How Jay Leno Might Usher in the Electric Car Revolution

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more infamous gearhead than former Tonight Show host Jay Leno. With an upcoming prime-time talk show that will presumably pay him in the tens of millions, Leno has been able to furnish one of America’s most famous garages. And with a little help from NBC, he could be looking to jumpstart the emergence of the electric car in the United States.

While Leno’s monster garage undoubtedly features its share of gas-guzzling masses of pig iron, the comedian and late-night host has been fond of electric models for some time. In fact, his collection features three antique electric models, including a Baker Electric dating back almost 100 years. Originally marketed to women as an alternative-energy vehicle at the turn of the century, Leno’s model still runs silently almost 100 years after rolling off the assembly line. With his upcoming Jay Leno Show, he is looking to bring that appreciation for green cars to television this fall.

While most of the details surrounding the Jay Leno Show remain shrouded in network-television mystery, Leno has revealed the idea for a recurring segment entitled the Green Car Challenge. The segment will feature Hollywood celebrities racing one another in electric vehicles. No word on a track or prizes, but word is that Tom Cruise has already asked about taking some practice runs before competing in the challenge. The concept was apparently inspired by a celebrity segment Leno volunteered for on the popular BBC Series Top Gear. With an opportunity to showcase cutting-edge electric vehicles to an absolutely massive prime-time audience, Leno has a unique opportunity to start bringing alternative energy cars to the mass market.

As a partner in the venture, NBC, whose parent company is General Electric, has a mixed history of green initiatives. In a large-scale Earth Week promotion last year, the network introduced environmentally-conscious storylines into a number of shows. A contestant on the Biggest Loser won a hybrid SUV while a couple on the soap opera Days of Our Lives had a fictional green wedding. But the green message was muddied somewhat when Today Show host Matt Lauer was whisked around the world on a private jet as part of the recurring Where in the World is Matt Lauer segment. The travel burnt massive amounts of jet fuel, drawing some ire from environmental watchdogs, eventually forcing NBC to cancel the segment. Now a push from Leno could potentially usher in the green car revolution that countless auto executives, including Tata CEO Ratan Tata, believe is long overdue.

Stress is contagious–but resilience can be too

The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.

Big Think Edge
  • Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
  • Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

5 short podcasts to boost your creativity and success

These quick bursts of inspiration will brighten your day in 10 minutes or less.

Personal Growth

Podcasts can educate us on a variety of topics, but they don't have to last an hour or more to have an impact on the way you perceive the world. Here are five podcasts that will boost your creativity and well-being in 10 minutes or less.

Keep reading Show less

Philosopher Alan Watts: 'Why modern education is a hoax'

Explore a legendary philosopher's take on how society fails to prepare us for education and progress.

Alan Watts.
Personal Growth
  • Alan Watts was an instrumental figure in the 1960s counterculture revolution.
  • He believed that we put too much of a focus on intangible goals for our educational and professional careers.
  • Watts believed that the whole educational enterprise is a farce compared to how we should be truly living our lives.
Keep reading Show less

Mining the Moon

How can we use the resources that are already on the Moon to make human exploration of the satellite as economical as possible?

The All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE), a prototype heavy-lift utility vehicle to support future human exploration of extraterrestrial surfaces, at right, is parked beside the Habitat Demonstration Unit - Pressurized Excursion Module (HDU-PEM), at left, a concept off-Earth living and work quarters for astronauts stationed on asteroids, the moon or Mars, 15 September 2010. Photo by: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

If you were transported to the Moon this very instant, you would surely and rapidly die. That's because there's no atmosphere, the surface temperature varies from a roasting 130 degrees Celsius (266 F) to a bone-chilling minus 170 C (minus 274 F). If the lack of air or horrific heat or cold don't kill you then micrometeorite bombardment or solar radiation will. By all accounts, the Moon is not a hospitable place to be.

Keep reading Show less