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
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