Ask Nathan: Baby GMC HUMMER EV, Saving JLR With Electricity and Volkswagen SportWagen Slip Test?

  • Is this a baby GMC Hummer EV?
  • Can EVs save JLR?
  • Put the Volkswagen SportWagen through the TFL slip test?
This baby GMC Hummer EV concept is called the GMC Boulder Design Study – Images: Ryan Schlotthauer

The first question comes from a fan who wants to know about a baby GMC Hummer EV concept he recently saw.

Q:  (Via: Twitter@NathanAdlen) Can’t wait for you guys to drive a Hummer EV, but did you see the baby GMC Hummer EV concept?

I just saw the photo and I don’t know if it’s 4 real. Looks awesome and something that would scare Jeep and Ford!

— Bar Graphic Group Ex

A: Is that a real Baby GMC HUMMER EV?

In the past, we looked at the rumors surrounding GM’s Wrangler fighter. Now that the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is being produced, we expect more automakers to look at some form of electrification to compete. GM is betting heavy on full-on battery electric vehicles (EVs).

We know that GMC is intent on expanding their Hummer EV lineup over the next few years. There was a leaked photo of GM staff near some mockups that look almost production-ready, but this baby GMC Hummer EV is something else. It is the work of Ryan Schlotthauer, a Transportation Design student from Detroit.

In an interview with Carscoops, Schlotthauer said, “In my designs I always aim to find the right blend of aesthetics with functionality and to challenge how people can use vehicles,” Schlotthauer said via email. “Using an electric platform allowed me to use a unique graphic breakup of the vehicle.”

This brilliant design exercise points to one of the more promising aspects of EVs – packaging. With a majority of the tech and powertrain sitting underneath your feet, the platform can be remarkably utilitarian. In the same space as a two-door Jeep Wrangler, you have a lot more space and an abundance of utility. Storage is impressive, and the overall look is stunning. Truly, it looks like it could be outstanding off-road – despite being a rendering.

Will GM build it?

We may see a baby GMC Hummer EV of some kind in the next few years, but I doubt it will look exactly like these renderings. It would be nice to see some sort of offering from GMC that was more affordable than their upcoming Hummer EV pickup – but that depends on many factors. This rendering has some slick ideas, but I doubt the rear buttress, spare tire location and interior design would work for production. I’m not too sure about those doors either. Still, the overall look is epic.

One thing we do know for sure GM is serious about bringing more EVs to the market. In mid November 2020, CEO Mary Barra illustrated GM’s plan to speed up the transition to EVs to investors. She also laid out the company’s $27 billion plan to bring more EV-powered vehicles to market in the near future. In short, she wants GM to lead the EV charge – and is betting heavily on it.

There are a lot of things that need to happen for GM to bring something like this (and other) electric vehicle to market. The electric infrastructure must grow to meet or exceed the needs of millions of drivers in the near future. Production of GM’s new Ultium batteries, and other potential “greener” power sources must be on line soon. Ranger, price, power degradation and recharge times must be improved as well.

— N

The next question comes from a viewer who saw our Podcast where we proposed ways of saving automakers, including Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

Q: Hello Roman and Nathan from Lancaster, PA!

I totally feel you when you were devising ways to save some of these failing automakers including Jaguar (JLR). In all of my years of driving I can’t shake my love for Jaguars. I never owned one because the idea of owning one is simply too scary for me. We have a Lexus LX with almost 140,000 miles without a single problem. And 9 years ago we bought a used Infiniti FX35 which will cross the 160,000 mile mark in a week or tow. It had a transmission leak and a minor misfire which was fixed four years ago. No other problems.

Every time I think about looking at a Jaguar or a Range Rover to replace the FX, I shake my head as I look at how terrible the reliability numbers are. I know you guys are trying to make the most out of a Land Rover that proven unreliable right out of the box but I remember the older Land Rovers you had that were solid. It frustrates me.

I think you guys are on to something with TATA making Jaguar Land Rover switch over completely to electric cars. If they enter a partnership with a reliable battery company like Panasonic or share platforms with another electric car builder maybe they can changer their bad fortune.

They already build a electric car right? Just make more!

Thanks guys and happy New Years!

– T Chatman

A: Thanks for the email!

JLR recently pledged to move to EVs in the near future. To that end, they will begin building more EVs at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant. This is part of JLR’s £1 billion investment for the development of EVs. It looks like the first vehicle will be a small SUV that will go head to head with the Tesla Model Y.

JLR is looking at battery electric vehicles, hydrogen power and hybrid technology for future power, but that still doesn’t address the main underlining issue – reliability. While it is true that EVs have the potential to be far more reliable than gas/diesel automobiles, there is more to it than a powertrain.

In our experience, newer JLR products have suffered from technical and mechanical issues. For JLR to rebound in this market they need to get their house in order. We think their machines are beautiful to look at, with outstanding interior design, AND they are a hoot to drive. So much potential gets wasted when you’re afraid to buy one with its poor reputation.

The bottom line is, until JLR improves their overall reliability, it won’t matter if they go full electric.

Thank again!

– N

The last question comes from a fan in Canada regarding the Volkswagen SportWagen:

Q: Slip test with the VW SportWagen

Thanks for you and all the reviewers great job. My question Is have your done a slip test on the VW SportWagen auto. I’m up here in Canada eh! So this would be a great car for our needs my wife could drive it in the winter and could in the summer as I mountain bike all summer either put it in the boot or I would prefer it on the roof. 

Thanks again!

Jeff AKA Trail Boss. 

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

A: Thanks for the email – sorry no slip test on the VW Sport Wagon.

We do have a slip test video on the Audi Q3, which has a similar powertrain, platform and comparable performance numbers. I will add that the Volkswagen Sport Wagon, and it’s awesome brother, the Alltrack, are outstanding options. The 4Motion system is one of the best AWD setups in its class, and the performance shines.

I adored and miss the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack quite a bit. In fact, the only reason I didn’t buy one for my spouse was simply based on her preference for the “cute” looks of the Mini Countryman. Otherwise, one would be in my driveway now.

They perform well in all conditions, and they are tenacious in the snow. Even with standard all-season tires, grip is excellent. In fact, my only gripe with the car is its slightly elevated price tag. For (a lot) less money, you can get a Sports Wagon – providedd you don’t mind the lower ride height and less rugged cladding.

Thanks again for the email!

— N

Speaking of the VW SportWagen and Alltrack…