The recently-unveiled 2022 GMC Hummer EV was touted as the brand's first all-electric vehicle, but that's not entirely accurate.
The Hummer EV may be the first GMC electric vehicle aimed at individual buyers, but the brand offered a range of commercial trucks in the 1910s, noted automotive journalist Larry Printz in a Facebook post (covered first by The Drive).
2022 GMC Hummer EV
Nine models of electric truck were added to the lineup alongside gasoline models in 1911 under the predecessor Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, according to information from the GM Heritage Center. These were brought under the GMC umbrella in 1912, when that brand was launched to replace both Rapid and its sibling Reliance brand.
The different models were assigned numbers corresponding to different payload ratings. By 1913, eight models were still in the GMC lineup, including an electric truck with a 1.5-ton payload rating called Model 3—a century before a certain Fremont firm would make that name famous.
Electric trucks were briefly a major part of GMC's business. They represented 39.8% of sales in 1913, but that dropped to 3.2% by 1916. GMC made a total 509 electric trucks during this period.
1912 GMC truck advertisement
The trajectory of GMC's electric-truck sales was fairly typical of early electric vehicles.
Despite relatively primitive technology and many of the same issues facing modern EV drivers—such as lack of charging infrastructure—electric cars enjoyed a brief moment of popularity in the auto industry's early days.
Internal-combustion cars didn't have a sprawling network of gas stations to rely on, and many potential buyers were put off by their noise, smell, and general unfamiliarity with the technology.
Electricity—as well as steam—initially gave gasoline a run for its money, but technological developments like the electric starter, and the proliferation of gas stations allowed internal combustion to win out.
GMC hasn't offered electric vehicles since the early 20th century, but it has experimented with hybrid powertrains for full-size pickup trucks.