2003 HUMMER H2: General Motors' HUMMER H2 Vision Vehicle: A New Chapter in the HUMMER Legend

Nov. 01, 2002 By ORC STAFF
HUMMER, the world's most serious 4x4, stands alone atop the mountain of off-road vehicles. Until now. The new General Motors HUMMER H2 vision vehicle is an authentic evolution in a truly incomparable species.

With its debut at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the H2 provides a look at what the future of the HUMMER sport/utility vehicle could be. The H2 draws reverently from the current HUMMER production vehicle and its tradition of strength, toughness and 4x4 leadership. The H2 echoes the roots of the HUMMER'S own heritage, roots that trace back nearly a century to the 1903 Overland Runabout.

The H2 is a design exercise that modernizes and updates the HUMMER while keeping its best traits intact - the aggressiveness, rawness and toughness that first attracted customers to the vehicle and earned it the status of an American icon. The H2 takes those characteristics and refines them, casting a wider net over the sea of consumers searching for a truck like the HUMMER.

"This is not a re-do of the HUMMER," said Clay Dean, Design Manager of GM trucks. "It's an exercise that shows what might grow and sustain the brand. It's a call to more people to experience what HUMMER is - the lifestyle, the philosophy, the confident attitude. It's for people with an adventurous spirit who want to do what others can't, in an SUV that can do what other sport/utility vehicles can't."

The H2's design draws from other sophisticated consumer tools like G3 high-performance laptop computers and the Spartacus Macintosh which have precise, complicated computational functions, yet are presented in clean, simple, flowing surfaces. In these tools, all lines, joints and surfaces serve more than one function. In essence it is a functional device wrapped in art.

The H2's styling takes its cues from the HUMMER production vehicle, but cleans up the surfaces, using fewer exposed rivets and fasteners, for example. The H2's windshield is raked more, to improve aerodynamics, but to the naked eye still retains the upright, aggressive appearance of the production vehicle. The new windshield is a one-piece wraparound, without the metal center divider, greatly improving visibility for the driver and passengers.

The H2's profile view retains HUMMER'S image of strength and brute force. H2 has short front and rear overhangs for aggressive ramp angles. The doors are offset from the surface, making climbing in and out easy. The rear of the H2 maintains the HUMMER'S characteristic four-window look. The pull-down liftgate and pull-up rear window make loading easy and convenient. The same convenience and thoughtfulness was designed into the entire rear compartment, whose panels will allow multiple configurations.

The first civilian HUMMER was delivered in 1992, after years of service to the U.S. military as AM General's "HUMVEE" multi-purpose vehicle. General Motors has acquired the exclusive ownership of the HUMMER brand name and the right to retail the HUMMER utilities and pick-up.

AM General was formed as a spin-off of the Kaiser Jeep Corp in 1964. The company traces its roots back to the Willys-Overland Co., creators of the original Jeep.

Feature Highlights: Intimidating Looks and Unstoppable Performance

As GM designers began exploring the future of the HUMMER brand, they adopted a strategy they called "plant and harvest."

"As we continue to go forward and harvest the great things the HUMMER has done," Dean said, "we need to make sure we're always planting new opportunities for the next harvest. We think the H2 vision vehicle plants some new heritage that we can then reap down the road on another vehicle."

Among the fruits of the designers' harvest is the H2's clean yet aggressive exterior. The H2 is unmistakably HUMMER, from all angles, but particularly from its front "face." The front end includes an integrated winch, and a large brush bar that moves in tandem with the hood for easy, one-step access to the engine. There are multiple hooks on the front and rear, for pulling and hauling, along with high-intensity headlamps, fog lamps and auxiliary driving lights mounted on the brush bar. Planted in the hood are thermostat-controlled articulating louvers for engine ventilation. Two exposed canister air cleaner filters are on the hood, one for providing cool air to the engine and another for clean air to the
passenger compartment.

The entire body has more of a clean, rounded shape. "We have crowned the bodyside - it's not flat," said Dean. "It takes the vehicle into the next millennium, providing a sense of strength and newness. The wrapover windscreen and standout doors really make it appear more contemporary, while maintaining the heritage of the HUMMER appearance."

Although not as many exposed rivets and bolts adorn the exterior, certain parts are left exposed -parts that have specific functions. "The HUMMER is a vehicle about performance and capability and we don't want to hide things," Dean said. "For instance, we want the suspension exposed because this vehicle is an off-road vehicle. We want to show the capability of our four-wheel independent suspension by exposing its parts and
its strengths."

Another innovative feature of the H2 is its full-across, power-operated canvas sunroof, which lets the sun shine in on both rows of the five-passenger compartment. "You get an open-air driving experience while still feeling the safe, protective security of riding in a reinforced steel cage," Dean said.

Skid plates protect the entire underbody of the vehicle. Rock-slider skid plates are on the front and rear sides, along with approach and departure skid plates. "The skid plates all around the vehicle are for function not fashion," said Dean. "They are going to protect all the pieces down below from being ripped apart and allow the driver to experience why a HUMMER truly starts where the road ends."

