On Tuesday, Nascar announced that a hybrid Toyota Camry will serve as the pace car for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
To be an approved pace car, a car must be able to reach a speed close to 100 mph from the standy-by position near the end of pit road to the exit of turn 2.
This isn’t the first time NASCAR used a hybrid pace car. A hybrid Ford Fusion was used in the Sprint Cup series finale last year, the Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway. But, that car only paced the start of the race because it did not meet performance standards.
In the New York Times Wheels blog, Robert Peele writes that history suggests that Toyota’s announcement “may have been another salvo” in Ford and Toyota’s “continuing war of words.”
Peele points to the fact that Toyota disputed Ford’s claim earlier this year, “that its Fusion hybrid was the most fuel-efficient midsize vehicle, saying that the Prius, which boasts significantly higher mileage, also was a midsize car.”
He also noted that “Ford accused Toyota of cheating in its cargo space measurements for the Sequoia sport utility vehicle, using a different measuring standard than Ford had used for its almost identically sized Expedition.”
Toyota did share hybrid technology with Ford five years ago, but after that Ford accused Toyota “of using its influence to limit Ford’s access to suppliers of hybrid technologies.”