Sell it to me in one sentence…
The GMC Hummer EV is a huge electric pickup truck with tons of power and incredible off-road capability that, depending on your point of view, is either stupid or stupidly brilliant.
I remember Lobster. They are military vehicles, right?
Approximately. The Hummer brand achieved cult popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s with a line of big, brash civilian vehicles based on the military Humvee. The H3 was even officially offered in the UK as the smallest vehicle in the range, although small is a relative term: it dwarfed most other passenger cars on the road.
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Given that Hummer vehicles weren’t known for their efficiency or environmental awareness, it might not be the first brand you’d think of to be revived for the electric age. And yet that’s exactly what General Motors’ GMC truck brand has done, with this new GMC Hummer EV effectively serving as the electric halo model for the auto giant’s entire portfolio of brands.
It looks… big.
Is it big. GMC designers have fully embraced the boxy, military-inspired styling of the original Hummer, albeit giving the reinvented Hummer a dash of modern electric flair. So there’s a big, bold front grill with a full-width light bar that incorporates Hummer lettering, a heavily reinforced underbody, huge wheels and subtly sculpted disc sides.
And somehow the Hummer EV Pickup – an SUV version will follow – is even bigger than it looks: it’s 5,507mm long, 2,201mm wide and 2,009mm tall. It’s not quite what Americans would call a “full-size pick-up,” but it’s certainly not far off. And amazingly, Hummer’s dimensions aren’t the stats they really sound like.
Hummer will eventually be offered with a range of powertrains, but the Edition 1 models available at launch have a system that uses three motors: one on the front axle and one for each rear wheel.
They combine to give the Hummer EV an eye-popping 746kW – that’s a pleasantly round 1000bhp in old money – along with 11,500lb ft of torque, enough that seismologists in a remote Hawaiian monitoring station will notice every time you tap the gas.
The battery powering the machine is equally impressive: it’s a mammoth 212kW pack consisting of a double-stack unit containing two layers of 12 modules. That’s enough to give the Hummer a claimed range (on the US test bike) of around 349 miles.
While the battery pack is naturally 400 volts, a neat trick with the double-stacked unit is that the two levels can be run in parallel, effectively allowing it to operate at 800V and enabling ultra-fast 350kW charging. Which is probably just as well, because it’s a big old battery to top up.
Of course, the large battery pack adds considerable weight to the car. The Hummer weighs 4111kg, which is about eight and a half Citroën Ami and so substantial that you couldn’t actually drive one on a normal UK licence.
It all seems a bit over the top…
At a time when many car companies have started to focus on the durability of their cars beyond just sticking in an electric powertrain, Hummer really stands out – and not necessarily for the right reasons.
It’s hard to believe that anyone really needs such a thick and almost absurdly powerful pickup – electric or not. Of course, GMC believes there is, stressing that the Hummer’s powertrain has been designed to provide off-road capability that surpasses any gas-powered pickup truck on the market. And if someone buys an electric Hummer Pickup instead of a big pickup with a six-liter V8 gasoline engine in it, that’s good, right?
General Motors also highlights how the Hummer has served as a halo model to really drive the development of the new Ultium custom electric platform. While the Hummer is the first model built on it to reach production, it will be followed by a wide variety of models from GM brands across the market.
These include the stylish new Cadillac Lyriq SUV and the upcoming Cadillac Celestiq sedan, the Chevrolet Silverado EV pick-up, the new Volkswagen ID 4 rival Chevrolet Blazer EUV and even the Brightdrop Zevo 600 truck. By pushing the platform to its extremes for the Hummer, GM claims it has accelerated the development of these models.
Okay, so how is the Hummer to drive then?
First of all, it’s important to clarify that our drive in the Hummer EV was limited and took place entirely on an off-road course at GM’s Milford Proving Ground in Michigan. So we cannot rate the machine on how it is on the road or performance, hence the lack of rating.
But our run gave us a chance to gauge the machine’s capabilities—and my word is that it can. While you feel the hefty weight of the machine when you first touch the throttle, the mountain of electric torque soon kicks in and propels the Hummer forward with ridiculous ease. The independent front and rear active air suspensions and hefty 35-inch all-terrain tires simply soak up any hint of loose surface on waves.
It’s only when braking and turning into a corner that you’re reminded of the Hummer’s size and weight, although the ridiculous excess of power on offer will quickly clear up any understeer issues you might have.
In truth, though, the most impressive thing about the Hummer isn’t its sheer power, but how it can use that powertrain to offer a ridiculous level of off-roading. There’s a torque vectoring system that balances power between the four wheels as needed to maximize grip, and the wide approach, departure and breakaway angles mean there are few obstacles that will really impede your progress.
There’s four-wheel steering too, making it ridiculously easy to position accurately despite its massive size. That system also enables Hummer’s finest party piece: crab walk mode. That system matches the angle of the front and rear wheels, allowing the car to move diagonally at low speeds. It’s as unreal in practice as it sounds, and while it feels like a gimmick, it’s really useful for helping steer around large rocks and lumps on an off-road trail.
There are also a few other tricks on offer, including one-pedal driving thanks to the regenerative braking system, GM’s “super cruise” advanced driver assistance system and a range of drive modes that adjust powertrain settings. These include different terrain and performance modes, headlined the “Watts to Freedom” mode. Otherwise known as WTF.
What is it really like inside?
The interior takes plenty of inspiration from the original Hummer, mixing boxy militaristic design with a dash of premium charm. There’s a big chunky dash and center console that almost wraps around the driver, and a pleasing array of physical controls that feel suitably sturdy and robust.
But it’s all complemented by plenty of technology, including a large central touchscreen that controls many of the key functions. It offers some incredible graphics as well, especially when you use it to select different driving modes. Is it a picture of a lobster on the surface of the moon? Yes yes it is.
When can I buy one?
If you’re in the UK, you can’t. General Motors is returning to the UK and European markets, and while we’ve heard whispers that the Hummer will be part of the range, it’s hard to imagine it being anything other than a very niche product. That’s down to its sheer size: frankly, we wouldn’t want to try and park one in the local Waitrose car park.
That said, that didn’t stop the original Hummer brand from finding some niche success in the UK, and you can imagine a small but interested market for it. But that could be limited, especially with the weight of the machine meaning you couldn’t currently run one on a standard card.
That said, lower-powered versions—although that’s a relative term—are on the way in the US, which might make it a bit easier to offer here.
It’s hard to really figure out if Hummer is ridiculous, or ridiculously funny. It certainly represents an incredible piece of engineering, and really pushes the boundaries of what an electric SUV can achieve.
That said, it’s also hard to shake the feeling that it’s all a bit over the top and unnecessary, especially since few buyers will ever need to use it to anything close to its full capabilities. But those who do will find an electric car that doesn’t just match the performance of a gasoline-powered off-road pickup: it truly surpasses it.
Specifications for the GMC Hummer EV Pickup Edition 1
Award: $110,295 (£90,850) in the US
Electric motors: Three permanently excited synchronous motors
Driveline Layout: four-wheel drive
Torque: 11,500 lb-ft
Scope: 329 miles (claimed)
0-60 mph: 3.0 sec (estimated)
Top speed: 106 mph
Service weight: 4111 kg
Battery Size: 212.7 kWh
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