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The Incredible Shrinking Hummer

Known more for brute and brawn than conscience, GM’s Hummer brand is trying to transform itself by expanding its product offerings into smaller, more eco-friendly vehicles.

Known more for brute and brawn than conscience, GM’s Hummer brand is trying to transform itself by expanding its product offerings into smaller, more eco-friendly vehicles. That’s the thinking behind the development of the HX concept, which is aimed squarely at both Jeep’s Wrangler 2-door and Toyota’s FJ Cruiser.

“We started thinking about this vehicle two years ago,” says Carl Zipfel director of the Hummer design studio, “when we decided to do a concept that signaled a new segment for Hummer.” Eager to get some fresh eyes that would take a different approach, Zipfel assigned the HX design to three newbies fresh from the College for Creative Studies—David Rojas, Min Young Kang and Robert Jablonski. “We gave them some general parameters—size dimensions, open-air, and off-road capability—but other than that we asked for their full insight on what a vehicle like this should be for Hummer in the future,” Zipfel says.

While the concept is in keeping with Hummer’s overall theme—seven-slot grille, short front overhangs, and exposed approaches on front tires—the designers pushed the envelope when it came to customization and reconfigurability. The rear, for example, can be changed between slant back, square back and SUT configurations, depending on utility needs, while the doors are removable and the wheel flares are attached to the body using spring-loaded fasteners so you can snap them off if they are damaged.

Inside, the HX borrows from aeronautic and military technologies with a seat covering comprised of military flak jacket ballistic nylon, and a seat structure that rides on a helicopter-like trio of suspensions pucks. “The seats are a huge factor in the design of this vehicle because when the doors are removed they become an exterior design feature,” says Stuart Norris, HX’s interior designer. Reconfigurable door storage pockets can hold a shovel, rechargeable flashlight and first aid kit, while the center console can accommodate a fire extinguisher. While Hummer isn’t willing to go on record saying the HX will be built, look for it to morph into the H4, slated to debut in 2010.—KMK