GM contracts EcoTrek to develop biodiesel Hummer H2s

By | April 06, 2007
Thrill-seeking auto junkie Tom Holm has a knack for "souping up" vehicles. For the past 20 years, he has been featured on TV shows and promotional tours showcasing his work. As environmental concerns associated with traditional fuels and their effects begin to grow, Holm became conflicted, he told Biodiesel Magazine.

After three years of sponsorship from General Motors (GM) for his Outdoor Life Network television series Adventure Highway, in which Holm customized GM sport utility vehicles and then drove to exotic destinations for adventure sport activities, he realized that he wanted to dedicate his career to the research of renewable fuels for his vehicles, a vision he calls EcoTrek.

"We were building these big gas guzzlers to go to the Redwood forest and beautiful ocean destinations," Holm said. "I felt like we needed to do something that incorporated different fuel technology, alternative fuels or hybrids."

Holm re-approached GM to ask for its support in building a biodiesel-fueled Hummer H2, the epitome of evil gas-guzzling vehicles, Holm said. While GM did offer him a discount on the H2 sale price, it said installing a diesel engine was "impossible," Holm recalled. It took a lot of work and a lot of his own funds-$160,000 to be exact-but Holm, along with a talented team of experts, was able to build the first-ever biodiesel-compatible EcoTrek Hummer H2.

With the help of specialist Jonathan Goodwin and Pacific Performance Engineering (PPE), Holm modified the H2 by dropping in a Duramax LBZ diesel engine, which increased the vehicle's horsepower to 660 and bumped the fuel efficiency up from eight to 10 miles per gallon to 16 to 18 miles per gallon. To make room for the new engine, Holm gave the H2 a nine-inch lift with 22-inch wheels and 37 1/2-inch tires. Plus, the team reprogrammed the engine and added an air intake system, a PPE programmer and a Borla stainless steel exhaust system. By the time they were done, the H2's gas mileage had been bumped up to 23 miles per gallon under normal highway driving conditions.

Holm's work in customizing renewable fuel vehicles has started a movement. Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of GM, announced in February that all vehicles in the Hummer 2010 model year will be renewable-fuel compatible, including an H2 with a Duramax diesel engine and a V8 E85 Hummer H3. MTV's television show Pimp My Ride has also approached Holm, and a segment dedicated to his customized vehicles is "in the works," he said.
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