The old adage proclaims there are no new ideas, however, General Motors and the U.S. Army might be putting a new twist on it.
GM Defense, the military products subsidiary of General Motors, received a request from the U.S. Army to provide a battery-electric vehicle for analysis and demonstration, so the company sent … the GMC Hummer EV.
The all-new GMC Hummer EV is the obvious choice. The vehicle’s capabilities in off-road driving, extreme maneuverability, and self-extraction in difficult terrain make it a prime candidate for military procurement.
It’s also twist on the past since, the current Hummer is derived from the gas-powered beast that GM stopped making more than a decade ago — which was the civilian version of the Humvee — a vehicle designed by General Dynamics — with the U.S. Army.
A new era is upon us
“This award showcases GM Defense’s ability to leverage the best battery electric technology in the commercial marketplace,” said Steve duMont, president of GM Defense. “With access to GM’s advanced technologies, GM Defense is able to provide proven commercial technologies adapted to meet specific defense requirements and the needs of our customers.”
As previously reported, the GMC Hummer EV Pickup features a 24-module, double-stacked Ultium battery pack, generating 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 pound-feet of wheel torque, and is capable of 350 kilowatt/800-volt DC fast charging.
At that charge level, the Hummer can take on enough energy to travel nearly 100 miles in 12 minutes. With a full charge, the Hummer pickup offers 329 miles of combined driving range and 0-60 mph acceleration times of just 3 seconds.
“Leveraging GM’s advanced technology, this demonstration will prove to our U.S. Army customer what an all-electric supertruck can do and how the underlying technology can be leveraged for future defense needs, whether on an installation or in a tactical environment,” continued duMont.
Getting away from fossil fuels
The military is also interested in reducing its reliance on fossil fuels in the field as well as permanent bases. While bringing electricity to permanent locations is a well-understood process, recharging in the field presents daunting supply chain challenges.
However, during the media launch event for the Hummer EV, GMC demonstrated it could recharge the vehicles using mobile hydrogen fuel cell generators. Such generators can be fueled with pure hydrogen or with on-site reformers breaking down locally sourced hydrocarbons such as natural gas.
The potential for military use of electric vehicles is being explored. Among the many features of EVs, the ability to use the onboard batteries to power additional equipment is useful, and also has historical precedent. The Willy’s M38A1 military Jeep of the 1950s was built with a 24-Volt electrical system and an access plug that allowed the Jeep to power camp equipment such as radios and lights.
General Motors has invested $35 billion in the Ultium platform and in electric and autonomous vehicle development generally. The results may power the next generations of military and government vehicles.