Volt Birth Watch 180: Leno Welcomes The Volt To The 21st Century

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Getting a car like the Volt on Jay Leno’s Garage seems like a no-brainer. America’s patron celebrity of car obsession has the gearhead credentials to help explain the Volt’s positive attributes, and the enthusiasm to draw a very different crowd than the usual Volt fanboy sites. And yet from the first, the Volt’s visit to automotive Valhalla seems to have chief engineer Andrew Farah in permanent flinch mode. Leno is never overtly hostile (alá Letterman), but from his comparison of the Volt to a 1916 Owens Magnetic, to his assessment that the Volt is “not a tiny car,” you can’t help feeling that he thinks it’s all a bit of a joke. It’s a four-seater. Literally. They’re shooting for a 2,900 lb weight goal. Your mileage may vary. The hood is held up with a stick. What is the deal with that? Like any comedian, Leno’s only as good as his material. Luckily, the yawning chasm between the modest reality of the Volt and its relentless hype is fertile ground indeed.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Dec 30, 2009

    I thought Leno was pretty fair to the interviewee, and did quite well at pointing out the main elements of the Volt. The stuff about how electrics used to be womens' cars was new to me, so all in all I liked this video pretty well.

    Leno isn't as entertaining as Clarkson et al, but on the other hand he's a lot better with the facts than the Top Gear guys are. Just remembering how James May promoted hydrogen as an alternative to the likes of Tesla makes me cringe. That kind of stupid failure wouldn't happen to Leno. Let's give the shmuck some credit for being a genuine car guy.

  • Shaker Shaker on Dec 30, 2009

    Once again, Chevy's marketing of this car leaves a gaping hole - not explaining whether the "regen" braking actually charges the batteries. IOW, when the battery is depleted, and the car is running on the ICE (especially in hilly terrain, or stop-and-go driving), judicious use of regen could eventually recharge the pack to some extent (with a suitable "buffer zone"), possibly allowing a switch back to full battery operation. To not take advantage of this "free" energy would be colossal failure of the promise of this car, especially for tech-savvy drivers who would take advantage of this capability to save even more fuel. C'mon Chevy, explain yourself. This capability would put this car on my list, lack of it would kill this car for me - I'd wait for a Leaf.

  • Mcs Mcs on Dec 30, 2009

    Maybe I'm kind of paranoid, but I just don't like the idea of gasoline, electicity, and a gigantic lithium battery in the same vehicle. Really bad things happen when lithium ion batteries catch fire.

  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jan 01, 2010

    I watched it a couple of times and thought it was positive for GM. It's always brave to open up to someone with critical thinking skills (like a comedian). I notice however the petrol engine was not engaged - maybe they're still working on it. I guess it also means the interior is finalised. Leno talking about the adoption of electric cars by women, Mazda racing Miatas and wrist watches was interesting too.