Can a SUV be greener than a Prius?

Raser Technologies will unveil a plug-in hybrid Hummer H3 that gets more than 100 mpg at the SAE World Congress in Detroit today. The project was developed in cooperation with GM and is the "have your SUV and drive it too" answer to automotive industry cr

The H3 is a four-wheel drive Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) designed to achieve over 100 mpg in typical local daily driving with near zero emissions by driving up to 40 miles per day in all-electric mode.
The H3 is a four-wheel drive Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) designed to achieve more than 100 mpg in typical local daily driving with near zero emissions by driving up to 40 miles per day in all-electric mode. Raser Technology

Raser Technologies will unveil a plug-in hybrid Hummer H3 that gets more than 100 mpg at the SAE World Congress in Detroit on April 20. The project was developed in cooperation with GM and is the "have your SUV and drive it too" answer to automotive industry critics and increasingly environmentally-conscience drivers.

By swapping the Hummer's conventional power plant--typically a V-8 engine--for an electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery, the SUV is transformed from a gas-guzzler to a green machine. The plug-in vehicle can travel up to 40 miles in all-electric mode. After the energy is depleted from the battery, the four-cylinder engine kicks in. However, the four-cylinder engine isn't connected to drivetrain and never turns the wheels of the car--its sole purpose is to recharge the lithium ion battery.

The new power train is heavier than the gasoline-only version, but the payload for the H3 remains the same. However, the plug-in SUV isn't designed for towing. Rather, it's the solution for consumers and businesses that want better fuel economy, but still need a truck or SUV to get their work done.

"Trucks are the best selling vehicle in the country, not the Camry," said David West, vice president of marketing at Raser. "We can't ignore the other half of the vehicles on the road. This project proves that a truck can be greener than a Prius."

The vehicle can be charged by any 110-volt outlet, and charging it using a 220-volt outlet will half the recharging time to four hours. Raser will be conducting fleet tests with a utility company. The company is not at liberty to announce an arrangement with any automotive manufacturer, but West said Raser has plans for commercial production in 2011.

About the author

Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.

 

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