DEARBORN – What happens when NASCAR’s Sprint Cup points leader takes on his Ford teammates in a miles per gallon challenge in the new EcoBoost®-powered 2013 Ford Fusion?
Sprint Cup points leader Greg Biffle took on Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth, driving a Fusion equipped with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that offers aerodynamics and power similar to their NASCAR Fusion race cars.
The advanced 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine offers Ford drivers both power and efficiency. EcoBoost is a suite of technologies that combines turbocharging with direct injection, variable valve timing and precise engine controls to increase the power output and efficiency of the gasoline internal combustion engine – with no loss of performance.
“The new Fusion is a fuel-efficiency leader, so we thought it would be great for NASCAR’s leading drivers to put it to the test,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing.
Fans can view a teaser video today on @Ford Online and Ford’s Fusion Facebook page, and try to guess which racer came out on top. They can check back Sept. 14 to see a full video and find out which racer is the first-ever Fusion Miles Per Gallon Challenge champion.
The drivers gathered on a hot day in August at Ford’s Dearborn Development Center to see who could achieve the best fuel efficiency. They hoped to beat each other and the Fusion’s 37 mpg projected highway rating.
The rules were decided by on-hand engineers and experts in lab coats – who at least looked official. They would ride along with the drivers whose task was to go around the 2.5-mile high-speed test track three times within 15 minutes and let the in-car miles per gallon calculator record the winner.
Each driver had his own strategy, but a few things were consistent across the board: All were impressed by the design of the all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost Fusion, all thought their teammates might forget the challenge and over-accelerate when the green flag flew, and all knew that air conditioning or open windows has a negative impact on fuel efficiency.
Fusion advanced technology
The drivers were asked to use the advanced technology the new Fusion offers and follow the real-time display that tracks the earned miles per gallon. The vehicle information, which displays driver assist settings, gauge functions, and units of temperature and measurement, is presented in full-color LCD to the left of the centrally mounted speedometer.
The enhancements continue on the exterior of the car. To improve fuel efficiency, the new Fusion features impressive aerodynamics refined by the technology used in designing the race car Fusion for NASCAR. Click here
to see a brief video discussing how an aerodynamic body shape enhances fuel efficiency and reduces wind noise.
Fusion fun for fuel economy
Matt Kenseth started with a plan and stuck to it. He explained to the gentleman in the lab coat riding along that steady acceleration was key to getting off to a good start. That, and letting the air out of the tires after his session.
Steady Kenseth was quick to note that though it was hot in the car, NASCAR Sprint Cup cars are considerably hotter. So, while the engineer, camera man and gentleman in lab coat who were along for the ride were sitting in a visibly uncomfortable sweat, Kenseth would not be cracking the windows or turning on the air conditioning system.
He concluded the day having posted an impressive start and a high benchmark to get things going.
Greg Biffle, NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader, had to ward off his teammate before even starting the competition.
After running to try to stop Kenseth from letting the air out of the tires, Biffle then hopped in the car, and noted his appreciation for the gauge and how user-friendly it was for determining miles per gallon.
At the end of his run, Biffle joked, “Matt Kenseth let the air out of the tires before I started, so he should be disqualified.
“That said,” he continued, “I’m impressed with how well the car handled. It’s sporty in design, drives smooth, and gets great gas mileage. The Fusion really has something for everyone; it could be a family car or a car for a guy who just likes to cruise.”
Then it was Carl Edwards’ turn. The man known for doing backflips off the hood of his car after winning a race was full of confidence. Very impressed with the EcoBoost engine, and having observed the fatigue of the in-car crew, Edwards decided a different strategy might help him get on the judges’ good side. To the relief of everyone in the car, the kind driver turned on the air conditioning.
While the judges appreciated the gesture, they had no way to control the outcome of the challenge. About a lap and a half into his attempt, Edwards realized he was on track to lose with his strategy.
He cut the air conditioning, finishing the race saying he could handle the heat, that, in fact, the driver who would experience the most trouble with the temperatures was Trevor Bayne.
As underdog Bayne took to the wheel, he explained that in the past week his own Ford truck had six miles of gas left in the tank, and using the SYNC® system, he figured out that the nearest gas station was 10 miles away. Using drafting techniques, the skillful race car driver made it to the pump.
Applying the same tactics to this challenge, the sweaty Bayne made his way around the track at a speed that allowed him to take note of some of the new Fusion’s advanced technologies.
“I really love the SYNC technology; it’s like having a spotter in your car when you need to find a gas station or other location,” Bayne said.
“I listen to a lot of music when I drive,” he added. “My phone is full of different bands and I like to constantly change between artists. With the SYNC system, it’s fun, and I can keep my hands on the wheel, which is, after all, one of my favorite things to do.”
Going into the final stretch, Bayne put the car in neutral long before he could see the finish line. More confident than his in-car crew that the Fusion would coast to the end, he used the slope of the track to gain enough momentum to roll to the line.
The 1.6-liter EcoBoost Ford Fusion is designed to get an estimated 23 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.