One of the most iconic gas guzzlers and images of excess of the modern motoring era – the military-inspired Hummer brand – could make a comeback in the US a decade after being dumped.
But there is a big twist: according to reports out of the US it will aim for a more environmentally-friendly image with a line-up of electric utes and SUVs.
The Wall Street Journal, citing US advertising sources, claims Hummer brand owner General Motors has hired basketball superstar LeBron James to appear in a TV commercial due to air during next month’s Super Bowl football grand final.
The newspaper reported the new Hummer model is due to go on sale in the US some time in 2022, and will be a “Jeep-like pick-up truck for off-road enthusiasts”.
“The vehicle will be among the first of several large, battery-powered SUVs and pick-up trucks that GM is expected to roll out over the next several years,” the Wall Street Journal reported, citing several unnamed sources.
The report says General Motors will sell the Hummer at GMC dealerships, rather than market it as a standalone brand.
Hummer was one of the casualties of General Motors’ bankruptcy during the Global Financial Crisis, during which long-standing brands such as Pontiac, Saturn and Swedish badge Saab were axed or sold.
Hummer was supposed to be sold to a Chinese company in 2010 but the deal was reportedly blocked by Chinese regulators and GM instead retired the nameplate.
Analysts believe Hummer could have been successful if it weren’t such a symbol for the excesses of the early 2000s.
“Had (fuel) prices not skyrocketed, and had they perhaps marketed it within another brand as opposed to (standalone dealerships) maybe it would have stuck around longer,” Brian Johnson, an analyst at Barclays, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying.
Selling Hummer vehicles in GMC showrooms would mean dealers don’t need to invest heavily to adopt the model. GMC is seen as a premium offering between General Motors’ Chevrolet and Cadillac brands.
Unlike General Motors’ other luxury division Buick, the GMC brand’s rugged image makes it more feasible to have Hummer vehicles share showroom space.
According to Automotive News USA, General Motors will build the Hummer pick-up alongside other electric pick-ups and SUVs destined for Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan following a $3 billion investment. The roll-out of these models would occur from 2021 to 2023, the report said.
Hummer started out as a military vehicle supplier but was bought by General Motors in 1998 with a plan to transform it into a Jeep rival.
The initial Hummer range – which shared underbodies and engines with Chevrolet pick-ups and SUVs – had a spike in sales in 2006 before rising petrol prices and a slumping economy took its toll.
When General Motors declared bankruptcy and was under government control, Hummer was one of the first brands to be let go.
The Hummer brand was briefly sold in Australia – from October 2007 to June 2010 – but the timing couldn’t have been worse.
Just one model was available, the Hummer H3 – a scaled down version of the full size Hummer which competed with medium SUVs in Australia.
It was powered by a 3.7-litre in-line five-cylinder petrol engine paired to an automatic transmission and was priced from $51,990. About 1800 were sold locally.
A pick-up version of the Hummer H3 (pictured) was due to follow but the brand was axed mid-2010 in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.
Today, used examples still fetch good money: close to $30,000 despite having up to or in excess of 200,000km on the odometer.