DETROIT — The 2022 GMC Hummer EV has arrived.
General Motors Co. virtually unveiled the $112,595 “Edition 1” of the off-roading electric supertruck Tuesday across multiple platforms, including Game One of the World Series and NBC’s “The Voice.”
The Hummer, known a decade ago as a gas-guzzling Goliath, has been reborn with a soundless, fully electric system. But its size and stature on the road remain. It’s one of the 20 battery-powered vehicles GM plans to feature by 2023 and it will be built right here in Detroit at the newly named Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center starting in fall 2021.
The pricey Hummer — that industry experts expected to be priced at $70,000 or below — is a sign of a changing game plan for GM. After years of selling lower-cost fully electric Chevrolet Bolts and the hybrid Chevrolet Volts, GM is looking for a new customer who can afford a higher price tag for the electric vehicles that are more costly to produce than their gas-powered peers.
“This innovative truck comes to market with speed and purpose, bringing GM another step closer to an all-electric future,” GM President Mark Reuss said in a statement. “With our Ultium Drive architecture as the foundation for an exceptionally broad range of performance, Hummer EV is perfect for the customer who wants capability, efficiency and performance.”
GM is positioning Hummer as a halo vehicle for the company’s push into electrification. By taking a classic gas-guzzler and turning it into a cutting edge electric truck, analysts say, the General is aiming to flip the Hummer legacy on its head — and communicate to buyers that these vehicles can do everything gas-powered vehicles can do. And more.
“By demonstrating that ‘big’ doesn’t necessarily mean inefficient, the Hummer EV represents a monumental paradigm shift that not only benefits GM but also will help push consumer acceptance of EVs into a new realm,” predicted Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights for Edmunds.com Inc., a vehicle information website.
GM revived the Hummer brand more than a decade after it stopped making it and nearly sold its name. The Hummer was never a top seller for GM, but it was a head-turner that people purchased to make a statement on and off the road. It came out when SUVs still didn’t have great fuel economy standards “and this thing was the most extreme variant of it,” Drury said.
But he added that a name revival was expected at some point: “There’s so much brand equity there. They were just waiting for the right time.”
That time is now as pickup trucks have become the new frontier of electrification and as GM is trying to position itself as tough competition for Tesla Inc., the leading electric vehicle maker in the U.S. whose brand and technology draw both customers and Wall Street investment dollars.
“One thing we have learned from Tesla is that brand is extremely important with electric vehicles,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at AutoTrader. “Nobody has built a brand better than Tesla. It’s almost like the electric part of it is besides the point: people want to buy a Tesla.”
When it rolls off the line in late 2021 as a 2022 model, the Hummer truck (an SUV version will be made as well) will join an increasingly crowded segment of electric trucks. Competitors are expected to include Tesla’s stainless-steel Cybertruck and the Plymouth-born Rivian Automotive Inc.’s R1T.
The Cybertruck starts at below $40,000 and was slated to come out in late 2021. Rivian’s truck starts at $69,000 and is also supposed to be delivered next year.
Analysts expected the Hummer EV to start out much lower than the $112,595 Edition 1 version. GM is also planning to deliver a $79,995 version in spring 2024. There will also be a $99,995 version coming out in the fall of 2022 and an $89,995 version in the spring of 2023.
All of the electric trucks are expected to be big, bold statement vehicles that take advantage of electric vehicles’ inherent traits: stump-pulling torque from electric motors and deep storage space thanks to batteries being stored in the floor and no engine up front.
The Hummer EV offers unique features to try and differentiate it from the crowd including a crab mode for diagonal driving, a 350-mile range on a single charge, an open-air roof, and a 3.0-second 0-60 sprint when equipped with three electric motors. GM claims the Hummer EV will generate the equivalent of 1,000 horsepower and deliver 11,500 pound-feet of torque.
“By launching a halo vehicle, GM will finally have a product that offers a glimpse of the technologies that will trickle down through its lineup, unlike its prior Chevy Bolt and Volt vehicles that were intended to highlight the building blocks of GM’s EV offerings,” Drury said.
The flood of electric offerings comes as governments for the first time are dictating to automakers what power trains to use. And, with a new generation of buyers reared on battery-powered iPhones entering the market, automakers want to showcase their tech-savvy. On the new Hummer EV Edition 1, customers will have access to GM’s self-driving Super Cruise technology. They will also get a large, 13.4-inch-diagonal infotainment screen and 12.3-inch-diagonal driver information center display.
There will be 19 electric vehicles for sale in the U.S and by 2023 there will be 62, a three-fold increase, according to Kelley Blue Book. But the market demand for these products still isn’t known. Last year, less than 2% of all sales were electric.
Right now who the customer is for the Hummer EV is still unknown because “there is no market at the moment for EV trucks … but what is really clear is what they’ve done with the Hummer EV is they’ve made it every bit as capable as a gas engine truck,” Krebs said.
The Hummer EV will be the first full-electric vehicle in GMC’s portfolio and is powered by General Motors’ new Ultium battery system. GM claims these batteries are unique to the industry because the large-format pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, allowing designers to optimize battery storage and layout for each vehicle’s design.
At the Detroit factory where the Hummer will be built, GM expects to be able to make more than 270,000 vehicles a year, which also includes the Cruise Origin, an autonomous electric shuttle and potentially other products that haven’t been revealed.
The automaker invested billions to transition the plant it once planned to close into an electric vehicle facility, one of three for GM. Part of that investment included an expansion for a brand new paint shop, body shop and battery assembly line.
About half of GMC’s 1,700 dealers have signed up to sell the Hummer EV. Potential customers could start placing reservations for the new Hummer on Tuesday.
(Detroit News staff writer Henry Payne contributed.)
© 2020 The Detroit News