Dropped like a stone, was the Hummer H3 in 2010. Launched as a tough urban utility truck using the DNA of the US Military’s HummVee multipurpose 4X4, General Motors milked the tenuous association for all it was worth until the financial crisis hit and everything that was associated with excess were then crushed by guilt. No-one wanted to be accused at the next dinner party of driving something that represented everything that spoke of American automotive BS, even if they didn’t know why it was so. It lasted barely five years and sold in total in the USA and its world markets (South Africa and Australia) a paltry 160,000 units.
The H3 was a medium-sized wagon (see I didn’t call it a stupid SUV), running a part-time 4X4 system based on the Colorado of the day. The motivation came from a 3.7L five-cylinder petrol engine and either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic turned the wheels. I can only remember the autos and the lousy fuel economy… try 17L/100kms or 14mpg in the old money.
It used an IFS front end and despite that impediment had a traction control system (although very much of its day) and marginally helpful, but with a rear diff-lock that saved it off-road. It had short overhangs front and rear which was good but the ramp-over was nothing special, fouled by low-hanging sidesteps that broke pretty easily. All show and not much go, so it came as a bit of a surprise when GM announced a couple of months back that they were reviving the brand ten years later.
Bringing a new vehicle to market amid a crisis (again) and with the taint of past sales failure, begs the question of the makers, have they really, really done their homework this time around? Only time will tell, but this time there is a point of difference and it’s electric.
Hummer EV has been dubbed “Supertruck”. It’s all-electric, no hybrid mumbo-jumbo just pure elec-trickery, with a 0-100km/h time of three seconds. Yep, that’s quick, but that’s not the measure of a proper 4X4 in our books.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the Rivian R1T and R1S ute and wagon, whose production should have been underway by now were it not for that pesky Covid-19 and must be close to rolling off the lines because Rivian just featured as the support vehicles for Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s latest motorcycling epic called Long Way Up (AppleTV).
Whilst the biking-duo rode Harley Davidson’s Livewire EV effort, crew and producers rode around in the Rivians. The 15,000kms journey through the Americas (Patagonia to LA) wasn’t without some trials, but both bikes and utes made it home in a milestone for EVs. With Rivian and Hummer set for public release next year, there’s going to be some stiff competition for the gong of Best 4X4 EV.
Hummer’s marketing is interesting and points to the future. Four models have been announced, each with a different release date between September 2021 and March of 2024. They’ve opted to offer the full-fat version first up at an edition-one price of $112K (USD) and they’re all sold out before any have appeared in a dealership. The poverty pack model will be the last with an RRP of $79K (USD).
Flushed with that little sales success story GM will be keen to get cracking and roll them out the doors to get that river of revenue-gold going and owners to be seen with a vehicle with ridiculous off-road potential.
Bragging rights kick off with the tri-motor EV1’s power and torque figures – 745kW/15,500Nm and I know it’s not a direct comparison with the baddest diesel on the planet because there are lots of maths hiding in those numbers, but hooley-dooley that’s smokingly-huge grunt!
Hummer EV has independent air suspension front and rear and “Extract Mode” in addition to front and rear lockers. Extract gets you clearance as you’ve never seen before, raising the suspension height by a lazy six inches to get you over that lump that would have caught you amidships ordinarily.
And then there’s “Crabwalk”. Think for a moment what that might be and yes, a button that’ll activate four-wheel steering, so you can zig and zag your way around the rocks with diagonal abandon!
I found the Jeep Gladiator’s Trail Cams really useful in my recent test drive in the Flinders Ranges but Hummer trumps (sorry I used that) the Jeep with “UltraVision”, a track-view system with up to eighteen cameras in play every-which-way. Luckily for us too they have replaceable lens covers because I reckon I could smash up a couple if I put my mind to it as they’re placed underneath and I would have thought especially vulnerable to terra-firma contacts.
Hummer uses thirty-five inch Goodyear Wranglers as standard issue rubber and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound (if you’re a millennial you won’t know what I’m talking about) and if you want taller you can have it… try out some thirty-sevens for size!
There’s underbody protection in spades, shielding the battery pack, the driveline and the door sills, front and rear bumpers also offer load rated recovery points.
After all that off-road excitement it’ll be nice to know that you can rest up, as Hummer has “Super Cruise”, a fully hands-free driver-assistance technology that’ll one day make us redundant. Maybe whilst Hummer points the way home you could be watching your progress on the dashboard telly. I thought the new D-MAXs screen was big. Hummer has two, one a 12.3-inch Driver Information Centre and the other a 13.4-inch colour touchscreen so you can customize your driving experience.
None of this is much good unless of course, it has RANGE. And it can recharge QUICKLY.
Hummer EV1 is supposedly good for 560 kilometres and on a fast-charger can deliver 160 extra clicks in around ten minutes. On that basis my favourite drive, Adelaide to Coffin Bay (around 700kms) would take as long as the MU-X, factoring in a recharge whilst I’m lunching at Harry’s at Nelshaby just north of Port Pirie (you should try it).
The automotive world is a deliriously beautiful place at the moment. All this new tech-talk heralds a generation of motoring where we’ll all soon be humming along and quietly and we’ll be laughing at the world of ICE (internal combustion engine) we’ve left behind. So old and dull!