Jay Leno Drives Chevy Volt 11,000 Miles Without Gas, Nets 2,365 MPG


The Chevy Volt has its supporters, and its detractors. You can famed car enthusiast and talk show host Jay Leno as an avid supporter. The late-night funnyman has wracked up a whooping 11,000 miles in his Chevy Volt in the past year…without adding a single drop of gas.

Saving Gas, Saving Money

According to Leno, the Volt he bought last year came with a full tank of gas, and since then he has travelled 11,000 miles using less than half a tank of gas. The 9.3 gallon tank isn’t all that big, and Leno’s claim would indicate that he has used less than 4.65 gallons of gas over 11,000 miles of daily driving his Volt in California’s oft-congested traffic. That means, at worst, Jay Leno is averaging around 2,365 MPG. And Leno is by no means alone, as stories and videos of Volt owners averaging over 2,000 MPG become more and more commonplace.And with 11,000 miles on the odometer, Leno is obviously driving his Volt more than any other car in his very large collection. The average America drives about 12,000 miles a year, and Leno probably has the ability to recharge both at work, and at home. It’s pretty incredible that he has able to drive an entire year on less than 5 gallons of gas, and I don’t doubt that many consumers with similar commutes could get equally impressive results.

Had Leno instead opted for the Toyota Prius, he would have spent approximately $1,000 on gas in a year. And while the Prius is a popular car, it is by no means the only car sold in America. Many Americans could easily see two or three times the savings by switching an “average” sedan for a Chevy Volt. Even if you take into account the cost of electricity which, depending on where you live, would cost between 80 cents and $1.50 to fully charge the Volt, the cost savings are real, and quite attainable.

It also makes a very good argument for the Volt’s ability to pay itself off prior to the battery’s warranty expiring after 8 years or 100,000 miles. If you were to keep the Volt for all eight years/100,000 miles, and were saving, for the sake of argument, $1,500 a year on gas, after eight years you would have saved around $12,000. Factor in the $7,500 of tax credits currently offered, and the Volt could end up costing no more than a well-equipped Chevy Cruze.

I think Chevy needs to start collecting these stories, and advertising this kind of stuff, instead of commercials of the Volt at a gas station. Come on people, let’s get with the program!

Source: New York Times

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Tim Cleland

    “If you were to keep the Volt for all eight years/100,000 miles, and were saving, for the sake of argument, $1,500 a year on gas, after eight years you would have saved around $12,000. Factor in the $7,500 of tax credits currently offered, and the Volt could end up costing no more than a well-equipped Chevy Cruze.”

    While I like the Volt and still think it is the best EV option out there (no need for a second car with all the insurance-, maintenance-, registration and tax costs associated), , you have to remember to add in the additional cost on your electric bill for charging the battery every day. I know it’s quite a bit less than the equivalent energy from gasoline, but it’s there nonetheless. Though, I don’t think anyone should buy an EV at this stage thinking it will save them money. Just buy them because you like them.

    • @ Tim Cleland

      True, although many households WASTE as much electricity as it takes to power a car like the Volt. If people would take simple steps to improve their energy efficiency, they could find “free” energy with which to charge their plug-in vehicles with little to no extra cost.

      And mind you, gas prices could jump again at any time over the next eight years and add even more money on top of the savings.

      • Tim Cleland

        Agreed, higher gas prices will make the Volt more economical and could actually be the last straw that tips the U.S. car market to favor EVs, but I think it would have to be at least $6/gal for that to be true–and all that’s assuming the price of other fossil fuels (which are the primary sources of electrical energy in the U.S.) stays about the same.

    • Ziv

      Tim, you make great points, and the article should have pointed out that electricity costs are real. But when you look at just how much cheaper it is to run your car on electricity, it would be easy to forget the 80 cents it would take to charge up most nights. If you completely deplete the Volt battery it would take a 10.4 kWh charge, which will take about 13 kWh out of the wall before the line loss, which is around $1.17 here in Virginia. $1.17 worth of elec will get me 35 miles in a Volt or $1.17 worth of gas will get me 6 miles in my RAV4. There are a lot of inflationary factors regarding gasoline prices over the next 8 years, and very few deflationary ones. I don’t think you should buy a Volt because it is cheaper than a Cruze, but it probably will be by the time you have owned it for 6 or 7 years. Heck, resale alone for an EREV over an ICE car will be a huge benefit for Volt owners.
      And like I said at the start, I agree with most of what you said, so I am not sure what prompted me to post this…

      • Tim Cleland

        Thanks for the post. Good point about resale. Used hybrids seem to be keeping their resale value so I would expect the Volt to do at least as well.

    • Andrew

      At least in PGE CA territory, you get a special rate of really cheap electricity during off peak hours which justify using a EV. You can cheaply add solar through lease or purchase. EVs make a lot more sense once you look deeper into it.

  • Nice article. If gas prices do not go up the next 8 years I’ll save $30,000 on gas versus my former SUV. Leno has nice weather so the engine will kick on a lot less which is key. His commute to work I think is extremely short. The top Volt owner gets 3,200 MPG. The review of my solar powered volt is attached….



  • c60

    I wish stories would stop quoting the MPG rateing when talking about electric cars, especially these quasi-hybrid ones. When your driving on electricity there is no gallons involved. Or do a meaningful conversion of killowatt to gallon of gas. Perhaps a better equation would be MPkW/hr (Miles Per Kilowatt/hr).

    • Tim Cleland

      I think people are just using the MPG rating in a “tongue in cheek” manner. They’re just looking at how few times they have to make a trip to the gas station and seeing that as a good thing.

