GM goes green with hybrid Hummer

Washington, DC – If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em: General Motors is launching an electric Hummer claimed to produce near-zero emissions.

Demonstrated to members of Congress yesterday, the Electric Hummer H3 was developed by Raser Technologies and FEV in cooperation with General Motors’ Hummer division, and is aimed at that hard-to-please segment of the market that wants to pretend they are in a tank but still think of themselves as nice people.

“Americans value the versatility of trucks and SUVs, the number one selling vehicles in America, but we also want to do what’s right for the environment, said Kraig Higginson, chairman of Raser Technologies. “This vehicle demonstrates that through innovation, we can do both.”

The full-size SUV is a four-wheel drive vehicle claimed to achieve more than 100mpg with a range of up to 40 miles per day in all-electric mode. For longer trips, a small engine kicks in to recharge the batteries. Light, it ain’t: the vehicle carries 600 pounds of lithium ion battery packs, but the company claims it delivers better gas fuel economy than a Prius.

Gary Rogers, president of FEV and a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on the Effectiveness of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) Standards, said “Because most Americans drive less than 40 miles a day, this powertrain technology could have an enormous impact reducing the amount of gasoline consumed every day and support President Obama’s initiative to achieve significant improvements in fuel economy across all sectors of the light-duty fleet, including trucks and SUVs.”

Sales of the gas-guzzling behemoth have declined steadily as celebrities and the super-rich became increasingly uncomfortable about its lack of green credentials. Last summer, Rick Wagoner, GM’s chief executive officer, announced plans to review the Hummer brand, saying “all options are on the table.”

The hybrid Hummer isn’t expected to appear on the streets until 2011, but apparently 17,000 have already been ordered – probably all by Arnold Schwarzenegger.