Utah company hopes to be part of changing auto industry

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PROVO -- A Utah company says it believes it has the edge in a technology that could dramatically help the U.S. car industry, and it's hopeful that talks with major manufacturers will bear fruit.

The nation's car industry is heading down a brand new road. Cases in point: a Chinese manufacturer firm acquiring American icon Hummer, and the Provo company that designed a Hummer which shatters gas-guzzling expectations by getting more than 100 miles per gallon.

"Frankly, we picked the Hummer as our platform because it was viewed as the worst abuser out there. If you can take a Hummer and make it greener than a Prius, you've said something loud and clear. And I believe we've done that," said Kraig Higginson, chairman of Raser Technologies, Inc.

Utah company hopes to be part of changing auto industry

Raser designed its new plug-in electric technology specifically for trucks and SUVS, which account for half the vehicles on the road in the United States and a majority of the emissions. The vehicle made a splash at an event a couple of weeks ago in Washington, D.C., and another last week in California with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"We want to put the spotlight on those cars to show not only Californians, but the rest of the world where the future lies," Schwarzenegger said.

The company hopes that this technology is one of the keys to a resurgent U.S. car market, which is increasingly interwoven with the global economy.

"We think that technology and innovation will lead the U.S. auto industry back out of that situation and back to the lead globally," Higginson said. "We're expecting to be a big part of that."

With trucks and SUVs the top-selling vehicles in the United States, the company believes that's a good bet.

The Provo company says if its technology is chosen by a major manufacturer, it will likely lead to many more jobs with Raser here in Utah, even if manufacturing is done elsewhere.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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