Jay Leno Drives His Chevrolet Volt Gas Free for an Astounding 11,000 Miles

by , 11/27/11

Chevrolet Volt, electric vehicle, Jay Leno, Nissan Leaf, green transportation, energy efficient vehiclePhoto via Jay Leno’s Garage

Jay Leno is known to have quite the car collection – around 100 in all, not including 90 motorcycles – but until recently, he didn’t own an electric vehicle! But after publically claiming skepticism about the cleaner cars, the late night host has announced his love for his 2011 Chevrolet Volt.  In fact, since December of last year, Leno has used his Volt to drive the 35 mile commute from his home in Burbank to work, racking up around 11,000 miles – all without ever visiting a gas tank!

Chevrolet Volt, electric vehicle, Jay Leno, Nissan Leaf, green transportation, energy efficient vehicle

When offered the first 2011 Chevy Volt, Leno politely replied “no”- but later was among the first buyers when the electric vehicle went to the consumer market.  Since the Volt’s full charge has an electric driving range of around 38 to 48 miles, Leno makes his 35 mile trip to work each day powered only by the electric battery. The Volt is then plugged in upon arrival to the studio lot, giving the car a full charge for the ride home.

Leno’s Volt was delivered after purchase with a half tank of gas, which still remains in the vehicle. Impressing the car connoisseur, he bragged about his efficient vehicle to the New York Times, citing its endurance over the Nissan Leaf. Leno plans to use the Volt to make trips to Las Vegas from Burbank. The 280 mile trip would likely be supplemented with traditional fuel.

+ Chevrolet Volt

Via Torque


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  1. ursid December 31, 2011 at 2:18 am

    To those still hung up on the “EVs run on coal” meme, please consider this: Properly engineered, a true EV conserves more fuel and causes fewer net emissions than combustion vehicles, even when you take generation losses, transmission losses, and battery charging losses into account. This is because electric motors are so much more efficient than combustion engines. Also, in areas where electricity comes primarily from non fossil-fuel sources (e.g., hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.), pure EVs can run on electrons provided without ANY emissions at all. Or, you can use cleaner-burning fossil fuels, such as the natural gas they rely upon for much of California’s electricity. So, even with “dirty” sources of electrons, EVs can still be cleaner and more energy-efficient overall than gas or diesel-burning vehicles. If the grid energy mix is yet “greener,” or if someone uses solar panels to charge his or her EV at home, the EV can be responsible for very few net GHG emissions, or even none. EVs don’t care where the electrons come from, so they are the perfect “freedom flex fuel” vehicles.

    Finally, properly designed EVs are flat-out fun to drive. Massive torque is always there, at any speed, so acceleration is always sure and snappy: high speeds and remarkable torque from energy-efficient motors that are about the size of a watermelon. If that isn’t enough to get a car enthusiast to at least try an EV, I don’t know what is. Jay Leno voted with his dollars; the good news is that cars like the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, and Tesla Model S need many fewer dollars than Jay spent.

  2. MozB Mitchell December 25, 2011 at 2:48 am

    “hangthesobs” is headed in the rght drctn. What hpnd 2 carpoolng, opn wndws, drying the wash on a line outside,(sunshn st) sundried foods,collecting rain water, etc… Smthng has to give to get smthng btr. wow’s wf, mozB

  3. Hangthesobs December 23, 2011 at 2:16 am

    It’s really math, maybe THAT’s why so many people have problems with renewable energy and electric cars. FACT: Hybrids have been around and doing GREAT for decades. Every locomotive you see is a hybrid. Government assisted? Like tax breaks for Research and Development. manufacturing, like EVERY company gets? They don’t get a DEPLETION allowance like oil companies, they don’t get to manufacture them on Federal land like oil companies for pennies on the dollar. FACT: Making gas and oil is EXPENSIVE and pollutes like crazy, making millions of people unhealthy or worse. 500,000 people die each year of pollution-related causes. THAT costs MONEY! GOV money! Then you BURN it! Polluting TWICE! Wonder how many people DIE or get sick from oil-refineries and gas burning, per year. How nay years would it take to equal how many WORK in the industry? Using caveman technology of BURNING things to make light, or 1800’s technology to go places, is completely ignorant and a paid-for result of media brainwashing. Solar, wind, and water are “forever” and need little maintenance. Carbon-based energy should ONLY be a backup.

    Think how much Obama could cut government spending if he put solar on government buildings? Oh wait…he is. Ordered 168,000 military homes have solar installed. Average $160/mo x 168,000..adds up. PLUS- that creates extra energy durning PEAK periods making sure NO ONE has to pay for PEAK costs because there’s MORE energy being made and LESS DEMAND! = LOWER costs for everyone! Plus lower pollution and fewer sicknesses and deaths…btw.

