Cars

GM’s ‘BT1’ Program Might Include Electric Hummers, Trucks, Cadillac SUVs: Report

The defunct-but-hardly-forgotten General Motors brand Hummer getting resurrected for electric SUVs is an idea that’s been kicked around before. But today, a new report from Reuters lays out some specifics of how EV trucks could be a big part of GM’s future, and the name “Hummer” is pinballing around again by association, partially because of the United Auto Workers union’s efforts to keep a plant open.

The UAW, which of course has been on strike squaring off with GM for many days, has released that the Detroit-Hamtramck will be kept open “with new product” in a contract summary document.

Now according to unnamed sources “familiar with plans,” Reuters is reporting the product coming from that plant in the future will be a “new family of premium electric pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles… beginning in late 2021.”

Reuters went on to state:

“The so-called BT1 electric truck/SUV program is the centerpiece of a planned $3 billion investment in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant to make electric trucks and vans, and part of a broader $7.7 billion investment in GM’s U.S. plants over the next four years, according to a proposed labor deal between the automaker and the United Auto Workers union.”

“GM’s BT1 program includes an electric pickup for the GMC brand and an electric SUV for Cadillac, both due in 2023, the sources said.”

“The pickups and SUVs in the BT1 family will use a new dedicated electric vehicle architecture, including a “skateboard” chassis that bundles electric motor and batteries, the sources said. [Auto Forecast Solutions vice president of global vehicle forecasting Sam Fiorani] expects the GM electric truck to sell at around $90,000 or more, while the other vehicles will easily top $100,000.”

“When the plant reaches full production in 2024, it is expected to build about 80,000 electric vehicles a year, the sources said.”

I should note that a revival to the Hummer brand is only reported as “under consideration.” But, it’s a good idea–my colleagues and I have joked that Hummer would probably sell pretty well if you could buy it new today, just because people freaking love SUVs so much.

Hummer had to die when it did at the end of the ’00s. It was just so synonymous with ostentatiousness and waste that it didn’t mix well with GM’s government bailout. But flashiness is back, baby. And like I said–people can’t get enough 4x4s. Bringing Hummer back as an EV offering the smugness of zero-emissions with the brawn and brashness of a hard-edged off-roader could have a pretty wide band of appeal.

Plus, it’s a brand with a lot of built-in name recognition and something people already expect to pay a lot of money for. Since high-end EVs are going to be more profitable than cheaper offerings like the Chevy Bolt, a premium EV brand seems like a logical starting point for whatever GM’s electric truck efforts end up looking like.

While Hummer’s return has been mentioned in whispers and unattributed quotes, GM’s plans to make electric trucks happen have been publicly advertised and confirmed.

As Jalopnik quoted The Detroit News back in May:

“GM has an industry-leading truck franchise and industry-leading electrification capabilities. I assure you we will not cede our leadership on either front,” [GM CEO Mary Barra] said. “We intend to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs — including full-size pickups.”

Barra said GM would share more on the electric pickup “when competitively appropriate.” A GM spokesman declined to provide details on the new electric vehicle or the timing of its launch.

The combination of Ford hooking up with EV Truck outfit Rivian and now the UAW keeping a vehicle plant open puts a lot of pressure on GM to get something new into the pipeline, and if Reuter’s details are accurate, it sounds like some new electric trucks will be coming through within the next few years.

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