Who makes the Hummer EV (and why does it exist)?

Bernardo Montes de Oca

Why does the Hummer EV even exist?

In short, because we asked for it, but, as a business, the Hummer EV makes some sense.

As we've (hopefully) become more aware of our environment, the world is taking massive strides to adopt cleaner transportation means. It seems that EVs are the way to go, at least for the near future.

It makes sense. After all, EVs consume less than gasoline engines and, in some cases, can be cheaper to own in the long run. The only downside is running out of batteries in the middle of the desert. 

However, one EV, in particular, seems to mock the entire purpose of this revolution. It's massive, brutish, and might not be so eco-friendly. Still, people were excited when it was coming out of the factory. It brought back memories of the chaotic 2000s when the automotive industry took things to the extreme. 

We're talking about the Hummer and why we're baffled at its existence. From being the overindulgent result of a tantrum by an Austrian bodybuilder to becoming the pop culture representation of wealth, the Hummer was luxury at its maximum. And not much else. Then again, sometimes there's no need for logic in life. Maybe, that's why the Hummer is still around. 

How much does the Hummer EV cost to charge?

The theory is that EVs are more economical than gasoline-powered vehicles in one way or another. Some studies have suggested that the savings over the lifetime of owning the vehicle are more than enticing. 

A chart showing the average costs of having an electric vehicle and ICE engines
This chart shows how much EVs can save against Internal Combustion Engines (ICE)

With rampant inflation, we’re all looking to save some money. So, we often want to see that economy come to life when we replenish our fuel, be it electric or fossil. That was something that didn't happen often with Hummer owners of yesteryear. 

The Hummer had three generations, the H1, the H2, and the H3. We're using the Hummer H2 for this example because it reminds us of the beautiful early 2000s. Moreover, it was one of the more successful vehicles in the lineup. The H1 sold about 12,000 units, and the H2 had 153,000 vehicles sold. The H3 also had massive sales, with 159,529. 

If you had an H2, chances are you didn't enjoy rolling up to the gas station. With a hefty 32-gallon tank, this vehicle was anything but economical. When we wrote this article, the average US Retail Gas Price (USRGP) was $3.711 per gallon. 

So, let's say you've allowed the tank empty all the way, and now you need to refuel. This will set you back $118,75. Moreover, with an awful fuel economy of just 9 mpg, this tank will give a range of 288 miles. There's no other way of putting it: that's terrible. 

No wonder the Hummer brand died after the 2008 crisis. People weren't willing to pay up so much money for an SUV that did nothing special besides being enormous and having the carbon footprint of a small country (just kidding. Sort of). Yet, now, it has returned. 

One of the main reasons the Hummer as a brand returned was engraved in its essence. It represented something different, but is it a more economical revival of its hedonistic past? 

To answer this question, we'll do the exact same calculations. Let's say you've completely depleted your Hummer EV's battery and need to charge it now. With a hefty 212-kWh battery back (of usable charge, which varies according to sources, as others cite it as 205 kWh), charging it from zero is quite challenging. Plus, all-electric charging systems have losses due to materials and innate inefficiencies. 

A fast-charging station can cost up to $0.48/kWh. This means that filling up the Hummer EV will set you back $101.5, and that's expensive, especially for EVs. At the same time, the Hummer EV has such a massive battery pack that, even with a fast-charging station, it could take up to an hour. So, the Hummer continues its mind-boggling legacy, one which came from a military background. 

A chart comparing the cost of filling up a H2 ($118) to an Hummer EV ($101)
This chart compares how much it costs to fill up both Hummers

Who made the Hummer?

The Hummer's inception traces back to a crucial military need—replacing the outdated and unprotected Jeep and M151 vehicles. So, in 1979, the Pentagon sought a versatile solution and introduced the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) project.

Over 60 companies expressed interest in the contract, but only three contenders—Teledyne Continental, Chrysler Defense, and AM General—submitted prototypes. The rigorous selection process involved subjecting the vehicles to grueling tests covering 600,000 miles in extreme conditions over four years.

Ultimately, AM General emerged victorious and secured the rights to produce the HMMWV. The problem with this acronym is actually saying it, so the HMMWV eventually was affectionately known as the HUMVEE. The initial batch of around 2,300 vehicles multiplied into a fleet of 100,000 units by 1995, representing substantial investment from the US Government and plenty of trust in the new model.

The HUMVEE proved its mettle in various tactical roles, conquering challenging terrains and boasting a nearly flip-proof wheelbase. Its widespread tire placement, inspired by tank tracks, contributed to its military prowess during conflicts like the Gulf War. That's not to say it was a perfect vehicle. 

While the HUMVEE earned its place as an icon in military parades and conventional operations, its weaknesses became apparent in guerilla warfare. Insufficient armor made it vulnerable to ambushes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), highlighting the need for better protection. These two attack modes were becoming increasingly present, and the US would eventually need a better solution. Still, the HUMVEE became a cultural icon, and one massive dude took notice. 

How Arnold Schwarzenegger helped create the Hummer

In the late '80s and early '90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the epitome of action stars, dominating the silver screen and the news headlines about wars. While filming "Kindergarten Cop" in 1990, he spotted a convoy of HUMVEES and decided he wanted one for himself. By the way, Kindergarten Cop has a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Take it as you please. 

He reached out to AM General, the makers of the HUMVEE, to buy one, but they initially declined. However, Schwarzenegger's persistence and conviction that there was a civilian market for the Hummer eventually convinced them to change their minds.

