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Jay Leno makes Mark LaNeve squirm

Jay Leno makes Mark LaNeve squirm

LOS ANGELES, January 5, 2006 — At 7:30 in the morning if you’re talking liquid energy it is usually coffee, not corn oil. It’s just not a sexy or fun subject, that is unless you’re talking to Jay Leno. Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president of vehicle sales, started the event talking about the fact that General Motors has more vehicles that get over 30 mpg than any other manufacturer. At this point, it would have been a good idea to bring out one of those cars, but LaNeve brought out the Pontiac Solstice with 260 horsepower, with a 0-60 of less than 5.5 seconds.

The fun started when LaNeve introduced the Corvette Z06. The car was driven up by a long-legged blonde with Jay Leno in the passenger seat. Leno got out of the car and immediately set the pace for the Daytona pace car that will be driven by Jay at Daytona. “The Z06 gets 505 hp with a 0-60 of 3.7 seconds and it doesn’t pay gas guzzler tax, which is somewhat socially responsible “, joked Leno.

“What I don’t understand is why they will let me drive as a pace car in Daytona, but I couldn’t drive the 20 feet up the plank. ” Leno is no slouch, he is an equal opportunity jokester and picks on everybody. He joked about the new Saab Bio-Power, asking LaNeve if the Saab was still “a 2-stroke thing. And the fact that this is a bi-fuel is no big deal, I know a lot of people that are bi. This car will do well in Hollywood.

In fact, California is a great place to test alternative fuels – you can have a fun weekend with an exciting car, but you need a car that will offset it. “LaNeve tried to turn the subject back to the improvement General motors has made in propulsion systems and how they were the leaders in the research of hydrogen vehicles, but the near-term was E85 (85% ethanol). Leno didn’t miss a beat, coming back with, “So if you’re driving your car and you run out of gas you can just pull over, put a couple of ears of corn in and keep going? ” Leno got a little serious and said he does like the E85 because it gives more horsepower and you don’t have to switch anything if you have gas or E85; the sensors in the car know the difference.

But you can’t keep a good comic down and there is nothing more fun than watching an executive squirm as a comedian pokes fun. Leno started out saying, “So, what do you have if I want to take seven or eight guys up to Brokeback Mountain? ” You may remember that Brokeback Mountain is about two cowboys that fall in love. Leno just smiled as LaNeve squirmed and tried to talk about the Chevy Suburban that is twenty inches longer than the Tahoe and can hold nine passengers.

Leno pipes in, “You mean I can take two more guys? “Not done with the squirm Leno turns his humor to the Prius, “So if I wanted to tow one of those Prius whose computer has broken down could I tow it with the Suburban? ” LaNeve looks at the crowd, “Folks, we didn’t ask him to say that? ” Then LaNeve answers Leno’s question that the Suburban can tow 8,000 pounds and it has displacement on demand (DOD) which allows for about 20 mpg, better than any Asian brand in that section. Leno, however, was the one that made the point that the new Suburban pollutes less than any 60s sedan, which Leno owns more than one of.

The music started up for the last unveil and the Yukon XL rolled out. “When people start up their Yukon they’re not going to have to hear that annoying noise (music) will they? ” prompts Leno. LaNeve went into the market to speak and talked about how the Yukon was a flex-fuel vehicle that could take E85 or gas. It is a 5.3 liter that has the capability and there is no extra added charge to the customer.

Leno imitated Governor Schwarzenegger, telling everyone how good E85 was for California. There was no humor when Leno made his last comments, “I like American made vehicles and American made technology. When I see foreign companies coming to America to make vehicles that tell me we have the best ability and the best people. “

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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