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Ford Fusion Hybrid to be the first-ever hybrid pace car in NASCAR Sprint Cup

 
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Ford's Fusion NASCAR racer gets a hybrid companion to kick off the Ford 400

Ford's Fusion NASCAR racer gets a hybrid companion to kick off the Ford 400

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At the end of October, Ford revealed a preview of the 2010 Ford Fusion, and with it came details on the next-generation hybrid system that would be available in the car. With relatively high electric-only cruising speeds and a huge 700mi (1,100km) range, the Fusion Hybrid is set to be a very interesting offering in the mid-size segment. Now Ford's trying to give it another layer of appeal by making it the first hybrid to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to the green flag at this year's season-ending Ford 400.

Though the hybrid's appearance at the racetrack will be more lipservice than launchpad, the mere inclusion of the hybrid car at a sporting event - especially in a role typically reserved for a relatively sporty vehicle - could go a long way toward bringing awareness of the new hybrid system inside the Fusion to the mainstream.

And that's something worth doing - there are a lot of interesting things going on under the hood of the Fusion Hybrid. With a 2.4L four-cylinder that uses the Atkinson cycle, regenerative braking that's 94% efficient, electric-only cruising speed of up to 47mph (75km/h) and a CVT to keep everything humming at the efficiency sweet spot, it's set to take the efficiency title from the Toyota Camry hybrid by at least 5mpg, according to the Blue Oval.

Alongside the Fusion Hybrid, the Fusion Sport will be on the scene at the Ford 400. Featuring a 263hp (196kW) 3.5L V6, the Sport model is the Fusion's stab at performance-minded buyers. Both the Hybrid and Sport will feature Ford's new SmartGauge and EcoGuide systems to help coach drivers to drive more efficiently, while offering real-time feedback in a high-res display.

Both cars will be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19.

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