Quote Of The Day: Leno Re:Volts Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

If you didn’t know, you might think it’s a Cobalt or a Camry. I don’t think there’s a lot of cachet in having the first one. It’s meant to be a people mover, not a people impresser. It’s not like when you pull into Bob’s Big Boy parking lot with the Volt, you’re going to open the hood.

I caught some flack from TTAC’s Best and Brightest for suggesting that Jay Leno was less than entirely impressed by the Chevy Volt when it showed up at his legendary garage back in December. Today though, Leno’s ambivalence towards GM’s wundercar hit the front page, when the auto-obsessed comic gave the Detroit News a withering reaction [above] to the extended-range electric car. Maybe next time GM will give Team Coco a try…

Like Conan, however, GM is simply letting Leno’s words slide right off it. Spokesman Greg Peterson tells the Detroit News that the company has already tried “the Leno test” and that the results were universally positive.

We’ve pulled into Bob’s Big Boy parking lot, opened the hood and drawn some great attention. There is a particular audience that is all about advanced technology and green transportation. For people like that, the Volt has that cachet. It’s kind of like an iPhone. An iPhone is still a cell phone with a lot of capability in it.

Despite this prima-facie evidence that Leno doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the DetN continues its home-team defense by hauling out Autoconomy.com’s Erich Merkle to point out that Leno really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

If I were GM, I don’t know if I would be courting Jay Leno for the purpose of getting an endorsement on the Volt. Don’t get me wrong, Jay’s a big car guy, but he’s not your Prius, your Volt, your green car guy. The typical Volt driver might be a vegan. They may be opposed to a Big Boy altogether.

They might, but if you’re really going to slice-and-dice the market for new cars into Jay Leno fans and vegans, column “A” is going to be a considerably better populated than column “B.” Even if you’re talking about potential EV buyers, vegans remain a pretty small sector. And the fact that analysts believe the Volt doesn’t need to be accepted by folks at that traditional haven of American automotive appreciation, the burger drive-through, is yet another indication of how tragically niche this product is shaping up to be. Leno’s a guy with a lot of cars, not an automotive oracle… but if Chevy wants the Volt to approach the kind of volume it needs to pay for itself, it can’t afford to alienate one of the most prominent American interpreters of automotive culture.

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  • Daviel Daviel on Jul 20, 2010

    GM is going with an 8 year warranty on the battery. My wife's Kia Sorrento has a 10 year warranty. I'm with Jay.

  • Mcs Mcs on Jul 20, 2010

    One problem with the Volt and other plug-ins is that if you live in an urban area with mostly on-street parking, you're not going to be able to plug it in. For example Cambridge Massachusetts would be a prime market for these types of cars, but it's mostly on-street parking. When you have to park on the next street over, there's no way you're going to reach the car with an extension cord.

  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
  • ToolGuy This truck is the perfect size, and the fuel economy is very impressive.-This post sponsored by ExxonMobil
  • ToolGuy If I were Jeep, I would offer a version with better NVH and charge more for it.And then I would offer a version with worse NVH, and charge more for it. (There is an audience for both.)