Hummer Redo Will Attack Emerging Urban Assault Vehicle Market

January 27, 2020 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

After failing to sell and then shuttering the Hummer brand a decade ago, General Motors is looking to bring it back as an electric “urban assault vehicle,” according to multiple reports and stock analysts.

While GM isn’t commenting, the Wall Street Journal reported that the new Hummer might broadcast its first commercial during the Super Bowl. The vehicle won’t go on sale until 2022.

The Detroit automaker previously said it plans to build electric trucks. The Hummer would likely show up as a GMC model, according to Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays.

A new Hummer fits in with a broader trend to “electric urban assault vehicles” that will be hitting the pavement over the next several years, Johnson wrote in a recent report to investors.

“We see a bifurcated set of use cases for the bevy of e-pickups in the coming years, going after a) the affluent, appearance-oriented buyers at one end in what we are terming the ‘urban assault vehicle’ (as GM may be doing with the Hummer) and b) fleet owners looking to reduce fuel costs, with capabilities to maximize fleet utilization with regards to charging,” Johnson said.

EMERGING TREND

The urban assault vehicle market is just starting to emerge. GM tried to enter the segment by investing in Rivian, an electric SUV and pickup startup in Plymouth, Mich. But the two companies couldn’t agree on terms. And Ford then invested $500 million in Rivian. It also counts Amazon and Cox Automotive, the owner of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, among its major funder.

Rivian plans to start production of the R1T electric pickup truck at a former Mitsubishi auto factory in Normal, Ill. later this year. It also plans to build the R1S SUV. Both will start at about $70,000. Rivian is pitching the pair as adventure vehicles.

Rivian designed the vehicles for off-roading, but they can double as daily drivers. It has an independent electric motor at each wheel to provide power. The truck’s axles and the standard air suspension will allow for 10.6-inches of articulation at each corner.

The R1T has five ride heights that accommodate situations where the vehicle must climb over rocks or lower itself to clear branches.

It is also quick, getting from zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds according to company estimates. Rivian promises at least an 11,000-pound towing capacity. Both models will have up to a 400-mile range.

BOLLINGER TRUCKS

Meanwhile, Bollinger Motors plans to start selling $125,000 boxy, Hummer-inspired battery-electric B1 SUVs and B2 pickup trucks also aimed at the adventure crowd.

The fledgling automaker Bollinger has spent the past four years developing the modular aluminum trucks. Bollinger said it would launch production of the two vehicles later this year in 2020. Retail deliveries will start in 2021, founder Robert Bollinger told Trucks.com.

The four-door, four-seat trucks, which share most components, are all-wheel drive work and sport vehicles. They feature up to 20 inches of ground clearance and 200 miles of range. They will have a 2.5-ton payload capacity, according to the company’s specifications.

THE CYBERTRUCK

And then there is Tesla’s recently introduced Cybertruck. The Blade Runner film inspired the design. It uses an ultra-hard, cold-rolled stainless exoskeleton instead of a traditional body on frame construction. Tesla said it will start deliveries in late 2021.

The base model starts at $39,900. The mid-range dual motor model is $49,900 and the tri-motor begins at $69,900. The prices are without any incentives. Tesla has lost eligibility for the federal EV tax credit because it hit the sales cap.

Ford also plans to sell an electric version of its F-150 pickup truck, currently the best-selling vehicle of any type in the U.S.

These offerings are coming because GM and the other companies are starting to understand that electric vehicles also need to capture consumer imagination, Johnson said.

“While the Chevy Bolt was in our view a boring compliance car, whose lackluster styling masked decent range, GM appears to have heeded the lesson of Tesla that EVs in the US should have a performance and styling appeal,” he said.

They also are attacking the most profitable segment of the U.S. auto market. While large pickups and SUVs account for only 33 percent of the North American sales volume for GM and Ford, the generate 75 percent of the automakers’ profits, Johnson said.

GMC CONNECTION

Locating Hummer at GMC dealerships also makes sense. GMC markets itself as a seller of premium trucks and SUVs.  Its average transaction prices rival those of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

GMC also has had success pitching sub-brands within its lineup.  All of its vehicles now come as top-line Denalis packed with upgraded interiors and technology. Over the past several years, the company added an AT4 sub-brand that adds rugged features and more off-road capability to its vehicles. All GMC trucks will be available as AT4s by the end of this year, the company recently told Trucks.com.

Hummer could turn into GMCs electric sub-brand.

Duncan Aldred, who heads the GMC and Buick brands, told Trucks.com recently that there are “always opportunities” to add sub-brands to GMC but declined to elaborate. Asked what he could say about Hummer, Aldred smiled and said, “nothing.”

Jerry Hirsch September 30, 2019
High-profile investors, a refurbished factory and a launch order from Amazon for 100,000 electric trucks have Rivian poised for success.

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