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GM relaunches Hummer to re-power its image

Joseph White

DETROIT, Jan 30 (Reuters) - General Motors Co made it official on Thursday, confirming that it will relaunch the Hummer name on a luxury truck, but this time with quiet-running 1,000-horsepower electric motors instead of a gas-slurping V-8 under the hood.

GM confirmed that it plans to begin selling an electric GMC Hummer EV pickup under its GMC brand in the fall of 2021.

The relaunch of the Hummer name had previously been reported. The extreme power and three-second zero-to-60 miles per hour performance of the new Hummer's electric drive system had not. Advertising for the vehicle will begin on Thursday today and rev up with a Super Bowl ad starring basketball star LeBron James.

Promoting a vehicle so long before it appears in showrooms points to a key part of the GMC Hummer's mission: to spark fresh interest in GM and its products.

The Detroit automaker's share price is stagnant and investor attention is focused on Silicon Valley upstart Tesla Inc , which now has a market capitalization more than twice its much larger rival's.

Electric pickup trucks are a nonexistent breed today, but within a few years GM, Ford Motor Co, Tesla, Michigan startup Rivian and at least four other companies are planning to launch battery-powered trucks aiming at one of the most lucrative segments in the petroleum-fueled vehicle market.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk in November showed off his idea for an electric pickup, a futuristic, wedge-shaped stainless steel vehicle called the Cybertruck. Tesla has received 200,000 reservations for the vehicle at $100 each, Musk said last November.

Partial images released by GM on Thursday suggest the GMC Hummer will pay homage to the look of the family of gaudy gasoline-powered SUVs and pickups that wore the Hummer name during the early and mid-2000s, before the financial crisis and GM's bankruptcy ended its run.

GM tried to sell Hummer in 2010 to a Chinese construction equipment company, but the deal fell through, creating the opportunity for the automaker's current management to reposition Hummer as a premium electric brand. GM did not disclose prices for the Hummer pickup, and did not say whether there could be an electric Hummer SUV.

The electric Hummer pickup will be built on a new architecture expected to be used for multiple electric SUVs and trucks across GM's brands. Workers at the automaker's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly complex will build them just four miles (6.4 km) from GM headquarters in downtown Detroit. (Reporting by Joe White; editing by Jonathan Oatis)