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GM and Jay Leno Show Biodiesel-Fueled, Turbine-Powered Concept Car

The Eco-Jet biodiesel turbine car.

General Motors Advanced Design Studio and Jay Leno and his garage’s team have designed a biodiesel-fueled, turbine-powered concept car they call the “Eco-Jet.” Leno and Ed Welburn, GM Vice President of Global Design, introduced the car at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show.

The 650 hp (485 kW) supercar is powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine (a well-established engine often applied in helicopters) that develops 400 lb-ft (542 Nm) of torque. The engine sits in a modified Corvette Z06 hydroformed aluminum frame with aluminum and magnesium structural and chassis components. The vehicle’s shell is an advanced construction of carbon fiber over Kevlar.

We thought we pushed the creative envelope with the '66 twin turbo Toronado project with GM, but this turbine-powered monster is a whole new level of complexity.

—Bernard Juchli, the chief mechanic and caretaker of Leno’s collection

Leno, an avid car enthusiast and collector, turned to Wellburn and GM for design direction following discussions on the idea with Juchli.

Project partners for the Eco-Jet include:

  • GM Advanced Design Studio: conceptual and build design, engineering, digital design and fabrication support;
  • Alcoa: chassis and wheel engineering;
  • Metalcrafters: body engineering and construction;
  • Honeywell: engine supplier;
  • Intermountain Turbine: engine builders;
  • Dana: chassis supplier;
  • BASF: paint and finishing supplies;
  • GE Plastics: Lexan windows; and
  • Viper Technologies: wheel construction.




Is this a joke? GM sure does try hard to demonstrate how little they think of other people's intelligence and the environment in general.


Just think of what could have been done with all of the money wasted on this project.

They could have built a Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, Spectra, EPP body, with poly-carbonate windows, powered by 4 Seimens wheel drives. A two cylinder, two-cycle, air-cooled diesel gen set, with an advanced Lithium-Ion battery.

Plug in, of course.

It would have four times the thrust of this "eco-car" and get well in excess of 100 mpg.

fyi CO2

Biodiesel or not, this is an excessive waste of resources.
Jay Leno, what a humanitarian.

Sid Hoffman

The "ECO" part just referrs to the fact it runs on biodiesel.

Rafael Seidl

We've had two-stage gas turbines in cars/wannabe batmobiles before, but the concept failed due to high cost, sluggish dynamic response and atrocious fuel economy in part load:

Single-stage turbines in series hybrid configurations make a little more sense, though more so for city buses than for cars:

Contrast and compare GM's latest folly with VW's EcoRacer concept; note that neither vehicle is remotely sensible for everyday use, of course.

And for the guys with a desperate need to overcompensate, the Touareg is available with a V10 diesel. Audi will add a Le Mans-inspired 6L 12-cylinder engine (500hp/1000Nm) option for the Q7 in 2008. Guaranteed to make just as little sense as a gas turbine.


GM's approach is to shoot spit-wades at the wall, util one sticks.


Anyone know if Jay has a Tesla on order?

Harvey D.

GM is completely out of phase and deserves to sink further. That may be their final objective.


GM, Toyota will buy you.


I agree. Who the hell is running that company? This isn't even reaserch and development. It's spend and waste! What is in the works for fuel efficiency? Where's all this excess money coming from?


Foolish as it is, and hard as it may be to understand - there is a sliver of reason here. By promoting a "batmobile" super car that burns bio-diesel, the subliminal to consumers is: this bio-fuel is as good if not better than petro-diesel, it's high-tech, futuristic and makes cars go like a bat outta hell.

Without positioning the fuel as "green" or even renewable, the pitch is this is a cool fuel that makes cars go fast. If this spin happens to soften resistence in the SUV, Humvee group of consumers - it is a breakthrough.


Good point, concepts are meant to create buzz, and gauge consumer sentiments. It is also to show off possibilities, and new/controversial designs.


By promoting a "batmobile" super car that burns bio-diesel, the subliminal to consumers is: this bio-fuel is as good if not better than petro-diesel, it's high-tech, futuristic and makes cars go like a bat outta hell.

No, what it indicates that we can waste resources as long as they are "green". It's a form of selling the "magic fantasy".


I agree: in order to save the planet, we need a 3600 hp mega-jet single-seater. I will accept nothing less.

Roger Pham

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like this is a private car project funded in part by Jay Leno's money? If so, then why should GM be blamed for it? GM just lend the use of their design studio.

This car is fantastic for the auto enthusiasts, combining the latest in material science with the latest in gas turbine technology. Honeywell's latest turbine is the most efficient yet and with very high power-to-weight ratio. Still, this turbine will make sense more inside a helicopter than a sport car.

To make the car more fitting to its "Eco" namesake, it can be remedied by fitting in the front axle a VW 2-liter TDI engine good for all-around driving and ~50mpg hwy mileage? This will add some weight, but, what the heck, with all the weight-saving from kevlar and aluminum, a little extra weight will add stability at high speed and excellent at correcting understeer tendency for a rear-engined car.
All the excitement comes from the rear wheels driven by the 650hp turbine that has so much torque that a rear transmission may not be needed. A hydraulic torque converter with torque-lock-up and torque-multiplying features is all needed for the rare moments that the turbine will be spooled up in anticipation of a drag race with a Lingenfelter Corvette, or Shelby Mustang, or oval racing laps with the ~$1million Bugatti having over ~1000hp on tap. A clutch in the rear wheel to disconnect the turbine from the rear wheel when driven economically by the VW TDI 2-liter diesel engine, which will provide additional low-speed torque for initial accleration. The 650hp turbine engine is very light, I would guess ~170 lbs- 200lbs range including all mounting hardwares.

Now, that's responsible motoring!!! Jay Leno, are you reading this?


Geez. What's with the sneering? It's not like this is a production vehicle.


Almost makes me want to sell NAs only Saab turbobiodiesel to the GM heritage museum. Not.


Now I am pretty sure that this powerplant will get more milage if you put it into an small aircraft.


Geez. What's with the sneering? It's not like this is a production vehicle.

Aren't people entitled to their opinions?


Lots of money is spent on auto racing every year with little to show for it but entertainment. At least this was a joint effort by several companies to push the envelope. Once you get a high profile project done, those same people can follow up with some very interesting ideas, like hydroformed chassis components...very light and very strong.

Shaun Williams

I think the VW Beetle version is way cooler ;-)


Cool project. But quite irrelevant to be published on this web site.


I think it is relevant, beyond the biodiesel. Rocky Mountain Institute ( has been publishing information about making cars lighter, stonger and safer with modern technology. It can save energy and allow cars to run cleaner. This project has made a lighter and stronger car, now someone needs to find a way to use the methods in production.


It seems the only opions on this room is if you dont drive a match box you dont care. this car shows bio fuel can be use to create powerful autos and will help it into main stream.


"this car shows bio fuel can be use to create powerful autos"
WOW! why didn't someone think of this before Jay Leno??

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