What if a Hummer suddenly became one of the greenest cars on the planet? This could happen given the right scenario, and two companies are attempting to align stars and planets to make it happen.
The Hummer H3 you see here has been modified by Raser Technologies with assistance from FEV, a major automotive parts supplier. The vehicle's stock engine and transmission have been completely replaced. It now uses a propulsion system similar to vehicles from Fisker Automotive; an electric drive motor that takes power from a large battery pack. The batteries are charged via a plug-in source and an on-board "range extender" generator powered directly by a GM Ecotec four-cylinder engine.
We first saw Raser's Hummer H3 at the SAE World Congress held this past April in Detroit. While we're scheduled to drive the working prototype late in June, we wanted to bring you some basic information on the vehicle now. Technology for the Raser H3 includes a 625-volt Lithium Ion battery pack, a 200 kW motor, a 100 kW generator, and a four-wheel-drive transfer case, something that is integral to maintaining the Hummer H3's off-road capabilities. The hybrid system runs in series, so that both the generator and the battery pack can supply power to the electric motor.
Performance is said to be strong at under 9 seconds 0-60 mph. Fuel economy is tougher to gauge as it depends on when you measure it. The manufacturer claims a 40 mile range on pure electric power, which leads to their 100 mpg if you only run on electricity for short drives and have a place to plug-in between trips. Measuring the H3's range with a full tank of fuel and topped off batteries is more likely to yield economy in the mid-30 mpg range. Either way, it's a huge improvement over the traditionally-powered H3 with even the lower number being about twice what an H3 achieves with a V-8 or I-5 gas engine.
The components that make up the Raser Technology system are scalable, so in theory they could also be applied to a Hummer H2.
Related to scalability, at SAE 2009, we also saw a military-spec HUMVEE that used an all-electric powertrain. Instead of one drive motor, this vehicle used four in-wheel motors that were independently controlled for maximum control and traction.
Raser Technologies estimates that an electric H3 could be produced for approximately $55,000.