When it comes to the hobbies of late-night talk show hosts, everyone knows that Jay Leno is the car aficionado and Bill Maher is the cannabis enthusiast. But Leno, the former host of “The Tonight Show,” has veered into Maher’s lane in Wednesday’s episode of this current show, CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage.”
In this week’s episode, Leno takes a spin in a car made out of cannabis — industrial hemp to be precise. And not only did he drive it, he decided to buy one.
The show examines the 2017 Renew, the brainchild of retired Dell executive Bruce Dietzen, who designed the car with the environment in mind. According to Dietzen, the unconventional car is “carbon neutral” to manufacture and is made from woven cannabis hemp.
“It sets an example and it lets people know that we can make everything out of plants,” Dietzen sid. “We may not be able to pull up [to] our local gas stations right now and say, fill it up with hemp gasoline, because we have to wait for these fuel companies to catch up and start doing the right thing.”
Manufacturing a vehicle emits roughly 1o tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “That’s before it even hits the road,” says Leno, where it will release another six tons a year.
According to Dietzen, industrial hemp is 10 times stronger than steel. Of course, Dietzen is not the first auto manufacturer to use hemp-based materials. Henry Ford, the father of the Model T, produced a car made of hemp back in 1941.
Just how much will a Renew cost you? Dietzen told the Miami Herald that he would be taking custom orders for as low as $40,000 to as high as $197,000, depending on the requested horsepower. Dietzen says he spent a total of $200,000 to make the Renew prototype.
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“Believe it or not,” jokes Leno, “Bruce was not high when he invested $200,000 to build this prototype.” Dietzen confirms that he doesn’t smoke cannabis, he just makes cars with it.
Nearly every piece of Dietzen’s car that could be made of hemp is, including the body, dash and rugs. Engine parts, the car frame, windshield switches and other mechanical and electrical parts are not. Manufacturing a car from cannabis, and fueling it with biofuels, could have huge carbon rewards, Dietzen said.