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Timeline: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the Hummer – Visual Capitalist

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The Hummer brand has a relatively short history, but its trucks are some of America’s biggest automotive icons (both figuratively and literally). Originally designed for the military, Hummers are famous for their size, off-road capability, and of course, fuel consumption.
The latter proved to be the Hummer’s Achilles’ heel. By 2007, a recession was coming, and the appetite for oversized gas guzzlers had shrunk. The Hummer brand was discontinued, and its last truck rolled off the production line in 2010.
Over a decade later, GM is reviving the Hummer as a fully-electric off-road vehicle. Preorders have surpassed 65,000 units, but how does this compare to the brand’s heyday in the 2000s?
The Hummer traces its roots to 1983, when AM General, a heavy vehicle manufacturer, received $1 billion from the Pentagon to build the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee).
The Humvee became a staple of the U.S. military, and by 1991, 72,000 had been produced. The truck was especially useful in Middle Eastern conflict zones due to its ability to transport troops and cargo over rough terrain.
If you’re wondering how this military vehicle ended up on public roads, you can thank none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
While filming the 1990 action-comedy, Kindergarten Cop, Arnold reportedly fell in love with a Humvee used on set. He later persuaded AM General to produce a consumer version of the truck, which arrived in 1992 under the name “Hummer”.
Apart from adding creature comforts like air conditioning, AM General made very few changes to the consumer-spec Hummer. It was notoriously crude and unsuited for city driving, but its military roots gave it plenty of character. GM saw an opportunity in expanding the brand, so in 1999, it purchased the rights to produce and market the Hummer.
GM moved rather quickly after purchasing Hummer. It renamed the truck to “H1”, and released an “H2” just a few years later.
Sales in the U.S. jumped, hitting over 35,000 in 2003 before tapering off slightly. To keep momentum going, GM rolled out the smaller and cheaper “H3” in 2005. Sales once again spiked, and the brand recorded over 71,000 sales in 2006.
Unfortunately, what goes up eventually comes down. In 2009, during GM’s bankruptcy proceedings, the Hummer brand was discontinued along with Pontiac and Saturn.
So what went wrong? For starters, the H2 was a victim of the times. It was large, expensive, and extremely thirsty for gas—attributes that don’t fare well during an economic recession.
In fact, the H2 never received an official fuel economy rating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it was too heavy. Regulations at the time excluded vehicles over 8,500 lbs from testing, though journalists observed an average of less than 10 mpg.
The H3 mitigated some of these issues by downsizing, and it quickly become the brand’s best selling vehicle. This success was short-lived, as the H3 alone could not sustain the brand.
In 2020, GM announced the all-electric Hummer EV. It bears a strong resemblance to the H2, carrying over iconic design elements such as the front grill with vertical slats.
Compared to the H2, this electric model is longer, wider, and heavier. Estimates suggest that it will weigh over 9,000 lbs, which according to EPA estimates, is more than double the weight of the average car. This is primarily attributed to the truck’s vast quantity of battery packs.
Power is also increased thanks to the electric drivetrain, with the “Edition 1” model boasting 1,000 horsepower from its three electric motors (a similar configuration to Tesla’s Plaid platform). Lesser models, which only have two motors, are expected to generate north of 600 horsepower.
Will battery power be the key to the Hummer’s long-term success?
So far, GM appears to have played its cards right. New trucks are outselling new cars by a ratio of 3-to-1 in the U.S., and the release of the Hummer EV is well-timed to capitalize on this trend.
The Hummer EV also sheds one of its predecessors’ biggest weaknesses—fuel consumption. With gas prices at all-time highs, can we dare to call the new Hummer “economical”?
Either way, GM is certainly enjoying the economic benefits of its decision. Over 65,000 pre-orders have been received, and production of the Hummer EV is completely sold out until 2024. The truck is being built at Factory Zero in Michigan, which is GM’s first EV-dedicated production facility.
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When it comes to purchasing electric cars, Americans have a few to choose from. Here’s a look at every electric vehicle sold in the U.S.
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America’s electric vehicle (EV) market has surged over the last decade, and it’s only expected to grow further. The Biden administration has allocated billions towards the EV transition in the hopes that by 2030, electric cars make up 50% of all new cars sales in America.
Given the rising demand, what types of electric car models are available for U.S. consumers to choose from today?
This graphic, using data from Car and Driver and EPA, highlights every single EV that’s available for sale across America, showing the wide range of manufacturers, vehicle types, and prices.
As of February 2022, there are 28 different electric vehicles available in the U.S., from 18 different manufacturers. Here are their base model statistics:
As of February 2022. *Indicates EPA data on fuel economy and range was only available for 2021 models.
At less than $30,000, the Nissan Leaf and Mini Cooper SE are currently the most affordable options for Americans.
Released in 2010, the Nissan Leaf is one of the oldest EVs on the market. Widely considered a pioneer in the EV space, it’s one of the top-selling electric cars in the U.S.—in 2021, more than 14,000 cars were sold in America.
