Energy Sec. Chu doesn’t own car, but his wife drives BMW gas-guzzler

David Martosko Executive Editor
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In a piece of video that shot across the Internet Thursday like a sports car doing zero-to-60 in four seconds, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu told the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power that he does not own a car. But The Daily Caller has confirmed that Chu’s wife does — and it’s quite an automobile.

There’s no Chevy Volt in the Chu household’s driveway. TheDC has obtained motor vehicle registration records showing that Jean Chu (née Fetter) is the owner of a 2002 BMW 325i, a sports sedan with a gas-guzzling 6-cylinder engine.

And its engine requires premium gasoline. AAA determined on Thursday that the average U.S. price for that grade of fuel was $4.03 per gallon.

When the car was first sold, its EPA-estimated fuel economy was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on highways, according to FuelEconomy.gov, a website run by Secretary Chu’s own Department of Energy. The website reports that the car’s average fuel economy was 21 mpg — back when it had zero miles on its odometer.

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics has reported that the average fuel economy of light-duty passenger vehicles for the 2002 model year was 29.0 mpg, putting Mrs. Chu’s car in the less-than-efficient column.

Google Maps photographed the car in 2009 as one of its camera-equipped vehicles drove down the Chus’ tree-lined street in tony Chevy Chase, Md. (RELATED: More on the Department of Energy)

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During Chu’s testimony Thursday about his department’s budget request for 2013, he praised the Chevy Volt. The all-electric General Motors vehicle “is a great car,” Chu said, adding that he is “still very hopeful that the Chevy Volt will be adopted” more broadly.

Asked if he drove one himself, he answered “no, I don’t own a car at the moment.”

Since he is a member of President Obama’s cabinet, Chu is driven to work every day through the courtesy of a security detail, with taxpayers footing the bill.


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