Schwarzenegger test drives a plug-in hybrid Hummer

The Toyota Prius is great and all, but try carrying a sheet of plywood or a soccer team around in it.

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

The Toyota Prius is great and all, but try carrying sheets of plywood or a soccer team around in it. Oy.

Kraig Higginson, Chairman of Raser Technologies, believes there should also be hybrids that can handle some heavy lifting. His sentiment was echoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who invited the energy technology company to California last week to demonstrate its 100 mpg plug-in hybrid Hummer H3 as part of a monthly series promoting alternative-fuel vehicles in the state.

Higginson showed off the series hybrid SUV, which uses a 2.0L EcoTec engine to charge its battery. The 4WD vehicle is powered by a 200kW advanced-AC induction motor, which on an empty battery achieves 33 to 35 mpg. The 2008 Hummer H3 with a conventional gasoline power train receives a combined fuel economy of 15 mpg.

"At its worst it already meets the new CAFE standards announced by Obama," said David West, vice president of marketing for Raser.

However, West said that drivers would be able to achieve unlimited gas mileage if they charged the vehicle's battery using electricity from a standard 110-volt or 220-volt outlet, and drove less than 40 miles per day; 75 percent of all drivers typically drive this far or less daily.

Raser's plug-in hybrid Hummer H3 is the result of a 15-month collaboration between Raser and General Motors. GM supplied the vehicle, and Raser developed the power train.

The plug-in version could potentially retail for $56,000, and Raser expects that price to come down once volume picks up. The MSRP for a 2009 Hummer H3 is between $33,390 and $43,130.

Previously, Raser had announced plans for commercial production of its plug-in hybrid technologyto begin in 2011, but when asked about this, West unsurprisingly responded that "everything seems in flux with GM or whoever ends up owning Hummer."

Today, General Motors announced it has a preliminary agreement to sell the Hummer brand to an unnamed buyer.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has been a fan of the plug-in Hummer since it debuted at the 2009 SAE World Congress in Detroit. After the press conference, he decided to take the extended-range Hummer for a spin.

Higginson was happy to lend Schwarzenegger the keys to the one-off prototype SUV, but requested that the governor roll the window down when he smoked his cigar.