The supersized GMC Hummer EV is not as green as other electric cars

  • If you think driving a pint-sized Nissan Leaf is as good for the planet as driving a huge electric Hummer, think again.
  • The GMC Hummer EV uses significantly more electricity than other EVs, which means it produces more pollution upstream.
  • The electric Hummer weighs 9,000 pounds and its battery weighs as much as a Honda Civic.

The new electric Hummer rolls through town without a deafening engine roar or a cloud of toxic fumes, but it doesn’t exactly tread lightly.

The colossal truck weighs a staggering 9,000 pounds. (Think two Toyota Tacomas, three Honda Civics, or 24 Shaquille O’Neals.) Plus, the GMC Hummer EV is, in many ways, a super-sized gas guzzler for a new era. It repackages many of the same shortcomings of huge SUVs and trucks of yesteryear – and proves that not all zero-emissions cars are created equal.

Electric cars can also be energy guzzlers

On the whole, electric cars use less energy than gas-powered cars. But they are not all equally effective.

No surprise here: Hummer needs more electricity than any other electric car on the market to move its elephantine frame. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the pickup at 47 MPGe (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent). By comparison, the Tesla Model 3 sedan is nearly three times as efficient, rated at 132 MPGe. The Ford F-150 Lightning, another electric truck, gets 70 MPGe.

This has real consequences: Since the US gets 61% of its energy from oil, coal and natural gas, the more electricity a car needs, the more pollution it creates upstream.

As the Union of Concerned Scientists put it: “Both electric cars and trucks are much cleaner than their gasoline counterparts, but electric trucks are responsible for more global warming emissions than electric cars simply because trucks are bigger and heavier.”

2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1.

2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1.

Tim Levin/Insider

The Hummer EV is also resource intensive to manufacture, requiring a huge (and heavy) battery to give people the 300+ mile range they desire. You can make three Chevrolet Bolts with the same battery cells consumed by a Hummer. And raw battery materials like lithium are already in short supply.

“How many more electric cars could we build that are a reasonable size if we just redistributed all the stuff that goes into the 3,000-pound Hummer EV battery into sedans or more reasonable cars, let alone e-cargo bikes?”, David Zipper , a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, told Insider.

The 4.5 ton elephant in the room

The Hummer EV is a full 4,000 pounds heavier than a stock, gas-powered Ford F-150. And it’s even thicker than the original military-inspired Hummer H1 that put the brand on the map. It’s so massive it’s not allowed on the Brooklyn Bridge and General Motors isn’t required to display its EPA efficiency stats on a window sticker.

Extra weight and size in a vehicle doesn’t just breed inefficiency. Research shows that it can also lead to increased emissions from tire and brake wear and greater risk to others in a crash (both from greater blind spots and simply physics).

In response to questions about all this, a GM spokesman noted that the Hummer EV is intended to be a so-called “halo vehicle” that demonstrates the potential of electric cars. She also mentioned that GM engineers took mass into account when designing the truck’s brakes and other systems and talked about its safety features. Some research attributes recent increases in pedestrian deaths to factors other than just larger vehicles, such as drunk driving, speeding and infrastructure deficiencies, she added.

2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1.

2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1.

Tim Levin/Insider

The new Hummer is not unique here. All battery-powered cars are heavier than their gas counterparts – but this is the biggest.

To be sure, switching Americans over to electric cars will require presenting them with plenty of options across the entire vehicle spectrum. Someone who drives a lifted diesel isn’t going to suddenly embrace a cute little hatchback. And research has shown that electrifying pickup trucks makes a bigger dent in greenhouse gas emissions than doing the same for smaller cars.

Still, some transportation experts think more should be done to steer buyers away from huge, energy-guzzling electric cars. Zipper is a fan of weight-based fees that already exist in Washington, DC and Norway, a country at the forefront of the electric car movement.

“People should be free to buy what they want, but we should make sure that the market forces them to pay for the cost that their decisions may impose on society,” Zipper said.

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