GMC Has No Hummer EV Test Mules Yet
You likely know that lead times in the automotive industry are long when it comes to developing new or significantly redesigned models.
You also likely know that one of the reasons for the long lead times is that automakers spend a lot of time testing prototypes, putting untold numbers of miles on test mules on public roads, at dedicated proving grounds, and in harsh weather environments.
Yet, the newly introduced GMC Hummer EV is just beginning to undergo testing.
That’s shocking, given that GMC plans to launch the truck just about a year from now.
“Interestingly enough, we don’t have a vehicle yet,” chief engineer Al Oppenheiser (formerly the Chevrolet Camaro’s chief engineer) told Green Car Reports. “We’re building our first test vehicle as we speak; the vehicle you see in the video is our display vehicle.”
This, to put it mildly, is unusual. So, too, is the Hummer’s greenlight-to-launch time. GM gave the go-ahead in April 2019. That means if the launch of the Hummer EV proceeds on schedule and launches in the fall of next year, that’s about two and a half years from conception to launch. Fairly short of the typical three to five years, and perhaps an industry first, according to GCR. All the more unusual given that the truck is an EV, and while EV tech isn’t all that new, it’s still new enough, especially in terms of mass production, that it’s surprising to have such a short lead time.
Oppenheiser told GCR that the fact that some of the EV underpinnings are modular has been a time-saver. GM also claims that while the test mules are just now being built, the Ultium battery packs are fully ready to go.
Compare 30 months of research and development to what the report says is “at least” five years for the mid-engine C8 Corvette, and the mind boggles a bit. Many of the engineers on the Hummer team moved over from Corvette.
The short lead time might make worrywarts nervous about quality, while the optimists among us might wonder if GM and GMC can learn lessons that help shorten lead times across the industry. There’s also every chance that this is just a one-time thing, and that even if lessons are learned that improve the development process and build quality doesn’t suffer, lead times might not be shortened for other vehicles.
There’s also no guarantee that the Hummer launches on time, and that may not be GMC’s fault. Yes, of course, delays in development could occur as testing reveals problems that need to be ironed out. But as the current Corvette shows, external factors could delay production. The C8 has been slowed by strike, COVID, and parts shortages. The same fate could await the Hummer.
The future will be the present soon enough. For now, one can gaze upon GMC with awe or horror or a mixture of both for proceeding in this fashion.