Behind the wheel of the monstrous new Hummer EV

Hummer is back with a truck that’s even bigger and badder than the old gasoline-fuel iteration, the über off-roader inspired by the original Army Humvee.

But this time, the Hummer EV Pickup is a 1,000-horsepower, 9,200-lb. monster packing a double-stacked 205-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The incredible power of Hummer’s triple Ultium electric motors delivers a 3.0-second 0-60 mph time, while the computer-controlled air suspension and active shock absorbers give the Hummer EV an unexpected combination of agility and plush comfort on the road.

It achieves this incredible performance while delivering an EPA miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) of 47, which is roughly equal to the 49 mpg EPA rating of the all-wheel drive version of the hybrid electric Toyota Prius.

Of course, the point of going electric is to surpass the efficiency of hybrids like the Prius. And GM will with its new Ultium battery and powertrain strategy—just not with the Hummer EV Pickup. The company is launching its onslaught of 30 new electric cars by 2025 worldwide, all of which will use parts of the Ultium modular building blocks used in their maximum configuration in the Hummer.

That’s the purpose of the massive truck: To demonstrate the ultimate capability of the technology in a halo vehicle that it can build at a measured rate and sell at a high price, while maturing the company’s EV production toward future high-volume, affordable models that use smaller batteries and fewer electric motors.

“[Ultium] is the platform that enables us to accommodate future technology developments, reduce costs and accelerate the technology development process,” explained Mei Cai, GM’s director of battery cell system research in the Hummer EV documentary, Rotation.

“That will be the driving force for us to expand the EV platform,” she said. “Ultium is the key to our all-electric future.”

It’s a beast

The 24 battery modules in the Hummer EV Pickups Edition 1 configuration ($112,595 as-tested, with smaller versions available in 2024 with a starting price of $82,000) weigh more than 2,900 pounds and contribute 9,063 lbs. curb weight (according to GM’s EPA filing) for a 329-mile driving range. But other GM vehicles will use fewer modules for lower weight and cost.

A key advantage of electric cars, even ones like the Hummer EV whose efficiency is no better than that of existing gas-powered hybrids, is that the source of their electricity is the ever-greening grid. This means that in some places they can already be charged by renewable sources, and such sources will become increasingly available throughout the life of the vehicle, while the Prius will burn gas until the day it goes to the great scrapyard in the sky.

GM underscored this point by charging all Hummer EVs at the media drive event from its Hydrotec mobile fuel cells with renewable produced hydrogen.

You’d never know the Hummer weighs so much, thanks to its agility and the smooth ride provided by the truck’s air suspension and off-road balloon tires. With GM’s Super Cruise driver assistance taking over on the highway, the Hummer is even more relaxing to drive. As for parking, well, it’s still more than 18 feet long and fills a space from the right line to the left.

Rear wheel steering

Lining up the Hummer to make sure it’s straight enough to squeeze into the spot is made easier by the rear-wheel steering system, which was developed primarily to aid the truck’s off-road maneuverability. With a four-door cab and a bed, the Hummer would be challenging to snake around trees and other typical off-road obstacles, but the rear steering gives it the feel of a two-door SUV.

The rear steering system also communicates with the truck’s stability control system to provide advanced control of trailer sway. The rear steering also comes in handy for making parking easier, but the technology’s party trick is Hummer’s CrabWalk: It can slide sideways with all four wheels pointed at the same angle. This could potentially be used for parallel parking. Or to ease past obstacles in the wilderness. But it will probably mostly be used to show off the gimmick to friends.

The 2022 GMC Hummer weighs about 9,200 pounds. GM

Off-road driving

In addition to having rear steering to help turn around track obstacles, the Hummer EV also has precise control of its electric power delivery, electric regenerative braking and friction braking to help the truck climb over obstacles. Accurately applying power to the wheels with available traction is critical, but controlling wheel speed while rolling down the back of obstacles also required significant engineering.

“We had to balance torque placement and slip control, allowing you to confidently climb up a rock or ledge,” says vehicle dynamics engineer Drew Mitchell. “We also use the brake control to apply mechanical brakes to give you that left-foot brake feel without actually using the brake. It’s all one-pedal control.”

Experienced off-roaders know to brake gently with their left foot to control speed so the truck doesn’t crash down the slopes of hills or the back of rocks and logs. Hummer’s engineers aimed to provide it even for inexperienced drivers.

At the same time, one-pedal driving is a typical electric car option, and the Hummer EV can drive in that mode. This is when the vehicle acts like a golf cart, where stepping on the gas pedal makes it go and taking off makes it stop, thanks to regenerative braking. But for off-road driving, the Hummer’s version goes above and beyond, letting drivers control the vehicle’s forward motion to the inch with just the gas pedal, just as the gas-powered Ford Bronco’s similar system does. “It is not [typical] EV one-pedal drive, which we have in all other modes, the traditional EV solution,” says Mitchell. “This is a one-pedal where you come off the accelerator, the brakes engage and it gives you that instant deceleration.”

“We tried to make it as accessible to beginners as possible,” says Mitchell. “A lot of people, the first time they go off-road, left braking can be a very jerky affair. You can still brake the truck with your left foot if you want. It’s a slow, gradual stop. We also have a more aggressive one if you put it in low interval.”

The result is as good as promised, with the Hummer easily trickling down obstacles with just the right foot on the gas pedal.

The driveline

The Hummer’s electric powertrain is built with a single front electric motor that sends power through a lockable differential to the front wheels. There are also dual electric motors in the rear, each driving one wheel. These motors can be synchronized to simulate a locked differential, so that both wheels rotate at exactly the same speed.

During the drive, after seeing the Hummer in front of me labor a bit to climb a cliff, I preemptively locked the rear differential (virtually), and my truck crawled up the same section without drama.

And that’s really the Hummer EV’s bottom line: no drama (other than when demonstrating CrabWalk mode to onlookers). There is no drama when you drive it on the highway because it is as comfortable and smooth as road-oriented vehicles. There’s no off-road drama because the Hummer EV is amazingly capable. And there’s no drama at the gas pump, or at the charging station, because the Hummer EV has an extended range of 200 miles, fast 800-volt DC charging, and enough electrical efficiency to put this blower on par with Prius for Earth-friendliness—at least when one compares new Hummers MPGe with Prius fuel efficiency.

Leave a Comment