by Michael dEstries
Categories: Transport
Tags: , .

james_hydrogenJesse James has addressed his environmental side in a new interview — and he’s bringing some smack talk to companies pushing electric cars. The famous husband of actress Sandra Bullock recently topped almost 200mph in a self-built hydrogen vehicle earlier this summer — exceeding a previous speed set by BMW.

Despite signs that hydrogen fuel is falling out of favor with automakers (and the U.S. government) — James is confident there will be a place for it down the road. He even believes a vehicle that creates hydrogen from water alone (using electrolysis) can be built within the next year. Here are some highlights:

On becoming a bad-ass poster boy for the environmental movement:

“Like I want to be the pied piper of all tree-huggers,” James laughs. “I don’t want a bunch of people with … Birkenstocks to show up to the shop now from Oregon. We’re not going to make West Coast Choppers God’s eyes and sand candles and shopping bags for Whole Foods. I wanted to prove I can make a car go 200 on water.”

What he thinks about electric vehicles:

Electric, James says, is “for dorks.” “All the people involved with that technology are Dungeons and Dragons freaks. I’m just not that into it.” “It’s too easy.”


The Tesla, he says, is “lame. Who wants to ride around in a not-as-nice Lotus Elise?”

As for the Chevy Volt, James defers to General Motors’ own product chief, Bob Lutz. “He said the only chicks you’re gonna get with this car don’t shave their legs. To be that non-passionate about your product, it’s blatantly obvious why GM’s in the [toilet]. If you’re passionate about what you do, it’s gonna be contagious.”

On building a car that runs on water:

“Someone’s gonna invent a car that you can dump water right in. It will have a battery storage system like a hybrid and that will be used with electrolysis to convert water to hydrogen right on-site and you’ll be able to run it with water and it’ll be fully self-contained, self-sufficient,” said James, who gives such technology a one-year timeline.

What do you think about James’ comments? Personally, I think he’s approaching everything from the view of a gear-head and less “big-picture”. There’s obviously a massive role for electric technology to play in the future of transportation — and I wouldn’t count hydrogen out just yet either. A car that runs on water in only a year? Probably won’t happen — but if so, let’s hope the oil companies don’t send someone to take him/her “out”.

To read the full interview — and find out the other ways James is going green outside the shop, jump here.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Aaron

    I find this guys acomplishment quite a respectable feat. However his attitude sucks. I also wonder which type of hydrogen car he is using. Is it burning hydrogen or is it a fuel cell. If it is a fuel cell then he is essentially driving an electric vehicle that uses hydrogen to generate current instead of lithium. Honestly though hydrogen is rediculously expensive to produce. It’s more efficient to put electricity into a fast charging battery.

  • Tracy

    I admire your inventive skills, but have you thought about freshwater being a scarce source for the worlds growing population ?

    Can your invention be adapted ?
    All the best

  • Kruzer

    The article states: “Someone’s gonna invent a car that you can dump water right in. It will have a battery storage system like a hybrid and that will be used with electrolysis to convert water to hydrogen right on-site and you’ll be able to run it with water and it’ll be fully self-contained, self-sufficient,” said James, who gives such technology a one-year timeline.”
    If you re-read that statement, you will see that electricity is being used to turn the water into hydrogen, and then the hydrogen is burned to produce combustion. Anyone who has had ninth grade science knows about the laws of conservation of enegy. You don’t get something for nothing. Since each conversion process cannot be 100% efficient, this proposal is LESS EFFICIENT and LESS GREEN than simply running the car off electricity in the first place.

  • Alistair Wardrope

    As an engineer developing hydrogen fuelling systems, I have encountered many ideas that don’t work, on demand production of hydrogen off an alternator (and regenerative braking) to provide sustained fuel supply to the same ICE as generates the electricity is mathmatically and chemically impossible.

    I respect him for his determination but his engineering leaves something to be desired. There are contiuous developments regarding hydrogen vehicles, and i believe these will be the cars of the future, but not for a good few years yet.

