General Motors is bringing back the Hummer and will promote it with a Super Bowl ad starring LeBron James, according to people familiar with the matter. The automaker will revive the polarizing brand, but this time as an electric truck instead of an emblem of gasoline consumption.
The Detroit automaker plans to debut a pickup around 2022 with boxy styling cues reminiscent of the Hummers of yore, one of the people said. GM is considering selling the battery-powered truck in existing dealerships under the marketing name “Hummer by GMC,” the people said.
A GM representative did not immediately provide details to Ad Age about the Super Bowl ad, including the agency. Advertising for the GMC brand has been handled by Leo Burnett. If the ad stars James, it will mark an auto switch for the National Basketball Leage star, who has previously appeared in ads for Kia.
If the company follows through with that plan, it would address the two biggest problems that doomed Hummer 10 years ago: its gas-guzzling image and its costly network of stand-alone showrooms. GMC is a division of GM that sells SUVs, trucks and vans.
“GM’s move is interesting because there could be a huge cohort of people that will now grow up associating GMC with being environmentally friendly,” said George Augustaitis, director of industry analytics at CarGurus.com, a car-shopping and research site.
Bloomberg first reported in June that GM was mulling the Hummer brand’s return as a line of electric vehicles. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Friday that the automaker has decided to move forward with the plan.
GM bought the Hummer brand in 1998 and sales of the vehicle peaked in 2006 before declining precipitously at the end of that decade as gasoline prices soared, hurting demand for the 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H2. The company halted sales in 2010.
Hummer’s second wind is part GM’s $3 billion investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck factory in Michigan, part of a deal with the United Auto Workers late last year. The automaker also is building a plant with LG Chem Ltd. to make battery cells for electric vehicles in Ohio.
In addition to the pickup, GM also has a large sport utility vehicle in the works for Hummer. It will be produced soon after the truck if the brand relaunch proves successful, the people said.
The electrified Hummer project comes as GM is looking to transform itself from a conventional, gas-powered-vehicle maker into what Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra calls an “all-electric future.” The automaker is one of several rushing to produce commercially viable electric-powered models in a segment that remains small, but is expected to see faster grow this decade.
-Bloomberg News with contributions from Ad Age