Senator Takes Hybrid Hummer on a Semi-Wild Ride

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has a knack for puncturing Capitol Hill’s bubble of obliviousness. His classics include the spotting of Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) leaving an event that protested high gas prices in an 18-miles-per-gallon car — for the one-block trip back to her office.

In his latest dispatch, Milbank takes on the hybrid Hummer H3, a new model produced by Raser Technologies of Provo, Utah, that claims to get 100 miles to a gallon of gas. Raser’s home-state senator, Orrin Hatch (R), climbed behind the wheel of one of the monstrous "green" vehicles yesterday, with less-than-stellar results:

Orrin_Hatch_1.jpgSen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had fun with a hybrid Hummer. (Photo: UPI)

With a whine and a lurch, the Hummer began to accelerate, and for a few
terrifying moments, Hatch was in control of the bright-red 5,000-pound
truck. Well, not entirely in control. "All I’ve got to do is smash that
car, I’ll tell ya," he said of a vehicle in his path. The questions he
asked were unsettling: "Squeeze that button? … Do I park it this
way? … I’m going to miss the curb? … Is there a reverse?"

Spotting a Capitol Police car, he speculated, "They’re probably looking
at me." Eyeing some photographers near the car, Hatch allowed that he
was "a little bit concerned" for their safety. When one got too close,
Hatch muttered: "That guy’s really got some guts to stand there."

Hilariously, Hatch’s home-state newspaper had a much kinder interpretation of the affair. The Salt Lake Tribune described the senator as "carefully avoiding a troupe of photographers and reporters" as he steered the hybrid H3, which uses a 40-kwh battery pack that weighs 600 pounds on its own.

Leaving aside the frightening thought of a hulking military-style vehicle being repackaged as "green" — for the bargain price of $50,000 — the hybrid H3’s claim to 100-mpg status is pretty misleading.

For one, the car has a range of 40 miles on its plug-in electric battery before its 11-gallon fuel tank kicks in. But those first 40 miles aren’t gimmes; if Hatch had to make a long trip in the D.C. area, he’d be paying 12.83 cents for every kilowatt-hour in the car’s battery pack. The 100-mpg figure is an average of the H3’s gas-free first 40 miles and its subsequent fuel-using mileage. How many miles to the gallon does the hybrid Hummer get when you factor out its electricity-based miles? It’s tough to say.

What we do know is that Hatch is a longtime supporter of tax credits for producers and purchasers of plug-in hybrid vehicles, including a proposal to give government money to electric utilities that offer rebates to plug-in drivers. His co-sponsor in that effort: then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

  • Awesome, a Hummer that burns coal.

  • Nathan H.: Perfect line! I’ll be sure to steal it.

  • Glenn

    Another Rube Goldberg machine. Call me when they have a nuclear powered Hummer that melts-down on impact.

  • eLK

    That’s strange, I was just in Utah and was amazed by how the drivers drove slowly and politely. And the number of children walking or riding to school was also impressive. He must be pretty out-of-touch with his home state.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Pseudo-Environmental Hummers

|
A lone Hummer driver with a conscience? At first glance, it seems so. But this is actually becoming something of a trend: Everyone who is pitching an alternative fuel these days is using a Hummer to make his or her point. And the reason is obvious. Everyone knows that Hummers are the most gas guzzing private vehicles on […]

A Hummer With Your Happy Meal

|
Autoblog reports: Starting today, one of eight toy Hummers will be packed in McDonald’s "boy’s" Happy Meals. Unlike the real Hummer which get 11 miles per gallon on a good day, these vehicles are "fun-fueled," according to the General Motors press release.

Is “Cash for Clunkers” a Good Idea, Ever?

|
Photo: bondidwhat/Flickr The New York Times today endorsed a bill from Senator Chuck Schumer, and its companion in the House, co-sponsored by Long Island Democrat Steve Israel, which would offer up to $4,000 in vouchers to drivers who give up their gas guzzlers (averaging 18 miles-per-gallon or worse) in exchange for "a new or used […]

Don’t Ask Me About My Hummer

|
  From the political left, concern is growing about global warming. From the political right, concern is growing about the United States funding both sides on the war on terror. Health officials worry about a national epidemic of obesity and high urban asthma rates, urbanists are concerned with degraded, atrophied public spaces. Slowly but perceptibly, people of all political persuasions are waking […]

The Gas Tax Versus a VMT Tax: Is ‘All of the Above’ an Option?

|
Gas tax revenues, already insufficient to pay for transportation infrastructure, will continue to be compromised by gains in fuel efficiency. Chart: Oregon DOT. The prospect of an eventual move away from the gas tax and towards a fee on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has sparked consternation from some well-known bloggers this week, with Matt Yglesias […]

The MTA is Testing Battery-Powered Buses

|
Here’s a good little item that nearly slipped past us. City Room reported the other day that the MTA is testing new battery-powered buses: The city’s other hybrid buses run like hybrid cars. They run off battery power some of the time and diesel or (in the case of many cars) gas engines at other […]