Special Coverage

SAE World Congress

DETROIT – Powertrain specialist FEV Inc. displays at this week’s SAE World Congress here a drivable plug-in hybrid Hummer H3 and says the modular technology could be commercially available within two to three years.

FEV says the E-REV extended-range electric vehicle concept, designed with energy technology supplier Raser Technologies Inc. of Provo, UT, is best applied in large cross/utility vehicles, SUVs and pickups, rather than compact cars.

The powertrain configuration resembles that of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in extended-range EV that arrives next year.

The 200 kW traction motor that drives the wheels in the H3 concept is “overkill” in small cars and “suited for larger applications,” says Kevin Rzemien, FEV’s manager-electronics.

The demonstration vehicle started out as an off-the-line Hummer H3 assembled at General Motors Corp.’s Shreveport, LA, plant.

FEV and Raser replaced the H3’s standard 3.7L 5-cyl. with GM’s more fuel-efficient direct-injection gasoline turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec I-4, which powers the Saturn Sky Red Line and Pontiac Solstice GXP roadsters.

The Hummer concept also gets a dedicated hybrid-ontrol unit, a generator from Raser and the 200 kW AC induction motor connected to a 4-wheel-drive transmission (GM’s off-the-shelf 4L60E 4-speed automatic).

Also integrated is a 700-volt lithium-ion battery pack, considerably larger than the 400-volt units expected to be found on smaller vehicles such as the Volt.

FEV says the E-REV H3 has a range of about 400 miles (643 km), driving its first 40 miles (64 km) exclusively on battery power before the engine kicks on and uses a 100 kW electric generator to recharge the batteries and provide additional electric power when needed.

“This is a series hybrid, so the primary operating mode is all electric,” Rzemien says. “It just uses the battery for powering the traction motor to extend the range.”

Because the majority of commutes are less than 40 miles a day, the suppliers says most drivers rarely will use gas and average at least 100 mpg (2.3 L/100 km) most of the time.

“The technology in this electric-powered Hummer is a leap ahead for U.S. auto makers,” Raser CEO Brent Cook says. “It could make the nation’s popular light trucks and SUVs greener than a (Toyota) Prius.” The system also is capable of exporting up to 50 kW of power for small appliances through a standard 120-volt outlet. “Or you could plug your house in,” in the event of a power outage, Rzemien says.

Assisting in the Hummer H3 E-REV program was the Plug-in Hybrid Development Consortium, co-founded by Raser along with leading electric utilities, Li-ion battery companies and other automotive technology companies.

FEV says it worked with several Li-ion battery suppliers and has not selected a single partner for future programs.

The company completed the drivable prototype three months ago at its Auburn Hills, MI, technical center. The prototype fulfills a promise FEV made at last year’s World Congress to have at least one EV on the road by the end of 2008.

Pacific Gas & Electric, a West Coast utility company, has agreed to deploy the vehicles when more are available.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com