Advice for the Chinese manufacturer who just bought Hummer
GM.comI can’t say as I know exactly what’s going through the minds of the top executives at Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd. who have reportedly just purchased the Hummer brand from GM. I’ll say one thing, though. I’m pretty sure they’re not Peak Oilers. Still, give them credit for some much-needed greenwashing:
[Hummer spokesman Nick] Richards said the buyer planned to continue selling Hummer’s current lineup as it developed “more efficient” vehicles. The brand will eventually sell trucks fueled by diesel, ethanol and other alternative fuels, he said.
That’s the spirit! Although getting 10 miles/gallon running on anything will start to pinch when that anything costs $5 a gallon again. All I could think of was this passage from an awesome Fast Company article on renegade engine whiz Jonathan Goodwin:
Goodwin leads me over to a red 2005 H3 Hummer that’s up on jacks, its mechanicals removed. He aims to use the turbine to turn the Hummer into a tricked-out electric hybrid. Like most hybrids, it’ll have two engines, including an electric motor. But in this case, the second will be the turbine, Goodwin’s secret ingredient. Whenever the truck’s juice runs low, the turbine will roar into action for a few seconds, powering a generator with such gusto that it’ll recharge a set of “supercapacitor” batteries in seconds. This means the H3’s electric motor will be able to perform awesome feats of acceleration and power over and over again, like a Prius on steroids. What’s more, the turbine will burn biodiesel, a renewable fuel with much lower emissions than normal diesel; a hydrogen-injection system will then cut those low emissions in half. And when it’s time to fill the tank, he’ll be able to just pull up to the back of a diner and dump in its excess french-fry grease–as he does with his many other Hummers. Oh, yeah, he adds, the horsepower will double–from 300 to 600.
“Conservatively,” Goodwin muses, scratching his chin, “it’ll get 60 miles to the gallon. With 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. You’ll be able to smoke the tires. And it’s going to be superefficient.”
That’s my vision for Hummer. Make them a minimum 60 miles a gallon vehicles. Sure you’d have to throw in a jet turbine. But for the discerning Hummer-owner (who in China would have to pay a 40% tax on the already hefty price for the current model) too much is never enough. What ever happened to auto companies that think big anyway?
Irony alert: Turbines aside, as the article observed Goodwin’s “conversions consist almost entirely of taking stock GM parts and snapping them together in clever new ways.” Hummer and GM know about Goodwin — some of his straight-up Hummer biodiesel conversions caught their attention a few years back. But they never did get around to incorporating any of his innovative engine-building techniques. Ah, well. Maybe after bankruptcy.