- Mammoet electric Hummer tested
- Off-road thrashed in the US
- Is this the wildest EV in the world?
‘I will come back.’
It turns out that Arnie’s most iconic line even applies to one of his favorite cars. Yes, Hummer is back for the electric age, which means it’s literally buzzing now.
And the new car that bears the name is still as exaggerated as ever. Enormous? Yes. Powerful? Terribly. Way above almost everyone’s demands for an EV? Absolute.
Still, it would be remiss not to tell you what it’s like behind the wheel. We took him off road at GM’s massive Milford Proving Ground near Detroit to see how capable he is.
Holy moly – look how big it is!
Big is putting it mildly. It’s almost 500mm longer, about 150mm wider and 100mm higher than a full-size Range Rover – one of the largest cars you can buy regularly in Europe. But that’s just the beginning: The Hummer EV weighs more than four tons, making it impossible to drive legally in the UK with a regular driver’s license.
And despite being electric, it still looks a lot like Hummers of yesteryear. It’s blocky, clean-cut and looks even heavier than it is. The whole ‘grille’ setup glows, with neat H-shaped DRLs at each end with scroll indicators in them, there are tow bars everywhere and you can even lift the roof panels (much like the hardtop roofs on a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco) . GM also says the Hummer EV can power devices from external outlets, similar to Hyundai Motor Group’s V2L technology. Since the powertrain is located under the floor, there is also a ‘frank’ for extra storage space in the rear cargo area.
Inside, you’ll meet bijoux luxury and utilitarian charm with this First Edition model we’ve been working on for a while. The black and white two-tone seats and dashboard are accented with bronze metal details, and all the controls feel thick and purposeful.
The center of the dash is dominated by a large, bright and crystal-clear display so sophisticated that it shows high frame rate animations as you cycle through the Hummer’s various driving modes; Normal mode shows the Hummer driving on the surface of the moon, offroad mode shows him on Mars, while Tow/Haul mode shows him towing the Saturn V rocket. There’s even a Watts to Freedom (and yes, that’s WTF) mode that allows the Hummer to deploy maximum torque.
Are there any technical specifications you can draw up for me?
That weight and sheer size comes down largely to the huge battery pack under the checkered body. The Hummer EV was the first car to use GM’s new Ultium battery-electric platform, and it’s the most extreme use case of the new toolkit we’ll likely ever see. The battery pack is 24 modules (essentially two layers of 12 stacked on top of each other, which partly explains why the Hummer EV is so tall), with one e-motor powering the front axle and an electric motor for each rear wheel. Since the Hummer is designed to go off-road, GM has also reinforced the underside, giving the battery pack more protection.
General Motors’ Electric Plans: Ultium Platform Explained
GM says the Hummer is good for 746 kW of total power (or 100.4 horsepower in old school numbers) and a tectonic plate-shifting 11,500 lb ft, meaning this four-ton mammoth can keep up with the McLaren Artura and Porsche 911 GT3, with a 0-60mph sprint time of about three seconds. Yes, three.
In addition, the Hummer has rear-wheel steering, which applies 10º locking when turning to increase maneuverability. You can turn it off if you want, or even use one of the Hummer’s most unique features: Crab Walk. That bit of technology allows the Hummer to fire from side to side and steer the rear wheels in the same direction. GM says it means this giant EV can practically get around obstacles in off-road situations.
So how does the Hummer EV drive?
Before we get into it, we drove the Hummer purely off-road at one of the Milford Proving Ground’s off-road torture chambers, so our experience is relatively limited. Still, our condensed drive showed us just how capable a machine is.
The first thing I do? Floor it. Even on a loose gravel surface, the Hummer EV catapults itself towards the horizon with astonishing force, complete with an all-digital V8-esque rumble as the speedometer climbs. Nothing this big and heavy should be able to unfold such acceleration – it’s almost as if the Hummer read the laws of physics and then tossed the book in the trash.
Then comes a corner. Ooh. Release the throttle and turn in, and a sudden attack of ascending oversteer on the gravel gradually kicks in. I’m somehow totally okay with over four-ton electric truck shaking its hips around the sweeping bend.
But if we slow down on a muddy trail through the trees, I might need that physics book back. The brakes are there and working the hardest, but even with energy regeneration in play for the battery pack, the stoppers feel rather weak. We are on gravel though – maybe there would be more bite on the tarmac.
Through the technical, tight ruts, I get the chance to check out the near-FBI-spec suite cameras. The Hummer gives you a view of every possible angle, even under every axis to make sure you don’t land on a big rock. It helps when you’re climbing steep terrain, especially since it looks like you have four miles of hood in front of you.
On one particularly steep climb, the Hummer’s off-road credentials were tested with its ‘B’ mode on the shifter, effectively bringing the car to a stop even without using the brake pedal. There are also switches for activating software within the electric motors to act as an axle lock for better traction.
Even with fierce bumps and bumps, though, the Hummer’s adaptive air suspension makes you feel like most aren’t even that big of a deal; there is very little in the way of intrusion into the cab or through the wheel.
It is noteworthy that work has been done to make it relatively easy to drive such a large, heavy vehicle. Although we didn’t have to park it in a cove so that could be a bit more of a challenge at a later date.
What can you expect from Crab Walk?
You engage it to come to a stop, center the steering wheel and hold the four-wheel steering switch on the center console, with a nice animated image on the center screen indicating it’s engaged. If you were to keep your hands on the wheel at 9am at 3am, you can only turn the steering wheel half way in either direction to make it work.
As a sensation, it’s completely bizarre. Seeing the road ahead drifting back and forth is unlike any sensation I’ve ever had behind the wheel of a car. It only works at low speeds as it is designed for off-road driving, so if you accelerate at high speed, the system will disengage and the rear steering will go back to automatic mode.
GMC Hummer EV: Verdict
Only the US would take something with such good intentions as a battery electric car and turn it into a mutated off-road monster. Far too big to ever be palatable anywhere other than North America, the power of this First Edition is enough to jump-start an aircraft carrier.
But even with our limited time behind the wheel, it’s hard to ignore just how much technical achievement the Hummer EV is. It’s an EV showcase for GM and a Big Bang-esque first strike for the group’s new Ultium platform. And despite its obscene size and weight, it’s remarkably easy to ride off-road.
The Hummer EV is clearly a ‘why not?’ car for GM. And while there are many reasons why it shouldn’t bother at all, you should commend its unhinged conviction to the EV case.