General Motors May Bring Back Hummer as a New Electric Truck Brand
FutureCar Staff Oct 18, 2019 4:30 PM WST
The Hummer brand was axed by General Motors after the automaker filed bankruptcy during the recession of 2009 and failed to find a buyer for Hummer, as now it looks like GM might resurrect the storied Hummer nameplate in a new line of battery-powered trucks.
As reported by Reuters, GM plans to build a new family of premium electric pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant beginning in late 2021, possibly reviving the imposing Hummer brand on some of them, several people familiar with the plans said today.
The so-called BT1 electric truck/SUV program is the centerpiece of a planned $3 billion investment in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant to make electric trucks and vans, and part of a broader $7.7 billion investment by GM in its U.S. plants over the next four years, according to a proposed labor deal between the automaker and the United Auto Workers union.
GM's BT1 program includes an electric pickup for the GMC brand and an electric SUV for Cadillac, both due in 2023, the sources said.
In the meantime, GM plans to begin low-volume production in late 2021 of the first BT1 model, a pickup, under a different brand, the source said. A performance variant of the pickup will be added to that brand in 2022, followed by an electric SUV in 2023.
One of the sources said the Hummer name is "under consideration" but a decision has not been finalized. The pickup is codenamed "Project O."
The investments were made public by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) on Friday but no details were provided, according to Reuters. The UAW and GM have been at odds since UAW members went on strike last month over wages and benefits. Among other demands, the UAW members wants a greater share of GM profits and job security as GM plans to add more electric vehicles to its lineup.
The investment would move the automaker into a part of the EV market that is largely untested and where GM has a higher likelihood of turning a profit, analysts said.
"It makes perfect sense to hit the high end of the market in order to generate some revenue that might actually turn a profit," Auto Forecast Solutions vice president of global vehicle forecasting Sam Fiorani said.
GM is following the approach of electric carmaker Tesla by building more expensive electric vehicles first then moving down the price ladder, he said.
That is important for a company who previously tried to sell the plug-in electric hybrid Chevrolet Volt, which has been discontinued, as well as the fully-electric Chevy Bolt EV at lower prices and higher volumes, but failed to sell enough to make those efforts profitable, Fiorani said.
Bringing back the Hummer name would take advantage of a still strongly recognized brand name, Fiorani said. Hummer trucks were rugged civilian utility vehicles with poor gas mileage that were inspired by military vehicles and were popular with such celebrities as former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Putting a Hummer badge on anything is a great idea for General Motors because half the marketing is already paid for," he said. "Making it environmentally friendly is just icing on the cake."
The pickup trucks and SUVs in the BT1 family will use a new dedicated electric vehicle architecture, including a "skateboard" chassis that bundles electric motor and batteries, the sources said. Fiorani expects the GM electric truck to sell at around $90,000 or more, while the other vehicles will easily top $100,000.
GM President Mark Reuss said in June at a UBS conference that the new EV architecture will be highly flexible, enabling the Detroit automaker to build a variety of body types in different sizes, in front, rear or all-wheel-drive configurations.
When the plant reaches full production in 2024, it is expected to build about 80,000 electric vehicles a year, the sources said. Fiorani called that figure realistic.
As part of its plans around EVs, GM plans to open a battery plant near its shuttered Lordstown, Ohio, factory that sources have said would be a joint venture and is part of plans to invest another $1.3 billion in non-GM plants in the United States over the next four years.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said in April the automaker would make an electric full-size pickup, but provided no further details. The company has said it plans to invest $8 billion to develop electric and self-driving vehicles, launching 20 new EVs globally by 2023.
GM spokeswoman Jordana Strosberg said to Reuters that GM doesn't comment on speculation. But she added the company is committed to an electric future.
"GM believes in an all-electric future and we are making great progress in that area," she said. "We have announced that a pickup truck will be part of our future portfolio, but have no additional information to provide."
We'll have to wait and see.
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