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At least a dozen Chevy Bolt’s have caught fire, and GM is now recalling every Chevy Bolt ever made. Despite all this, Jay Leno still believes the electric car has a promising future. The technological optimist even points out a benefit of electric vehicles the Bolt fires highlight.

Jay Leno is an early electric vehicle adoptor

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  In this handout photo provided by General Moters, Comedian, Tonight Show Host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno greets the audience after steering his personal Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle - with over 10,000 electric miles driven - into an event at the J Lounge November 15, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  Leno said he has almost 10,500 miles driven and only 88 are not electric.  (Photo by Dan MacMedan/Chevrolet News Photo via Getty Images)
Jay Leno and his Chevy Volt | Photo by Dan MacMedan/Chevrolet News Photo via Getty Images

Leno has been commuting in an electric car for over a decade. He first put 10,500 miles on a Chevy Volt (The Chevy Bolt’s predecessor). Since then, he has replaced his Volt with a Tesla Model S. In June 2021, Leno broke a 1/4-mile world speed record in a Tesla Model S Plaid. After setting the record, Leno auctioned off his fully-loaded 2015 Model S and upgraded to a 2021 Model S Plaid.

Jay Leno says he drives a Tesla because he is “a huge fan of American technology.” Before the Chevy Bolt fires, Leno predicted that “from now, into the near future,” all cars will be “electric or some form of electric hybrid.”

When Leno was asked if demand for electric cars will increase rapidly, he said, “I think so…(today) people trust technology more. Plus the fact that you have virtually no maintenance with an electric car. And also…even with the base model (Tesla), you get 400 miles (of range) approximately.”

GM has recalled every Chevy Bolt every made

General Motors launched the Chevy Bolt for the 2017 model year. Since then, Chevy Bolts have been catching fire with alarming frequency. The manufacturer has confirmed at least a dozen battery-caused fires. GM admitted that the fires were caused by “two rare manufacturing defects” affecting the car’s LG-built Ultium batteries. 

GM recalled some vehicles and attempted to fix them with a software patch. The software solution limited the batteries from charging to 100%. When the first patch did not work, GM set a more severe limit on the batteries.

When cars with the second patch continued to catch fire, GM committed to recalling every Chevy Bolt. GM plans to replace the vehicle’s battery packs.

Jay Leno’s Chevy Bolt reaction

BURBANK, CA - JULY 7:  Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at the NBC Studios on July 7, 2004 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Jay Leno
Jay Leno hosting The Tonight Show | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

When Jay Leno heard about the Chevy Bolt fires, he immediately called them “dangerous.” He said, “hopefully, they’ll fix the problem.” But Leno also found a silver lining.

Leno said of the Bolt fires, “the advantage, if there is one, to an EV fire is, it doesn’t blow up.” Leno went on to explain, “You smell something, there’s smoke, and then it doesn’t go up in a ball (of flame) the way a gasoline car would.”

The retired Tonight Show host’s point is that a fire in an internal combustion car is more dangerous. This is because Internal combustion cars have gas tanks that cause deadly, instantaneous explosions if they light on fire.

We might all be more devil-may-care about electric vehicle fires, too–if we owned our own fire truck as Leno does.

Overall, Jay Leno doubts the Chevy Bolt fires and recalls will slow the adoption of electric vehicle technology. Leno says, “The electric car is here to stay. I predict a child born today will probably drive in a gasoline powered car about as often as you would drive in a car with a stick shift now.”

Leno acknowledges that the Chevy Bolt fires may be worrying. But he reminds everyone to look on the bright side. “The last days of old technology are always better than the first days of new technology.” 


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