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Electric Ford Focus to guest on Leno show

Wed, 09 Sep 2009

Jay Leno's new show goes live Monday on NBC, and a guest star from Dearborn, Mich., will have a recurring role.

The battery-electric Ford Focus will be the centerpiece of a bit dubbed the “Green Car Challenge” on the show. Leno, a noted car guy, will have celebrity guests compete for the best track times in the Focus.

How this is actually eco-friendly is a little unclear. But it will mean prime-time exposure for Ford's new green machine. The battery-electric Focus is due in 2011, one of four electric vehicles Ford is bringing to the market in the coming years. The company's plans also include an electric Transit Connect.

The Focus for The Jay Leno Show was a joint effort by Ford Racing and the company's battery- and electric-vehicle program. It was built in three weeks.

The made-for-TV car has a split battery pack, with one battery in the cargo area and one in the space under the car where the fuel tank usually is located. It also has a specially tuned suspension for racing, a roll bar and a five-point harness for the driver.

This stunt means that Ford now has two sets of ratings to fret over for the electric Focus: EPA and Nielsen.

By Greg Migliore