PLEASANT VALLEY, Ariz.—The headline figures verge on the ridiculous: a thousand horsepower. A curb weight so heavy that you’d need a special license to drive it in some countries. A lithium-ion battery that’s almost twice the capacity of anything else on the road. A zero to 60 mph time of just three seconds. And despite the worst efficiency of any electric vehicle we’ve driven to date, it still has more than 300 miles of range.
If all that sounds like overkill to you, or if you already think EVs are a good idea, you are not the target audience for GMC’s new Hummer EV.
Instead, GMC is positioning the Hummer EV as “an all-electric super truck with zero emissions and zero limits” (except perhaps a road’s weight rating). It’s meant to convert the electro-curious over from gasoline or diesel to electrons. So think “off-road recreation Rivian R1T rival” rather than “blue-collar Ford F-150 Lightning fighter.”
Discussions of a possible new Hummer started to resurface in 2014 with the idea of dusting off the old vehicle’s tooling. But it wasn’t until the advent of General Motors’ new Ultium battery platform that resurrecting the problematic nameplate became possible. That battery platform, together with a new family of Ultium Drive electric motors, probably helped GMC compress the usual development cycle for a new vehicle down to just two years—the first Hummer EV Edition 1 deliveries have started already.
At the core of the Hummer EV is its battery pack, which sits underneath the cabin and between the axles. At 2,923 lbs (1,325 kg), the battery makes up nearly a third of the Hummer EV’s substantial 9,063 lb (4,110 kg) mass, and it consists of 24 Ultium modules, which are double-stacked to provide a net capacity of 212.7 kWh. The pack is protected by a hefty structural frame bolted to the Hummer EV’s body (there is no traditional ladder frame like the old Hummers). And since the truck is supposed to be able to handle itself off-road, there are shear panels and skid plates to keep all that lithium ion safe on the trails.
Each corner of the Hummer EV features independent suspension and air springs. The suspension’s standard height gives the truck 10.1 inches (257 mm) of ground clearance, which grows to 11.9 inches (302 mm) in Terrain mode or 15.9 inches (404 mm) in Extract mode, for use if you high-side the truck on an obstacle or need to ford a stream. Terrain mode gives the Hummer EV an approach angle of 44.3 degrees, a departure angle of 33.7 degrees, and a breakover angle of 25.4 degrees. Maximum fording depth is 28 inches (711 mm). Yes, you can ford streams in an EV, and water should not get into the battery pack.
The $112,595 Hummer EV launch edition—plus the $99,995 Hummer EV3X, due this fall—uses a three-motor arrangement: a single front-drive unit with a locking differential and a motor for each rear wheel, with an electronic locking function for this axle. Together, the three motors make for a combined 1,000 hp (745 kW) and about 1,000 lb-ft (1,355 Nm).