AUSA NEWS: Under New leadership, AM General Looking to Advance Vehicle Tech

By Mikayla Easley
AM General's Humvee NXT 360

AM General, LLC. photo

Humvee manufacturer AM General is embracing change and modern technologies as it plots out its future in the defense industry, the company’s new leader said in an interview.

Indiana-based AM General is looking to transform its image to one that offers a slew of new tactical wheeled vehicle platforms while also keeping its classic Humvee relevant, said Jim Cannon, the company's new CEO. It's pursuing vehicle electrification, autonomous technologies and survivability improvements, which all closely align with the Defense Department and the Army's modernization needs, he said.

“Industry needs to change, we need to innovate quickly, we need to think about what's possible,” Cannon told National Defense on the sidelines of the Association of the United States Army's annual conference in Washington, D.C. “We need to make our warfighters more lethal, more survivable. And that's what I aim for us to do here.”

After supplying Humvees to the U.S. military for over three decades, AM General lost the competition the joint light tactical vehicle contract to Oshkosh Defense in 2015. Since then, the company has worked to modernize the hundreds of thousands of aging Humvees currently in operation. The company has also continued to sell new Humvees to foreign customers.

In 2020, KPS Capital Partners acquired the company from billionaire Ron Perelman’s holding company MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. On Sept. 20, Cannon was named the new CEO, replacing Andy Hove. Cannon is an Army veteran, who previously served as the CEO of FLIR Systems and in leadership roles at Stanley Black & Decker and Eaton Corp.

Cannon said AM General is proud of what it has done to improve the Humvee by adding, recapitalizing and upgrading capabilities all at a fraction of the cost of competitors by using AM General’s existing supply chain. “It's not your father's Humvee. The upgrades, reliability, quality —being able to drive down the price to acquire [it] — is really important," he added.

AM General at the conference debuted the Humvee NXT 360, a light tactical vehicle that offers protection against roadside bombs and small arms.  It showcased the Humvee 4-CT vehicle with an expanded capability kit, which can carry up to nine warfighters. The company also presented its new tactical security truck called the Humvee Extreme Tactical Security Vehicle, or X-TSV.

AM General is making vehicle electrification a top priority, Cannon said. The company has been working closely with the commercial industry to advance its electrification technology and overcome challenges, such as batteries, he added.

“Most soldiers you talk to hate batteries, because there are eight different kinds you have to have and every one of them is just about dead when you need them,” Cannon said. “So, amplify that to the biggest battery on the battlefield."

Still, Cannon sees a strong advantage for electric vehicles, especially considering the low noise signature in which they operate. AM General’s first step in this process will be to prioritize hybrid-electric models, he said.

The company is also working with industry to develop autonomous vehicle technology, such as leader-follower convoys and manned-unmanned teaming systems, he said.

Topics: Land Forces

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