How long does it really take for the GMC Hummer EV to charge?

October 7, 2022 3:50 p.m

The 9,000-pound behemoth that is the GMC Hummer EV dominated the news cycle this week after some light tests showed it would take an owner four days to recharge with the most basic home setup.

The resulting freakout has split the media landscape, leaving electrification acolytes squabbling with combustion-minded infidels in the car crusades. But the real tragedy seems to be the total abandonment of nuance when discussing the matter, because there is much more at stake than the new Hummer taking more than a week to fully charge. Neither side seems to see the whole picture and has chosen to ignore some of the benefits and failures associated with charging an all-electric vehicle.

Innocently enough, it all started with a seemingly obvious home test carried out by The expressway (TFL) to determine how quickly Hummer can take on energy. But the resulting video clip was immediately spun to disprove or confirm people’s preconceived notions about all-electric vehicles. Broadly shared the story, framing it as evidence of the many dangers EV users face, piggybacking on an earlier video shared by Hoovie’s Garage which showcased the considerable range the Ford Lightning had to sacrifice to tow a loaded trailer weighing 3,500 pounds.

Both of these tests provided useful information that can be helpful to consumers. In all cases, Broadly tended to focus on the downsides of electrification, encouraging pro-EV outlets (which also have an obvious bias) to take a counter position. Although they were quickly overtaken by the wider press realizing that focusing on the four-day load test made for juicier headlines, something that would have been good if the wider context had been provided.

This continued and reeled in more publications, with even Alex Jones weighing in on the matter despite clearly not having seen any of the videos before giving his assessment.

It was a generally disappointing situation, and not because I have an affinity for electric cars. To me, electric cars have always felt like they were designed for trendy people who lead exceptionally structured lifestyles and don’t have a lot of places to go. The torque-prone nature of the powertrain is appealing, but the rest of the EV ownership experience is not. With the notable exception of the Ioniq 5, none of them have really managed to hold my attention for any length of time.

But it’s still important that people get all the facts, regardless of whether I’d park one in my own driveway if money were no object.

That’s the full disclosure on where I stand with electrified vehicles. But let’s get one very important thing out of the way before we dive into the relevant data and technical jazz. The Hummer is a deliberately ludicrous luxury vehicle that harkens back to the gas-guzzling H2 and mimics its power consumption in terms of electricity. It starts at $110,295 and weighs so much that there will sometimes be roads and bridges with signs prohibiting its entry. If it burned gasoline, it would have a 60-gallon tank and environmentalists would make speeches about how people shouldn’t be allowed to own one.

GMC can’t claim to have built this vehicle because it’s good for the planet, and it hasn’t. So it seems a bit unfair to bemoan it on those grounds – even though the parent company (General Motors) often discusses electrification as if it’s a moral good and an essential part of protecting the environment. But the Hummer’s status as an over-the-top, six-figure car also means it’s loaded with some of the most advanced technology any US-based legacy manufacturer has dared throw into a modern car. It’s stupidly fast for how heavy it is, looks like it’ll actually be good off-road, and it’s loaded with more bells and whistles than you’ll ever need.

Depending on the capacity of the charger you use, the Hummer can take on loads that dwarf almost anything else currently on the market. This is both impressive and important for a vehicle that has a massive 2,923-pound battery to lug around. Due to the ridiculous weight of the Hummer EV, GMC basically had to slap on the biggest Ultium package it could fit to ensure the vehicle could maintain a desirable range. The battery pack’s 212 kWh “usable capacity” is supposed to cover 329 miles between charges. Testing has shown that it’s actually possible to exceed the EPA-estimated range under ideal conditions—which means modest and consistent speeds hovering around 70 mph on an exceptionally temperate day.

Shortcomings remain, however. All that extra weight makes the Hummer one of the least efficient EVs you’re likely to come across, meaning the SUV (or pickup, if you prefer) needs to spend more time plugged into power outlets. This four day charging routine is indeed real but only comes up when you are trying to get power back from the most basic 120 volt outlet (level 1).

Customers who spent on an extravagant vehicle like the Hummer EV will probably also have spent a bit more to upgrade to 240-volt (Level 2) home charging capability. This allows drivers to recharge a near-discharged battery in less than half the time – with early tests suggesting a 24-hour average.

While not blisteringly fast, that’s to be expected from a 212kWh battery pack and can be mitigated further by taking advantage of 800-volt DC fast charging (something most EVs still lack). Of course this requires the battery to be preconditioned before charging for optimal results and you need to have one of these stations located close to your route for it to be of any genuine value. But it’s theoretically possible to get nearly 100 miles of range in the time it takes you to go to the bathroom, check your phone, and enjoy a snack.

In a previous video, TFL tested the Hummer with DC fast charging and saw the vehicle recover 73 miles of range in about 10 minutes. Sure, it’s absolutely pathetic compared to filling up a gas-powered car. But it does show that EV technology is headed in a more useful direction—provided you can afford the latest hardware and live in an area where 800-volt DC fast charging is widely available and well-maintained. But things start to change the longer you leave the car plugged in. Like most electronic devices with fast charging options, the Hummer begins to draw energy more slowly as its state of charge increases. TFL noted that the vehicle’s ability to draw energy was more than halved when the battery reached 50 percent and speculated that it could be due to programming by GMC, limitations with the charging station, or the possibility that an excess of resistive heat was created. through long-term fast charging.

I think the above both highlights how little the average person understands about EV charging, while at the same time substantiating flaws in electrification that some people (myself included) have been harping on about for ages.

But there are other issues to consider. While new EVs can receive energy at a higher rate than their predecessors – resulting in shorter charging times – continued use of fast charging will also shorten the battery’s overall lifespan. The real challenge is determining how much. Despite advances in charging technology, exchanging electrons as quickly as possible has some drawbacks. Chargers with high loads often need to have additional cooling features to ensure they don’t burn out. The same goes for your electric vehicle, although we’re not aware of any long-term EV tests where identical batteries were tested to see how fast vs. slow charging affected their condition.

Look, I dislike the blind push for electrification as much as the next crafty paranoid person. But the overheated rhetoric coming from both sides of the fence needs to take a back seat so that a more thorough analysis can take place. While certainly worth mentioning, the Hummer’s four-day charging period is meaningless if the owner has a second vehicle or can afford to upgrade their home charging solution and is hardly representative of the overall Hummer experience.

Editor’s note: TFL Car was also stuck in traffic when the Hummer died unexpectedly and inexplicably. The entire video can be seen here.

[Images: GMC]

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