAR Sprint Cup event.
The two Focus Electric vehicles will perform all pace car duties for the Capital City 400 presented by Virginia is for Lovers Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
The two cars were unveiled by Eric Kuehn, chief nameplate engineer, Ford Global Electrified Programs; Mike Lynch, NASCAR’s managing director of Green Innovation; and Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
With Bolling and Kuehn in one pace car, and Lynch in the other, the two vehicles proceeded to drive through the streets of Richmond after the ceremony to Richmond International Raceway, where they were turned over for weekend duty to Dennis Bickmeier, president of RIR.
“It will be a special moment for NASCAR fans across the country, Virginians and the Ford family on Saturday night when the Focus Electric completes its first lap as the official pace car for the Capital City 400,” said Kuehn. “As Ford and NASCAR make history with the first all-electric pace car, we will also be demonstrating to thousands of race fans and millions more on TV that you can combine performance and fuel-efficiency.”
Bolling pointed out the pride the state of Virginia takes in having the all-electric pace car debut in Richmond.
“I was delighted to unveil the 2012 Ford Focus Electric pace car at the Virginia State Capitol. Virginia is the energy capital of the East Coast so it’s only fitting that the first ever all-electric pace car will debut at the Richmond NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race,” said Bolling. “NASCAR is not just great fun, but it is also big business, having a huge economic impact on the metro Richmond area each year. We love to have folks visit Richmond for our annual NASCAR races and take advantage of all that the Commonwealth has to offer.”
NASCAR’s Lynch pointed out this marks another historic moment in the sport’s history.
“The arrival of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric pace car is a strong example of how the innovation cycle around green transportation is accelerating,” said Lynch. “The Ford Focus Electric was held to the same highly demanding standard of any pace car, and more than met the performance requirements. Seeing it on the track at Richmond International Raceway will be another historic moment for our sport.”
This marks the latest in a line of groundbreaking moments for Ford in NASCAR. In addition to being the first manufacturer to compete with a four-door sedan as its flagship model in 1998, Ford was also first to use a hybrid to start a NASCAR event when the Fusion Hybrid served as pace car for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008.
In January, Ford became the first manufacturer to show off its 2013 NASCAR race car when it unveiled the new 2013 Fusion racer to media in Charlotte, N.C.
The all-new Fusion range, which includes EcoBoost, a hybrid and the Energi plug-in hybrid version, is the best example of how Ford is giving customers true power of choice for fuel-efficient vehicles.
This year, Ford will offer nine vehicles reaching an anticipated 40 mpg or more. Plus, the company is building six new electrified vehicles by the end of this year.
“The Focus and Fusion are great examples of how we transformed our fleet of cars, utilities and trucks with leading fuel efficiency – by electrifying entire vehicle platforms, instead of one-off specialty models,” said Kuehn.
Ford will offer fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, tripling the production capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. This expansion of fuel-efficient offerings will be led by the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine in the high-volume Escape compact utility vehicle and Fusion sedan.
Delivering up to 20 percent better fuel economy than conventional engines, EcoBoost uses smaller overall size combined with turbocharging and gasoline direct injection to bring customers the power they want and the fuel economy they need.
Focus Electric is America’s most fuel-efficient five-seat car that offers the equivalent of 110 miles per gallon (MPGe) city, 99 MPGe highway and operates entirely on battery-generated power. Focus Electric has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer 105 MPGe combined.
By comparison, the Nissan Leaf is certified at 106 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway and 99 MPGe combined. Focus Electric features more passenger room, more motor power and a faster charging system that can nearly halve the charging time of the Leaf.
Production of the Focus Electric began in December at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. More information about MAP can be found here.
Ford is ramping up Focus Electric retail production in the first half of this year for dealership availability in California, New York and New Jersey. By the end of the year, Focus Electric will be available in 19 markets across the U.S.