The electric Hummer joins several other contenders unveiled this Earth week, including Bright Automotive's IDEA plug-in minivan and the uber sexy carbon fiber biodiesel hybrid Lightening LH4 (video link below).
I just read a great piece by LA Times writer Dan Neil who suggested that a theoretical "U.S. Dept. of Prius" could do more to get us off of foreign oil than many other green stimulus investments, by simply buying Prius' for people. According to his back-of-envelope calculation, a $46 billion investment would buy 2 million people a Prius, and save 1.4 billion gallons of gas per year.
Well I'm going to one up you a bit Dan...what if we leverage that investment a bit... Instead of buying 2 million Prius' (Prii??) outright, the U.S. Dept. of Hummer instead offers an instant 1/3 rebate of the Raser H3 (remember that old Bush rebate)? So we get 6 million people into Hummers at 100 MPG average each.
Maintaining Neil's assumptions -- retiring now 6 million polluter vehicles with an average 15 MPG at 15,000 vehicle mile per year -- we would save about 8.4 billion gallons of gas per year, or about 3 month's worth of OPEC oil!
Of course this does not factor in embodied energy. The Hummer is about the worst body model to choose because of the additional energy required to produce such a large and hefty vehicle (which interestingly is about the same as a typical Prius). With a standard Sedan body style the efficiencies would be even greater over long distances.
But its a fun case in point...plug-in electric vehicles are by far the best approach to getting 100 MPG, as they allow a driver to handle a typical day without ever tapping their backup gas engine.
Over the next few months, we will be seeing more X Prize contenders, but they have to prove the ability to scale manufacturing. Yesterday at the Fortune Green Brainstorm, Raser CEO Kraig Higginson made the bold claim they could do it AND provide clean, geothermal energy to power the vehicles, making an almost carbon-neutral vehicle.
2009 will tell if a Hummer can save the world.. or if its all a lot of hunky hype.
- Buffett bets on Chinese electric car
- Lightning Strikes -- the biodiesel hybrid LH4
- 10 unbelievable cars of the future
- Face to face with T. Boone Pickens
- Is a Prius the ticket to a "green heaven?"
(MNN homepage photo: Hummer)