It seems Jay Leno will have a sidekick on his new primetime show: an electric Ford Focus.
As was the case with The Tonight Show, Leno will frequently host celebrities on The Jay Leno Show — but there’s a twist. In the vein of the BBC’s famed TopGear program, the comedian plans on having the rich and famous partake in a “Green Car Challenge” to see who can lap a track the quickest.
Ford revealed this morning that its forthcoming Focus Battery Electric Vehicle prototype, developed in partnership with Magna, will be used as the track car for Leno’s new show.
“Having our Focus BEV on the show is a great way to demonstrate how fun to drive these cars really can be,” said Lisa Drake, Ford’s chief engineer for hybrid and EV programs.
In order to take to the track, the Focus was specially prepared by Ford’s EV and Racing teams, who built the car in three weeks. Unlike the Focus BEV prototype shown at the 2009 Detroit auto show, this electric Focus has two battery packs — one in the trunk and one underneath the car — to lower the center of gravity, as well as a full roll cage and a five-point racing harness.
Ford plans to ultimately produce and market an electric Focus by 2011. Although the BEV prototypes foreshadow the forthcoming car, the final product will likely be based upon the all-new Focus due in 2010.
In the meantime, you can watch the Focus BEV being put through its paces on (at least) a weekly basis. Look for Leno’s show to air on an NBC station near you at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.