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Celebrities will race the hot plug-in Ford Focus on Jay Leno's new show. Retrofitted in only two weeks, the car features a bevy of racing features 235 ft-lb of torque and 141 hp from a 105 kW electric motor.  (Source: AutoBlog)
Jay Leno isn't just about comedy these days

Jay Leno's moved on from The Tonight show to a new gig -- the Jay Leno Show.  What does this veteran joker have to do with technology?  A major segment of the new show is Jay's Green Car Challenge, a spot where Leno puts celebrities behind the wheel of a plug-in electric vehicle.

Specs of the hot retrofitted plug-in just landed, and it's looking pretty sweet.  The hatchback began as a standard (non-hybrid) Ford Focus ST five-door hatchback, which rolled off an assembly line in Germany.  From there it shipped to Dearborn, MI where some of Ford's best engineers electrified it.

In only six weeks they were finished.  The resulting beast stands out with its vibrant orange paint job and bold decals.  It is a hefty vehicle, weighing in at 3,421 pounds.  Much of this weight is from the air cooling system for the batteries, and the batteries themselves -- 98 lithium ion 60 Ah cells.

The vehicle also features a pretty sporty electric motor, which puts out 141 hp (105 kW) and 235 lb-ft of torque and has a 7,500 rpm redline.  The vehicle also can stop on a dime, thanks to 12.6 inch front rotors and 11 inch discs.  It also features an upgrade suspension, Recaro racing seats, a full roll cage, and a five-point racing harness.

Celebrities will take the car out for test drives on a race track, competing to get the best lap time.  So far only Drew Barrymore has announced her participation, but more celebs are expected to join up soon.

Despite lacking the custom Euro Focus EV's racing features, the 2011 Chevy Volt, from competitor GM, may steal some of the spotlight from the Ford vehicle.  The Volt features arguably a more aggressive electric engine, which produces a reported 149 hp and runs on 111 kw.  Early estimates of the torque produced were 236 ft-lb, which would put it in a dead heat with the vehicle.

The Ford Focus will be releasing the pure-electric 2012 Ford Focus EV in 2011.  It will follow up with the release of a plug-in Ford Escape Hybrid, which retains some gas-driven features.  Ford has been extensively researching how to make its EV's the fastest and most efficient charging models on the market.

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RE: Top Gear
By Mumrik on 9/18/2009 10:00:48 AM , Rating: 2
Leno is a huge Top Gear fan. He has been a guest on the show and he refused to head an American version of it.

RE: Top Gear
By ChristopherO on 9/18/2009 2:17:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, but NBC does own the American rights if they ever choose to do one, so in theory the Jay Leno segment is legally licensed from the Brits.

Yeah, I like Leno's integrity. He refused participation because the American advertising model would have made it impossible to do an unbiased show, and he wanted no part of that. The BBC can get away with it since it's publicly funded, and they don't have a huge auto lobby in the UK. Even PBS couldn't get away with this, because the American companies would call Congress and remind them of union support... And so Congress would threaten PBS's funding.

Gotta love politics!

RE: Top Gear
By B3an on 9/21/2009 11:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
I certainly hope an american version is never made of Top Gear, you yanks do remakes of so many of our shows, and they are always worser and very dumbed down. It's embarrassing and painful to watch.

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