    • michaelholmesfilms@yahoo.com

      The only practical hydrogen production method (under development) is the use of a cell containing borax and water.
      The hydrogen is extracted from the borax and water itself when a third mystery compound is added – probably expensive.
      Unfortunately, no practical method yet exists. It would be nice to extract brown’s gas from water, but it’s that pesky free energy conundrum. It does not exist

  • Brian

    Two thoughts for Jesse:
    1)Who wants to ride around in the Elise? Someone who’s much smarter than a Tesla buyer and wants one of the world’s most fuel efficient and best handling sports cars for HALF the price of the Tesla!
    2)One major problem with a car that runs on water…there are times when much of the country, heck much of the world, is in drought and there’s severe water shortages already. There wouldn’t be enough to fuel our vehicles as well! We kinda need water to live, and as much as I like driving living trumps driving any day!

  • Pingback: Hydrogen vs. Battery - Page 31 - Tesla Motors Club Forum

  • krissy

    and wheres this water coming from when we run out of it? hopefully salt water will be fine… otherwise we’ll definitely need some desalinization plants

  • John

    Jesse has no clue. Battery powered electric vehicles are more efficient and can outperform ICE’s or fuel cell vehicles. As for the Tesla, it out accelerates an Elise, how is it “not as nice”?

  • http://www.remyc.com RemyC

    I think Jesse has been lighting the emanations from his back side with a Zippo!

  • Greg

    Any battery powerful enough to convert water to hydrogen would be more than powerful enough to just power the car. Why add extra steps, extra weight, extra moving parts and extra technology. Keep it simple (“too easy”). Just power the car with electricity!

  • Roger

    I say let him dream,its the dreamers and thinkers that have made great leaps ahead in technology. He has resources available to him that most of us do not. I say encourage him.

  • s

    water powered car. hm. nice idea. just one problem. where are you going to get the water!!???!?!?!?!?!?!!?

  • http://greenev.zapto.org/greenev Pete

    Well, Hydrogen in a combustion engine is still less efficient than through a fuel cell. Electric is the best and lithium is far cheaper than any exotic fuel cell. Just pump in the electricity and go. Mine goes 80+ mph and I am quite happy with that. Just plug it in to charge while I sleep and enjoy an evening at home. Lithium will be the next move. I also don’t need a car than can do 200+ mph to go get my groceries or to work. :)

    Enjoy the green revolution. :)

    Pete :)

  • Andrew

    It’s clear that this egomaniac is smoking something. Never heard it called Tesla before though…

  • jim

    to jesse james…i have a stand alone combination mechanical and electrical engine design that could operate anywhere in the world hot or cold climates . if interested do not publish this info. just email securely.

  • wayne

    jesse james is an idiot. He has drank the cool-aid from the car and oil companies. hydrogen is/was pushed by them as a stall tactic. “see what we’re going to do for the future”, and then do nothing. electric cars are reliable, and extremely inexpensive to drive. the technology is here now and works great. I drive one every day and spend 4 bucks a week for ‘fuel’ to drive about 200 miles.

  • dave

    His accusation of EVs and D&D look more correct with every post I read by you guys. Jesse James did something that better than BMW and he did it in the truest spirit of the Hot Rod community.

    To the guy that says the Tesla out accelerates the Lotus. Ok great. The Lotus out handles and can go farther, faster than the Tesla. Not to mention for less than the price of the Tesla I can pick up the Lotus Exige 260 and decimate the Tesla. The Lots is nicer in every way. From the power plant, to the sound, to the fury, to the interior, the exterior, to the mechanics of driving the car. The Lotus is better in all those ways.

    But I do love all the haters who are sitting at their computers with the D20 attack dice telling Jesse James he is an idiot. Like Jesse James give a crap what you think about him. You sit at home bitching about him. He goes out and sets World Records. You do nothing but bitch. He goes out and builds things, beautiful things, with his hands and then drives them to the limit beating even the mighty BMW.

    Yup. You EV guys sure are cool.

  • http://www.afuzu.com Fuzu

    Ooh oops i just typed a big comment and as soon as i hit post it come up blank! Please tell me it worked properly? I dont want to write it again if i do not have to! Either the blog glitced out or i am an idiot, the latter doesnt surprise me lol.