Apparently, electric cars are for girls. For his new prime-time TV show, Jay Leno is going to pit celebrities against one another in his new Green Car Challenge segment and the first one in the driver's seat will be Drew Barrymore. Barrymore will get behind the wheel of a prototype Ford Focus EV this Friday. Following Barrymore's initial time trial, Leno will rope other stars into racing the sponsored Focus on a special track built outside the show's new studio once or twice a week.
For Ford, the tremendous publicity of getting celebs into their upcoming electric vehicle – which is due on the market in 2011 – is a tremendous coup. Nancy Gioia, director of hybrid vehicle programs for Ford, told USAToday that the Leno tie will go a big way in making EVs seem normal. "If (electric cars are) only seen as quirky or off the beaten path, it's really hard to get people" excited, she said.
GM's Rob Peterson sees a benefit to all automakers who are bringing an EV to market. "If we walked into the showroom in 2011 with very little lead time, some segments of the population would have a tough time understanding what these vehicles can do," he said. Instead, we'll have two years of YouTube clips of famous people saying "oh, it's so quiet" to get everyone ready.