While the Leaf’s low price point may be appealing to many, it has the third shortest maximum range on the list at 149 miles before needing a recharge. The only other cars with shorter ranges were the Mini Cooper SE and the Mazda MX-30.
GMC’s Hummer EV pickup is the most expensive EV on the list, with a base price point of $110,295—however, GMC is planning to release less expensive versions of the Hummer EV over the coming years.
The only other EV pickup available in the U.S. market in early 2022 is Rivian’s R1T. However, more manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet are planning to release their own EV pickups, and Tesla’s Cybertruck has been in the works for years.
And new EVs are quickly entering the market. For example, BMW’s all-electric i4 and iX have only recently become available for sale in the U.S.
There are a number of domestic and international manufacturers that sell EVs in America, including German manufacturer Audi, Swedish carmaker Volvo, and South Korean manufacturer Kia.
Here’s a breakdown of the 18 different manufacturers on the list, six of which are U.S. based:
Tesla has the highest number of EV models on the market, with four different vehicles available: the Model S, Model X, Model Y, and the Model 3. It’s one of the few manufacturers on the list that exclusively makes electric cars—the only others being Rivian and Lucid.
While anticipation has been building around Tesla’s Cybertruck, and murmurs of a cheaper Tesla have been circulating, Tesla’ CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that there will be no new Tesla models released in 2022. The company will instead focus on its existing models for the time being.
It’s important to note that, while EV adoption in America has increased over the years, the U.S. is still lagging behind other countries. Between 2015 and 2020, America’s EV fleet grew at an annual rate of 28%, while China’s grew by 51%, and Europe increased by 41%.
Why are so many Americans dragging their feet when it comes to electric cars? According to a survey by Pew Research Center, the cost is a big barrier, as well as concerns over their reliability compared to gas vehicles.
But with gas prices at all-time highs, and as consumers grow increasingly concerned over the carbon costs of gas vehicles, switching to an electric car may soon be too hard to resist.
Automakers are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. See how car logos for these select brands have evolved over time in this graphic.
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Can you picture Ford’s blue oval, or Mercedes’ three-pointed star? These are some of the most recognizable logos in the world, thanks to a number of reasons.
For starters, automakers are some of the world’s biggest advertisers. In 2020, the automotive industry spent $33 billion on advertising in the U.S. alone.
Automakers also maintain a strong physical presence by placing their logo on every car they produce. This form of self-promotion is an automotive tradition, and because of it, car logos are designed to be eye-catching and memorable.
To learn more, we’ve illustrated the histories of six brands of interest.
Editor’s note: There are obviously many automotive brands with strong histories, but for this visualization we selected brands that we thought had the most interesting stories and graphical decisions behind their emblems. In the future, we may add more or create a follow-up post if readers express interest.
Automakers often pack hidden meanings and details into their logos.
For example, Mazda’s current logo, introduced in 1997 and updated in 2015, depicts a pair of wings that represent the brand’s desire to “drive powerful, continuous growth.” The concept of flight is believed to embody the company’s pursuit of ongoing improvement. Of course, the wings also resemble a capital “M” for Mazda, similar to Honda’s “H” logo.
An interesting design choice of the Mazda lettering is that all of the letters except “D” are in lowercase. This was done because Mazda wanted to express precision, and a lower case “d” would have protruded above the upper line of the other letters.
Another logo with deeper meaning is Mercedes-Benz’s 3-pointed star, adopted in 1909. This symbol was based off a postcard that Paul and Adolf Daimler, sons of the company founder, got from their father in which the location of their home was marked by a 3-pointed star.
Today, the three points are believed to represent the strength of Mercedes’ engines across land, sea, and air.
Over the past decade, many brands have taken their logos in a more minimalist direction. Many recently redesigned car logos are devoid of any 3D effects or color.
Audi is one of the most prominent examples of this trend. In 2016, it removed the chrome effect on its “four rings” and opted for a flat black version instead. This clean and modern emblem is better suited for digital media and appears more bold. Furthermore, the name “Audi” is no longer included at the bottom—a statement of the four rings’ strength.
BMW took a similar approach with its logo in 2020, stripping away the black outer ring and 3D effect. This minimalist and transparent logo is for “brand communication” only, meaning the logos on its cars will remain unchanged.
Finally, there’s Cadillac, which unveiled its own minimalist logo in 2021. This logo is being used to represent the brand’s full-electric future, and features a monochromatic version of the classic Cadillac Crest.
The race for EV dominance has provided automakers with the chance to update or reinvent their brands. In addition to the companies mentioned previously, Volkswagen and General Motors (GM) have also rolled out recent updates.
Volkswagen & GM logo updates
You may have already noticed Volkswagen’s new branding, which was updated in 2019. On trend with the rest of the industry, the company now uses a 2D logo which offers “outstanding flexibility in digital media”.
More importantly, the company’s branding is intended to feel much more colorful and natural, symbolizing a fresh start from Volkswagen’s 2015 diesel-gate scandal.
Shortly after, GM revealed a new logo as part of a campaign to promote its future electric vehicles. Unlike its minimalist competitors, GM’s new logo features a gradient of light blues that evokes “the clean skies of a zero-emissions future”.
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