The idea of bringing back the Hummer brand is on the table at General Motors.
Yes, that’s the brand that was much maligned by environmentalists in the ‘00s, for becoming a plus-sized piece of hypocrisy on wheels, a fashion statement of American excess riffing off the Humvee, a vehicle that helped fight the war (in part) to secure the flow of foreign oil.
“I love Hummer,” said GM president Mark Reuss to reporters on June 12, when asked specifically about the brand. “I’m not sure. We’re looking at everything.”
A Hummer EV could potentially be built on GM’s upcoming BEV3 dedicated electric vehicle platform—a platform that GM has already confirmed could also (at least in part) be the foundation for an electric pickup.
To look at it another way, GM may have a hard time justifying bringing the Hummer brand back in any way other than as an all-electric brand—especially in light of CEO Mary Barra's stated goal to transition GM toward an all-electric future. Hummer met its demise in 2010, at a time of greater awareness of efficiency, the recession, and a different, reformed company.
The Hummer H2, which is the one that was most maligned over time, shared some of its building blocks with GM’s full-size trucks but was built to a higher weight class—such that it didn’t require an EPA mileage rating (it was single-digit mpg, by most accounts). There was a smaller Hummer, the H3, but even that more efficient model got an EPA-rated 9 mpg city in its popular V-8 H3T form.
1999 AM General Hummer
If Hummer were to come back that way, it would land somewhere between two brands that have seen a fair amount of buzz over the past couple of years: Rivian and Bollinger. With its military heritage and more of an off-road focus, an electric Hummer could be a more rugged counterpoint to Rivian, as well as a somewhat more practical alternative to the specialized, high-end Class 3 truck Bollinger intends to build.
Hummer sales reached their peak in 2006, with 71,524 sold that year, according to Automotive News. While that was definitely still niche territory, it was enough for Hummers to be quite a common sight on American streets.
A revived Hummer could also give Jeep a serious run. The Jeep brand has been slow to electrify, especially in the U.S., although a plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler is due in 2020.
Such a model would also, of course, have to be light and modestly sized. Anything else might make it a different kind of "guzzler"—at charging stations, instead.
Obstacles include a dealer network that still remembers being burned by GM, when it had them build unique, expensive showrooms, demonstration courses, and facilities and then abandoned the brand.
Although the idea might seem paradoxical, going electric could be quite the statement. Hummers were a valuable tool in the fight over oil resources. What better symbol for energy independence and going tailpipe-free than that?