General Motors plans to revive its gas-hog Hummer brand, this time to adorn an array of environmentally correct, all-electric SUVs and pickup trucks.
Media reports say GM will use next month’s Super Bowl to unveil the rehabilitated brand, which is expected to return at the end of next year.
GM broomed Hummer in 2010 after failing to sell off the brand to a Chinese machinery maker. Sales had already tanked, thanks to soaring fuel prices and the Great Recession. The reputation of the brand’s military-inspired H1 flagship SUV for its spectacular inefficiency, dodgy quality and surprisingly cramped interior didn’t help.
Reports say Hummer will return as a sub-brand that will start with an all-electric pickup truck and expand to four all-electric truck and SUV models by 2023.
The pickup is likely to be sold by GM’s existing network of GMC truck dealers—as in “Hummer by GMC”—rather than a stand-alone brand. Piggybacking with existing dealers is simpler and far cheaper than setting up a new network, especially since nobody knows whether the EVs will be a hit or not.
GM will produce the Hummer lineup (along with several non-Hummer electrics) at the company’s back-from-the-dead Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. This is the facility GM once intended to close this month. The company changed its mind last October to help end a 40-day strike by the United Auto Workers union.
Now the Hamtramck complex is being treated to a $3 billion overhaul to turn it into GM’s hub for electric truck production, including a future SUV for Cadillac.
Focusing its foray into electric trucks under the Hummer name could be an adroit move for GM. But it will work only if the company can separate Hummer’s reputation for exceptional offroad capability from its image as an environmentally out-of-touch brand.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “NHTSA does not define the terms ‘motor scooter,’ ‘moped,’ ‘pocket bike,’ ‘mini-chopper,’ ‘mini-ninja,’ or any other terms of this nature that may be used for the purpose of marketing motorcycles and motor driven cycles.
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While the whole notion of minivans might provoke an involuntary eye roll among some people, here’s an interesting fact: so far this year, through the end of March, Chrysler delivered 31,616 Town & Country minivans, which makes it, by far, the biggest selling vehicle in the brand’s showroom.