Green means go, right? Since that's such a universal truth, perhaps it's fitting that a hybrid would pace the start of the last NASCAR race of the season. Scheduled to take place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway this upcoming Sunday, this will be the first time a hybrid car has paced a NASCAR Spring Cup event. Ford plans to use its 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid as the vehicle that leads the field's charge to the green flag, after which a 2010 Ford Fusion Sport will use its 263 horsepower V6 to pace the rest of the race.
Ford will have a very large presence for Sunday's race, being the main sponsor of the entire event. Mark Fields, Ford's President of The America's, will be the man waving the green flag to start the race. The two Fusion sedans will be formally introduced to the world a few days later at the LA Auto Show, though probably not decked out in custom NASCAR-inspired leafy camouflage paint... at least we hope not.
2010 Ford fusion hybird to pace ford 400 field; FIRST ever HYBRID PACE CAR IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 9, 2008 – NASCAR Sprint Cup officials will leave it to a green car to lead the field to the green flag next Sunday at the season-ending Ford 400 – marking a NASCAR Sprint Cup first.
The all-new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, featuring the debut of Ford's next-generation hybrid system, along with the all-new Fusion Sport will pace the Ford 400, which concludes Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"Miami is an international city with a flair for what's new," said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray. "And with the evolution of Ford Championship Weekend into one of the highest-profile events in sports, the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami is the perfect spot for a historical racing first-the Fusion Hybrid Pace Car."
The Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Sport will both be in NASCAR-inspired camouflage for the race. Miami-area race fans and the national television audience on ABC will be the first to see the cars, since they won't be officially unveiled until the Los Angeles International Auto Show three days later. They will be available in dealer showrooms in the spring of 2009.
After the Fusion Hybrid leads the field to the green flag, the 263-horsepower Fusion Sport will be the pace car for the remainder of the Ford 400.
"The new Ford Fusion ups the ante in the mid-size sedan segment with outstanding fuel economy but retains what made it standout from the competition from the beginning – the fun-to-drive factor," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas, who will wave the green flag at the start of Sunday's Ford 400. "The Fusion Hybrid pacing the Ford 400 showcases exactly what our customers want, fuel economy and fun – and we're pleased to be able to offer racing fans a glimpse of what's to come at Sunday's race."
The new product teases are welcome news to Ford NASCAR star Carl Edwards, a winner of eight NASCAR Sprint Cup wins this year and currently second in the championship standings.
"It's really appropriate that Ford is bringing the 2010 Fusion Hybrid to pace the Ford 400," he said. "The Fusion already gets great fuel mileage. And I sure know that my NASCAR Fusion gets great fuel mileage after the way we recently won the Texas race. But for Ford to come out with a hybrid version of the Fusion, that's best-in-class in terms of fuel economy, is really cool."
"It makes a great car even better," Edwards continued. "I just hope that I can be on the pole next week at Homestead, so I can be running up right behind it at the start of the race."
More than 700 Miles of City Driving
The Ford Fusion Hybrid can operate in electric mode at speeds up to 47 mph with a range of more than 700 miles of city driving on a single tank of gas. A smaller, lighter high-volt battery has greater charge capacity and range than Ford's current generation battery, as found in the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, which is the most fuel-efficient SUV on the planet.
"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 Portalatin, Hybrid Applications Manager. "Under the right conditions, you can drive in your neighborhood or mall parking lots without using a drop of gasoline."
The more efficient next-generation hybrid system delivers a more seamless driving experience and is expected to achieve class-leading fuel economy, besting the Toyota Camry hybrid by at least five mpg in city driving.
The 2010 Fusion Hybrid has already been recognized for its significance in advancing "green" technology and improving environmental performance by the Green Car Journal. The Fusion Hybrid has been named one of Green Car Journal's Top 5 for 2009, being a finalist for the magazine's top award, Green Car of the Year, which is scheduled to beannounced at the L.A. Auto Show.
The Innovation of SmartGauge with EcoGuide
Pushing a vehicle to the limit takes on a new meaning in the new 2010 Ford Fusion, thanks to Ford's SmartGauge with EcoGuide – an innovative new instrument cluster that provides real-time information to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency.
The instrument cluster's unique design uses two, high-resolution, full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) screens on either side of the analog speedometer that can be configured to show different levels of information, including fuel and battery power levels, average and instant miles-per-gallon.
"SmartGauge with EcoGuide gives the customer real-world feedback to make the most of their hybrids," said Portalatin. "Unique to Ford and Mercury hybrid sedans, this instrument cluster acts as a good 'coach,' engaging drivers real-time to help them achieve maximum fuel economy."
Long-term fuel efficiency can be displayed in two ways – either as a traditional chart or using an innovative display that shows "efficiency leaves," which is an animation of growing green leaves on vines projected on the right side of the cluster. The more efficient a customer is, the more lush and bountiful the leaves become, creating a visual reward for the driver's efforts.
The "efficiency leaves" were the inspiration for the Fusion Hybrid Pace Car's camouflage design, which showcases green leaves growing from the front grille down the length of vehicle.
EPA-Smart Way Cars
The 2009 Ford Fusion is among the vehicles that have received SmartWay certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a partner of NASCAR. The SmartWay designation is earned by vehicles meeting EPA-set Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Scores.
Among NASCAR's vehicle partners, a variety of makes and models have received the EPA SmartWay designation, providing drivers with a range of options whether they're looking for a compact car, mid-size sedan or sport utility vehicle.
Consumers visiting the Ford displays at Homestead will see a variety of these EPA SmartWay vehicles, including the 2009 Fusion, 2009 Taurus and the 2009 Focus.
Fusion in NASCAR
Ford has sponsored a racing version of the Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2006. It has captured 22 series wins since its debut, including 10 this season.
The 2010 model NASCAR Fusion will make its competition debut at the 2009 Daytona 500 in February and will be unveiled to consumers during Ford Championship Weekend.
The Fusion made its debut as a pace car in the series on Oct. 9, 2005, at Kansas Speedway. It also paced the field prior to that season's Ford Championship Weekend.
Ford has 591 wins overall in NASCAR's top division. Seven different drivers have captured eight Cup championships, and Ford has won 15 manufacturers' championships.