Everything’s bigger in Texas, but we’re wondering if something coming from Detroit is a bit too big – the Hummer EV.
GMC has brought back the Hummer for the first time since 2010. General Motors bought the Hummer brand from AM General (which makes the real military Humvees) back in 1998. Since that time, the Hummer has gone from a civilian Humvee, to a pickup truck, to an SUV, and now to an electric vehicle (EV). Over 65,000 people have already reserved the new Hummer EV, selling out the whole pickup production for the next two years.
We appreciate GM’s heavy investment in EV technology for all the reasons EVs are good, but there’s a catch: it weighs 9,063 lbs.
GM wanted to make the Hummer EV Edition 1 big and fast—nearly 7 feet tall, has a bed for hauling, luxury seats for everyone, and 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds—and that meant giving three electric motors capable of producing 1,000 horsepower and 24 battery modules weighing nearly 3,000lbs.
That’s a big vehicle, and that could be a big problem. In a car accident, physics matter, and despite all the decades of safety improvements (many the result of lawsuits, like gas tank shielding and electronic rollover stabilization), when two cars collide, the people in the lighter vehicle tend to get hurt more. Safety researchers call this “fleet incompatibility,” and studies have shown that people in a car are more than twice as likely to be killed if their car is hit by an SUV or pickup truck than if it is hit by another car, and that’s merely a 1,000-2,000lbs difference.
The Hummer EV is literally off the charts when it comes to typical consumer vehicles. The EPA tracks the weight of different vehicle types, and 9,000 points would require drawing their charts adding a whole new category 50% bigger than the largest one:
The Hummer EV of course isn’t the first vehicle this heavy to be sold to the public, it’s still just barely a “light duty” truck, albeit the highest category, class 2b. But those trucks feel like a heavy duty truck, including with slow acceleration and tactile feedback that keeps the driver aware of the sheer size of the vehicle. The Hummer EV has been engineered to remove all of that, so it feels like driving a passenger car. It is, as one author wrote, “a brilliant execution of a terrible idea.”
That’s the real problem here. By and large, car accidents come from people failing to respect the danger of driving a car. Whether it’s sneaking a peek at their cellphone or driving after “just a few” drinks, bad things happen when people don’t pay attention. The Hummer EV seems to be designed to make people forget entirely that they’re behind the wheel of a 9,000 pound missile.