Sunday, April 19, 2009

Plug-in Hybrid Hummer

The Hummer is the poster child of excess consumption and inefficiency, but a Utah company is converting the much-maligned SUVs into a range-extended electric vehicle good for 100 mpg and a range of 40 miles.

Raser Technologies will unveil the Raser H3 on Monday in Detroit. It promises a 90 mph top speed, off-road capability and a lithium ion-battery you can recharge in as little as three hours. What's more, the company says the drivetrain can be installed in other trucks and it hopes to have 2,000 converted vehicles on the road by the end of next year.

Like the Volt, the H3 will be driven solely by electricity. The engine -- the 260-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder used in the Pontiac Solstice -- will drive a 100-kilowatt generator to recharge the three lithium-ion battery packs.

All together the battery packs have a combined capacity of 40 kilowatt hours and total weight of 600 pounds. Raser claims a recharge time of between 3 and 10 hours, depending upon the voltage of the outlet the batteries are plugged into.

For the sake of comparison, the Volt uses a 16-kWh pack that weighs 375 pounds, while the Tesla Roadster has a 53-kWh pack weighing 992 pounds.

Tying it all together is something Raser calls the Hybrid Master Controller, which is a fancy name for the software that manages the engine, generator, motor and batteries.

No word yet on how the project will be funded or what the vehicle will cost. Raser promises more details when the vehicle is unveiled Monday.
I wonder how much it will cost? My guess is $15,000-$20,000 for the upgrade. I am not sure why they aren't using a cheaper less dense battery type (such as lead acid or NiMH) given the amount of space available in a Hummer.

The Hummer has a 40kWh battery and a 40 mile range which I would think means it uses around 1000 Wh/mile. The Tesla Roadster has a 53-kWh battery and 250 mile for 212 Wh/mile (or 200 Wh/mile). The Volt has a 16 kWh battery and 40 mile range for 400wh/mile. This would make the Hummer 1/5 as efficient as the Roadster and 2/5 as efficient as the Volt.

This leads to an interesting debate about which is better for the environment: an efficient small car that runs on gasoline (like a Prius) or an inefficient large car that runs off of renewable energy.

via Wired

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