This is not your Governator’s Hummer.
When General Motors folded the brand in 2010 amid bankruptcy, Hummer was known as the maker of oversized, scorched-earth SUVs ranging from biggish to obscenely garish, favored by pro athletes, rap artists, and the cigar-chomping Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Twelve years later, in early 2022, the Hummer name will return as an all-electric “Jeep-like” pickup truck aimed at off-road fans, the Wall St. Journal reported Friday.
GM’s newer, greener Hummer won’t be a stand-alone brand as it was before. Instead, it will be sold under the GMC brand of premium trucks and SUVs, and thus, sold at GMC dealerships. Such a move helps GM expedite the launch of this new model as it doesn’t need to establish and scale up another network of dealerships across the U.S.
The move, which had been rumored for months, will give GM an entry into the rapidly-growing lifestyle truck and SUV segment, one that currently lacks an all-electric competitor. As consumers increasingly gobble up crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, automakers are trying to keep up by launching new and unique variants.
A brief look at what brands have planned or have recently launched:
- Ford in 2019 brought its midsize Ranger pickup to the U.S. market after an eight-year hiatus; the automaker is planning to launch two new versions of its now-dormant Bronco SUV nameplate in the near future.
- Chevy has resurrected the Blazer name as a near-premium crossover (and will soon launch the smaller Trailblazer).
- Jeep will revive the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer as larger luxury crossovers above the Grand Cherokee; Jeep in 2019 debuted the Gladiator four-door pickup based on its intensely popular Wrangler SUV; Jeep is also planning plug-in hybrid variants of several current models.
- Jeep’s corporate cousin Ram is considering a midsize pickup.
- Hyundai is planning a compact pickup called the Santa Cruz.
- Nissan will finally update its ancient Frontier midsize truck.
- Land Rover has dusted off its vaunted Defender name for a pair of SUVs on sale shortly.
What’s notable about all of the aforementioned models is none are pure battery-electrics. Thus, GM’s decision to charge into the lifestyle light truck space with a new off-road-oriented model that’s also electric is a savvy way to carve out crucial white space in the lifestyle truck/SUV realm.
It’s also a long-overdue effort by GM to give consumers an EV that mirrors their current automotive preference (light truck) rather than forcing small (but well-executed) electric and plug-in cars on them.
GM can take comfort in the continued growth of the truck market as a whole. In a 2018 poll by Autolist.com, 62 percent of car shoppers said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ consider buying a compact or midsize truck for their next vehicle.
The numbers since then have backed that up. Sales of all trucks were up 5.8 percent in 2019 over a year earlier, with the midsize/lifestyle segment rising 20.7 percent over the same period, thanks largely to the addition of the Ranger and the Gladiator to the segment.
When it goes on sale in 2022, the Hummer will also be on the cusp of a burgeoning EV truck movement. GM itself is said to be planning a total of four large electric trucks and SUVs, including EV versions of the next GMC Sierra pickup and Cadillac Escalade SUV.
Ford, meanwhile, is planning an electric version of the next-gen F-150 pickup that will debut later this year, Tesla’s Cybertruck was the automotive scene-stealer of 2019 and grabbed more than 250,000 fully-refundable deposits according to the automaker, and startup Rivian — with a deluge of cash from Amazon and Ford — is planning an all-electric truck and SUV for 2021.
We’ll get our next morsel on Hummer during this year’s Super Bowl, according to WSJ, when none other than LeBron James himself has been enlisted to help promote GM’s next green step.
You can bet Arnold will be watching too.