    Tell you what, lets bail out Americans by putting $15,000 worth of Solar on their homes. That would save them about $175 or more/mo during summer months, which they could spend elsewhere… Presto millions of solar and OTHER JOBS!

  4. JT December 23, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Actually, Freakazoid, it IS still cleaner, because the simple facts are that:
    1) Delivering fuel to the pump is itself burning up fuel
    2) Refining the fuel is also wasteful
    3) Energy plants are far more efficient in their use (and pollute less) than a gas engine.

    So while I agree with the sentiment that we must distance ourselves from energy sources based on combustion, it’s not true that a Volt is no better. Moreover, we can move towards more non-combustion fuel sources… and this sort of vehicle will bring us closer to doing so.

  5. singlespeed December 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

    the anti-electric/hybrid curmudgeons out there sound much like the curmudgeons that poo-pooed the original bicycle, then the motorcycle, then the car, the steam engine, electricity, etc. etc.

    “These darned new-fangled contraptions are unsafe I tells you. They break down and catch on fire! They scare the horse & buggies, perambulators are being pushed off the sidewalks by bicycles, the horse-carts being smashed into by out of control horseless carriages, why it’s the end of the world! I wish these folks would wait until everything is absolutely fool-proof before we try out driving around on batteries. Hurrupmh.”

  6. owlafaye December 18, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Mandatory solar panels on your garage or other exposed roof area would reduce the electric demands of electric vehicles tremendously.

    The VOLT will be an utter failure of course…over-engineering will fail expensively. Problems are surfacing already. Gathering in the initial cost and all maintenance down the road, the VOLT is an easy candidate for “Pig of the Year”

  7. abcguy41 December 8, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Why do we care what the rich and famous people are doing? They’re just showing off their wealth.

  8. Just Wondereing December 8, 2011 at 1:46 am

    The only thing that caught my eye was……? How long has he had that gas in the tank??? Jay know better than to leave gasoline that long in a vehicle.
    Or is it a diesel engine?

  9. peterc December 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    As someone who has been driving a DIY converted battery electric car for a few years now I think the answer to the solar panel question is that the roof and bonnet area of a car is not that big and a car is often not in a good position for solar charging. I worked out that it would be cheaper and easier to add a couple more panels to my PV system at home and some extra battery to the car. Having said that it would be useful in hot climates to do what Toyata do on some Prius. They have a PV panel that just runs the ventilation fans so the car is not so hot when you get in so you don’t need to run the air-con as much so that saves power.

  10. being human December 5, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Surprised the volt hasn’t plastered a bunch of solar reflectors on the roof so it can charge its self.

  11. Xray14 December 3, 2011 at 3:24 am

    It’s well know through Jay’s own words that he drives many vehicles to and from work. For him to have accummulated 11,000 cummuting to and from work over the last 12 months he would have driven the Volt more than 3 times each week…I doubt he drives any of his vehicles that often!

  12. PeterC December 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I drive a car DIY converted from petrol drive to purely battery electric. I’m in Australia but electricity and petrol costs are similar to the US. My car costs less to run than any petrol car I could buy without any subsidies and with paying a surcharge to purchase ‘greenpower’. It is cheaper to run a car on renewable power than petrol.

  13. MacNiven December 1, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Fortunately Jay charges his car’s battery at work, and he doesn’t have to pay for the electricity in his home electric bill. Even at ten cents per kilowatt hour (can’t find electricity much lower than that), it the cost of charging those batteries is much more than gasoline.

    Like someone said in an earlier comment, electric cars are not economical without all americans support via government taxes. ie. We are all paying for Jay’s electricity. No wonder he is so happy with his Volt.

  14. bobby99 November 29, 2011 at 3:26 am

    But not a word about the battery fires or complaints of Volt just stopped running.

  15. misterioso November 29, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Jay lives in Burbank? And he commutes to the NBC Studios in Burbank? I suppose the author has her facts incorrect as the furthest points inside the Burbank city line is no more than 6 miles apart.

  16. GW November 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    What Is A Hybrid?

    A hybrid is a car with two types of motors. Usually this means internal combustion engine (ICE) powered by gasoline (i.e. gas, petrol, liquid fossil hydrocarbon – whatever name you prefer) & electric. The most well known examples of hybrids are the Prius & Volt.

