General Motors purchased the Hummer brand from AM General in 1998 and quickly capitalized on the opportunity by introducing the H2 and H3 in 2002 and 2005, respectively. But as the 2008 financial crisis struck and gas prices began to rise, having a brand dedicated to expensive, gas-guzzling SUVs made little sense, and Hummer was dropped from GM’s brand portfolio.
However, as gas prices have returned to a more reasonable level, consumers have begun to flock to larger vehicles once again, with crossover, truck and SUV sales surging in recent years. If the rumors are true, this change in consumers’ tastes has prompted GM to consider bringing the Hummer brand back – but this time as an electric vehicle. While GM has yet to confirm rumors of Hummer’s revival, it hasn’t denied them, either, so it seems there is at least some credibility to the hearsay.
With the rumors of Hummer’s potential comeback going mainstream, CNBC recently took some time to delve into the brand’s past and look at what initially made it successful, what led to its demise and why GM is looking at bringing it back once again. For its video report, CNBC spoke to Edmunds‘ executive director of industry analysis, Jessica Caldwell, who believes there’s enough demand for large, capable vehicles to justify Hummer’s return.
“I think that (reviving Hummer) does make sense from a manufacturer standpoint, but also it seems like the consumer base is there,” Caldwell said. “I mean how much hype was there over the Jeep Gladiator launch? Tons, I mean people are still very excited about that vehicle a year later.”
The Gladiator, while an all-new product for Jeep, is technically a revival of the brand’s older pickup models. Jeep has a long history of building pickups, but stopped after Chrysler decided to make it an SUV brand only and leave the pickup market to Dodge/Ram. Similar to what GM may do with Hummer, though, FCA revived the Jeep pickup to capitalize on newfound demand for larger vehicles. The major difference is that GM is looking to shake off Hummer’s negative image of being a wasteful gas-guzzler by making it pure electric.
While this strategy may be a risk, the new electric Hummer SUV will allegedly share a platform and the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly line with a number of other large electric GM vehicles, including its future electric pickup truck. That way, if nostalgia for the Hummer is lower than GM thought, it will at least spread some of the cost around between its electric pickup and its other large new EV programs.
Whether or not Hummer truly has a future remains to be seen. For now, check out the CNBC report below for a quick backgrounder on Hummer’s past and additional insight into where the brand may be headed.