Jay Leno Has a Love Affliction for Tesla and Electric Cars
The comedian and host of Jay Leno’s Garage is a champion for electric vehiclesby Kirby Garlitos, on
Jay Leno knows a lot of things about cars and his opinions about cars carry a lot of weight. That’s a result of being one of the premier auto collectors in the world. In recent years, Leno has become an advocate of electric cars, perhaps even a champion of the growing segment. Leno has praised Tesla, in particular, numerous times in the past, including in a recent interview with CNBC, where the host of Jay Leno’s Garage openly talked about his affection for Tesla. Who would’ve thought, folks? Jay Leno, the lover of internal combustion engines, has seen the light of electrification.
Jay Leno on Electric Cars
Jay Leno’s love affair with electric cars isn’t groundbreaking news. His support of Tesla isn’t a new hat, either. The former host of The Tonight Show used the platform of his own show last year to not only congratulate Tesla for staying in business even with so many detractors weighing it down but, more importantly, to call on everyone to treat the automaker with a little more respect. “I would watch — listen to these talk show hosts just tear the Tesla apart, and I go, “Here’s a guy that built an American car, in America, using American labor, and paying them a union wage — doing the whole bit. Why are you not rooting for it to be successful? Why do you wish it to fail? I don’t understand.”
Leno makes a good point. Take all the negative publicity aside and look at what Tesla has accomplished in the last 10 years. The Model 3’s production rate, for example, has been, according to TFIE strategist Michael Barnard, “ faster than any new model car in history.” Tesla is also outselling a lot of its competitors in North America and Europe, and, for what that’s worth, the automaker is delivering quality cars on the road. Sure, there have been some hiccups over the years, but it’s not like the rest of the auto industry have squeaky clean track records of reliability.
It’s fair to say that Tesla hasn’t gotten the fairest of shakes from a lot of people, be it the media, rival automakers, and even fossil fuel companies. It’s a tough gig when you’re trying to break walls, only that you’re not getting any help from other people. Some of those people are even putting the bricks back in place just to make your job more difficult. Leno, to his credit, sees all the negative press bludgeoning Tesla, and he was quick to come to its defense. “I have a Tesla,” he told CNBC’s Kelly Evans. “I’ve had it for three years. I’ve never done anything. There are no fluids to change. There’s nothing.”
Leno’s not wrong. Some reliability issues aside, electric cars like Tesla’s don’t have the kind of maintenance requirements that cars running on internal combustion engines do. There are also fewer moving parts in an electric car’s powertrain, at least when you compare it to gas-powered cars. These aren’t the only benefits of electric cars, either. Electric cars produce zero emissions, can run longer on a single charge and are naturally predisposed to be quicker than gas-powered vehicles because of the availability of instant torque on the wheels.
Sometimes, the big picture isn’t as clear as people hope it is. Tesla will always have critics. But that also comes with the territory of being a pioneer. For all the flak it’s received, no one can deny the role Tesla has played in the increased interest and demand for electric cars. That’s something that the electric car brand can take pride in, largely because, according to Leno, it was able to break the glass ceiling that for so long constrained the viability of EVs. "For a new technology to succeed, it can’t be equal,” Leno said. “It’s got to be better and Tesla sort of solved the battery problem. It can go 350 to 400 miles at a charge. There’s no maintenance. They’re faster than the gas car. So there’s almost no reason to have a gas car unless you’re doing long-haul duty.”
Jay Leno Testing the 2012 Tesla Model S
The last bit can be subjected to a bit of interpretation, but Leno makes a good point regardless. Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate Tesla and appreciate what it’s been able to do in such a short amount of time. It’s far from a perfect company, but if you weigh the good with the bad, you’ll realize that Tesla has done more for the auto industry that most people give it credit for.
Not Jay Leno, though. He knows where credit is due, and he dishes it out accordingly.
Read our full review on the Tesla Model S.
Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model X.
Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.