It's not April 1, and Bloomberg devoted more than a thousand words to it, so it's apparently a real story. According to unnamed sources, General Motors is considering reviving the Hummer brand, this time as an electric vehicle. The irony of the General’s ultimate pre-2008 gas guzzler coming back as an EV is a pretty fantastic full-circle possibility.
When asked about it last week, GM President Mark Reuss was noncommittal but did not deny the rumor.
“I love Hummer,” Reuss told Bloomberg. “I’m not sure. We’re looking at everything.”
GM chief executive Mary Barra has committed the largest domestic automaker to an “all-electric future.”
The idea apparently grew out of plans for which truck and SUV nameplates will be electrified. GM is concurrently working on two different BEV programs, one for small and mid-sized passenger cars and crossovers, and another for full-size trucks and SUVs. Reuss said any of the automaker's large pickups or SUVs could end up offering an electric drivetrain, including 4x4s. The potential is “massive,” Reuss said. “There might be places where we go first that are not just heavy-duty work trucks but more style and capability for off-road. There are lots of things that are very attractive.”
GM purchased the Hummer brand from AM General in 1999, following up the military HumVee-based H1 with the H2 in 2002 and the H3 in 2005. The H2 was based on GM's full-size pickup platforms, while the H3 was based on the mid-size platform used for the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.
Hummer survived GM's 2009 bankruptcy but the brand was shuttered the following year. From its launch, Hummer was not likely popular with the folks from the Obama administration that managed GM's bailout. When crude oil surged beyond $100 a barrel, with the H2 getting 10 mpg, the brand was no longer viable.
Hummer's sales reached their peak in 2006, with over 71,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. That dropped to fewer than 4000 in its final year of sales.
Other automakers have looked jealously at FCA's profitable Jeep brand, which has seemingly gone from strength to strength. There was a time when Hummer was seen as the brand that GM could one day fully leverage to challenge Jeep. In 2008, as Detroit's automakers were swirling the drain financially, Hummer introduced the HX concept, a smaller body-on-frame 4x4 that looked rough and ready to take on the Jeep Wrangler.
Electric trucks are big news in Detroit these days. Ford recently invested a half billion dollars in startup Rivian, which has promised a battery-powered pickup. There have also been rumors that GM might be selling its shuttered Lordstown assembly plant to Workhorse, another BEV pickup venture.
While they're still on environmentalists' blacklist, the H2 and H3 have continued to draw strong money in the used vehicle market— the median value is about $22,000 for an H2, according to our insurance data, and more quotes are coming in lately.
Hummers always had SUV cred. Bringing the brand back as all-electric could retain that cachet without a gas-guzzling stigma.