GM Defense recently began producing its new Infantry Squad Vehicle as part of its first major contract since General Motors reestablished the military vehicle and technology division three years ago. The company will deliver 649 examples of the new ISV to the U.S. military at a cost of $214.3 million USD and has the capacity to produce up to 2,065 vehicles over an eight-year period should the Army need more of the Chevy Colorado ZR2-based troop transport vehicles.
The GM ISV is only the beginning for GM Defense, though. Jeff Ryder, GM Defense’s vice president of growth and strategy, told CNBC the company sees the potential for it leverage GM’s advanced battery-electric vehicle technology and autonomous driving technology to win future military contracts. Ryder also said he believes the market for creating advanced military vehicles based on existing GM vehicles and technology could be worth up to $25 billion.
“That’s an addressable market that where we feel we have a right to win and pursue,” Ryder said this week. “And that’s what we’re doing. As we mature, as we grow, as we build out our operating model, as we have more wins, we will have the opportunity, I think, to continue to vector into other directions or adjacent markets. So that number is not going to get smaller.”
Back in 2017, GM Defense showed off a hydrogen fuel cell-powered military truck called Chevy Colorado ZH2. The truck utilized a production Chevy Colorado platform and parts, along with GM’s hydrogen fuel cell technology that it developed in partnership with Honda. GM Defense worked with the U.S. Army to evaluate the vehicle, although there was no actual program of record with the U.S. Army involving the ZH2.
While the military expressed some interest in the ZH2, Ryder said it was not ready to buy the “thousands of vehicles,” that would be required to actually begin producing it in large numbers. He also told CNBC that battery-electric vehicles are a “real conversation,” within the military currently, a sign that it may now prefer battery-electric offerings over FCEVs.
GM has said in the past that it is looking for new ways to market its Ultium batteries and Ultium Drive motors to help recuperate the major investments required to develop such technology. It has already agreed to provide Honda with Ultium motors and batteries, as well as embattled electric truck startup Nikola.