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In-Depth: Is Hummer Return Inevitable or Wishful Thinking?

Original Hummer Truck Concept

Rumors abound once again about Hummer’s possible return. This time, however, it seems like there’s a better chance. 

We don’t think Hummer will be coming back as a full-fledged brand, but we think an edition or one or two models are possible.  If we’re looking at what’s selling for clues – it looks a lot like a Jeep Wrangler competitor (HX/H4) and a pickup truck. 

Hummer HX Concept

We’ve always said it would take a decade or more for Hummer to even consider making a return.  When Hummer shut down, there was no way they could meet the new fuel economy standards that were just a few years away. Now that electric vehicle technology is getting better every day, the chances of seeing Hummer return in some form or fashion also improve. 

If you’re GM, and you’ve committed to an all-electric future, and trucks and SUVs have higher profit margins and are selling like crazy, and you’re looking to make a bold statement with your first electric truck…..why not make it a Hummer truck?

Reasons Not To Revive Hummer

“GM is not bringing brands back from the dead,” said one industry analyst we talked to. “There is no dealer support structure, engineering team, marketing team, etc.,” but admitted that designing vehicles with Hummer-like features or creating a Hummer sub-brand within another GM brand could be a possibility. “At that point, why not just build off of Chevys ZR2/X and GMC’s AT4 momentum.”

Counterpoint: GM considered launching Hummers as part of GMC in the very beginning, but ultimately decided to go all-in on the brand. Revisiting the approach they almost went with doesn’t seem like a stretch. 

Hummer isn’t politically correct.  Hummer, at least in the beginning, was known for being “Like Nothing Else” which also meant it got a lot of negative press.  Some argue it was unearned, considering the F150 sold many times the volume and at the time had the same fuel economy stats. But, that’s the price you pay when you choose to be bold and stand out.  But, it’s possible that boldness is so ingrained that in a hyper-PC culture, discussing a Hummer comeback could alienate some people. It may be too hard to shake the ‘socially irresponsible’ brand stigma.

Counterpoint: Any new all-electric Hummer Truck or SUV couldn’t be labeled a gas-guzzler if there is no gas. Conspicuous consumption was the biggest PR problem. GM should carefully consider how new Hummer models would live up to the brand’s tough image. In a culture where everything seems to get watered down, that’s the worst thing one could do with a brand like Hummer. 

Electric vehicle range is too short for an adventure vehicle. By today’s standards, that’s probably right.  

Counterpoint: Tesla just announced it’s new electric truck will have a range of 300 miles.  That’s nothing to scoff at, and not too far off from what you can expect to get from a Hummer H3 you might still have.  Plus, we’re talking about late 2021 production which would probably mean 2022 model year. We’ve got some time.

Reasons GM Might Revive Hummer

Insiders Think It’s Coming

LMC Automotive, an auto industry forecast company, has “confirmed” that GM will build a Hummer pickup truck and SUV in late 2021.  This is according to Jeff Schuster, an industry analyst with LMC Automotive. It’s allegedly part of GM’s deal with the UAW that will keep the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant open. 

GM, of course, won’t comment – but they have publically committed to spending $3 billion to prepare the plant for electric vehicle production.

Reuters took a more cautious approach to their reporting, saying that GM is considering incorporating Hummer into the mix at the new plant. 

How and what that may look like remains a mystery.

Electric Hummer was Ready in 2011

Jim Taylor, Hummer’s final CEO, indicated that an extended range electric H3 had already been engineered and was ready to be announced after the deal to the Chinese was complete.  At that point, the new, independent HUMMER brand was going to be launched.

“We had spent all kinds of private, silent money to get it ready for the brand launch,” says Taylor. “When [the deal] closed, our debut at the Shanghai auto show was going to be an electric H3. For us to offer a hybrid Hummer, I think, was going to change the brand image overnight.”

GM has been easing back into the off-road market segment with Chevy

Hummer engineers and designers are still around. Todd Hubbard is a former vehicle dynamics engineer for the H3 division of Hummer, and was brought in as an off-road expert during for the development of the Chevy Colorado ZR2. “There was…still some expertise within the corporation from the Hummer days,” he told GMA

“We basically took the requirements for Hummer, and that was the framework for the ZR2. So, everything that we asked that Hummer to do, we’re asking of the ZR2.

We’ve completely validated everything we set out to do, and, to be honest, we didn’t actually expect it to – we were targeting a slightly lower grade off-road trail, like the class 3 trail, but we’re running class 4 trails, we’re running Moab Rim, Poison Spider, Cane Creek, those are solid class 4 trails that the truck is – we were all greatly impressed, and it exceeded our expectations on a 31-inch tire.”

Todd Hubbard is a former vehicle dynamics engineer for the H3 division of Hummer

To demonstrate the off-road readiness of the ZR2, GM renewed its desert racing sponsorship with Hall Racing – who dominated stock-class off-road racing when sponsored by Hummer. 

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

When you see the Racing ZR2 and SEMA trucks – it feels a lot like the Hummer days of old.

Let’s not also forget the ZH2 Military vehicle – which is a hell of an off-roader and powered by an alternative drivetrain. Sound familiar?

GM has been easing back into the off-road market through GMC

Early on, all eyes were on GMC as rumors swirled of a Hummer-inspired wrangler fighter.  We outlined many of the reasons it may make sense back in 2014. Many of the reasons are still true.

1) GM originally considered releasing HUMMERs under the GMC Nameplate

2) The HUMMER H4/HX Concept debuted to huge fanfare

3) HUMMER’s lead Designer is now a Manager in the GMC Design Studio

4) GM still owns all the HUMMER designs

Then, in 2015, dealers were surveyed if they might be interested in a new vehicle that would “borrow cues and capability” from the Hummer brand. 

At the time, the (then) new boss at GMC, Duncan Aldred, mentioned working on new products like an “active all-road, Wrangler-esque type of vehicle,” in an attempt to shake the image that GMC can’t produce unique vehicles.

That’s a lot of rumors, and biggest off-road development we’ve seen from GMC in the last 5 years are the AT4 models.  Meh.

Jeep Needs a Competitor

Jeep sold 240,000 Wranglers in 2018, up from 94,000 in 2010 when Hummer announced it was winding down the brand.  The times have changed, and preferences for large SUVs and Pickup Trucks is back. If you’re GM, you’ve got to wonder if the next recession is around the corner, and how soon expensive trucks and SUVs will be in fashion.

Lots of people are trying to build off-road capable, electric trucks and SUVs. 

Several companies are getting in on the off-road capable electric truck market.  Earlier this year, Ford even poured $500 million into Rivian. There’s an old business mantra that if you look around and no one is doing what you’re doing, there probably isn’t a market for it.  Of course, the opposite must also be true.

Aside from Rivian, the styling of these truck concepts range from unimpressive to downright shocking.

See: Tesla, Bollinger

What do you think?

What do you think? Will GM Revive Hummer in some way? If so, how? What would you like to see? Join the discussion over on Facebook

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