With the news that all Hummers will be biofuel-ready by 2010, it shouldn't be a surprise that when GM set three new designers to the task of creating the next-generation Hummer - known as the HX Concept - that one of the ideas be the vehicle's E85 compatibility. Naturally, when you're working on sketching the exterior, you don't need to worry about ethanol fuel lines. Still, the GM press release announcing how new GM designers David Rojas, Min Young Kang and Robert Jablonski imagine the Hummer HX contains this line: "In its final concept form, the E-85 FlexFuel capable HUMMER HX embodies the off road spirit of HUMMER in a fully customisable package."

That isn't going to change anything in the Hummer/environmentalist situation, but it does show that GM will rarely miss a chance to promote ethanol for its gasoline-engined vehicles.



THREE YOUNG DESIGNERS SHAPE FUTURE OF HUMMER THROUGH HX CONCEPT

DETROIT – Scheduled for introduction at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, the HUMMER HX concept reflects the innovative minds of three new GM designers - David Rojas, Min Young Kang and Robert Jablonski - whose first assignment was to provide a vision for the future design of off-road vehicles.

Fresh out of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Mich., the designers' first test in GM was to design a fun, nimble and innovative HUMMER concept.

"HUMMER appeals to young people globally and served as a perfect first assignment for our newest talent," said Ed Welburn, vice president of global design and product planning. "Today's graduates from top design schools are ready to hit the ground running. The HUMMER design challenge gave our newest designers an opportunity to sprint."

The task presented numerous challenges to the new designers, from creating a vehicle for a brand that is known around the globe for its iconic design, to ensuring that the model would live up to the market's expectation of HUMMER off-road capability.

To help ensure the designs were true to the HUMMER brand, the designers were given limited design direction by Carl Zipfel, an ex-professional motocross racer and director of the HUMMER design studio.

"Carl definitely set the tone," said Rojas. "While he gave us creative liberty and challenged us to develop innovative ideas, he also defined three Hummer proportions – wheelbase, approach and departure angles, and stance – and assigned one to each of us. It gave us a chance to collaborate, but also take our own direction."

While sketching and sculpting together in the HUMMER studio, these recent graduates drew upon the creative energy of each other, further improving their individual designs, as well as that of the final concept.

"We drew inspiration from one another," said Kang. "As you're designing and sketching you try to absorb what the other designer is doing and try to make it better."

David, Min Young and Robert's collaboration inspired the HUMMER HX concept, which presents extraordinary efficiency without sacrificing the unique essence of the HUMMER brand, the world's most capable off-road vehicles.

"While we took inspiration from the HUMMER heritage and DNA, we each wanted to evolve it in a new way" said Jablonski. "We agreed it should be contemporary, compact and definitely open air. It came out great."

After three months of sketching and sculpting theme work for the new HUMMER concept, each designer had the opportunity to present scale clay models to Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman and Ed Welburn, who chose which design would ultimately become the HX concept.

In its final concept form, the E-85 FlexFuel capable HUMMER HX embodies the off road spirit of HUMMER in a fully customisable package. The HX offers an open-air driving experience via a pair of removable roof panels above the driver and front passenger and a modular, removable rear roof assembly enabling a quick conversion from closed vehicle to open vehicle SUT. It also features a slant back assembly, removable doors and fender flares.

"Working as a team, you realise it's more than one person influencing the vehicle," said Rojas. "You can see the inspiration from each of our designs in the final concept vehicle. We're all proud to have the chance to see our sketches become reality."

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