GM Defense is just getting started with their Chevrolet Colorado ZR2-based Infantry Squad Vehicle, or ISV. The General Motors subsidiary was reestablished in 2017, and plans to create military vehicles based off existing production architectures, like the ISV. But the ISV is designed specifically to transport soldiers and their gear to various locations, and there are many other vehicle types GM Defense has their eyes on expanding into. According to a report by CNBC, GM Defense foresees a possible $25 billion industry when they expand into other military contracts.
In their first contract, with the ISV, the U.S. Military awarded GM Defense $214.3 million to produce 649 ISVs. This contract has the option to increase over the next 8 years. From here, the company could expand to other nations’ military with the ISV, barring there aren’t any conditions from the US Government.
The GM Defense ISV will be assembled at a 75,000 square-foot facility in Concord, North Carolina. In doing so, GM Defense has teamed up with Hendrick Motorsports to provide the chrome-moly steel exoskeleton of the vehicle frame, including the ISV ROPS system. GM Defense also has a teaming agreement with Ricardo Defense, which will lead the Integrated Product Support for the ISV, including technical manual development, new equipment training, provisioning, total package fielding and field service support.
GM Defense vice president of growth and strategy Jeff Ryder said GM’s upcoming wave of EVs also present a strong area of opportunity. EVs produce less heat than internal combustion powered vehicles, and won’t show up on thermal imaging as easily. Their lack of noise and instant torque could also come in handy in a variety of situations. Ryder told CNBC the company isn’t abandoning hydrogen fuel cell vehicles either, as previewed in their 2019 Colorado ZH2 concept, but they have put more of a focus on EV architecture as the industry pushes towards electric power rather than hydrogen. Just like the national infrastructure, the US Army is significantly less prepared for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles than they are EVs.
Autonomous electric vehicles are also a major focus for GM Defense. Just as drones have become popular for some airborne missions, unmanned ground based vehicles could prove invaluable for transporting gear and carrying out surveillance.
While GM won’t be building tanks like they did in WWII, it’s clear the formula of significantly modifying an existing vehicle to suit a specific military need works, and makes money. Expect GM Defense to grow as they carve out more product segments and military contracts, especially with autonomous and/or electric vehicles.