Think of the off-roader as future guidance.
The GMC Hummer EV truck and Hummer SUV not only represent the future of the off-road premium brand but also General Motors. The duo are the first vehicles to make use of the automaker's Ultium battery and flexible platform technologies. Future GM EVs will utilize them as well. And that's why the Hummer models serve as a major learning experience for engineers.
The Hummer's chief engineer, Al Oppenheiser, revealed to Automotive News that normally new vehicles require a three to four-year development period, but the Hummer needed only two years. Computer-aided engineering is the main reason why. Oppenheiser further said he and his team had 117-weeks shorter than usual to get the Hummer done. Cutting corners was not an option.
Smarter working methods were the solution. Instead of using computer modeling first followed by physical prototypes, the Hummer team had to trust the data. "We made a company decision to rely on our analysis tools," he said. "We set up the ride handling, the ride character of the vehicle in a simulated environment that actually matches what happens when you build the first vehicle."
This all happened at a very opportune time. GM's delivery van business, BrightDrop, was able to develop its first vehicle, the EV600, in just 20 months thanks to the Hummer engineering team's achievements. The framework had already been set when BrightDrop got to work. Its engineers made further use of the computer-aided process the Hummer team created.
"They learned from us on the fly," Oppenheiser said. "They share a lot of our components, actually. The suspension and the battery, they share that, which helps them save some time."
If the development basics pioneered by the Hummer engineers can be transferred to a delivery van, then there's no reason why the same can't be done to future passenger vehicles. The upcoming all-electric Chevrolet Silverado and Cadillac Escalade immediately come to mind. And it's not only trucks and SUVs that'll benefit but also smaller vehicles like the eventual Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV successor. There's also the rumored all-electric muscle sedan that could serve as a Camaro replacement.