28 June 2006
Holy Vortex Valve! Dealership Retrofits Hummers with Dubious Mileage Booster
The modification uses a device manufactured by Air Synergy Labs Inc., one of hundreds of aftermarket parts companies across the country that are using homegrown methods to try to boost fuel efficiency. Spencer Robley, chairman and president of the Las Vegas-based company says his company's product which it calls a "Vortex Valve" can help drivers increase fuel efficiency as much as 30%, though he concedes there's no official verification of that claim. "Federal, state, local [government agencies], nobody will certify anything that has to do with us," Mr. Robley says. "Nobody wants to hang their hat on it and certify anything that has to do with mileage." The company says it has sold 120,000 valves since they launched the product in 1998; the Detroit area stores are the first car dealers to feature it.
But this is what gets me:
[T]he promotion has helped ignite H2 and H3 sales at ... two Detroit area locations, says Gary Krupa, general manager of Hummer of Novi. The dealerships are charging customers $189.95 for the "Mileage Maximizer." Mr. Krupa says they sold about a dozen modified Hummers in the first three weeks of the promotion. The chain is now considering modifying vehicles at other Detroit-area Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge stores it owns "within the next month or so," according to Russ Reimer, the service director who runs the service shops at both Hummer dealerships.
I spoke with an actual Vortex user, and he says the retail price of this contraption is around seventy bucks. (Ah, dealer markups.) He also says he's getting 1.5 to 2 mpg better from his