To enhance that off-road experience, GM has developed an all-new rear suspension that improves the HUMMER's signature four-wheel, all-independent suspension. The new, independent suspension keeps one wheel from affecting the other on off-road applications. On-road, it provides for a smoother ride, and better handling than a straight-axle application. Overall, it provides stability, capability, and prowess over unexpected terrain. Both front and rear suspensions are independent double wishbones with unequal-length A-arms, torsion bars, stabilizer bars, and long-travel, dual-rate coil over shocks with remote reservoirs.

The 19 x 9.5-inch three-piece aluminum wheels have a rugged high-tech look with an integrated bead locking system and mounted with tough 35-inch off-road prototype Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires.

Powering the H2 is GM's 6.0-liter, high-output VORTEC 6000 V-8. It's mounted longitudinally, and mated to a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission with Autotrac? four-wheel drive, which the driver engages via levers rather than the usual push-button.

The interior of the H2 brings the HUMMER to new heights of luxury and comfort. Four leather bucket seats are complemented by a center jump seat in the second row. The instrument panel is simple and straightforward, and illuminated at night to glow oscilloscope green, inspired by radar controls on military fighter jets.

Touches of milled metals work in concert with body-color pieces that match the H2's Signal Yellow outer shell. "Yellow makes a statement, it stands out from the crowd," said Dean. "The color draws from outdoor sports equipment including watches, mountain bike shoes and mountain climbing apparel."

The exterior is accentuated by bronze glass. Influenced by the gold iridium color of well-known mountain bike glasses and ski goggles, the bronze glass provides a soothing color to the eye allowing for maximum visibility in all conditions.

The rear cargo area features a revolutionary three-tier loading area. The floor lifts to reveal a secure, lighted sub-floor cargo stash to receive packages and equipment to be unloaded upon arrival at the campsite or other destinations. The main floor can also be used for storage, and so can the sides, which feature hammock-like netting that can hold still more items and equipment, to make packing for any excursion as organized as possible.

Technology is definitely not forgotten. The H2's Central Information Center features a GPS navigation system, GM's OnStar? system, DVD video, a CD player and next-generation Monsoon? audio with 10 speakers. There is also Night Vision from Raytheon, Internet access to send and receive e-mail, a laptop docking station and a cell-phone docking station, all with hands-free operational capabilities.

"The technology is there not to entertain as much as it is to enhance the H2's role as protector," Dean said.

The protector role is due in part to the inherent mechanical strengths of the H2 and the information capability H2 provides the driver via GPS, altimeter, thermometer and other metering devices. "You could be in the mountains of Colorado or the deserts of Baja, and you'll be secure in knowing that you're going in the direction you need to be going and that you can contact anyone you need to contact, " said Dean.


The Development Story: From Notion to Motion in a Matter of Weeks

When General Motors began negotiating with AM General for HUMMER retail and naming rights in mid-1999, a team was assembled

to investigate a possible concept vehicle for the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

A monumental effort was launched to define what a HUMMER is, explore what it could be, and determine what was the best package to present the concept. The vehicle's design and engineering team began their race to develop the "H2" in late August.

The assignment was to create a HUMMER that looks toward the future of the brand; to make it the most civilized and driver friendly HUMMER ever without losing any of the vehicle's inherent toughness and off-road capabilities.

After the initial assessments and brand definitions were made, the design team produced a scale model in less than a week. Through the use of math data, the vehicle quickly came to life in the form it is today while staying true to the teams' initial vision.

"We didn't derail from our first vision," Dean said. "All we did was enhance it. We were very confident that what we had done was correct for the vehicle."

AM General provided input, direction and approval, giving the H2 further clarification of certain design elements and reinforcing attributes they wanted retained and/or enhanced on the vehicle.

"Their involvement was key," Dean said. "They made sure we were true to the essence and heritage of HUMMER, and they had great insight. After they reviewed the vehicle they were confident that we were going in the right direction with the brand."

The results tell the story. It's a HUMMER with a shorter wheelbase for great handling on-road and off. Its overhangs are shorter for easy parking on Rodeo Drive or at the rodeo. It's narrower to easily navigate today's city streets or cruise unpaved wilderness trails. The H2 has a good breakover angle for traversing crests of rocks as well as aggressive angles of approach and departure, allowing drivers to go up and down steeper slopes without grounding the skid plates.

In Conclusion: A HUMMER for the Ages, Here Today

The H2 vision vehicle is everything its design team set out to create. It embraces everything the HUMMER has accomplished, and lends an insight to what a HUMMER can be in the future - for a multitude of people, not just the few.

It's an off-road warrior, certainly, but it's also a civilized tool for business travel and family pleasure. It's as at-home on the freeway as it is on the free range. It's living proof, in the sheetmetal, that there is a bright and strong future for the HUMMER brand, with tradition and heritage not only intact, but enhanced.


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