Which traditional petrol-head companies are jumping on the electric bandwagon?

Which traditional petrol-head companies are jumping on the electric bandwagon?


Automobiles such as GMC’s Hummer have long prided themselves as an emblem of power and wealth. But many people loathed the gas-guzzling machine with some protestors even spray painting ”gross polluter” over a bunch of Hummers in a 2003 stunt. To be successful in today’s environmentally conscious world, GMC and other renowned automakers such as Harley Davidson are moving away from their traditional business models and realizing electric modes of transport is the way forward. 

The Hummer was originally designed in the early 90s for the American military to transport troops and cargo. But in 1992 Arnold Schwarzenegger, who believed the 316-horse-powered gas guzzler was the perfect image of his brand, bought one of the cars and went on to own his own fleet of Hummers. Eventually, General Motors bought the rights to the car and it became available for general sale in 1999. The giant vehicle attracted lots of controversy as environmentalists saw it as a wasteful display of indulgence and laziness and many people protested the business. Production discontinued in 2010.

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Last month, GMC announced the return of the infamous Hummer but with a major twist. It is entirely electric. The first edition truck can travel up to 350 miles on one charge and can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour in three seconds. The car also has a unique “crab walk” ability in which it wiggles its wheels sideways to get out of tight spots. Al Oppenheiser, GMC chief engineer, says “It’s an absolute off-road beast with a unique e4WD drive system that provides manoeuvrability unlike anything GM has ever offered before”. 

The first edition will be ready by 2021 and cost a whopping $112,595, however, if you don’t mind waiting, there are cheaper models in the works. The 3X version costs $99,995 and comes with a 300-mile range and the base version costs $79,995 and comes with a 250-mile range. 

Unfortunately, electric cars are still very expensive which precludes most people from access to the prestigious club. However, there’s a general belief within the automotive industry that the doors for the masses are slowly opening due to generous government subsidies, the lowering of battery costs and pressure from regulators. Max Warburton, an analyst at Bernstein, told the CNN “These factors have come together to force the traditional industry to take electrification seriously — faster than we had previously expected”

GMC is not the only company that’s shifting gears on its bad boy reputation. On November 16, Harley Davidson unveiled its latest bicycle venture and it will scarcely make a sound. The Seriel 1 bike is an electric bicycle which gives you the option pedaling like on a regular bike or engaging the electric motor when you desire some extra thrust. The handsome bike, inspired by Harley Davidson’s first ever motorcycle created over a century ago, comes with white tires, vintage-esque brown handlebars and a shiny black frame. 

The company are yet to reveal further details about the bike but Aaron Frank, the brand manager for Serial 1 told The Verge  “Great steps are being taken to make the bikes as easy and intuitive to operate as possible, which includes key features like a mid-mounted motor with integrated battery, integrated lighting and internal brake lines and wiring.” 

During lockdown, electric bike sales soared in the United States as people searched for transport alternatives to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Harley Davidson definitely has some competition as many other companies such as BMW and Jeep are creating e-bikes.   Well-established electric bike fleets owned by market giants such as Uber also provide a challenge for new products to enter the market. Only time will tell whether riding the Harley becomes mainstream. 

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