DETROIT -- A zero-emission Hummer sounds as paradoxical as non-alcoholic whiskey, but General Motors is mulling over the idea of building an electric vehicle that would bring the defunct gas-guzzling brand back to life.
For now, it’s just an idea GM is considering as it plans which vehicles will be included in a fleet of electrified SUVs and trucks, say people familiar with the matter. The Hummer name has surfaced as way to tap growing demand for rugged SUVs with off-road capabilities, while avoiding the gasoline-burning image that made the brand something of a pariah a decade ago, said the people, who asked not to be named because the conversations are private.
Electric Hummer chatter comes as GM is looking to transform itself from a conventional, gas-powered-vehicle maker into what CEO Mary Barra calls an “all-electric future.” Hummer is one of many options GM is exploring as it races to develop the next generation of battery-powered vehicles. Several other car companies also are rushing to produce commercially viable electric-powered models.
When asked about it, GM President Mark Reuss was unconvinced.
“I love Hummer,” Reuss said on the sidelines of a press conference on June 12. “I’m not sure. We’re looking at everything.”
Building an electric Hummer may never come to pass, but without electrification, GM would have a tough time selling a traditional Hummer in an era when emissions rules have become much stricter than in the brand’s heyday.
GM is currently working on two major battery-electric vehicle programs. The first is its BEV3 project, which will develop passenger cars, crossover SUVs and a variety of other small and mid-sized models. That’s part of the automaker’s pledge to put 20 EVs on the road globally by 2023. The second program would make electric pickups and other full-size vehicles, some of which can go off-road.
In its family of brands, GM has large SUVs -- such as the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade -- as well as hulking GMC vehicles including the Sierra truck and Yukon SUV. GMC also has Denali-labeled models that denote luxury and an AT4 brand for off-road capable trucks. Any of those potentially could be offered with electric powertrains, Reuss said.
“It’s massive. There might be places where we go first that are not just heavy-duty work trucks but more style and capability for off-road,” he said. “There are lots of things that are very attractive.”