The Hummer is back, this time as an all-new electric super truck filed under the GMC nameplate. While the Hummer boasts impressive tech specs and serious off-road capability (with its much-lauded “crab walk” mode), many of the vehicle’s notable attributes lie within its design. Instead of rehashing a previous model, designers looked forward.
“It’s a total reinvention of Hummer,” says design director Philip Zak, who also led GM’s performance design team on the Corvette C8. “The design is reflective of Hummer in the past but also looks like something new and fresh.” When it goes on sale in the fall of next year, the 2022 Hummer EV will launch in one visual configuration, dubbed Edition 1, with white exterior paint and a light grey-and-black interior. But the single color scheme is anything but boring. By focusing on one theme, designers were able to create a unified look and feel with premium materials and more than a few Easter eggs. Here are some of their inspirations and secrets.
It Was Inspired by Space Travel
The moon and science fiction were big inspirations for the design team. The white exterior color, as well as the high-contrast light and dark interior, were the result of designers looking at images of rovers and space vehicles. The interior theme, in fact, is called “Lunar Horizon.” In an homage to the first moon landing in 1969, designers etched the shape of the Sea of Tranquility, landing site of Apollo 11, into the mesh speaker panels on the doors and onto the molded rubber floor mats. The Hummer’s doors were inspired by delta-wing jets, and the dead pedal is said to be a copy of Neil Armstrong’s boot print. In addition, the graphics on the driver’s display, which change from day to night, feature lunar and Mars-like landscapes.
It Took Just a Year and a Half to Make
GMC executives say it was 18 months from the time they started working on the Hummer EV project until the vehicle made its public reveal. That’s practically unheard of at a major car company, where it typically takes anywhere from two to five years to develop, perfect and produce a new vehicle design. In a radical departure from usual development processes, the design team and the engineers worked on the new Hummer at the same time, meeting daily and resolving any issues the very same day. Exterior, interior and user interface (UI/UX) designers also bucked the traditional studio workflow, collaborating across departments. The result was a design born out of functionality, ruggedness and practicality, with a more premium interior than any Hummer that came before.
The “H” Is Everywhere
The letter “H”—for Hummer, of course—is everywhere, and is what designers call one of the vehicle’s “subliminal Easter eggs.” Some locations of the letter are obvious, like the emblems on the side of the vehicle and on the steering wheel, but a stretched version can also be found in the Hummer’s headlight design. There’s a small, transparent “H” etched across the taillights, and even the lamps themselves are a sideways version of the letter. It can also be found under the hood (in the “frunk” area) and multiple places inside the cabin, including on the brake and accelerator pedals. “We worked closely with our branding team to make sure that when this logo came up in different areas, it wasn’t exactly the same each time,” says Liz Wilkins, color and trim designer. “So the customer is seeing little details and appreciating them, but not feeling like they were seeing the same thing over and over again.”
Even the Underbody Was Designed to Look Good
“Every aspect of this vehicle is designed, head to toe,” says Hummer exterior design manager John P. Mack. That meant looking at areas that designers often neglect, such as the undercarriage, control arms, wheel wells and skid plates. Typically, the engineering department takes care of these sometimes-overlooked elements, but the design team made it clear to engineers that, during development, they wanted to take the reins. “We took a lot of care in making the underbody look robust,” Mack explains. “It’s going to be scraping rocks, but we wanted to make it look good.” Mack says the designer who focused on these parts got his inspiration from science-fiction weaponry.
There’s More Room and Hidden Storage
One of the Hummer’s most novel features is its multi-part, removable glass “infinity” roof that can be configured in different ways. For convenient access and storage, the roof panels fit perfectly into the vehicle’s “frunk,” enabled by the Hummer’s front electric motor, which is smaller and sits much lower in the vehicle than a combustion engine. In the front of the cabin, there’s a roomy, pass-through compartment beneath the center console that’s large enough for a bag or purse, thanks to the flat floor made possible by the battery pack. There’s also the Hummer’s five-foot truck bed, which has room for two full-size spare tires or a couple of mountain bikes.