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GM Ecojet

The GM Ecojet combines environmentally friendly features with raw speed and styling that few have seen before. And, the GM Ecojet comes fully-loaded with a top name celebrity onboard.




Entertainment personality Jay Leno is a well-known car enthusiast, with his automobile collection finding its way into many magazine features and television segments. What many don't know is that he helped design a supercar too.

The GM Ecojet is a supercar concept vehicle, combining inspiration from jet aircraft and Formula One race cars. Originally seeded as an idea between Jay Leno and Bernard Juchli, his chief mechanic and collection caretaker, the complete design was put into paper by General Motors' Design Studio in North Hollywood, California, the Big Dog team.

Unveiled at the Special Equipment Marketers Association (SEMA) show in 2006, the GM Ecojet was built in Leno's hangar-sized garage at the Burbank Airport, where he keeps his large automobile collection. At the show, the GM Ecojet was a partially-complete version of the vehicle with most of the components in place.

Standing still like a reptile poised to attack, a first look at the GM Ecojet will bring to mind images of a hover tank out of a sci-fi paperback. The Ecojet has rough edges and doesn't look the least bit sporty. It's a scary piece of machinery. The GM Ecojet looks a lot like a grown-up Cadillac Cien with larger wheels, taller stance, and more prominent corners. With all the intimidation the Ecojet packs, however, it is an ultra-light two-seater.

According to Leno, "I wanted to build a modern car that didn't run on fossil fuels but (also) didn't drive like a Prius."


In place of a conventional engine, the GM Ecojet concept vehicle is powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine and reengineered to run on biodiesel fuel. The Ecojet has a usable power of 650 bhp and a maximum torque of 542.8 Nm. It can potentially reach impressive top speeds of 354 kph. The GM Ecojet is a guzzler however, giving as low as 6 miles per gallon. Additionally, at startup and shut down, the engine runs on typical Jet-A fuel and thus the "jet" part of the name.

The GM Ecojet is built from a heavily-modified Corvette Z06 aluminum frame, aluminum-magnesium chassis developed by Alcoa, and Kevlar-reinforced carbon-fiber shell. For the way it looks, the GM Ecojet tips the scales at an unbelievably light 2400 lbs. The window glass is made from ultra-light Lexan, a clear and bulletproof material developed by GM Plastics. The suspension, brakes, and transaxle of the Ecojet were all built from the Corvette Z06 as well.

The highly-stylized aluminum wheels were supplied by Alcoa's Forged Specialty Wheels, with the spokes resembling turbine blades to coincide with the car's overall design thrust. The GM Ecojet features a new proprietary Dura-Bright finish that repels brake dust. The nose and the rest of the front of the vehicle borrows from GM's general aesthetics while the rear resembles the 1951 Buick LeSabre concept vehicle.

While previous turbine-powered concept cars such as the GM Firebird performed very slowly off the line, the technology of the Honeywell LT, according to the developers, won't need to spool the engine like jet aircraft before coming up to maximum power.

On the Road

Being in the concept phase, the GM Ecojet will not likely hit the road in the next couple of years, if at all. In case it does, however, the GM Ecojet could be the fastest production biodiesel vehicle based on its top speed claims.

The GM Ecojet is currently on tour around various auto shows and technology expos and is worth a peek if you happen to be in the area.


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