Army Scouts Hybrids; Carmakers Interested
AM General Corp. is responding to the Army’s call for a fuel-electric hybrid military vehicle by working to develop a diesel-electric hybrid version of the Humvee.
This next-generation Humvee could use a silent electric motor to sneak up on the enemy and then finish the job with an electronic weapons system.
Interest in hybrid vehicles by the Army’s Tank, Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has attracted a number of companies, including Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG, and General Motors Corp.
AM General spokesman Craig MacNab said the Humvee, already used extensively by the Army, is a logical candidate. “They told us to find out what’s what out there, experiment with it, adapt it and find out how it can be used,” Mac Nab told the South Bend Tribune in a report on May 28.
The Army’s program is called COMBATT, which stands for Commercially Based Tactical Truck. The hybrid tactical truck could take over for the Humvee in some situations, such as transporting supplies, says Eric Emerton, public affairs officer for TACOM. “Most people forget the Humvee is a combat vehicle,” Emerton said, “It’s not designed as a tactical vehicle. The goal is to relieve the Humvee of that role.”
The major automakers are interested in making a light-duty military truck because they could produce it in plants that make civilian vehicles. That could make it economically feasible to produce the limited number of trucks the military needs.
If the military did start relieving the Humvee of certain kinds of duty, it could affect the 3,000 to 4,000 Humvees produced at the AM General facility. But the company also produces the Hummer H2 for GM, which owns the Hummer brand. Neither AM General nor GM officials would comment on whether the H2 would be entered in the COMBATT program. However Lt. Gen. Roy Beauchamp, now deputy commander of the Army’s Materials Command said, “This vehicle has many of the characteristics that are most desirable for what we are developing in COMBATT. It has mobility, agility, and capacity. That’s what you’re looking for when your life is on the line.”