General Motors is once again focusing on electric pickup trucks with the upcoming GMC Hummer electric truck, but if we look back to the past, GM's electric truck history dates back to a time long ago and, unfortunately, is often forgotten.
Remembering The Chevy S-10 Electric Truck
it was back in 1997 when Chevrolet introduced an electric pickup truck. It was the Chevrolet S-10 Electric and, believe it or not, GM actually sold the vehicle (along with leasing it) to fleets. It's believed that some 60 of these electric trucks were sold (another 430 or so were leased) and a few still exist today.
Like with the GM EV1, the leased S-10 electric trucks likely all were sent to the crusher, so those are gone. But a few of the bought examples do pop up on auction and for sale sites now and again.
PickupTrucks.com describes the S-10 electric, stating:
The S10 EV was essentially a base Chevy S10 short-bed compact pickup powered by a “detuned” EV1 electric drive system (114 horsepower, or 85 kilowatts) to help extend its range. That made the S10 EV front-wheel drive and very heavy at 4,199 pounds, yet it preserved a 951-pound payload under the 5,150-pound gross vehicle weight rating. Of that, 1,400 pounds was the 16.2-kWh lead-acid battery pack tucked between the frame rails under the bed.
To supplement its energy-efficient heat-pump air-conditioning system below 40 degrees, the S10 EV carried a diesel-fuel-fired heater to warm the battery and (secondarily) the cabin.
In terms of performance, the S-10 electric truck was pretty awful:
The U.S. Department of Energy financed third-party testing by a company called EVAmerica -- now the Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) – and it came up with ranges of 38.8 miles at a constant 60 mph, 60.4 miles at a constant 45 mph and 43.8 miles on the EPA test cycle. Southern California Edison’s three test trucks logged 35 to 43 miles of real-world range on a local urban loop. Newly developed 39-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery packs, an option for the 1998 model year, doubled the truck’s usable range, but at significantly higher cost.
Its price tag was high for the time too at $33,305. Needless to say, the truck flopped for several reasons and GM gave up on any further development of electric trucks until just recently when it announced the future arrival of the GMC Hummer EV.
Oh How Times Have Changed
General Motors has officially confirmed that along with the upcoming Hummer electric pickup truck, the Hummer brand will launch an electric SUV too. Both will go some 400 miles per charger and feature up to 1,000 horsepower and offer blistering performance.
The GMC Hummer EV (the name for the truck, as of right now) will be fully revealed on May 20, with production set to begin in Fall 2021. There's no word yet on when the Hummer electric SUV will debut, but we expect that to occur sometime after the truck.
Both the electric truck and SUV are expected to ride on the same platform. The truck will be similar in size to the current GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck. We very much expect it to resemble the Sierra in regards to exterior styling (but with some retro Hummer design elements. Meanwhile, the interior is expected to be very rugged and geared more towards the outdoorsy, adventurous types, rather than focusing more on luxury like that of most modern-day pickup trucks.
Both the Hummer truck (it gets a 5-foot bed, we've learned) and SUV will feature what GM is referring to as Ultium-powered batteries. We rather like the Ultium name. GM is sparse on details in regards to the batteries. However, we do know that all of the GM electric "trucks" will boast an 800-volt battery system and charging at up to 350 kW. Battery sizes will go up to 200 kWh and range should approach 400 miles per charge. The "trucks" include any and all of GM's future electric vehicles that ride on the truck platform. This includes the Hummer pickup truck, Hummer SUV and an upcoming Cadillac Escalade that's pure electric.
Specs for the Hummer Electric pickup truck include:
- 1,000 HP
- 11,500 pound-feet of torque
- 0 to 60 in 3 seconds
We expect the figures to be more or less the same for the SUV.
Now And Then
114 horsepower for the S-10 electric compared to 1,000 HP for these electric Hummers. 200 kWH battery packs for the Hummers, versus 16.2 for the S-10. 400 miles of range now, just 40 or so back then.
This evolvement took more than two decades, but EV technology is now so advanced that EVs generally outperform combustion-engined cars. Just imagine how advanced EVs will be two more decades from now.