The upcoming GMC Hummer EV is filled with technology intended to make the all-electric pickup truck as effective as possible off-road. There’s the Crabwalk four-wheel steering system, the Extract Mode which allows the driver to raise the vehicle’s height, making it easier to get out of tricky situations, along with Dynamic Bump Zone which allows the Hummer EV to sense how severe a bump is almost in the instant that contact is made.
There’s also something which at first glance seems simpler, but in its way is no less ingenious – the Hummer EV’s tire pressure sensor software.
Here’s why that’s important. In off-road driving – just like in drag racing – low tire pressure is the vehicle operator’s friend. It allows the rubber to flex more, and gain greater purchase on the ground, which is essentially the same as saying it provides more grip.
A Hummer EV owner will want to run lower tire pressures on an off-road course than on the highways leading to it. This can be done by releasing air in small bursts and checking the pressure manually with a tire pressure gauge, but GMC has come up with a more convenient solution.
As reported recently by the Detroit Free Press, the driver inputs the required pressure from inside the vehicle, then gets out and starts releasing air from the tires. Once the specified pressure is reached, the Hummer EV honks its horn, telling the driver that he or she can stop and move on to the next tire. There’s no need for a pressure gauge.
This solution is the brainchild of Mike Colville, Senior Manager, Electric Vehicle Integration at General Motors. Colville has the technical smarts for a project like the Hummer EV, but he also has the necessary enthusiasm for off-roading: until work took him away from the sport, he was a successful competitor in endurance off-road racing, charging across all kinds of surface at speeds which often exceeded 100 mph.
“There was nothing I liked better than driving in the dust,” Colville says. “It brought that competitive spirit out in me.”
It also led to the development of the Hummer EV’s tire pressure sensor: “That idea came from my racing days, with me always losing my dang tire pressure gauge. So we’ve got it built into the car.”
A similar system already is already available in various General Motors vehicles, called Tire Fill Alert, which honks the horn when the right pressure is reached while inflating the tires. In the Hummer EV, it’s essentially the other way around.
As they say, any fool can have a complicated idea, but it takes a genius to have a simple one. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would ever admit it, but maybe Mike Colville is a genius.