Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said Tuesday he wants to hear from senior military leaders on their plans for advancing electrification of their platforms during upcoming posture reviews, citing GM Defense’s [GM] all-electric concept vehicle as an example of pushing the technology forward.
Tillis, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was present at GM Defense’s opening of a production facility for the Army’s new Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) in his home state, and called the platform a “real breakthrough capability” that highlighted progress in speeding up the defense acquisition process.
“One of my frustrations, being on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Personnel Subcommittee, is the length of time it takes to go from a concept to a capability. [GM Defense] did that here [with the new facility] in 90 days, which means that future capabilities can be compressed and we have more resources for our men and women in the battlefield,” Tillis told reporters during the event. “It’s a proof of concept. Oftentimes, in the Senate Armed Services, I bring the 680-page RFP for the next-generation handgun. It took 10 years to actually downselect and deploy [that capability]. We want to start talking about months to be able to get capabilities out there.”
GM Defense secured a $214.3 million production deal last June to build the Army’s new lightweight air-droppable ISV, based on the ZR2 variants of the company’s Chevrolet Colorado midsize truck, and delivered the first vehicles 120 days after contract award.
At the facility opening, GM Defense showcased an all-electric version of the ISV that utilizes a similar battery to its Chevy Bolt commercial platform and which functions as a concept demonstrator for the company’s interest in exploring the technology for potential future applications.
“I think GM Defense is wise to upfit one of the platforms with an electric capability. Now the key is to make sure that it is reliable and serviceable on the battlefield. But the fact that they’re making this investment now, and you see what [General Motors] is doing with their fleet of automobiles to make their light duty vehicles all-electric by 2035, we’ve got to be able to be there,” Tillis said.
Tillis said SASC should hear from the services on how they’re thinking about supply chain and maintenance components that must be addressed to enable the move to vehicle electrification.
“The one thing we run the danger of is overreaching. We want this capability deployed as soon as it can be, but it has to be up to the standard of the [current diesel-powered platforms],” Tillis said.
GM Defense also announced Steve duMont as their new president on Tuesday. He told Defense Daily that the business plans to leverage parent company General Motors’ plan to invest $27 billion over the next five years in vehicle electrification to further their advanced capability opportunities (Defense Daily, May 4).