YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An hour-long documentary presented by General Motors Co. explores just what it takes for a big old automaker to shift into the future.
The film, “Revolution: GMC Hummer EV,” chronicles the odyssey of the GMC Hummer EV — the first electric vehicle produced on GM’s Ultium platform — from its first concept two years ago to its launch in December 2021.
At the same time, the company had to rebuild its factory in Detroit-Hamtramck to what is today Factory Zero, named after the zero-emission vehicles produced there, starting with the Hummer EV.
GM’s top executives, engineers, design and architecture teams, plant managers and test drivers are interviewed throughout the documentary and comment on the successes and challenges of completely redesigning the Hummer, a once-popular truck that was discontinued in 2010.
“Our goal was to elevate what an electric vehicle can do and push the boundaries of 100 years of experience in vehicle development,” said Josh Tavel, Executive Chief Engineer. “This documentary captures the spirit of a team capable of incredible innovation and resilience. Their lessons set the foundation for vehicle development for decades to come.”
The documentary, produced by Detroit-based WTP Pictures and Hiatus, premiered on the History Channel on March 27 and can now be accessed on GMC’s YouTube channel. Film crews were granted access, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Hummer was designed and built, as executives and contractors struggled to reconfigure the Detroit-Hamtramck facility to accommodate EV production.
In the film, Tavel attributes the idea of reviving the Hummer as an electric car to GM president Mark Reuss. “Once that idea got out there, it got traction, like crazy fast.”
Reuss says in the film that GM’s previous investments in the electric car market were concentrated on smaller passenger cars and not trucks.
“We wanted to make a big statement — to bring back kind of the opposite of what an internal combustion Hummer was,” he says. “It kind of blew everyone’s minds when we [said] what it would be and what it could do.”
In just more than two years, team members were able to recreate the Hummer from the ground up, and the film captures the creativity and drive of engineers, architects and others responsible for meeting the tight deadline.
Viewers attend team meetings discussing the frustrations and challenges of frigid winter testing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and testing the Hummer’s off-road prowess in the rugged terrain of Moab, Utah. And they’re looking over the shoulders of architects’ drawing boards at the GM Design building at the Global Technical Center in Warren, Mich.
“There was no architecture that we had in our portfolio that could really do this job,” Rich Scheer, Hummer EV’s design director, says in the film. “So that meant it was going to be a clean slate. We’re basically starting from scratch.”
Design of the headlights, interior and exterior aesthetics all had to happen in a compressed time frame.
“We knew we had this tight deadline,” said Cathy Glowicki, senior program manager, GMC Hummer EV. “It was one of those challenges where we had to be creative and think differently. If we don’t learn and change, we won’t be here. Our future depends on us figuring some of this out.”
The first commercial Hummer EV rolled out of Factory Zero on December 7, 2021. Reuss says the Hummer team broke many of the old rules associated with the automotive world and set GM on a new course for its future.
“They took no prisoners to get it done,” he says. “The Hummer EV is transforming our electric future into zero crashes, zero congestion and zero emissions. The speed at which we did it is faster than anyone else.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This series is produced in association with Sweeney, with editorial control maintained by The Business Journal. Additional content is posted at BusinessJournalDaily.com/on-the-road-to-evs.
Pictured: GM describes the cabin design as geometric and structured with newly developed surface materials that contribute to the vehicle’s rugged appearance.
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