Jay Leno On Hand As Ford Focus Electric Prototype is Donated
Calling it best thing to come out of a failed television show, Jay Leno was on hand at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles as Ford donated one of the two Focus Electric prototypes used on "The Jay Leno Show" during a celebrity driving segment called Green Car Challenge.
The car was shown at the Petersen Museum alongside the The all-new Focus Electric, Ford's first-ever all-electric passenger car, a zero-emissions, gasoline-free vehicle that will be available in North America and Europe. The official handing over of the keys was meant to signify the transition from a prototype version of Focus Electric to the real production vehicle.
Used throughout the 2010 season of the Jay Leno Show at the 10 pm hour, the Electric Orange battery electric prototype was outfitted with Recaro racing seats, a full roll cage and a five-point racing harness for use on a racetrack designed specifically for the show. Celebrities including Steve Carrell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Serena Williams, Sheryl Crow and Rush Limbaugh each took a turn behind the wheel of the bright orange Ford Focus prototype last year. Their times were recorded and Dr. Phil ended up having the fastest time of all. Driving is like sex, quipped Leno, men always think they are going to better at it, but then they get behind the wheel and it's a different story.
The Focus Electric will now be the featured vehicle in the museum's permanent Alternative Power exhibit. The display highlights vehicles that feature engineering solutions outside of the standard gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine. Some of the other alternative-fuel vehicles in the exhibit include an electric car built in 1897, a wood-burning truck and the 1974 Dutcher – a steam-powered car on loan to the Petersen from Jay Leno.
Leno, a noted car aficionado, is no stranger to electric cars. He spoke fondly of his 1909 Baker, an electric car that he has owned for years. Back in the early 1900s when Edison electric car engines were created they were popular with women who appreciated not having to deal with the fumes and mess of a gas-powered engine. Leno compared the early electric cars, which were marketed to women, with the rise of the Miata. When Mazda came out with the little roadster it was immediately dismissed as a girly car and men wouldn't be seen in it.
The Focus Electric is the company's first-ever all-electric passenger car, a gasoline-free version of the small car from Ford. Leno described a world in which most American drivers would use electric cars for their daily tasks and gas-fueled cars would be used by those who wanted to, on weekends for fun or to, as Leno put it, "go to Bob's Big Boy." A full recharge is expected to take three to four hours at home with the available 240-volt charge station and costs about $1.50. That charge can sustain the Focus for around 100 miles. The battery itself is warrantied for ten years.
What's the future of electric cars? Leno has an idea. He described a world where cars could pull electricity from the air, much the way a radio pulls an FM signal. But, he conceded, "that's many years down the road."
The Petersen Automotive Museum is where Los Angeles' two great loves, celebrities and cars, intersect. The museum on Wilshire Blvd. features cars used in movies, famous race cars, cars from long ago (remember the Tucker?) and cars that never were. Admission prices are $10 for general admission adults and museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm. For general Museum information, call 323/930-CARS or visit the Museum's Web site at: www.petersen.org.
Gallery: The Petersen Car Museum