January 15, 2008 Talk about hitting the ground running - three young design students, fresh out of college, fronted up for their first day of work at GM and instead of a week of fetching coffees, their first assignment was to produce concepts for a new, compact, youth-oriented off-road Hummer. The three students' input drove the design of the new Hummer HX concept, which has sparked a lot of excitement among Hummer fans. Open-topped, with a configurable rear roof section, removable body panels and an E85-capable engine, the HX concept will debut shortly at the 2008 North American International Auto Show – and it's rumored to be the base for the upcoming H4 production SUV.

David Rojas, Min Young Kang and Robert Jablonski came straight out of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan and into the design hot seat at GM, where their first assignment 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 youngsters wanted to bring their own flavor together with the brand's heritage: “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.”

In its final concept form, the E-85 FlexFuel capable HUMMER HX is a fully customizable 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 with removable fender flairs and doors that are easily taken off for serious off-road action.

It's a full-time 4WD, with locking differentials front and rear, and a 3.6-litre SIDI V-6 E85 FlexFuel engine with a six-speed auto transmission. And if there's any doubt it was designed by these youngsters, squint a little and imagine you're playing HALO. The production Warthog? You be the judge.

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