    Most ICE engines in hybrids are conventional Otto cycle, but turbines, Diesel & Wankel rotaries (http://smh.drive.com.au/motor-news/audis-a1-etron-driven-20111121-1nqic.html) have also been used.

    The Prius operates as an ICE vehicle with electric assistance. The Volt is an electric vehicle (EV) with ICE assistance. Chevrolet prefers to call the Volt a range extended electric vehicle rather than a hybrid. Both Prius & Volt use an ICE (pistons, crank, cams, valves, etc.) to turn an alternator, to make electricity from time to time, in normal operation.

    Are Leaf & Tesla Hybrids?

    Leaf, Tesla & iMieve are not hybrids because they have only one type of motor: electric.

    Carbon Footprint & Other Pollution

    Re carbon footprint & other pollution in production of gasoline & electricity: there are many points to consider. Pollutants are produced at all stages of production of gasoline or electricity. Most simply, an electric car produces less carbon dioxide & other pollutants for each mile covered, than an ICE car.

    Have a look at my blog post at: http://hhg2t-long.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-does-electric-car-generate-less.html

  17. ovlov607 November 28, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Not everyone can plug their car in at work… Come to think of it, just about everyone I know wouldn’t be able to do that.

    The range on this car sucks, especially for the price tag. Back to the drawing board GM.

  18. RaVOLT 240 November 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Quote :Freakazoid –
    … If it is coal, then it is not a cleaner source. Just follow the power lines to the coal burning plant chimneys…”
    I know where you are coming from Freakazoid, but in reality, the well to wheel comparison of running an electric vehicle off the dirtiest brown coal does represent a reduction of 40% compared to petrol. A contemporary coal power station about 65% reduction. So we are better off, not ideal but better.

    Yes, renewable is possible! If we choose.

    “… If nuclear, could be huge trouble down the road…”
    No nuclear pollutants have yet been successfully disposed of. Current storage methods are dependant on political and economic stability for thousands of years. Unfortunately, humanity’s record isn’t that good.

    Leno’s experience, and his sharing of it, are a big step in the right direction for public acceptance.

  19. Chado November 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    The Leaf has no combustion capability whatsoever. Not a hybrid. Not sure about Tesla.

  20. ferd_b November 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    And to all those here who claim the Volt is a “hybrid” — by your logic then so is every Leaf, Tesla, et al.

    The only thing you’re debating is the DISTANCE between the fossil-fuel powered generator and the electric motor driving the wheels.

  21. Zman November 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Hey Masonthebulldog – From the Chevy website – the Volt’s onboard generator/engine is a “1.4L internal combustion engine with 83 hp; requires premium fuel.”

    It’s a hybrid.

  22. Tom Jefferson November 25, 2011 at 2:54 am

    The Chevrolet Volt is an overpriced Govt. Labor Union DUD…It will not survive except through Govt. subsidies…

  23. Freakazoid November 24, 2011 at 6:27 am

    What is the electricity source? Water?,wind?,solar? If it is coal, then it is not a cleaner source. Just follow the power lines to the coal burning plant chimneys. If nuclear, could be huge trouble down the road.

  24. masonthebulldog November 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    The Volt is an extended range electric vehicle,not a hybrid do the research C_D. It has a gas generator onboard that produces electricity, not a internal combustion engine, therefore it is not a hybrid.

  25. C_D November 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

    As above – Jay has owned all sorts of electric and hybrid vehicles for a while now.
    All the author had to do was go to Jay’s site, then click ‘The Cars’, and then select either ‘Electric’ or ‘Hybrid’. Easy, yet obviously totally overlooked – you don’t have to be a car person to find those sorts of things out guys.

    Also, the Volt isn’t an Electric vehicle, it’s a Hybrid. Different kettle of fish altogether.

    As a side point, America, and possibly most of the world, would now be driving electric vehicles – and they would be far, far more advanced – if oil giants, GM and a few powerful government officials had not wiped out the GM EV1 in the 1990’s – a superb and totally electric vehicle which would have set the benchmark for years to come. (See the documentary ‘Who Killed The Electric Car?’)
    Okay, admittedly, I love the combustion engine for a whole host of reasons, but I freely admit I’m annoyed that we’re now more than a decade behind because of the crushing of every single (bar one museum piece with no power plant) EV1 in the U.S.
    Had the EV1 lived on, the Volt would now look like car 15 years out of date!

  26. mrmobius November 23, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Jay has in fact owned electric vehicles for a while now before getting his Volt. He has one of the first Tesla Roadsters, and owns Baker Electrics from the 1900’s. Search for the Tesla episode of “Jay’s Garage”.

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