Here’s a question many automotive enthusiasts have contemplated since the first vehicle manufacturer had to close its doors, if one was to resurrect a dearly departed automotive brand from any point in history, which manufacturer would be that choice?
General Motors answered that same question during Super Bowl LIV. It has chosen Hummer to make its comeback (Sorry Pontiac).
Hummer’s rise and fall
In 1992 AM General began offering civilian versions of the military Humvee. By 1998 the brand was quickly gaining acceptance and gaining aftermarket support. So, General Motors acquired it, added models, and created seemingly endless customization options. Additionally, the vehicles had an upscale feel and the blocky design that was counter to the swooping bulbous design languages of other manufacturers of the time.
However, (cue the dramatic music) the entire product lineup from Hummer was very inefficient with its fuel consumption and costly to produce. That was a problem for General Motors, its parent company, who by the early 2000s, was looking to cut costs and was facing rising fuel prices in the United States. So, during the financial crisis of 2008, General Motors was seeking to shutter brands to stay afloat and decided to lay Hummer to rest. By the middle of 2010, Hummer had finished producing vehicles.
A commercial during the Super Bowl added a plot twist to the Hummer story. Hummer is making a return! However, Hummer will not come back as a manufacturer with a portfolio of different products. Instead, Hummer will return as additional models within the GMC brand. Furthermore, those models will be an electric pickup and electric SUV.
What does that mean? It means that the daunting and costly task of having to stand up a new company by signing dealer agreements to create a network, and putting in place a parts and service infrastructure to support that new company is eliminated. Instead, the new Hummers will be models added to an already existing, extensive and capable production system that can pump out high volume quickly and service it too! This will shorten the delivery time to the consumer and save gobs of cash from the General Motors coffers. Additionally, the Hummers will be electric and thereby remove the previous fuel consumption concerns.
The electrification race is on
Quick delivery time and controlled costs are important because consumers are becoming increasingly more accepting of electric vehicles as price points become more reasonable. This has forced manufacturers all over the world into a race to provide electric vehicles quickly. It’s a race that Tesla has been seemingly winning the last few years. That’s about to change.
The electric pickup and SUV truck market are about to get extremely competitive. The announcement that General Motors will produce the Hummers in those segments means that it has also joined other manufacturers that have taken notice of the consumer demand and have made their own electric pickup truck or SUV offering for the near future. Indeed, Ford, Tesla, Rivian, and Bollinger have all waded in the electrification pool by recently showing their concept pickups or giving towing demonstrations.
The race is certainly on! However, General Motors and Ford have the most extensive infrastructure already in place to support their efforts. Their existing networks fill that need for producing, marketing, selling, and servicing whatever electric product they roll out. It will take a good long time for competitors to match the scale of General Motors and Ford. That’s not to say that Tesla hasn’t made progress.
It’s just that General Motors may have just woke up from its slumber and is now showing that it wants to be more aggressive in a space that the Chevy Volt couldn’t touch, the truck segment. This means if General Motors puts out the product as promised, with a design language that isn’t as polarizing as Tesla’s Cybertruck, then Tesla and others could be in for a world of hurt. General Motors could quickly dominate the field.