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Arnold Schwarzenegger turned a gas-guzzling Mercedes into an electric car worth $1 million

CNBC logo CNBC 12/01/2018 Jonathan Blumberg
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Professional body builder turned Hollywood icon turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, visits Jay Leno on Thursday's episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," and he brings with him his 2016 Electric Mercedes G-Wagen, a representation of his vision for a cleaner, greener future.

The G-Wagen is the first of its kind. The Austrian company Kreisel constructed it for the former governor by replacing its factory engine with an electric one.

Happy with the product, Schwarzenegger sent them one of his four Hummers so they could install an electric engine into that as well. As an active environmentalist, he'd already transformed each of them to run on bio-diesel, but, as he tells Leno with a gesture to the hood of his G-Wagen, "This is the best."

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The car may be more efficient but that doesn't mean it's weaker. It still has 500 horsepower with the new engine, and it accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, three seconds faster than it had before, which is partly because, without the gas engine, it's about half a ton lighter.

But more efficient does mean it's a more expensive purchase. The G-Wagen goes for $1 million.

In addition to speed, that buys you a 190-mile driving range and regenerative capacities, meaning the battery recharges when the car is going downhill or stopped at an intersection.

a car parked on the side of a building © Provided by CNBC "Well, how do you know that?" Leno asks on the show.

"The way you figure it out: You just go underneath and you bench press the whole thing," Schwarzenegger responds, before performing a pectoral-muscle dance.

"Sure, I could do that, too," Leno assures viewers. "But why embarrass my guest?"

Schwarzenegger first made the surprise announcement that he would be running for governor of California in 2003 on NBC's "The Tonight Show," without giving host Jay Leno prior warning.

a man standing in front of a car posing for the camera © Provided by CNBC And his passion for protecting the environment is partly what motivated him to break into politics, he tells Leno now. "Jay, when I came over [to the U.S.] in 1968, I had tears in my eyes," Schwarzenegger says, referencing Los Angeles' notoriously smoggy days.

He recalls that Ronald Reagan, the governor of the Sunshine State at the time, had created resources to deal with that and other environmental issues. "I think it's important for people to know that it used to be a people's issue," Schwarzenegger says. "Republicans and Democrats did great work to improve the environment and protect the environment."

"Because, you know, there is no Republican air or Democratic air," he adds. "We all breathe the same air, so what the hell."

a truck is parked on the side of a road © Provided by CNBC As governor, Schwarzenegger funded clean air programmes, made strives to reduce carbon emission levels and put California at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

Today, he retains his passion, and he has found new ways to make a difference.

"I want to prove to the world that it is not the car that is [pollutive]," he tells Leno. "It is the technology under the hood that is the polluter."

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