Raser Technologies recently announced a 100 mpg version of the Hummer H3 at the 2009 SAE International World Congress. The idea of taking the most infamous gas guzzler and making it "greener than a Prius' sounds like a pipe dream. But Raser claims to have achieved it. The resultant vehicle is the best of both worlds: environmentally friendly and attractive.
For the E-Hummer's guts, Raser tapped its plug-in hybrid E-REV (Extended-Range Electric Vehicle). Raser describes it as "similar in function to the Chevy Volt but designed for use in a variety of larger full-sized SUVs and light trucks." The E-REV Hummer gets 40 miles on batteries alone, before turning on its internal combustion engine. In total, the vehicle's range is about 400 miles. This is a good deal, though I have to call shenanigans on Raser's press release. They claim "Most vehicles drive fewer than 40 miles a day; most drivers would rarely use gas and average more than 100 mpg in gas fuel economy over time." If you just need a puddle jumper, the Hummer is overkill. There's any number of smaller, cheaper electric vehicles that could perform the same function. Some would say this has always dogged the Hummer.
The electric component is driven by Raser's 200kW AC induction motor connected to a 4WD transmission. The EcoTech engine uses a 100KW electric generator to recharge the batteries while driving. As always, cost is of paramount concern. Topping 30K, the Hummer is a tad pricey already. Ironically, though, being a gross symbol of excess could save it. The Hummer is big enough to integrate the electric motor and lithium-ion batteries without designing an all-new vehicle. This could reduce costs. Says Jim Spellman, company vice. president, "Unlike the Volt and other hybrid cars we didn't have to build an entire car around the battery packs ... there was plenty of room in the back of the Hummer to install them, and they don't affect the ground clearance of the vehicle."
Ultimately, you're still making an initial investment: pay more now, and break even on gas costs later. Whether consumers will do that is debatable. This strikes to the heart of nearly every hybrid, plug-in electric, or pure-electric vehicle. Most likely, the E-REV H3 will find the same audience as the Volt: affluent hipsters who wish to flaunt their dedication to the environment.
Proposal Could Ban the Sale of Plasma TVs in California
The California Energy Commission (CEC) is moving ahead with a proposal that could make Plasma TVs legally obsolete. Based on the 2008 Report, "Draft Efficiency Standards for Television" (which drew heavily from Pacific Gas and Electric Company findings), the proposal would set a cap on the maximum active mode power usage (Watts). This would effectively ban the sale of Plasma, DLP, rear projector, and certain LCD TV's in California.
The CEC report states that, "the current United States Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) test method for testing and measuring active mode energy consumption of TVs is outdated, and is not suitable for modern televisions using liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma based digital technologies." They make three recommendations:
* Two tiers of efficiency standards for active mode, similar to PG&E's proposal
* A revision of the existing standby mode standard to reflect technological advances, and
* A requirement that televisions meet a specific power factor standard.
Plasma TVs consume the most energy, so as a whole, they'd be eliminated. DLP and rear projection wouldn't fare much better. The CEC's proposal is eerily similar to California's recent request for exemption from Federal tailpipe emissions standards. The latter would set a 36 MPG (average) target for all cars sold in California by 2016.
The CEC is encountering strong opposition from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). In a recent op-ed under "CEA Digital Dialogue," the CEA's Sarah Szabo opined that, "If this proposal is adopted, 25 percent of televisions could be pulled off of California retailers' shelves, resulting in fewer choices and higher prices for California consumers. The local California economy will suffer even more as banned products translate into lost jobs and closed stores for retailers." Szabo added that, "the idea of government restricting the main source of entertainment in my home is more than a bit disturbing."
What about those consumers who prefer Plasma? Many feel that Plasma provides better picture quality. The CEC's recommendation? Turn down the brightness and contrast settings (i.e. switch it from "torch" to "movie" mode).
Do you agree? Disagree? Think I'm two McNuggets short of a Happy Meal? email your comments to: jason.lomberg[a]advantagemedia.com. Leave a comment on our site for the chance to win a free Efficiency Zone t-shirt!