Ford Focus Electric, an all-electric car, is set to pace the NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Richmond 400 at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia, on April 28.
It will be the first time in the motorsport history when an all-electric car will lead the field of high-power, finely-tuned models out onto the 400-lap race.
Around thirty-five percent of new car “intenders” in the U.S. are motorsports fans and seventy-five percent of them support NASCAR and the persons who root for Ford NASCAR teams are sixty-seven percent more likely to consider Ford products than other consumers, the company said.
“Ford research shows the majority of Americans would consider buying an electrified vehicle but do not yet understand the different technologies. Highlighting the Focus Electric as a pace car is a fun way to educate consumers about the kinds of benefits our electrified vehicles deliver and show people our commitment to provide Ford customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy in the vehicle that best meets their needs,” said Mark Fields, president of Ford’s Americas division.
Powered by LG Chem lithium-ion battery, Ford Focus Electric will have an important task to complete as a pace car.
Pace cars have to drive at relatively high speed, sometimes for long distances. They have to be well adapted to wet or slippery conditions, to keep the tires on the competing vehicles warm and to stop engines overheating. They have an important role when is poor weather, or if an accident happens, they lead competitors at a uniform speed until the track can be cleared up.
Running too slowly behind a pace car may lead to low tire pressure, and this was discussed as a contributing factor to the Formula One crash that killed Ayrton Senna in 1994.
On a Formula One circuit the speeds are much higher. The current Formula One Safety Car is the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, driven by professional driver Bernd Mayländer.
Ford Fusion Hybrid led the field at Homestead in 2008, making Ford also the first to use a hybrid vehicle as pace car. In January the company unveiled the Fusion Hybrid as its 2013 car to be used in NASCAR race.
On April 25Ford Focus Electric will be presented to the public at the Virginia State Capitol.