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General Motors Confirms the Return of the Hummer as a 1,000 Horsepower Electric Truck

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【Summary】GM is bringing back the Hummer as a fully-electric, 1,000 horsepower, zero-emissions truck under the GMC badge. This time around, the new Hummer won’t be judged by its gas mileage.

Eric Walz    Jan 30, 2020 10:00 AM PT
General Motors Confirms the Return of the Hummer as a 1,000 Horsepower Electric Truck
The grill of the GMC Hummer EV

Twenty years ago, driving a Hummer SUV was somewhat of a status symbol. Even former California Governor Arnold Swartzenagger famously drove one of the monstrous, military-inspired, utilitarian trucks. However, the original Hummer was not at all environmentally friendly. With its horrendous fuel economy, the original Hummer trucks were loathed by environmentalists.

When General Motors filed for bankruptcy in 2009 the Hummer brand was axed. Now after months of rumors about its rebirth, the Hummer nameplate is coming back as a fully-electric, 1,000 horsepower, zero-emissions truck under the GMC badge.

This time around, the new Hummer won't be judged by its gas mileage.

The new truck is called the GMC HUMMER EV, and GM is promoting the electric Hummer as "bringing bold design and remarkable capability to the electrified vehicle space." The first ads entitled "Quiet Revolution." will run this weekend during the Superbowl, one of the world's most watched sporting events.

We won't see the truck right away, GM only released a few teaser photos showing the Hummer EV's aggressive, yet modern front grill. The GMC Hummer EV will be officially revealed on May 20, 2020 in Detroit. The truck will be built in Michigan at General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

The GMC Hummer EV will go on sale in fall 2021.

The 30-second Hummer TV commercial is scheduled to air during the second quarter of Superbowl game on Sunday. The spot targeted at truck buyers, and touts the Hummer as GMC's new all-electric "super truck." The commercial will highlight the Hummer's horsepower, torque and acceleration, as well as its incredible on- and off-road capability and near silent electric motors.

With its 1,000 horsepower electric powertrain, the Hummer EV will offer 11,500 lb-ft of torque and can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3 seconds, an impressive feat for such a heavy truck.

"GMC builds premium and capable trucks and SUVs and the GMC HUMMER EV takes this to new heights," said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC. "We are excited to debut our revolutionary zero-emissions truck during the biggest night in TV advertising."

GM purchased the brand name Hummer from truckmaker AM General in 1998 and produced three vehicles under the nameplate. The hulking original HUMMER H1, based on the military Humvee built by AM General, as well as two smaller versions called the H2 and H3, which were built on GM's more practical consumer truck platforms.

Twenty years ago, the original Hummer represented everything wrong with the auto industry at the time, as U.S. consumers flocked to more practical and fuel efficient cars from import brands such as Toyota and Honda as gas prices soared.

The truck were highly criticized for their poor fuel economy and impracticality. The Hummer H1 and H2 averaged just under 13 mpg, as other automakers were building much more fuel efficient vehicles, including smaller SUVs. One the federal government stepped in, Hummer's future was decided.

On July 1, 2009, The federal government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), often referred to as "cash for clunkers" began. CARS was a $3 billion U.S. federal scrappage program intended to provide economic incentives to U.S. residents to purchase a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle when trading in a less fuel-efficient vehicle, such as large trucks and SUVs.

The program was intended to stimulate the economy and help U.S. automaker boost sales, while at the same time putting safer, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the roadways.

GM tried unsuccessfully to sell the Hummer brand after its 2009 bankruptcy and the U.S. auto market cooled. However, after failing to find buyer GM retired the Hummer brand in February, 2010. The last Hummer H3 rolled off the line at GM's Shreveport Assembly and Stamping Plant in Shreveport, Louisiana on May 24, 2010. The plant closed for good in August 2012. 

The upcoming Hummer EV is already facing growing competition in the electric truck space, even though it won't go on sale until 2021. Electric automaker Tesla and a crop of new electric truck startups are gearing up to release their own fully-electric models.

In November last year, Tesla recently revealed its new Cybertruck, while Rivian is coming out with an electric pickup and SUV that will challenge both GM and Ford. Rivian's investors include a $500 million investment from Ford and $700 million from e-commerce giant Amazon.

GM's main rival Ford is planning to release an electric version of the popular F-150 pickup, the best-selling truck in the U.S. for over 40 years. The electric F-150 will be built on an all-new EV platform designed by Rivian. Another startup Bollinger Motors, has plans for its own fully-electric utilitarian truck. 

GM is promoting the new Hummer EV on social media. As part of the automaker's digital and social media marketing push surrounding the Suberbowl, GMC will take over the YouTube homepage masthead on Friday, Jan. 31. 

The Hummer EV represents GM's commitment to its electric future. However, it also shows just how valuable the truck segment is for both GM and Ford.

Instead of losing highly-profitable truck sales from consumers switching to more fuel efficient and electric vehicles, both automakers seemed to have found a viable solution to hold onto profits, make environmentalists happy and keep the growing competition at bay. 

In GM's case, it's taking the highly identifiable Hummer nameplate and reinventing it as a fully-electric brand.

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