October 21st, 2020 by Loren McDonald
If you are anything like me, you perhaps thought that the original gas-powered HUMMER was one of the worst products to ever be brought to market. It was originally a military vehicle (Hummvee) converted into a monster truck/SUV that in my neck of the woods soccer moms would use to drive their kids to school and then pull their boats and horse trailers on weekends. And because of the vehicle’s weight, it actually qualified for a business tax write off.
But the HUMMER is back, and back as an electric vehicle. I actually predicted and even suggested that GM do this a few years ago. Bringing back the HUMMER — even though the original was perhaps considered a consumer version of the Exxon Valdez — is actually brilliant.
The HUMMER brand is clearly polarizing. Depending on your point of view it, it is either “big and bad,” or “badass.” But the beauty of bringing the HUMMER back as an EV is that the brand is widely recognized and clearly conjures up immediate impressions and opinions. It will play well to people who want one of the coolest, fastest, most powerful trucks around — but also with a lot less guilt thanks to it being an electric vehicle. Reinventing and evolving the HUMMER brand as an EV “supertruck,” as GM refers to it, is simply a smart move by GM.
In a briefing for members of the media this morning, we learned that GM, in its typical stair-step brand strategy approach, sees the HUMMER as the next step up above the GMC Denali and AT4 brands, which reportedly have sold at the 40,000/year unit level. It is clear that the HUMMER will be the GMC halo vehicle, much like the Corvette is for the Chevrolet brand.
And speaking of the Corvette, we learned during the press briefing that the HUMMER design project began in April of 2019 — only 18 months ago — and the designers were transitioned out of the Corvette team. Interestingly, the only HUMMER EV that currently exists is the display/prototype that has been used in all of the videos and media sessions.
Peeps on Twitter of course immediately started comparing specs and pricing (more on that later) to the Tesla Cybertruck — but those obvious and expected comparisons are off base in my opinion. I may ultimately be proven wrong, but I believe the GMC HUMMER EV will likely appeal to a very different psychographic than the Tesla Cybertruck. The HUMMER likely will attract two types of buyers. One type is people more interested in driving the latest luxury status off-road vehicle, a vehicle that spends more time on Rodeo Drive than the Rubicon Trail, and who might otherwise consider or drive the Mercedes G-Class or Range Rover. The other type of consumer is the true, serious off-roader, who simply wants the one of the most capable performance off-road vehicles ever built. Those buyers might also consider both fossil fuel and electric trucks, such as the Rivian pickup or Ford F-150 Raptor.
0 to 60 in WTF and $112,595
In a self-playing video Tuesday night, GMC opened reservations and revealed the new 2022 GMC HUMMER EV. It was hard not to find the various features and capabilities of the HUMMER truly impressive, and I even found myself saying “whoa” out loud during one segment. If Elon Musk was watching, I jokingly thought to myself that he might have peed his pants.
… But then after the video, when I checked out the pricing and availability, all perspectives changed. The first trim version, the Edition 1, will start at a beast of a price, $112,595, and will be available beginning in the Fall of 2021. At this point, you realize that the HUMMER was truly a beast in more ways than just design and performance.
The Edition 1 trim version includes 3 motors that produce 1,000 horsepower and a GM-estimated 11,500 lb-ft of torque — though, some in the auto press have questions about how this is calculated. GM did not yet share the battery pack size, even during the media briefing sessions, which might suggest that the pack size will be huge and could approach 200 kWh for the Edition 1. The Ultium battery pack in Edition 1 will have 24 modules, which can be reduced and configured for lower range versions. The Ultium battery system will use a wireless battery management system with cooling integrated into the modules.
It will also have an estimated 350+ miles of range. Though, with an actual true test vehicle not having been built, it will be a long time before we see actual EPA numbers. The HUMMER EV will be capable of 800-volt DC fast charging at up to 35o kW.
GM’s “Watts to Freedom” mode, more affectionately known of course as WTF, is described as a “driver-selectable immersive experience that unleashes the full acceleration capability of the EV propulsion system, including GM’s estimated 0-60 mph performance in approximately 3 seconds.” So, you can just imagine the derivation of “Watts to Freedom.” Some engineer exclaimed “WTF” after test driving the HUMMER and the product marketing teams ran with it, coming up with the somewhat awkward “Watts to Freedom” term that the WTF abbreviation stands for.
Standard equipment on all trims, including Edition 1, includes Super Cruise capability, three years of service, UltraVision with High Definition Surround Vision, Digital Key, 35-inch-OD tires, Infinity Roof, power rear drop glass, six-function MultiPro Tailgate, and more.
Edition 1 highlights include:
- Drive Mode Control offers driver-selectable modes that tailor performance — including torque splits between the front and rear wheels, and four-wheel steering settings — for different driving conditions. It includes Terrain Mode, which raises the HUMMER EV’s ride height by nearly 2 inches.
- Extract Mode capability, which is Adaptive Air Suspension designed to enable drivers to maneuver tough conditions and raises ground clearance to 15.9 inches. The HUMMER can also traverse water at depths of up to 32 inches.
- Adaptive Ride Control continuous damping that is tailored for both on- and off-road driving.
- Open-air driving enabled by the structural rigidity of the Ultium batteries, with standard Infinity Roof and removable transparent Sky Panels that can stow in the “frunk” storage compartment at the front of the vehicle.
- Large, 13.4-inch diagonal infotainment screen and 12.3-inch diagonal driver information center display.
- MultiPro Tailgate with six functional positions.
- Power rear drop glass window and power tonneau cover.
In addition to “crab mode,” the HUMMER has an amazing turning radius of only 11.3 meters, reportedly less than the Tesla Model 3.
“We had one goal for HUMMER EV: Build the most capable factory truck — ever,” said Al Oppenheiser, GMC HUMMER EV chief engineer. “It’s an absolute off-road beast with a unique e4WD drive system that provides maneuverability unlike anything GM has ever offered before.”
And yes, the HUMMER EV even has a frunk.
The HUMMER EV will be the first fully electric vehicle in GMC’s portfolio. Initial production begins in late 2021 at GM’s Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center facility currently repurposed and retooled with a $2.2-billion investment devoted to electric vehicle production.
GM hasn’t shared sales or production targets for the HUMMER, but once the lower-priced trim versions are available, I bet they’d be quite happy with annual sales volume of around 10,000–15,000 units. By comparison, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class sees US annual sales of about 4,000, and various unconfirmed estimates peg the Raptor perhaps at least 15,000 units. Reservations for the Edition 1 were full within only a few hours after the reveal Tuesday night.
If you are thinking that the HUMMER EV screams “Merica” — you are probably right. A friend in Spain commented on my LinkedIn feed that “I could buy myself a villa with a pool with that kind money” after I posted about the HUMMER pricing. And I guess that’s the point. This is a truck for people who live in mansions (either real or of the McMansion variety), not the people who build them.
Like many observers, I would have loved to see the HUMMER priced significantly lower than it is, but whether you like or agree with GM’s strategy, this HUMMER EV is really about making a “massive statement for GM” — as one executive stated. The HUMMER EV is GM’s first halo EV. Now, unfortunately, we’ll have to wait probably 3–4 more years before we see more affordable GMC and Chevrolet-branded pickups.
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