    • I was hoping the EPA stickers would have miles per KWH but they didn’t go that direction. I like to use miles per dollar since everyone pays different electric rates and some produce their own etc…


  • Bob Wallace

    One of the Texas utility companies, TXU, has just announced a three tier TOU pricing plan.

    Nighttime rates, when most would be charging their EVs the rate will be $0.068/kWh. The Volt uses 0.35kW/mile which makes the cost $0.024/mile.

    A 50MPG Prius burning $3.50/gallon gas costs $0.07/mile. Almost 3 times more than the Volt.

    The price of summer afternoon electricity will be $0.21/kWh. That’s going to cause a lot of solar panel installation.

  • Tom

    How many tons of Coal did he burn? And what was his electric bill related to charging the car?

    Claiming that he got billions of miles per gallon because he didn’t have to add any gas is really rah-rah, but ultimately misleading. Leno lives in California where electricity comes from natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants and costs $0.46 per KWH at the top tier rates.

    Great step for electric vehicles, but let’s be honest.

    • @ Tom

      Let’s be honest; you’re quoting peak-hour charging rates, where we both know that electricity gets cheaper at night, when a car like the Volt is most likely to be plugged in.

  • MIke Olsson

    The notion of MPG in an electric car is downright misleading – either the author has completely misunderstood how an electric car works, or he is paid by GM to sensationalize the mileage. Neither option is particularly flattering. The article doesn’t actually say anything meaningful about electric cars, or about the Volt.

    • @ Mike Olsson

      Mike, you clearly don’t take time before you type, so instead result in petty insults.

      The notion of MPG in an electric car makes sense for the 99% of Americans who don’t know diddly about EV’s. It gives them something real to compare it to. Electricity and gas are both energy, and people need an easy conversion to figure. Energy is energy, and from the sounds of it, YOU are the one who doesn’t know how EV’s work.

      Sorry not every article I write says something “meaningful” about EV’s, and seeing as how the Chevy Volt is NOT an EV, but a plug-in hybrid, perhaps you should try checking out another article on the site instead. The fact of the matter is that Leno’s Volt used less than 5 gallons of gas to go 11,000 miles. That’s impressive by any standard these days.

      And no, GM does not pay me to shill for the Volt. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be scraping along the bottom like 100 million other Americans. I write about these vehicles because I have a passion for them.

      It is one thing to disagree with my methodology or opinions; it is another to imply that I am some paid lackey for any corporation. Keep the insults to yourself, thanks.

  • T_

    That’s very good and a very nice advertising for the Volt. Now should come the time, when Volts or similar vehicles cost less. This is the mass market. Otherwise, the Volts are bought only from the first ones – the messengers of the trend. I hope this time comes soon.Otherwise, many people will prefer the well equiped Cruze, as it costs much less when you byu it and maybe the same over its lifespan.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big supporter of EV’s, the Volt is a fabulous vehicle, but it still costs much.

  • Uncle B

    Chinese workers ride nuclear source electric bullet trains for a total investment in the ticket price alone, leaving the bulk of their earnings free and disposable, not tied in debt, for an essential gasoline engined car. Imagine a world where large communally heated/cooled/maintained apartment blocks with reasonable rents were connected by good public transits, allowing time for family, social needs, time for the soul to grow. We may see the day where even communal kitchens feed the Asian masses, and assigned workers keep things clean including laundry – America cannot compete against this sort of communal organization, cc-operation. This is the reality of the new and rapidly strengthening Pan Eurasian Empire, gelling out of fear of Israel pulling the trigger of the American nuclear arsenal on their continent, and even Putin re-educated, re-emerged, calls for “Unity” which was immediately obfuscated by the Western and most particularly American media to mean something else entirely.
    Education is another matter. American styled, Sports oriented breeding camp follies are replaced in Asia by strict disciplined behaviors, where high scholastic achievements are rewarded far above all other achievements, and the very brightest are given every opportunity to excel to their highest abilities, then gin parts to play in communist central planning committees ten and twenty year plans, for example: to develop the Thorium fueled LFTR reactor concepts to a re-engineered domestic application http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4971 tells the story, see also Tsinghua University, China, pebble bed gas reactor.
    Question: Will American workers be subjected to life-long debt and usury one more time with gasoline/electric cars? Will they continue to buy into the great corporate American propaganda whores and strive for McMansions they will never own> Will America continue to abuse her workers with usury for homes, cars, and roads, all unnecessary in the 21st Century? Will the rising Pan Eurasian Empire follow Chinese and European electric train concepts, or adopt the American gasoline and rubber wheeled usury fiasco?

  • Why do none of these cost calculations take into account maintenance cost comparisons? Oil changes, transmission flushes, transmission repairs etc. I do realize there is an engine but it would be used far less.

    • n3nja

      Because there is next to no maintenance compared to a regular gas powered car. There’s no transmission. Oil for the generator only needs to be changed once every 2 years for the cost of a regular oil change. Brakes last alot longer due to regenerative breaking. Tires ofcourse wear and tear the same as any car. Basically your first small service bill comes after 2 years.

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  • Marcio

    My God! I don’t know why the execs at GM don’t see this!!! PUT THE MOUTH THE WORLD OVER, GUYS!!!

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  • Ana9

    Good article, but you should have someone edit your stuff before you post it. Second sentence – “You can famed car enthusiast…” is missing a word. Third sentence – “wracked up” – should be “racked up.”
    “The average America drives…”
    “It’s pretty incredible that he has able to drive…”Anyway, it’s obviously just typos, since you seem to be a good writer.

  • Currently researching the Threos and carbon nanotuge super capacitors, their rechargeability and their switched DC. pulse drive capabilities.

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