General Motors announced early this morning that the HUMMER brand, formerly dead after the transformation to new-GM and the DOA sale to a Chinese tractor company no one had ever heard of, would be returning next year as the world's only hybrid/EV/electric/environmentally-sensible/responsible/not embarrassing to Americans brand.
Jim Taylor, former manager of GM's HUMMER off-road brand, beamed with pride this morning as he made the announcement that everyone had been waiting for. Standing on the steps of GM's corporate headquarters on Renaissance Avenue in Detroit, MI, Jim began reading from the press release, his voice barely disguising his excitement.
"We were faced with a crucial decision. We could let the HUMMER brand, steeped in history and beloved by the entire American public, sink into the annals of history, another completely viable marque thrown away like Saturn. Or we could choose to re-invent it, re-imagine it, and fully realize it's potential. The choice was easy."
Above: a totally real picture.
So what will General Motors do with the HUMMER franchise, formally thought to be deader than the proverbial doornail? The answer may surprise you: HUMMER will be the the General's "Halo" brand for Hybrid and EV technology. Why?
"Well, the Volt was just the start," mused Jim. "We see a transmogrification of our plug-in Hybrid technology into other segments as a necessary economics-of-scale measure to justify the EV program's existence. We can't continue to sell cars like the Volt and it's better-looking cousing the Ampera as loss leaders. Those are the kind of expenses a short-sighted company like Honda would accept, but we're still about the bottom line here. So basically, Hummer fit the bill. I mean, they weren't doing anything - why not?"
Critics and fans of the Hummer brand are already beginning to worry that a hybrid Hummer would dilute the brand's image to the point of no return. Jim has a simple retort: "Well, the H3 was actually a Chevrolet Colorado, which was actually an Isuzu, so it's not really like we had any brand image to ruin in the first place. Any dolt with his head screwed on his shoulders the right way knows that civilian Hummers were just gussied-up Tahoes and Isuzu's anyway, so how much worse could a Hybrid be? I mean, come on. The H2? you can't go lower than that."
Future Hummers will put an emphasis on looking tough while going green - a difficult balance to strike. "Off road ability isn't going to be such a focus like it as before," says Jim, "because really, no HUMMER owners ever took them further off road than accidentally going over the parking block at the mall when they dropped their latte in their lap because they were trying to talk on their phone and pet their poodle at the same time."
The first fruit of the new HUMMER resuscitation will be called the H0.5. Rumor has it that the H0.5 will use a variant of the Volt's plug-in Hybrid system, with the turbocharged 1.4L from the Cruze mated to the rest of the normal Volt electriconic gubbins. This model will initially be front-wheel-drive only, but a Hybrid AWD (using electric motors to power the rear wheels) may come to market afterwards, if the consumer demands it.
Time will tell how this strategy plays out - but it's great to see a once-dead brand being used for something relevant, even if it's just a cynical marketing exercise to create "Green Cred" even though the overall environment impact of these vehicles (including production, disposal, and charging off the mostly coal-fired power grid) is considerably worse than a regular HUMMER.