The H1, the civilian version of the HUMVEE, was born in the '90s—a time of bold fashion and a different era where military appreciation was soaring. Gas and diesel prices were low, making the HUMVEE's offroading abilities and appeal to buyers stand out as selling points.

The H1 came with military-grade features, limited passenger space, and immense width, making navigating on most trails and city roads challenging. 

Let this sink in: it's one of the biggest vehicles in the world, and yet it can only seat four. Although the H1 had these drawbacks, being rough around the edges and less practical, people didn't care. Owning a Hummer became a statement for the rich who wanted to be loud and stand out. 

The Hummer took urban driving to the upper limit. In fact, it was so massive that there's the Hummer rule. Section 179 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows you to declare it as farming equipment because it's so heavy. That's right, you got a tax break on your Hummer! 

Despite its impracticality, the Hummer commanded high prices, even back then, and has become a sought-after collectible today. People were willing to pay top dollar for exclusivity and the chance to make a bold statement. So, while the H1 was largely impractical, people still wanted more, with a hint of urban life. 

GM created the Hummer H2 and H3 to save the brand

In 2002, GM introduced the Hummer H2, a slightly narrower but more "sensible" version of the original H1. Despite its higher price of $75,000 and only accommodating two more passengers than the H1, the HummerH2 proved to be a hit with consumers, selling 18,000 units in its first year compared to the H1's total sales of less than 12,000 units throughout its history.

The appeal of Hummers sparked studies on social behavior, associating ownership with a sense of dominance, power, and status. So, Hummer drivers are a species on their own. I knew it! However, the brand also faced criticism for its notorious gas-guzzling reputation and its association with military-style vehicles, which lost some of its allure as fascination with the military waned in the 2000s.

In a desperate effort to maintain popularity, GM launched the Hummer H3 in 2005, which experienced decent sales due to its smaller size and relatively better fuel economy of 16 mpg. When we say better, we compare it with the Hummer H2 fuel mileage of 9 mpg. However, even these efforts were shortlived. The 2008 global financial crisis hit the automotive industry hard, causing consumers to reevaluate their preferences and avoid gas-guzzling vehicles. The Hummer was the first to become a target. 

GM's CEO Rick Wagoner announced that the future of the Hummer brand was uncertain, leading to several potential buyers expressing interest. Ultimately, the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company in China came closest to acquiring Hummer. Still, the deal fell through after the Chinese government intervened.

With the H3's production line ending, the Hummer brand bid a quiet farewell without any grand ceremony or applause for its significant impact on the automotive landscape. Nevertheless, the name "Hummer" endured, carrying the legacy of a bold, powerful, and, at times, controversial vehicle that left an indelible mark on automotive history.

The Hummer's legacy remains a status symbol for those seeking attention and distinction, with its iconic name resurfacing in the electric vehicle era. However, Hummer's rise to prominence reminds us how a desire for individuality and grandiosity can shape our choices, regardless of practicality or necessity.

The Hummer EV has great performance

Let's go back to the stats. There's a big asterisk in them, and that's because the scenario is quite unlikely. Most EV drivers don't charge their batteries from 0 to 100%, nor do they always use fast-charging stations. Instead, they opt for at-home charging stations and other, more eco-friendly solutions. 

The first thing that's important to note is price. If you compare how much does a Hummer EV costs to the H2, you find that it's not a cheap option. Starting at $87,000, the Hummer EV is one of the most expensive SUVs out there. The Hummer H2, when new, had an inflation-adjusted price of $79,000 approximately.

Moreover, we used the data in a specific charging station, without the membership, at the most expensive state. So, using the national average, the Hummer EV could cost around $30 to fully charge. In some cases, it comes down to as low as $16. With more charging plans and subscriptions appearing, the economy might not be as daunting as with its gasoline-powered predecessors. 

This chart shows that, in reality, charging the Hummer EV is much less expensive, if using the right conditions ($16)

At the same time, the Hummer EV does promise a better performance. In mileage alone, it provides up to 350 miles, which was nearly impossible in the H2 or H3. As many have tested, though it's massive, it comes with impressive acceleration. That's an amazing feat, as the Hummer EV has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,400 pounds which is hefty.

Then, there's the why? Or, rather, why not? 

For years, throughout this EV revolution, we've seen that most models are small, practical econoboxes and nothing more. Then, Tesla came along with its blisteringly fast vehicles, and other brands followed in breaking the big and small norm. Rivian and Ford have made what seems to be the next generation of EV trucks. 

So, as the world embraced the idea that EVs were cool, GM understood that if, in the past, people were buying Hummers by the hundreds of thousands, things might work out the same now. After the pandemic slowed production, the Hummer EV finally hit the roads, and the world was blown away. Hummer did it again. 

By October 2022, GM had announced that all vehicle reservations were sold out for the next two years. So, it was an instant hit, but then it wasn't. The world wanted to know how many hummer EVs have been delivered, and the numbers were surprising.

By Q2 2023, the Hummer EV was still slow to pick on sales, even with the thousands of reserved vehicles. By April 2023, GM had sold and delivered two. Not 2,000 or 200. Two Hummer EVs in one quarter. 

A series of issues slowed production to almost a halt, forcing GM to make drastic moves. So, the demand is there, but the company is the one that, for once, can't keep up. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter if we need to move to cleaner fuels; people will still want a Hummer. 

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Bernardo Montes de Oca
Content creator in love with writing in all its forms, from scripts to short stories to investigative journalism, and about almost every topic imaginable.
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