The Hummer is back as a 350-mile range ‘electric supertruck’ that can drive diagonally

The Hummer — symbol of pre-2008-recession, gas-guzzling excess — has been resurrected as a 350-mile range “electric supertruck” with three electric motors, 1,000 horsepower adjustable air suspension, and a diagonal driving feature called “Crab Mode.” The electric truck is set to go into production in late 2021, possibly ahead of Tesla’s Cybertruck.

The Hummer EV is arguably the most important vehicle to be announced as part of General Motors multi-billion dollar pivot to electrification. It was revealed during a virtual event set to air during the World Series, “The Voice,” and across a barrage of social media and streaming platforms. The electric truck will be the first vehicle to feature General Motors’ new modular electric vehicle platform and battery, known as Ultium.

The resurrected Hummer will be made and sold under the GMC brand at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory — recently renamed Factory Zero — which the automaker is pumping $2.2 billion into as it gears up to mass-produce electric vehicles.

Initially, the Hummer EV will be offered in four variants, none of which are cheap. Starting in fall 2021, the Hummer EV Edition 1 will go on sale for a suggested price of $112,595. This version will include Crab Mode and Extract Mode, which allows the truck’s suspension height to be raised approximately six inches (149 mm) to help negotiate “extreme off-road situations such as clearing boulders or fording water,” GMC says.

Next up will be the Hummer EV3X, available in fall 2022, with a three-motor setup, 0-60 mph acceleration in three seconds, and a suggested price of $99,995. Following that will be the Hummer EV2X, available in spring 2023, with Crab Mode, Extract Mode, and a suggested price of $89,995. Last will be the Hummer EV2, available spring 2024, with just two motors and a suggested price of $79,995. All four trim levels are expected to have over 350 miles of range on a full battery.

GM retired the Hummer in 2010. At the time, the boxy behemoth had become a symbol for pre-financial-crisis excess that was made famous by its inclusion in rap videos and television shows like The Sopranos and Entourage. But once the global recession hit, and fuel prices stared to rise, Hummer sales dropped and the vehicle was discontinued.

Bringing it back as an EV is a risky move. Many people still remember the Hummer as a voracious gas guzzler and an oversized road hog. And those impressions still linger, Phil Brook, vice president of GMC marketing, told The Verge, citing market research conducted by the automaker.

“The name Hummer can polarize people,” Brook said. “There’s no question about that.”

That impression melted away, though, when focus groups learned that the Hummer would be all-electric. As for the vehicle’s excessive size — especially its wider-than-average road stance — Brook said the vehicle’s 18-camera “Ultravision” system, as well as front and rear pedestrian alerts, will help drivers see all their surroundings. “We’re very comfortable with where we’ve landed,” he added.

Image: GMC

The Hummer EV won’t be your average pickup truck. It will be a sideways-scuttling high-torque off-roader with adjustable height, partially autonomous driver assist and a bevy of social media-friendly brand name features.

Take Crab Mode, for example. The rear-wheel-steering function enables all four wheels to turn in the same direction and move the vehicle sideways. GMC teased this feature over the summer, tweeting a Hummer badge with a crab graphic.

But don’t expect to be able to zag sideways at highway speeds. GMC says the feature, which is designed for “even greater maneuverability on challenging terrain,” is only available at “low speeds.” No doubt the automaker is looking to steal some thunder from EV startup Rivian, which has said its RT1 truck is capable of a “tank turn” that allows the truck to spin in circles in dirt. Will it allow for greater flexibility while parallel parking? Only a real-world test can say for sure.

Then there’s the adaptive air suspension system called Extract Mode that can raise or lower the vehicle by six inches. But don’t confuse this with a lowrider’s hydraulic system. This feature is designed for off-roading, when a driver needs to clear especially large objects like boulders. (A variety of vehicles offer adjustable suspension, including Tesla Model S and X vehicles. Tesla is also working on an updated dynamic suspension for the Cybertruck electric pickup truck.)

