DEARBORN – They may drive 200 miles per hour as part of their full-time job as a Ford Racing driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but when Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle take off their helmets and put away their uniforms, they are no different than the hundreds of thousands of fans who sit and cheer for them every weekend.
“Believe it or not, I’ve got hot rods and all kinds of stuff, but fuel efficiency is at the top of my mind all the time because I’ve got to pull into the gas station and buy gas at four dollars a gallon just like everybody else,” said Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion and current leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. “I’ve got an EcoBoost Taurus and my father-in-law has an EcoBoost F-150, so our family already has fuel-efficient cars because it’s very important to us.”
Approximately 35 percent of new car intenders are motorsports fans and 78 percent of them support NASCAR, according to Ford research. Additionally, Ford race fans are 67 percent more likely to consider Ford products than general market consumers. Across the U.S., fuel efficiency is by far the most important influencing factor in the vehicle purchasing decision (44 percent), followed by style (16 percent), safety (15 percent) and brand loyalty (12 percent)
“When I’m driving I’m paying attention on how I can save fuel, whether I’m on the race track or on regular roads,” said Biffle, who has won championships in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2000) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (2002). “I know that staying on the gas while you’re driving up to that intersection and then using the brakes isn’t always the best way of doing it. There are better ways of being more fuel efficient about the way you drive, but having smart technology like an EcoBoost engine makes it a bit easier.”
When it comes to the current Ford vehicle lineup, no driver may be more familiar with it than Edwards, who participated in the 1,000-Mile Fusion Hybrid Challenge around the streets of Washington, DC, in 2009 and is currently featured in a series of national television ads for the new 2013 Ford Taurus SHO.
“I was at the pump the other day and it’s quite a shock,” said Edwards, who tied for first-place in last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race. “Everybody is in the same boat when you fill up your vehicle, but I think what Ford is doing with these EcoBoost engines is spectacular and their small cars are fantastic. I have a bunch of friends that are looking at Fiestas and they’re amazed at the quality. To be honest, I think that’s the future of America, and the future of transportation is smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.
“I’ve driven a Fusion Hybrid probably 10,000 miles at home and it’s really nice to fill up your hybrid and see it read 500 miles to empty. That’s really impressive,” continued Edwards. “Over time, if fuel prices are four or five dollars a gallon, that saves a huge amount of money for a family over the life of a car. That’s why I own one of those and that’s why more and more people are interested in them. All signs point to that being the future.”
Biffle and Edwards will be competing in this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, which will feature the Focus Electric as the first all-electric pace car in NASCAR history.
Boosting fuel economy
From EcoBoost to hybrids and from plug-in hybrids to full electric vehicles, this year Ford will offer nine vehicles reaching an anticipated 40 mpg or more.
“Ford remains absolutely committed to providing a wide range of choices of top fuel economy solutions for our customers – from EcoBoost-powered gasoline vehicles and hybrids to plug-in hybrids and full electrics,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.
Ford will offer fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, tripling the production capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. This expansion of fuel-efficient offerings will be led by the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine in the high-volume Escape compact utility vehicle and Fusion sedan nameplates.
Delivering up to 20 percent better fuel economy than conventional engines, EcoBoost uses smaller overall size combined with turbocharging and gasoline direct injection to bring customers the power they want and the fuel economy they need.
“EcoBoost expansion and availability in high-volume nameplates such as the all-new Ford Escape and Fusion will take this affordable, fuel-saving technology to the heart of the market,” said Fields.
Kevin Layden, director of Ford Electrification Programs and Engineering, says the new Fusion will be a star on the track and showrooms as the best example of how Ford is giving customers true power of choice for fuel-efficient vehicles.
“From Fusion with EcoBoost and Fusion Hybrid to Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid – each of these cars will help customers save money at the pump,” Layden said.
Fusion offers customers the broadest selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment, including a choice of two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The new Fusion is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy across the lineup:
Focus Electric is the flagship of Ford’s transformed lineup that features 10 vehicles with leading fuel economy. Ford’s other fuel-efficiency leaders include:
• 2013 Fusion 1.6-liter EcoBoost: Projected 37 mpg highway that would make it America’s most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable midsize sedan
• 2013 Escape 1.6-liter EcoBoost: Expected to be the most fuel-efficient crossover of its kind with 33 mpg highway
• 2013 Taurus 2.0-liter EcoBoost: Expected to deliver best-in-class 31 mpg highway
• 2012 Edge 2.0-liter EcoBoost: Delivers 30 mpg highway, besting all SUVs its size or larger and even some cars such as the Honda Civic Si
• 2012 Explorer 2.0-liter EcoBoost: One of the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger SUVs on the market, delivering 28 mpg highway
• 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid: Aiming to become the world’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan with a projected 100 MPGe rating
• 2013 Fusion Hybrid: Expected to become the world’s most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable midsize sedan with 47 mpg
• 2012 Fiesta: Offers up to 40 mpg highway and class-leading 33 mpg combined rating
• 2012 F-150: The most fuel-efficient full-size pickup, with V6 models delivering best-in-class 23 mpg highway and 17 mpg city