General Motors Going Back Into the Defense Business

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

“Old soldiers never die,” the saying goes, “they just fade away.”

And that’s exactly what General Motors, no stranger to U.S. military products, did following the Cold War. The company that once produced the Cadillac-built M5 Stuart tank and Buick-built M18 Hellcat tank destroyer in World War Two sold its military products division — GM Defense — to General Dynamics in 2003.

However, just because Stryker and LAV III light armored vehicle production is now someone else’s responsibility doesn’t mean GM isn’t interested in fulfilling the military’s needs. The company still ships engines and transmissions to the Army, but according to a new report, the automaker is once again planning an official military division.

Coming on the heels of last week’s unveiling of the versatile Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS), Automotive News reports that GM has a new defense industry unit in the works.

Called GM Defense LLC, the unit would exist under the automaker’s Global Product Development umbrella. Last week’s fuel cell-powered vehicle platform would be just one product the unit aims to dangle in front of customers. Besides the obvious U.S. Army appeal of its vehicles, other products would fill various roles in both aerospace and defence, GM claims.

“This new business structure will enhance GM’s productivity, agility and affordability in a very dynamic customer environment,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business, in an email to Automotive News. “Our goal is to make it simpler and more seamless to do business with General Motors.”

It will be Freese’s job to oversee GM Defense LLC. As for the unit’s home base, the company hasn’t decided on a location yet, according to GM spokeswoman Elizabeth Winter.

The HD truck-based SURUS platform isn’t the only hydrogen-powered project under development at GM. A year ago, GM unveiled a war-ready fuel cell variant of the Chevrolet Colorado pickup, and a third project is said to be underway.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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