GM News: Strike Enters Week 6, a Model the UAW Hates Grinds to a Halt, and the Return of Hummer?
With last week’s tentative agreement between the United Auto Workers and General Motors, the end of the now six-week-long strike seemed closer than ever. GM hourly workers in the U.S. have until the end of the week to decide whether to approve the contract deal; if it gets the thumbs-up, the strike’s over.
Amid all of this labor news came a couple of tidbits, both of which stand to make the UAW happy. The first involves a resurrected nameplate built in Mexico, the other, a defunct GM brand that didn’t survive the company’s recession-era bankruptcy.
Despite being south of the Rio Grande, production of the Mexican-built Chevrolet Blazer finally ground to a stop on Friday after U.S.-sourced parts dried up. The Blazer, you’ll recall, came up frequently in the lead-up to the contract talks as the latest example of how GM, like other domestic automakers, was outsourcing assembly to lower-cost jurisdictions. Hardly a popular model among those concerned about retaining American jobs.
Earlier this year, the UAW called for a boycott of the midsize crossover, forcing GM to remove a bright red Blazer from a Detroit’s Comerica Park stadium to keep some of the peace. News of their labor action impacting production of the model might leave a smile on the face of more than a few UAW members.
“Production of the Blazer will be down until the strike is done,” GM Spokesman Dan Flores told the Detroit Free Press. “But production of the Equinox is running normally at Mexico and Canada plants.”
Perhaps more consequential was an uncorroborated claim that the $3 billion destined for GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in the proposed labor contract could resurrect the Hummer name. Like Pontiac, Hummer fell victim to the restructuring and cost cutting of a decade ago, but the name could return to future electric models built at the plant, sources told Reuters.
While GM made it known, via the tentative agreement, that it plans to build a Ford-fighting electric pickup at Detroit-Hamtramck, that product, plus vans and a battery module assembly operation, may not be the extent of it.
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.
Before then, GM plans to begin low-volume production in late 2021 of the first BT1 model, a pickup, under a different brand, the source said. A performance variant of the pickup will be added to that brand in 2022, followed by an electric SUV in 2023.
One of the sources said the Hummer name is “under consideration” but a decision has not been finalized. The pickup is codenamed “Project O.”
Bringing back the Hummer name would make plenty of sense given the overwhelming presence of SUVs and crossovers in America’s vehicle mix. Unlike the Saturn Astra, everyone and their kids knows what a Hummer is, despite the name being dead for 10 years. The sources claim the SUVs would share the same common architecture as the pickups, placing the products within reach of profitability.
Should the Hummer name affix itself to a green model, it would stand in stark contrast to the previous Hummer, which guzzled fuel like a WW2 aircraft carrier facing stiff headwinds. The Hummer brand was, and still is, synonymous with gargantuan, brash, eco-negligent, status-seeking vehicles; this move, if it comes to pass, would be a reformation of the name. Can years of stigma be erased with a battery pack? Past sins sometimes aren’t forgiven, though to those not especially given to environmental activism, the name recognition alone might be enough to have some truck lovers thinking Hummer once again.
[Image: General Motors, Chris Tonn/TTAC]
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I have a feeling that an EV hummer will never see the light of day.
Somebody at GM is having a laugh: Using "Hummer" for "Project O"? I guess if the whole "S3XY" thing works for Tesla...