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Leno lines up electric Ford Focus for celebs to turn fast laps

Fri, 18 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Car collector Jay Leno's new prime-time TV show launches a new segment on Friday night, challenging visiting celebrities to set a fast lap time on a track outside the entertainer's studio.

The car that Leno hands to his guests is an electric-powered Ford Focus--a harbinger of a battery-powered Focus that Ford plans to put on sale in 2011.

Leno's electric Focus uses the more-modern European Focus as its base, not the well-aged U.S. Focus platform. From there, Ford engineers pulled the internal combustion engine and drivetrain. In its place is an electric motor rated at 141 hp. That motor delivers 236 lb-ft of torque, all of it available at launch. The placement of the lithium-ion battery pack gives the high-voltage Focus a 50/50 weight distribution--beneficial for duty on Leno's track.

Ford dipped into the European parts bin, fitting the electric Focus with springs and shocks from the European Focus RS. Inside, Leno's Focus has Recaro racing seats, a roll cage and five-point safety belts.

First up in Leno's "Green Car Challenge" is actress Drew Barrymore.

Maybe we can get Dutch some seat time.



POWERTRAIN: Permanent magnetic electric motor, 141 hp, 236 lb-ft

BATTERIES: 98, air-cooled, 60 A-h lithium-ion; 23 kilowatt hours

STEERING: Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion

FRONT SUSPENSION: MacPherson-type struts

REAR SUSPENSION: Independent short-long arm (SLA), control blade multi-link system

BRAKES: 12.6-inch ventilated discs front; 11.0-inch solid discs rear; ABS

By Dale Jewett