Jay Leno is back on TV, hosting his own eponymous show, and one of the highlights is a Top Gear-like Green Car Challenge that pits the driving talents of Hollywood stars against a newly-designed and built Ford Focus electric car.
Based around the European market Ford Focus ST, the Green Car Challenge Focus is, in a way, the first production-esque electric hot hatch.
To build the car, U.S. Ford engineers took a standard Focus ST and stripped the powertrain, replacing it with a test prototype version of the system that's scheduled to go into the all-electric production Focus due for North American sale in 2011.
You might remember the American-market Focus BEV from the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The same basic powertrain concept was applied in that car, though the European Focus was chosen for the Leno Show application, in part due to the next-gen Focus being a global platform. Goals for the production version include charging from either standard 110-Volt or 220-Volt outlets, charge times between 6-12 hours and a driving range of at least 100 miles between charges. The current Focus BEV is rated for 80 miles per charge.
The Green Car Challenge Focus BEV is good for 141 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque--as Ford puts it, almost as much torque at the wheels as V-6 Mustang. The energy to power the electric motor is stored in 98 air-cooled 60 amp-hour lithium-ion batteries for a total of 23 kilowatts of on-board power. Unlike the British Reasonably Priced Car, the Green Car Challenge vehicle has just one gear, so there won't be any stick-shift bloopers.
Acceleration should be brisk with all that torque, and braking will be even better with 12.6-inch discs up front and 11-inchers out back.
The first star to take the wheel of the Focus BEV for Leno's show will be Drew Barrymore. The episode debuts tonight, September 18th, at 10 p.m. eastern.