Because green 'wheeling can also be badass.
Over at the Detroit Bureau, news about a cool new gas-hybrid development, unveiled this week at the SAE World Convention in the Motor City this week, that's built on a most unusual platform. Seems that a company in Utah called Raser Technologies, working in concert with tech company FEV, has created a plug-in hybrid version of the Hummer H3. It's similar to the two-mode "range extender" system that GM has already developed for vehicles such as the upcoming Chevy Volt, though it differs inasmuch as it was designed specifically to meet the needs of (bigger, heavier) fullsize trucks and SUVs. The H3 is powered by a 200kW AC induction motor and can travel up to 40 miles on electric power before switching to gas-engine propulsion (in the form of a smaller, 2.0L motor), and a 100kW generator recharges the 700-volt lithium batteries during operation. (You can see some Raser test video of the new H3 here.) What does it all mean? Well, if you drive the vehicle 65 miles or less each day, combined gas-electric mpg will be about 100, and even 200+ mile trips will still net you 33 mpg. Not too shabby!
Now, we know that trail driving is not the same thing as highway driving, and obviously, things such as horsepower, torque and tow ratings would be affected by the smaller gas engine, but we kinda dig the idea anyway. For one thing, it shouldn't take GM as much time to recoup the costs of the system since it's based on an existing platform, whereas the all-new Volt will likely lose money (as the Prius did for years for Toyota) for the forseeable future. We also think it would be some sweet revenge to be able to cruise down the boulevard in your 100-mpg Hummer, giving out a friendly wave and shouting "gas guzzler!" at all those fuel-hogging 50-mpg Prius drivers. So what do you think? Should GM build a Mean Green H3?