Striking one more blow against internal-combustion convention, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric has been chosen to handle race-pacing duties at the upcoming Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on April 28. This will be the second time that a Ford vehicle with a non-traditional powertrain has served in this capacity, the first being when a Fusion Hybrid was tabbed for pacing duties at the NASCAR Ford 400 Sprint Cup race held at Miami-Homestead back in 2008. The Focus Electric pace car will be officially unveiled on Wednesday of next week at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. From there, it will subsequently be driven over to Richmond International Raceway by Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.
According to Mark Fields, Ford's president of the America's, the company's research shows that the majority of people in this country would consider buying an electric vehicle of some sort, but are still unclear about the various technologies. He sees this high-profile outing for the new Focus electric as an effective way to make some timely but painless headway in furthering that education process at a point when the firm is ramping up retail sales efforts to promote the most fuel-efficient five-seat car sold in America in its three launch states: California, New York and New Jersey. By year's end, Ford intends to expand availability of the Focus Electric -- which has earned an EPA combined mileage number of 105 MPGe -- to 19 markets across the country.
Why NASCAR? In addition to its long-time participation in Sprint Cup action on a factory level, Ford's in-house stats also indicate about 35 percent of new-car purchase intenders are motorsports fans and 78 percent of that group support NASCAR. It also found that Blue Oval partisans are 67 percent more likely to consider Ford products than the average market consumer. To reach potential buyers more interested in social media than in auto racing, Ford also has created a new "Plug N Play in Electric City" game that features the Focus Electric on its FordElectric Vehicles Facebook page and is currently casting teams for a reality series on Yahoo! that will pit two-person teams against each other to complete a series of challenges for the chance to win a real Focus Electric.