GMC added steel plating to the Hummer’s underbody to better protect the battery, which rests in the floor of the vehicle. And the vehicle’s 18-camera Ultravision system (another Hummer-specific brand name) includes front and rear underbody cameras to better protect against damage. The cameras will also be equipped with a wash function to clean off debris and dirt.

Speaking of the battery, the Hummer EV will come with a 24-module, double-stacked Ultium propulsion system that will deliver at least 350 miles of range and power to three motors. With three motors and two drive units, the truck is expected to get up to 1,000 horsepower and an estimated 11,500 pound-feet of torque — a staggering number that’s also a bit misleading thanks to some creative math (see this piece in Roadshow for a more complete explanation).

GMC didn’t close the towing capacity nor the volume of the rear cargo space before the official announcement on October 20th.

GMC claims claims the Hummer EV will have the capability to charge at rates of up to 100 miles in 10 minutes — which translates to a full charge in less than 40 minutes. This charging time is possible by using a 800-volt charger with a peak charging rate of over 300 kW.

The “Infinity Roof” features four pop-out “Sky Panels” that can be removed and stored in the “frunk” (or front trunk) for a “unique open-air experience.” The four roof panels and front T-bar will be able to be removed manually by one person, and there will be no connector over the top of the front and rear window.

Inside the vehicle, a 13.4-inch diagonal infotainment screen sits in the center console, while a 12.3-inch diagonal driver information center functions as a digital instrument cluster with all the relevant information about the status and performance of the vehicle. Information will be presented via smartphone-style “widgets,” particularly as it relates to off-roading details like terrain status.

GMC partnered with Fortnite creator Epic Games to use the game maker’s Unreal Engine game development platform for the Hummer’s in-car software, an industry first. Because Unreal Engine is designed to enable photorealistic computer-generated graphics, the software can display full, high-resolution renders of the vehicle as well as its various internal and underside parts and mechanical and software mechanisms.

“The graphics are unbelievable,” GMC’s Brook said. “They’re very hard to describe, you really need to see them.”

GM is reviving the Hummer at a time of skyrocketing SUV and pickup truck sales in the US. Conveniently, automakers make more profit on bigger vehicles than sedans: GM said in a recent earnings call that the average transaction price for its full-size pickups increased by $1,526 compared to the first quarter of this year despite the pandemic and resulting recession.

The truck and SUV boom has a human cost too, in the form of a major jump in global CO2 emissions for the sector as well as a dramatic rise in pedestrian deaths. An electric Hummer might help mitigate the former, but it’s not likely to make pedestrians safer.

In fact, GMC’s ability to resurrect the Hummer depends on its buyers’ good behavior. If it’s used to terrorize residential communities like its gas-powered predecessor, it’s unlikely to be greeted happily, says Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights.

“It probably will still be a big beefy vehicle, but it won’t necessarily have the negative imagery of being particularly wasteful or really useless,” Caldwell said.

The Hummer pickup truck is slated to go into production in late 2021, with deliveries starting shortly after. That’s right around when Tesla’s Cybertruck is supposed to hit the road and just a few months after EV startup Rivian will start shipping its own electric pickup and SUV. GMC also plans on making an electric Hummer SUV, though there is currently no timeframe for that vehicle.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Arnold Schwarzenegger saw a convoy of military Humvees driving down the street in Washington, DC, and had the idea of acquiring one for himself. But the Terminator actor and former California governor won’t be the spokesperson for this resurrected Hummer, despite Schwarzenegger’s current job advocating for electric transportation. The new spokesperson will be LeBron James, fresh off his recent NBA championship.

“Any time I have any type of partnership, it’s always pretty simple,” James said of the endorsement deal, “anything that’s organic and then is something that I have a good deal of respect for.”

Organic. Now there’s a word that’s never been used to describe a Hummer. Until now.

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