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I’ve fallen for the electric Hummer and I hate myself for it

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If you’ve switched on the motoring news this morning you’ll see it’s dominated by something that’s more used to dominating tarmac than headlines: the Hummer. Not just any Hummer, though, but the upcoming 1,000 horsepower all-electric brute from GMC.

Needless to say, people are pretty pumped that the Detroit icon is reviving the Hummer name for the 21st century, but what exactly is there to be excited about?

Well the vehicle itself is the center of the show right now, so let’s take a look at its specs and what’s been announced.

car, ev, hummer
Credit: GMC Hummer
The new Hummer EV certainly looks like a Hummer, and is certainly a Hummer in spirit. But this time, it’s electric.

As already mentioned, GM estimates that it’ll produce 1,000hp and over 11,000 lb ft of torque, enough to help it go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds — allegedly.

[Read: What audience intelligence data tells us about the 2020 US presidential election]

It’s also slated to come with a host of driver aids such as under body cameras for whenever it goes off-road, and a “crab walk” feature, which enables the truck to strafe its way diagonally out of tight spots. This could actually make it a heck of a lot easier to park — even though that’s not really what that system was designed for.

under car camera, ev, hummer
Credit: GMC Hummer
There are also underbody cameras to make sure you can clear rocks, tree stumps, and other off-road debris. More likely it’ll be used to film under-car Beastie Boy covers.

For those that refuse to let go of the past, you’re in luck, it looks decidedly Hummerish. It’s also proportioned like a Hummer, in that it’s bloody massive. Looking at it head-on, you’re faced with the recognizable slab-like front-end, a lobster it is not. From the side, you’ll see the wide and square arches that have been a feature of Hummers since their US military days.

electric, hummer
Credit: GMC Hummer
The front-end, there’s no mistaking what this is supposed to be.

Even though it’s as aerodynamic as a barn, GMC still expects its rangiest variant to be able to drive around 350 miles on a single charge. It’s also supposed to be able to add 100 miles of range in just 10 minutes when hooked up to a compatible charger.

The biggest battery EVer

How does it do this? Well, it crams in an absolutely huge battery pack. Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained — who got a sneak peak at the Hummer EV — was told that the battery is more than 200 kWh in capacity. That’s more than double the size of the average EV battery. Given that its 0-60 time and range is on par with Teslas, which have much smaller packs, this is a big hint at how inefficient this thing really is. This is a problem, but we’ll get to that shortly.

The upside is that the Hummer is built on GM’s Ultium platform that’s going to underpin a smorgasbord of EVs. The huge battery pack fitted here could be a Boone for delivery vans and commercial vehicles that benefit from the increased range.

hummer, gmc, ev, future, interior
Credit: GMC Hummer
There’s space for five adults in a good amount of luxury. It is nowhere near as utilitarian as the old Hummers.

Thankfully, the inside of the vehicle is a significant departure from old Hummers, which somehow always felt a lot smaller than they should have given their exterior dimensions. 

The interior is like any other large modern SUV. Luxurious, draped in leather, and with space for five people. The car’s interior features dashboard screens that, 20 years ago, would have been acceptable sizes for living room TVs.

EV, hummer, future, spec, trim, levels
Credit: GMC
The Hummer EV is going to be offered in four spec levels. It’s only the top spec model that gets all the power and all the range.

Under the hood, it’s also nothing like Hummers of old and that’s obviously why we are here to talk about it, because it’s electric. Depending on the spec level you can get either two or three motors. The cheaper two motor versions have less power and less range, it’s only the $113,000 top spec Edition 1 that gets three motors to put out 1,000hp.

Because there’s no gas-guzzling motor under the hood, it also has a generous frunk, which is a nice addition for a pickup as it gives drivers somewhere secure to store valuables instead of leaving them on a truck bed for anyone to pinch.

frunk, trunk, junk
Credit: GMC Hummer
No massive engine means there’s more space for luggage! Is this the biggest frunk on the market?

What’s more, thanks to its motor arrangement, drivers will be provided with heaps of control over how it drives. This means they can force the rear wheels to match speed, simulating the effect of a locking rear differential which is great for towing and off-roading in bad conditions.

There’s also rear-wheel steering which means the Hummer EV will actually be able to navigate tight turns better than its combustion-powered predecessors. And of course, it gets GM’s Super Cruise ADAS tech to take the sting out of long drives with some partial automation.

ev, rear wheel, steergin
Credit: GMC Hummer
One of the most exciting features of modern electric trucks is how their drivetrains enable more control over driving dynamics and characteristics.

It’s a Hummer, but it’s electric

So, the new Hummer EV in a nutshell: it’s electric, it’s packed with modern features, it’s not quite as ridiculous as it used to be, and its performance figures make some sport scars look slow. Indeed, there’s a lot to love about it, and there is a truck loving part of me that is very very excited about it. But I also hate that part of myself.

The new Hummer couldn’t be any different from the original civilian Hummer (which is a very good thing) but at the same time, it’s still very much a Hummer in spirit and that’s very bad.

It’s inefficient and needlessly excessive. This truck isn’t exactly about saving the planet. On its launch website, there’s just one mention of it being zero emission, one! There’s also no mention of recycled materials used in its construction.

wheels, tyres, ev
Credit: GMC Hummer
The Hummer is so big, it needed specially designed 35-inch tires. Yeh, it’s kind of excessive. But that’s why we love it, and why we hate ourselves.

The focus is on performance, power, and presence, which it has in spades, but those are just a distraction from the reality that it’s huge, expensive, and will never actually be used in conditions it was designed for.

Amazing truck, mediocre EV

I expect the Hummer to be a very good truck, perhaps one of the best. But as far as EVs go, it can’t be held in high regard, simply because GMC engineers have given it its performance by using a massive battery.

What’s more, it uses pouch cell batteries, not cylindrical cells that are becoming increasingly common. Pouch cell EV batteries have been around for ages, they’re used in the BMW i3 which is getting on for eight years old. Cars of the future need to be intelligently and efficiently designed, should use resources sparingly, and should strive for minimal impact on the world. But the Hummer…? A Hummer will never be those things, EV or not.

hummer, ev
Credit: GMC Hummer
The interior of the Hummer is more like a modern SUV than a military vehicle. For all intent and purpose, this is mostly just a Hummer in name and spirit than anything else.

Yes, it’s a good thing that it’s powered by electricity and cuts emissions. If GMC can convert even a few hundred old-school truck-loving coal-rolling climate change-deniers who are unable to let go of the past to EVs then it’s a worthy victory.

The main reason the original civilian Hummers, the H1 and H2, were pulled from production 10 years ago is because they drank gasoline like it was booze the night before new lockdown measures, and pumped out emissions like there was no tomorrow. The electric drivetrain of this new one might fix that, but the Hummer EV is still massive. It will be wildly impractical in towns and cities, and screams of unnecessary excess.

ev, off road,
Credit: GMC Hummer
A picture of the Hummer EV doing something that it’ll probably never do in its life, driving off-road.

The sad reality is that the people that will buy these won’t be buying them for their performance or off-road capability. This car does not demonstrate a collective cultural progression towards a sustainable future, it’s an attempt at remedying our oil loving hangover with electrified Alka-Seltzer.

We just don’t need cars like this.

Even though the new Hummer EV is everything we don’t need right now, I still love it, and I hate myself for that.


SHIFT is brought to you by Polestar. It’s time to accelerate the shift to sustainable mobility. That is why Polestar combines electric driving with cutting-edge design and thrilling performance. Find out how.

Published October 21, 2020 — 13:53 UTC

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