Jay Leno recently spoke to Yahoo! Finance about Elon Musk, EVs, and shared why he thinks Elon Musk deserves the credit for EVs being popular today. To be quite honest, I feel that it’s obvious that Elon Musk and Tesla are the reasons why EVs are so popular today. Tesla is the leader of the EV market and is the best-selling type of battery-electric vehicle.
I emphasize battery electric since BYD recently topped Tesla in the market with sales of both battery electric and hybrid EVs. Hybrids are not fully electric but rely on both batteries and fossil fuels yet oddly, count as clean vehicles. For this article, I’m focusing only on battery-electric vehicles.
Although EVs are popular today, they were not just a few years ago. Elon Musk had long been advocating for EVs and was often mocked for it by some critics. Leno, who is a comedian, car collector, and the host of Jay Leno’s Garage, told Yahoo! Finance that his interest in EVs was partially sparked by Elon Musk.
“I think he should get a certain amount of credit for leading the charge because before Elon, [people would say] ‘it’s a golf cart,'” Leno told Yahoo! Finance. “People would joke about electric [that] they’re slow and whatever it might be. So I give him a lot of credit for it. I think EV will be the savior of the classic car industry.”
Leno shared the story of when Elon Musk visited him with the Tesla Roadster prototype in 2007.
“I remember sitting and he said: ‘Well, what I want to do is build charging stations all up and down the coast. And I’m going ‘ok, that’ll happen, that sounds good.'”
Fast forward from 2007 to 2022, Tesla, under Elon Musk’s leadership, owns and operates the largest global, fast charging network in the world. Tesla has over 35,000 Superchargers not just in the U.S. but also throughout the world.
Leno told Yahoo! that Elon Musk began building the charging infrastructure around the same time he started building the car.
“When the car debuted, you could drive LA to San Francisco. And now, you can go anywhere in the country. You see a lot of other automakers get into the EV market saying you can charge it anywhere. You can’t really.”
Eventually, that last statement will be proven false by Tesla as it begins to open up its Supercharging network to non-Tesla EVs. For now, it remains true. Although there are charging stations for EVs, they are not as common as Tesla. In some cases, many charging stations are broken (I’ve seen so many complaints on Twitter and Facebook).
In this article for CleanTechnica published earlier this year, I interviewed the founder and CEO of ChargeSafe, Kate Tyrrell. She wound up being at the mercy of broken EV chargers and it led her to create a business in her region that would help EV charging companies to put safety first.
Note: Johnna is a Tesla shareholder and supports its mission.