In one of the most unlikely turnarounds in automotive history, General Motors could resurrect the Hummer name — long associated with gas-guzzling SUVs — for a new electric vehicle. Following multiple rumors of an electric Hummer, The Wall Street Journal reported that GM has signed NBA star LeBron James to appear in a Super Bowl commercial for the new electric vehicle. The report claims the electric Hummer will go on sale in 2022, but GM hasn’t made any public comments on it.
The report, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, also said the electric Hummer will be sold under the GMC brand, instead of a stand-alone brand as before. GMC currently sells fancier versions of Chevrolet pickup trucks and SUVs. While GMC has made some efforts to distinguish itself from Chevy (including offering a carbon fiber truck bed), it still lacks a strong identity. A “GMC Hummer” could make the brand more distinctive, although it could also confuse customers used to thinking of Hummer as a stand-alone brand.
Hummer started out building civilian versions of the military High Mobile Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The name comes from soldiers’ pronunciation of the acronym HMMWV as “Humvee.” A favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the original, military-derived Hummer — known as the H1 — was joined by two more models — the H2 and H3 — based on civilian GM truck platforms. Rising gas prices and an economic recession killed off Hummer, which was one of several GM brands euthanized during the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy.
Fast forward a decade, and the Hummer name still attracts interest. Rumors of an electric Hummer started in mid-2019, when GM president Mark Reuss said he was open to reviving the Hummer name for electric vehicles. GM CEO Mary Barra previously said the automaker would build an electric pickup truck, without stating which brand name it would be sold under. Note that Hummer previously sold pickup versions of the H2 and H3. However, GM does plan to launch 20 all-electric models by 2023, leaving room for both an electric Hummer and a pickup truck from another brand.
Several companies are developing electric pickup trucks and SUVs that promise the same ruggedness and off-road capability as the original Hummers. The Tesla Cybertruck is getting a lot of attention thanks to its unusual design, but won’t go into production until 2021. Startup Rivian, which is backed by Ford and Amazon, plans to build an electric SUV and pickup truck in late 2020. Bollinger Motors is taking a more minimalist approach with its electric off-roaders, and Ford plans to launch an all-electric version of its bestselling F-150 truck.