A Hummer getting better than 100 mpg?

Testing shows Hummer H3E can go all-electric for its first 50 miles. Going by GM's Chevy Volt estimate method that's 190 mpg in city, Raser says.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
Raser's Hummer H3E gets 35 mpg, 100 mpg, or 190 mpg in city. It depends on how you calculate mileage. Raser Technologies

The plug-in hybrid Hummer H3E by Raser Technologies actually gets better mileage than originally estimated.

At the SAE World Congress and again at a Hummer event hosted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Raser originally said (based on a prototype) its E-REV power train could give the Hummer an initial range of 40 miles on electricity only. After that first 40 miles, the SUV would then get about 33 to 35 mpg earning it the dubious moniker of a Hummer that gets over 100 mpg.

Raser's power train is an electric motor-drive system powered by lithium ion batteries, and a gas-powered generator, aka "range extender," to recharge the batteries.

But further street testing has shown the power train's engineers that the H3E could actually get by on its electric battery alone for the first 50 miles using 60 percent of the battery pack, according to statistics released by Raser.

"This initial test indicates that the vehicle should easily achieve over 100 miles per gallon in typical local daily driving," Jim Spellman, Raser's vice president of business development, said in a statement.

Note Spellman's word choice of "typical local daily driving."

Many have scoffed at automakers' recent mileage claims for hybrid vehicles which often include the car's initial electric-only battery start. It's often justified by the much-loved statistic that the average American on a typical day of local driving only covers a total of about 40 miles.

Well, it seems that Raser thinks General Motors' estimate of 230 mpg in city for the Chevy Volt is even more fudged than its own mileage claims for the Hummer.

"In fact, if we were to employ the method we believe was used recently by GM to estimate city fuel economy for the Volt, the electric Hummer H3E could achieve more than 190 mpg in city driving using about 70% of the battery pack," Spellman said in a statement.

Instead of going that route, however, the company has decided to tone down its power train to make the car more affordable.

It plans to reduce the size of the battery pack so that the SUV gets the original target of all-electricity for the first 40 miles. By doing that, the company can reduce vehicle weight and make the SUV available to customers for a cheaper price, according to Raser.