In the latest and juiciest of Hummer-related rumors, the Wall Street Journal claims that “people familiar with the matter” say GM is bringing back Hummer as an off-road electric pickup model under the GMC brand. Set to debut in early 2022, the truck will be shown off by basketball genius LeBron James during this year’s Super Bowl, the news site’s sources say.
We’ve heard rumors about GM possibly resurrecting the Dead-Since-2010 Hummer brand as an electric off-road vehicle brand, and word on the street was that the vehicles would be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant. We also know for sure that GM is planning to sell an electric pickup. But now we’ve got fresh details from the Wall Street Journal involving Los Angeles Lakers triple-double-machine LeBron James, the calendar year 2022, and the GMC brand. From the journal:
General Motors Co. GM -1.23% is resurrecting the Hummer name on an all-electric pickup truck to be sold under the GMC brand, according to people familiar with the matter, reviving a once-popular yet controversial badge that was phased out a decade ago.
GM has enlisted NBA superstar LeBron James to promote Hummer’s return, including a plan to air a commercial during the Super Bowl next month, said one of these people and another person with knowledge of the advertising plans.
The new Hummer model, which is expected to go on sale by early 2022, is likely to be sold in small volumes as a rugged, jeep-like pickup truck for off-road enthusiasts, said people briefed on the strategy.
The story goes on to say there’s no plan to make Hummer its own brand—it will just be a GMC model.
The sourcing on this is a bit nebulous, so we’ll take this with a grain of salt for now, but it’s still fun to think about, though I’m a bit conflicted about whether this is a good idea.
I’m actually a Hummer apologist. I think the Hummer brand got such a bad rap not because the vehicles were bad or even that thirsty compared to what else was on the road at the time. (Heck, even if you look at modern off-road trucks and SUVs, Hummers aren’t really that different in terms of basic layout). No, I think it all came down to timing and the fact that the brand made only big trucks and SUVs, which are by nature not particularly fuel efficient. I’ll just quote myself to drive that point home:
The biggest factor, I think, was timing. Though Hummer made its debut near the beginning of this millennium, it was still a young brand by the time the Great Recession hit. With jobs dwindling and fuel prices soaring, gas-sucking SUVs became objects of ridicule, and with Hummer in the limelight, crosshairs turned toward it. Ever since, the brand has become viewed as one of excess and indulgence, even if it’s not really that much more of a perpetrator than many modern brands.
My coworker Andrew added that timing was just one factor in tarnishing the Hummer name. The GM bankruptcy and Hummer’s association with unpopular conflicts in the middle east were also important. From Andrew:
Hummer, on the other hand, became the poster car of controversial conflicts in the Middle East. People who might have been Hummer’s target market could have been suffering from PTSD after driving them in the line of duty.
Meanwhile, by the second half of the 2000s, environmentalism as pop culture was spiking right along with gas prices, and suddenly having a big carbon footprint for its own sake became very gauche, very quickly. That whole thing about the U.S. government bailing GM out didn’t exactly support Hummer’s vibe of invincibility, either.
With this in mind, bringing back the Hummer brand could be risky, but at the same time, I can think of very few moves that would make a bigger splash and draw more attention to GM’s electrification efforts than turning a tarnished brand known for excessive gasoline consumption into one that uses no gasoline at all.
Hopefully we’ll learn soon if that’s what GM is going to do. I’ve reached out to the automaker, and they’ve declined to comment.