It is the weight of an elephant, can move like a crab and was previously disgraced by environmentalists. The Hummer, this avatar-fueled machismo, has returned as an electric vehicle with unlikely bills as an ally in an effort to avert a worsening climate crisis.
The reincarnation of the Guardian’s huge pickup truck, which was tested by the Guardian in the scorching heat of Arizona, has been praised by General Motors (GM) as proof that electric vehicles (EVs) can now reach even the most persistent large-scale enthusiasts in Central America. car culture.
GM hopes to crush the idea that green cars must look like the Prius. “We want to turn EV doubts into EVs,” said Mikhael Farah, a spokesman for GM. This Hummer has even been approved as a climate improvement by the White House – in November, Joe Biden yelled at GM’s Detroit factory in the Hummer EV. “This magician is something else!” Said the president, of course “car gold”, shouted.
This is an unexpected reorganization of a brand that sprang from the Spartan, military Humvee and became a kind of muscular road invader in the early 2000s. Arnold Schwarzenegger, before launching serious climate change warnings, fought for them. Cassette and unsophisticated, the Hummer contained an unusually masculine aesthetic that seemed to rejoice in its enormous fuel economy.
Even at a time when car sizes have been put on steroids, worries about the climate crisis have made Hummer a prominent, cartoon villain. In 2003, dozens of Hummers were vandalized and set on fire by environmentalists in Los Angeles, where many of the vehicles were spray-painted with the words “enormous pollutant” and “fat, lazy Americans.” In 2010, the Hummer was discontinued.
The Hummer power outage, first announced in 2020, has produced a vehicle that releases neither the carbon pollution that overheats the planet nor many other toxins that regularly kill thousands of Americans and millions around the world who breathe dirty air.
But in many ways it still pushes the boundaries of absurdity. The vehicle weighs more than 4.5 tons, which is closer to the weight of a small bulldozer than cars commonly seen on the streets of the United States a decade or so ago. The giant Ultium battery that powers the vehicle is almost 3,000 pounds, about the same as two wings. The wheels look like they could cross Mars.
The large desktop in the thick inner Hummer certainly shows a picture of the car on Mars when you put it in off-road mode. Of course, most trips are by road – almost half of the car journeys in US cities are three miles or less – which means that Hummer drivers will steer a metal blow that weighs the same as a young blue whale when they come out to get milk. “The lobster is a statement of excess,” said Daniel Sperling, director of the Department of Transportation at the University of California, Davis.
The price of the first Hummer EV iteration – later models will be cheaper – is a whopping $ 110,000. About 66,000 people have ordered a pickup truck or SUV version of the Hummer, and while GM says most have never owned an electric car before, many are also simply adding it as a second or third vehicle, which to some extent negates the climate benefits. “It’s huge, it’s terribly expensive and it does not fit every lifestyle,” said Carla Bailo, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research. “GM will not overproduce it because there is a limited group of people who want it.”
On its own merits, however, the Hummer EV is a talented engineering work. Fully charged, the battery will propel the vehicle 329 miles before refueling is required. The lobster is softly powerful in rocky terrain, where the test drive demonstrates its ability to effortlessly cross deeper, hollow trails in the cactus-covered desert west of Phoenix.
The project is assisted by high technology – the Hummer has 18 different camera angles from below and around the vehicle that you can view through the screen, as well as an innovation called a “crabwalk”, where each tire is set at a 10-degree angle to allow a kind of flowing, diagonal movement to steer away from the concrete edges of the track.
On the flat, too, there is a raw speed, with the immediate response of an electric acceleration that propels the Hummer from a standstill to 60 mph in three seconds, a speed that can cause passengers and drivers to make a cry of astonishment.
Inside, the Hummer EV is more comfortable than the original and features a lunar landscape design – an indication of GM’s role in creating a lunar vehicle, which of course was electrically powered – but it maintains a certain aesthetic. This points to the broader significance of the Hummer – proof that electric vehicles can now provide the power, size and sensitivity that US buyers care about, even if they still have only a small fraction of sales.
“What we wanted to do was get a truck buyer who would never buy an electric car in his life, or ever think about it,” said Brian Malczewski, chief designer of the new Hummer. “We hope to finally get the truck buyers who might be the hardest to get into this space. That’s the perfect way to do it, I think. “
GM is not alone in trying this. Ford has announced the electric version of its F-150 truck, which has been the best-selling car in America since Ronald Reagan was president, Tesla has its highly acclaimed cyber car and newcomers like Rivian have attracted a lot of attention. At the other end of the market, you will even be able to get an electric Maserati this year, even if the price, like many electric cars, attracts attention.
“I think electric trains for heavier work cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, like the Hummer, will be incredible,” said Chris Gearhart, director of the NREL Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences. “The traction profile of an electric motor will give these vehicles a lot of traction, and the possibility of using part of the batteries’ electricity to power directly on the work area and provide backup power could make these vehicles incredibly useful.
Although electric car options are expanding, it is still unclear whether production levels and sales will increase with the urgency of the climate crisis. GM has pledged to sell 1 million electric cars by 2025 before becoming electric a decade later, delivering just 26 electric cars to customers in the last quarter of last year. Toyota wants to sell 3.5 million electric cars annually by 2030, but currently has none for sale in the United States. Public charging infrastructure is still tarnished around the United States, and Biden’s attempt to fund 500,000 new chargers has not yet been met by Congress.
Stopping petrol cars by 2035, which the United States will have to do if it achieves clean zero emissions by 2050 and helps to avoid climate accidents, is still a steep climb, but some experts say it is quickest and most realistic to replace them with similar power options. . a way to reduce emissions from driving American life.
“Equipment is by far the best and most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gases in transport,” said Sperling. He added that better public transport, cycle paths and denser housing would also be beneficial, but these measures are “much less important for reducing greenhouse gases, for rent in the United States and other rich car-targeted countries”.
Others argue for a fundamental change that takes people completely out of cars, rather than simply replacing one type of large vehicle with another. Last month, Harvey Miller was crossing the street in Columbus, Ohio, when he was hit by a jeep and beaten. Miller said the driver, who said he had not seen him, had fortunately stopped the car before crushing him to death.
Miller was on his way home from Ohio State University campus where, ironically, he teaches transportation safety and urban mobility courses. The incident highlighted for him the long-standing problem of fixing the United States on wide highways, vast suburbs and huge vehicles, even as electric cars become commonplace.
SUVs are much more likely to kill pedestrians than cars, according to research, due to blind spots from raised seats and bulky fronts that touch people high above the torso and head rather than the lower part of the body. Their presence in American life can also force out or scare away those looking for other ways to get around.
“The lobster scares me – it’s huge and does not fit into city life,” Miller said, adding that SUVs could also be dangerous. “These large vehicles use a lot of space and are expensive. I’m disappointed that Biden is fighting for them, not other types of mobility, such as walking and cycling. Cars should fill up the niches for some people, not be the default.
“I’m not against electric cars – they are the future, but you have to support buses, pedestrians and cyclists too, or it’s like rearranging sunbeds on the Titanic. People need options. “Unfortunately, the car culture is so ingrained that even painting a bike path can have a huge backlash.”