I had a chance to talk with David Rojas and Robert Jablonski, the exterior and interior designers of the Hummer HX Concept with one question on the table: What's the link between the HX and the Warthog from Halo? The answer wasn't as clear as I was hoping. I couldn't get either of the twentysomething designers to admit that the HX was inspired in any least bit by the Warthog from Halo, but I think I can still make a case, even though GM has already openly denied any kind of a link between the two.
Unlike the pictures we saw earlier, the doors and the rear hatch roof were now removed on the vehicle I checked out, which made the HX look even more familiar and justified my relentless drilling of the designers about Halo.
I fully expected Rojas and Jablonski to quickly deny any kind of link—but the llevel of denial was stunning. Not only did Rojas quickly shoot down even the slightest bit of speculation, he was adamant, repeatedly stating the he neither owns an Xbox nor plays Halo. Jablonski echoed these denials. On a normal day that would be a fine, except a few days prior GM's director of exterior design for the HX, Carl Zipfel, admitted that "We all play [Halo]."
If you want to take a gander at this thing, it's clearly not a direct copy of the Warthog, but there are certain factors that one could draw assumptions from. The removable wheel fenders expose plenty of wheel-well action, which looks a lot like the Warthog. A completely covered and protected undercarriage and wheel wells is a necessity in Halo, to protect virtual combatants from imaginary barrages of assorted munitions. The Hummer designers must be anticipating that the HX will encounter similar action in the real world because the vehicle's protected undercarriage is a highly touted feature. The tailgate also opens for quick loading into the back with the folded down seats for when you have to quickly jump in and mount a gun turret. The roof of the HX is also removable, revealing a square top, which could be construed as similar to the Warthog's t-top.
So what's the final word? There isn't one. We've heard mentions of a link from insiders. We've heard speculation of a link across the Web. And even Rojas and Jablonski were quick to joke about the possibility of some kind of partnership with Bungie, makers of Halo, to get the Hummer HX into the game. While in-game advertising isn't something new, Bungie is not the kind of studio to participate in that, but on the other hand, Bungie's partial equity owner, Microsoft, would be more likely to join in.
It is safe to say that the Hummer HX is not a direct copy of the Warthog from Halo, but I can't get away from the fact that they share similar functionality, purposes, intentions—and that the designers were so adamant about their denials. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that neither the Warthog from Halo or the Hummer HX are actual production models. It's intriguing to see video games having a little bit of influence in the automotive industry, even if it is just with a conceptual design that will never see the light of day. Will we ever see GM hire away designers from the video game industry? Who knows?