It isn’t much of a leap to say that the GMC Hummer EV is unlike any other vehicle the automaker has built in the past. And while it is true that several automakers, including Ford, Rivian, Bollinger, and Tesla are all building electric trucks, there isn’t one on the market just yet. This presents an interesting challenge for engineers, as they have no segment competitors to benchmark the product against.
“The way we approached it is that it’s more of a clean slate,” said Hummer EV Vehicle Performance Engineer Todd Hubbard when asked about designing a truck without benchmarks. “Let’s just set a target, not rely on competitors, and just make the best truck we can make. And we’re going to make it super capable, have all this new tech, and we’re going to do it to the best of our ability… that’s kind of our mentality. To do the best job we can, and make it a super truck.”
Thus far, it appears that the team has accomplished the task of building a super truck. The Hummer EV promises to rival the output of hypercars, with 1,000 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque on tap. That’s enough juice to propel the pickup from 0-60 mph in just about three seconds, which is just behind the C8 Corvette in terms of pace. But of course this is a pickup we are talking about, and its real performance intentions lie where the road ends. The team behind the Hummer understood the importance of the truck’s off-road capability, as well as the potential benefits of the electric powertrain for this application.
“I’ve been doing off-road at GM for almost 20 years, most recently on (Chevrolet Colorado) ZR2,” said Hubbard. “We have a substantial number of engineers who are hardcore off roaders, and we have an understanding of what it takes to make an incredibly off-road capable truck… I feel very strongly about the electric propulsion system in the Hummer EV, mainly because of the availability in torque and horsepower.”
Anecdotally, Hubbard recalls a particular occasion recently where felt the GMC Hummer EV would out-perform a more conventional truck:
“I was at Silver Lake this spring doing some work with an L5P (Duramax HD truck), and that’s got a lot of torque, but you gotta make sure you’re in the right gear, preempt when you want your throttle response and how to approach different obstacles. And the whole time I was out there I couldn’t wait to get out there in the Hummer. You’re going to have instant torque that’s very well modulated, and it’s going to be a huge enabler for anything off road. You don’t have to wait for the delivery. You just apply it… from that standpoint I think EV propulsion is the way to go.”
The responsiveness of the electric powertrain isn’t the only advantage that the Hummer EV might have over other trucks. The Hummer comes as standard with tons of off-roading hardware and tech, including the new torque-vectoring e4WD system backed by an air suspension setup. GMC knows that most off-road customers like to push beyond what the factory provides in terms of equipment, and the team has plans to help that process along.
“For suspension travel we have 13 inches, a lot for a stock truck,” said Hubbard in an interview with MC&T. “‘Plus the four wheel steering and 35-inch tires, air suspension with extract mode, and we’re enabling the 37-inch tire… we’re going to enable our dealers to install the tire. It’s not gonna be a package you can buy with the truck, but we’re making it easy for it to happen.
The GMC Hummer EV was designed as a clean slate product with no benchmarks. And yet we ended up with a vehicle that looks very promising, at least on paper. It was clear that Detroit’s automakers were going to need to take EVs more seriously, but we didn’t expect one of them to build a vehicle that could come to define an EV segment. That said, it is fair to say that the Hummer is the new benchmark for the segment until proven otherwise.