Washington » Sen. Orrin Hatch angled the candy-apple red Hummer H3 slowly down a closed-street near the Capitol and then flipped around for a return trip, carefully avoiding a troupe of photographers and reporters.
The Utah Republican drove barely 100 yards but he could have driven much further. In fact, with a full tank of gas, he could have gone 400 miles without a fill up or an electric charge.
Hatch invited members of Congress to take their own test drive Wednesday as he showed off technology driven by Provo-based Raser Technologies that can allow a Hummer -- not typically thought of as your environment-friendly ride -- to go 100 miles on a single gallon of fuel.
"It's one heck of a car," Hatch said. "It was a gas guzzler until they made it a plug-in hybrid."
Hatch appealed to Congress and President Barack Obama to trumpet plug-in vehicles as a way to wean America off foreign oil and to ensure the development of the technology stays in the United States.
Hatch said just as the nation is on the "cusp of this major national victory" in creating the ability to make affordable, environmentally friendly plug-in hybrids, General Motors restructuring plan would sell off the Hummer brand to China.
He sent a letter to Obama asking him to work to assure the effort to make such vehicles isn't sold overseas.
Kraig Higginson, chairman of Raser, said that while the push has been to make small, commuter-type cars into hybrids, America has to also focus on SUVs and trucks because those are the vehicles many people, like farmers, parents and small-business owners, have to have.
"That is the vehicle that most Americans want, and from a utility reason, need to drive," Higginson said.
Hatch sponsored the CLEAR Act, which provided incentives for the hybrid industry and consumers.