General Motors is set to become the latest automaker to take its new battery-electric vehicles racing – the automaker announcing it will team up with Chip Ganassi’s team to field a modified version of the new GMC Hummer in the Extreme E series.
Extreme E is the latest effort by Formula E founder Alejandro Agag to demonstrate the capabilities of battery-electric vehicles. Set to kick off in April, it will debut with a five-race season in places like Saudia Arabia, Senegal and Greenland.
“I can’t think of a better fit than showcasing the look of GMC’s Hummer EV in Extreme E with Chip Ganassi Racing,” Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president for performance and motorsports, said in a statement. “Both GMC Hummer EV and the Extreme E series are designed to be revolutionary — to challenge perceptions of electric vehicles and to showcase their true capability.”
GM isn’t saying much about the Hummer that it will field with the help of Chip Ganassi Racing, though a CGI-rendered teaser image shows that the body will be heavily modified compared to the production version of the GMC pickup set to roll into showrooms later this year.
In fact, the truck will be based on the Odyssey 21 platform specifically developed for the Extreme E program and shared by all of its competitors, with a steel tube body and integral roll cage. If the final version matches the rendering, about the only thing the rally racer will have in common with the production pickup will be the Hummer light bar on its grille.
Power, meanwhile, will come from a series-standardized 550-horsepower electric motor drawing power from a battery pack provided by Williams Advanced Engineering. All told, the system is expected to provide enough power to hit 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds.
By comparison, the production Hummer will use GM’s newly developed Ultium platform and batteries and, in the initial Edition One version, three electric motors producing a combined 1,000 hp, with launch times estimated at just over 3 seconds 0 to 60.
But organizers of the new Extreme E series are following the same strategy used for Formula E. Initially, its race cars were completely identical but for their livery. Now, however, the formula is beginning to be loosened up, allowing teams to start introducing some of their own technology. That approach may be echoed in the coming years if Extreme E proves successful.
In reality, a number of conventional racing series also limit the technical flexibility of competing teams, NASCAR being one of the best-known examples. Nonetheless, automakers still swear by the old mantra, “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.” And that appears to hold true with Extreme E.
“The new GMC Hummer EV is going to be a game changer in terms of how the world views off-road EV capability,” said Chip Ganassi, himself a long-time race driver and member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
According to series founder Agag, the goal of the Extreme E series is to demonstrate the capabilities of battery-electric vehicles in some of the world’s toughest and most exotic locales. The first year calendar will see five races:
- Desert X Prix: AlUla, Saudi Arabia: April 3-4, 2021
- Ocean X Prix: Lac Rose, Senegal: May 29-30, 2021
- Arctic X Prix: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland: Aug. 28-29, 2021
- Amazon X Prix: Para, Brazil: Oct. 23-24, 2021
- Glacier X Prix: Patagonia, Argentina: Dec. 11-12, 2021
The GMC Hummer is one of 30 all-electric models GM plans to bring to market by 2025. It will debut later this year, along with the new Chevrolet Bolt EUV and a refreshed version of Chevy’s current Bolt EV. The automaker plans to ramp up the rollout in 2022 with models including the Cadillac Lyriq, the luxury brand’s first BEV.