According to our friends over at J.D. Power, the most hesitant group of vehicle buyers to electric vehicles is pickup truck owners. So how do you start to try tow in over those customers as your company moves to all electric models?
If you’re General Motors — more specifically GMC — you revive an old nameplate as an EV. You bring back the Hummer.
The GMC Hummer EV, technically, is a big and brash pickup truck built on top of GM’s new Ultium electric vehicle platform. GMC claims a 205 kWh battery pack and three electric motors, which is necessary to move this 9,000 pound behemoth down the road.
It’s also a quick pickup truck. GMC claims that truck, in Edition 1 guise like we drove, should be able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat. To welcome the Hummer back, GMC invited us to Phoenix and the desert surrounding the city to check out the performance. We hooked up our GPS timer, and with a passenger on board in a dusty parking lot, we managed a 3.36 second run with 71% state of charge.
So yes, it’s quick. Likely as quick as GMC states in ideal conditions. On all terrain tires. Weighing 4.5 tons.
And while the Hummer EV is excessive in the size and performance department, it’s actually a fantastic off-road focused pickup truck that is capable of doing things that a Raptor, TRX, or even Jeep Wrangler could only dream of doing.
Walk like a crab
Performance in a straight line gets boring very quickly. That’s why the Hummer EV is designed to be an off-roader and not a sports car.
With up to 16-inches of ground clearance, adjustable air suspension, and four wheel steering that can turn the rear wheels up to 10-degrees in either direction, the Hummer EV is ready for the trails.
Big, chunky off road tires adorn all four wheels, and there’s tons of underbody protection to protect precious system components and the big battery pack. User selectable drive modes can tailor the truck for a particular off-road situation.
At nearly 87-inches wide, there’s no hiding the width of this truck. But the rear-wheel steering and Terrain mode’s over driving of the rear wheels, the Hummer EV has the turning circle of a Chevrolet Sonic.
That means that when you come up to an obstacle or a change in trail where you’d normally have to make a three-point turn, you just turn the wheel and the truck goes around the corner.
Behind the wheel it feels like the back end is power sliding around the corner, but really all four wheels still have traction and the four wheel steering is just helping push the truck around the corner as tightly as possible.
It’s uncanny. It’s brilliant. It’s something I want to see in every off road vehicle ever.
As a neat trick, with some practical uses, GMC engineers created a setting that turns the front and rear wheels the same direction in low speed situations. Called Crab Mode, the truck slides from side to side, keeping the nose pointed forward, at low speeds when the driver requests it.
It’s an unusual thing to see a big truck do, and something owners will show off to their friends, but we were in a situation where a truck in our off road group started to slide off the trail into some soft berm. Straight driving it out wasn’t an option, for fear the truck would slide farther down the slope. In reality, a tug from another truck would’ve been needed.
GMC engineers enabled Crab Mode and all four wheels turned in the direction of the trail and traction. A dab on the throttle and the truck crab walked out of trouble and back on the trail.
There are cameras front and rear to help prevent you from crushing your new truck, and there’s even a camera underneath the truck looking forward — with a washer and replaceable lens protection cap — to see how much clearance you have underneath the truck.
Spotters are still a good idea on complicated trails, but the cameras help a ton.
Charge me up
The Hummer EV is based on an 800-volt architecture that can recharge the batteries at a peak speed of 350 kW. GMC claims that the truck can get about 100 miles more range in 10 minutes from a DC fast charger.
Of course, all of these are under optimal conditions. We pulled into an Electrify America charging station that is supposedly capable of delivering 350 kW and plugged in the Hummer EV. It had a 21% state of charge.
After a call to Electrify America to get the charging station to work (ugh), the highest charging rate I witnessed was 256 kW. That’s quicker than any other car I’ve ever personally charged, except for the Porsche Taycan, but it is lower than the manufacturer’s claim. I’ve seen photographic proof that the truck will do a peak 349 kW.
The thing is, it’s not the truck. Older Electrify America stations, even if they advertise a 350 kW peak, are not able to reach that speed. Newer installations should. Things just aren’t quite there yet, even though EA is working on improving the situation.
The daily grind
Even though the Hummer EV is an off-road beast, it’ll spend most of its time on highways and crawling curbs at the mall. So what’s it like to live with?
The on-road time I had with the truck was limited, but there were some key take-aways.
It’s loud inside the cabin at highway speeds for an EV. That’s because the removable roof panels generate some noise, and our test truck was equipped with roof racks on top of that and auxiliary lighting.
It’s not as loud as a hardtop Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco, and significantly quieter than the soft top versions of those trucks, but a completely closed roof EV would be quieter.
Acceleration feels limitless. It’s easy to overtake slower traffic, get up to highway speed before the end of even the shortest of onramps, and generally dominate the highway.
Because it’s a class 3 truck, thanks to its weight, it doesn’t have a curved passenger-side mirror. It takes some getting used to, and I never got used to it in my time in the truck. Most HD truck mirrors have the flat mirror and then a curved mirror with it, but the Hummer does not.
The newest version of Super Cruise is onboard and it is excellent. We want to spend more time with it, but it’ll follow traffic and stay in the lane without having your hands on the steering wheel. It’ll even automatically change lanes.
Compared to the automatic lane changes that happen with Navigate on Autopilot in Tesla vehicles, the Hummer changed lanes quicker and we never felt the urge to do it ourselves to hurry the system along.
“I’ll be back!”
Arnold Schwarzenegger famously represented Hummer back in its gas-guzzling days. He is not here this time around, but the Hummer nameplate is back in a big way.
In addition to the Edition 1 truck, there are lesser versions of the truck coming, and a range of SUV variants, too. All of them are powered by electricity.
The Hummer EV is more play thing than work truck, especially with a starting price for the Edition 1 at over $112,000, but so is the Ford Raptor and Ram TRX. Both of those trucks sell extremely well, and this is much better for the environment.
Some will argue that the Hummer EV is still too big, too excessive, and too ridiculous for today’s world. But if the goal is to help convert die hard truck buyers into the world of electrification, it’s a step in the right direction.
We can’t wait to spend more time with it.