By Rebecca Kavanagh, FCN

DEARBORN, Nov. 7, 2007 -- One of Jay Leno's favorite cars -- among the dozens in his 17,000-square-foot private garage -- is a 100-year-old Baker Electric.

Representatives from Ford Motor Company were well aware of The Tonight Show host's fondness for this clean technology when they offered him a special test drive of the Ford Escape Hybrid Plug-In this week.

NBC's "Green is Universal" week -- aimed at entertaining, informing and empowering Americans to lead greener lives, made for a perfect opportunity for members of Ford's Plug-In team to meet with Leno at his Burbank, Calif., garage to demonstrate the vehicle's capabilities and features. The team left the hybrid plug-in in Leno's capable hands to drive for a night.

"Jay seemed pumped up about the electric technology and how durable and reliable it is," says Executive Technical Leader Mike Tamor, who was among the four engineers to meet with Leno. "He said that the big challenge 100 years ago with the Baker Electric is the same challenge carmakers face today -- getting enough energy into the batteries to make the cars practical."

Tamor and his team expect to fill Leno in on how Ford's plug-in operation strategy could help solve that puzzle when they meet with him again for a video shoot staged by Popular Mechanics that will feature the Escape plug-in. Leno is a regular contributor to the magazine and its Web site.

The Escape Hybrid Plug-In is the first of 20 vehicles being produced by Ford in its unique partnership with Southern California Edison. The two companies recently announced a collaboration to advance the commercialization of plug-ins by developing not only the technology, but new business models that view the electrification of vehicles as a part of a larger energy vision connecting transportation and the grid.