GM Defense delivers 1st infantry military vehicles to U.S. Army

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read

The U.S. Army on Tuesday at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, received the first Infantry Squad Vehicle made by GM Defense LLC, just 120 days after winning the contract.

GM formed GM Defense in 2017. This vehicle is the first major contract the wholly owned subsidiary has won and it's key to the future growth of GM Defense. It shows the United States government how GM Defense can use GM's technologies on military vehicles.

"One hundred and twenty days from contract award to delivery is a significant milestone, and I am very proud of the team for this accomplishment," said David Albritton, president of GM Defense. "We're leveraging General Motors' engineering prowess and immense manufacturing capabilities to bring transformative solutions to the military vehicle market."

The Infantry Squad Vehicle is based on the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 pickup and uses 90% commercial components. It is designed for rapid ground mobility and carrying a nine-soldier infantry squad through the battlefield.

GM Defense will make 649 ISVs, which it will deliver by fiscal 2024, and it will support the production of up to 2,065 vehicles as it gets additional authorization over the eight-year contract.

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A launching point

GM Defense will make the first 27 ISVs at the Proving Grounds. Then production will move to a facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, where higher volumes can be achieved.

GM Defense's Infantry Squad Vehicle, a finalist for the U.S. Army in what would be a $155 million contract if GM Defense wins it. The vehicle was shot at GM Defense's Proving Grounds in Yuma, AZ
GM Defense's Infantry Squad Vehicle, a finalist for the U.S. Army in what would be a $155 million contract if GM Defense wins it. The vehicle was shot at GM Defense's Proving Grounds in Yuma, AZ

GM's ongoing fuel cell development led to forming GM Defense as a way to explore applying technology meant for the commercial car market into potential solutions for the Department of Defense.

In June, the U.S. Army awarded GM Defense the contract for the ISV. The contract is worth $214.3 million. GM Defense beat out two other finalists.

Tim Herrick, GM's global chief engineer, said this ISV contract is "just the beginning of GM's support" for GM Defense's future programs.

(L to R) David Albritton, GM Defense president and Steve Herrick, the product lead for ground mobility vehicles joint program office, joint light tactical vehicle U.S. Army watch with others at the press conference, a short video showing the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV) in action. The press conference announcing the new vehicle for the military was held at the GM Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan on Oct 27, 2020.
The vehicle that can carry up to 9 soldiers was developed with the input of military personal.
The first 27 ISV's will be built at a facility on the proving grounds complex with the rest of them being built in Mooresville, North Carolina.
(L to R) David Albritton, GM Defense president and Steve Herrick, the product lead for ground mobility vehicles joint program office, joint light tactical vehicle U.S. Army watch with others at the press conference, a short video showing the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV) in action. The press conference announcing the new vehicle for the military was held at the GM Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan on Oct 27, 2020. The vehicle that can carry up to 9 soldiers was developed with the input of military personal. The first 27 ISV's will be built at a facility on the proving grounds complex with the rest of them being built in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Albritton said the ISV “represents a fantastic cornerstone” to look at expanding the business to other parts of government and even foreign government business.

Neither Ford Motor Co. nor Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a similar business arm dedicated to the military. But both do general business with the government, including the military.

In October 2019, AM General, a manufacturer of light tactical vehicles, partnered with the Jeep brand to debut a light tactical concept vehicle. The Jeep Gladiator Extreme Military-Grade Truck (XMT) is the first phase of the collaboration for a lightweight military truck. FCA said production of the Gladiator XMT has not started.

GM defense is eyeing at least three more bids that carry big paydays if GM wins them.

GM Defense future

As the Free Press reported this year, one of those is the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle that is in production with Oshkosh Defense, a tactical vehicle maker. That contract was put up for bid in mid-June.

The back of the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV) has room for a variety of tools soldiers can use while out driving around.
The back of the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV) has room for a variety of tools soldiers can use while out driving around.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or JLTV is the new and improved High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, more commonly called a Humvee. The JLTVs are formidable-looking trucks that offer superior crew protection and enhanced performance compared with the old Humvee.

The military wants 49,099 JLTVs, Jeff Ryder, vice president of growth and strategy for GM Defense, told the Free Press in a previous report. Oshkosh built the first 15,000, but there will be a contract to build the other 34,099, Ryder said, "and that’s the part we’re looking at."

GM Defense is conducting a review to determine whether it has what it takes to win the JLTV contract. The Army’s request for proposal is due in February 2022. It is expected to award the contract in September of that year, Ryder said.

The front headlines of the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV).
The front headlines of the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV).

It’s a monumental contract worth $14.5 billion, to be paid out over the course of 10 years as vehicles are delivered.

The most lucrative targets for GM Defense are the Defense Department's tactical and combat vehicles areas. But GM Defense is also considering work with other government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, and even foreign military.

On Tuesday, Albritton said GM Defense continues to have strong interest in the JLTV program and is pursuing it. But he also said, “The advanced reconnaissance vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps is another program that we would consider.”

The instrument panel in the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV).
The instrument panel in the General Motors Defense new Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV).

But, he said, “We aren’t just looking at ground system.” Albritton said there are possibilities for GM Defense to do work with the Navy on underwater tactical vehicles and the Air Force could use the battery from Chevrolet Bolt electric cars to power an electric ground power unit.

GM Defense believes it can grab at least $20 billion in contracts. Those billions would flow into GM’s earnings before interest and taxation, giving the automaker revenue diversification and additional funding to research its electric and autonomous vehicle technologies beyond relying on sales from pickups and SUVs.

Contact Jamie L. LaReau: 313-222-2149 or jlareau@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Read more on General Motors and sign up for our autos newsletter. Become a subscriber.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: GM Defense delivers first infantry military vehicles to U.S. Army