As I’m sure you’re all very much aware right now, GMC has resurrected its once infamous symbol of excess and goofily over-the-top machismo, the Hummer. In an exciting twist, it’s now electric, and the design, as massive and over-the-top as ever, is pretty striking, with a somewhat unexpected source of inspiration that I think works. I mean, a Hummer can’t be boring, right? Let’s dig in and see what this reborn Hummer’s look is all about.
The original Hummer, if you’ll recall, was the civilian version of the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) military vehicle made by noted postal Jeep builder, AM General.
Seeing these wide, exciting-looking machines in first Gulf War footage sparked a desire among certain Americans who hated the idea of things getting in their way, ever, and the Hummer was born. That first Hummer was a bit too massive to be a really practical car, so the scaled-down H2 was born, retaining much of the chunky, militaristic/industrial look of the original.
Then came the even smaller H3, a Chevy Colorado in a silly costume.
This new Hummer EV certainly has a design lineage to pull from, and it’s interesting to see what the new one retains. Fundamentally, the new Hummer EV keeps the overall boxiness, the dramatically undercut lower front valence area, the chunky three-box proportions with a relatively low greenhouse, and adapts the seven-slot Hummer front grille into a six-segment light bar that has the HUMMER text on each element, between the headlights.
For an EV that needs no large radiator grille, this feels like a clever design adaptation and may help avoid an annoying lawsuit with Jeep, as a bonus.
The headlights are made of a series of vertical LED elements, and the lights appear to be able to animate, with a clever little animation that happens when the vehicle is charging, to show the level of charge at a glance. A similar animation happens in the taillight assemblies as well. This is always welcome for an EV, allowing progress to be checked from, say, a cross-street window in a café or fight club or colonic clinic.
The overall design is still heavy and a little clunky-looking, but a Hummer sort of has to be that. The character lines and detailing on the body sheet metal are much more smooth and refined than previous Hummers, less about trying to mimic the old military one’s corrugations and strengthening stampings.
A linear motif of 45° angles is used here, something that’s close to becoming a cliché for high-tech, but I think it works. There’s a nice contrast between the sleeker upper body and the more visually complex, blacked-out lower body elements that house cooling vents, tow hooks, running boards, and other bits of hardware.
This visual divide also lends itself well to the two-tone color scheme, with the body panels being colored contrasting with the black accents of the underbody, A and B pillars, the bed that blends into the outer rear quarters, and the roof panels.
The packaging seems quite good as well, with all of the batteries and drivetrain hardware packaged low and in the floorpan, which means the whole body length is free for use for people and cargo.
This also makes the Hummer EV GM’s fourth distinct front-trunk-bearing model, a glorious history that stretches back to the Corvair, then the Fiero, then the new mid-engine Corvette, and now this, the Hummer EV.
It’s a good-looking trunk, too! I like how the grille lifts with the hood, old Mercedes-style, giving better loading access and a potential sitting position, and the loadspace looks well-lined and protected.
Oh, and the Hummer EV brings back three-wiper setups to our roads, a welcome addition since old MGBs and Toyota FJ Cruisers are getting less and less common.
What I think I like best about the design is that for detailing and general look-and-feel inspiration, GM’s designers didn’t look to the military for inspiration, but rather to the space program, which I find much more interesting.
GM certainly has a long history with space-age design inspirations, but where the old ’50s and ’60s space-age designs were based on fantastical visions of a space-borne future that never quite was, the new Hummer EV takes inspiration from actual space hardware, especially Apollo-era lunar missions and grounded-in-reality near-future space designs.
The inspiration is hardly hidden; space themes are hinted at in GM’s promotional media, like this video:
...and in the machine itself, which includes a number of overt space exploration references, like this embossed moon-boot print on the driver’s footrest:
Also worth noting: rubber mats inside instead of carpet! Good! Car carpet is stupid.
There’s another moon-bootprint on the door speaker panel, and it shows a topographic map of the Sea of Tranquility Apollo 11 landing zone:
Other space hardware-inspired motifs are all over the place. Look at the diagonal hashing of the dash buttons; not only do they very pleasingly have opposite angles from either side but when they converge on the center buttons they form a herringbone pattern that may be inspired by the Lunar Rover’s metal mesh tires.
Here’s the Lunar Rover, for reference:
Some of the wheels shown also have a distinct made-at-JPL kind of vibe to them, like these that feel a lot like the aluminum wheels made for the Mars rovers:
They’re not dead ringers, but they definitely feel like they exist in the same design universe. You could easily imagine the machine with the larger Hummer wheels could deploy a smaller one with the Mars rover wheels.
Really, the whole look has a sort of futuristic space rover look about it, a kind of NASA/JPL-chic thing going on. It’s a good mix of clunky and high-tech, and I can’t really think of any other mass-produced vehicles that have quite so deliberately referenced it.
Maybe the Isuzu Vehicross? And I mean that as a compliment.
I think GM did a better job than I expected with the Hummer EV. It’s still got all the overdone bravado and exaggeration that any Hummer has to have, but I think the pivot from a military design language to a space exploration language was downright inspired.
I’m curious to see this massive beast in person and see how it holds up when it’s looming over me. Also, I bet I can fit comfortably in that trunk, and I’m eager to test that out.