- Company officials said the ELRV from GM Defense is expected to be based on the Hummer EV, but not the entire consumer vehicle.
- For military use, GM Defense plans to modify its frame, motors, and automaker-owned “Altium” battery.
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he supports new policies and procedures to tackle climate change, a top priority for the Biden administration.
WARREN, Mich. — General Motors plans to produce a military prototype vehicle based on the upcoming GMC Hummer EV in 2022, officials told CNBC.
The plan is an early, but important step in commercializing the automaker’s electric vehicle business, including Hummer-based “electric light reconnaissance vehicles,” or ELRVs, for potential use by the military, according to GM Defense President Steve Dumont.
“The military is very excited about the fact that we’re investing in this,” he told CNBC during an interview at the automaker’s technology campus in Warren, Michigan. “ELRV, this is the first purpose built from the ground-up. You saw today, this is our Hummer EV. Our Hummer EV is what we’re going to base that vehicle on.”
Dumont’s comments follow a visit Monday by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks to hear about GM’s electrification plans, specifically GM Defense’s research and development of EVs for the defense industry.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he supports new policies and procedures to tackle climate change, a top priority for the Biden administration.
GM Defense told CNBC last year that it had identified $25 billion in potential future business.
Company officials said the ELRV from GM Defense is expected to be based on the Hummer EV. For military use, GM Defense plans to modify its frame, motors, and automaker-owned “Altium” battery.
It’s similar to what GM Defense did with a new Infantry Squad vehicle it’s currently producing for the military. That vehicle was based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, an off-road version of the mid-sized pickup.
Rick Kavli, GM’s defense vice president of product development and advanced engineering, said Monday that the company will begin assembling ELRV prototypes based on the Hummer for testing and military evaluation next year.
The ELRV schedule is not yet definitive. The army has asked the industry whether information can be sought from companies about such vehicles. In May, Defense News brought electric vehicles to 10 companies, including GM, so the military could test off-road capability, define goals and inform potential solutions.
After the information phase, there will be a process for the Army to issue detailed specifications for such a vehicle so that companies can produce prototypes. The Army will then select two companies to manufacture its vehicles. A decision is currently expected by the middle of the decade.
During his tour of GM’s facilities on Monday, Hicks made helpful comments about EVs for the Defense Department, but questioned the rollout and lack of the necessary charging infrastructure for such vehicles.
“You don’t have to sell me,” he told Dumont during a tour of GM’s battery lab. Later adding, “We are very sold.”
Dumont said GM Defense could charge vehicles such as the military currently charging jets or conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines through designated locations or through mobile vehicle units with generators to power EVs. does.
“However they want to do it, we can work with them on that journey as we are doing it today,” Dumont said of remote refueling.
Hicks, who was not available for questions after the tour, said fully converting the US Army fleet to EVs would be “very challenging” and would take time. But DoD may start preparing for more EVs in some areas.
“The electrification of the non-tactical fleet is a no-brainer,” she said in an emailed statement to CNBC. “With the Strategic Fleet, it’s about the issue of how we move forward, and the capabilities we acquire.”
Hicks described the quietness of the EVs as well as the low emissions as positives, but said questions remain about charging and retrofitting existing operations for the EVs.
“I think once we can start to demonstrate that, which we will need industry to help us with, we will need operators to play around with the approach a little bit – so we can’t just leapfrog In new concepts operating around electrification — but I think we can get there relatively quickly,” she said.
GM Defense’s first major military contract was awarded last year for the production and maintenance of new infantry squad vehicles for the military. It was a contract worth $214.3 million.
Government specifications for the vehicles included conventional internal combustion engines, although earlier this year GM also produced a full-electric concept ISV. Kavli called the electric concept a “steppingstone” to show what it would be like to drive a military EV.
Hicks drove an ISV on Monday, but did not drive an electric version of the vehicle, which was built with EV parts from GM’s Chevrolet Bolt.
“It works very well as a demonstration of where we are going,” Kewalya said. “As we produce and commercialize the Hummer EV, we will be able to take that propulsion system and adapt it to a similarly sized vehicle.”