Big SUVs are big business in Russia. But electric ones could be tricky.
Ever since selling its Euro-centric Opel and Vauxhall brands to Peugeot-Citroen in 2017, General Motors has had very limited involvement in the European market. Yet the automaker's relationship with Europe might get a shot in the arm as reportedly, the forthcoming GMC Hummer EV will make its way to Russia. That's according to a report from WardsAuto, which says that GM has trademarked the "Hummer" name in Russia, granting it exclusive rights in the market for five years.
It seems unlikely that the GMC Hummer will be built by contract assembler Avtovor in its Kaliningrad plant, which previously built the Hummer H2 and H3, along with various other Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Opel models.
Instead, like the US-market GMC Hummer, Russian-market examples will most likely be assembled alongside the Cadillac Lyriq at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan - the automaker's first plant to be committed entirely to electric vehicle production.
In launching the GMC Hummer in Russia, General Motors is banking on the notion that the market's penchant for large SUVs will lead to strong sales. That love of SUVs is exhibited by the fact that at present, the only two Chevrolets sold in Russia are the Tahoe and the Traverse.
But speaking to WardsAuto, GM-Russia PR and Marketing Director Olga Burlakova also pointed to the fact that the country "has probably one of the most progressive consumers among all markets," with "a good knowledge and deep understanding of technologies and innovations," as an encouraging sign of the Hummer's potential success there.
Meanwhile, Russia, which is one of the world's leading oil producers, has set an ambitious target of boosting annual EV sales to 200,000 by 2025, by which point EVs would represent roughly 8% to 10% of new car sales in the country. By the end of 2019, the country had only between 10,000 and 11,000 EVs on the road.
Here in the US, the GMC Hummer EV is on track to launch in late-2021 as a 2022 model, with both pickup truck and SUV variants on offer. It will go head-to-head against EVs like the Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T and R1S, although it might be a fair bit more off-road-oriented than those models.