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HUMMER, An Obituary: 1999-2010 Page 2

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Angular Front Exterior View - 2008 HUMMER H3 4WD 4-door SUV Alpha

Angular Front Exterior View - 2008 HUMMER H3 4WD 4-door SUV Alpha

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Try as I might, I can't think of a more broadly told morality tale than that of HUMMER. An All-American allure gave GM a glib counterpunch to Jeep's Wrangler; the comeuppance came as the HUMMER turned into a cameo player in a wartime drama, and a fuel-economy pariah in a leaner, meaner time. GM didn't ever have to egg on its critics; HUMMER did it for them, even if most of the punches it took were unfair.

GM's Chapter 11 was the final call for HUMMER. One could argue GM could do better with HUMMER than with GMC, which it chose to save. I've often thought HUMMER would have been a better long-term strategy than GMC--it's more clearly defined from Chevy's truck lineup. But cold cash trumps all, and GMC turns in hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, while HUMMER drains the company's coffers--financially and politically, but mostly symbolically.

So what's left for HUMMER? With the shaky sale to Sichuan Tengzhong called off today, GM says HUMMER will get an orderly wind-down along the lines of those planned for Pontiac and Saturn. While Saab was saved at the last minute, there's almost no chance HUMMER will escape the guillotine. Only the state of Louisiana or Indiana, where some HUMMERs are built, could find any value in what's left, and neither seems a likely savior. That's particularly true of Indiana, since it already has Honda, Subaru and Toyota plants humming within its borders, though AM General still builds military vehicles near South Bend.

Sure, I'm disappointed there's no "mission accomplished" chapter to tack on my book, and for the team that's tried to rescue some future for HUMMER, we send our condolences. After all, HUMMER is in a better place. With all the political backwash, it never was an easy vehicle to swallow. China Inc. ownership would have hamstrung its uniquely American bona fides. And jingoism doesn't have all that much elbow room in America anymore, anyway. Even the Army is getting out of the Humvee business. That's a death knell even the Liberty Bell couldn't outring.

HUMMER's triumph and shame were simultaneous: it was pure emotional appeal, and didn't try to be more. For better or worse, HUMMER's future never was anything but its own.

And sometimes self-determination bites you in the ass.


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Comments (9)
  1. Marty - I am in agreement with you. The concept of GM closing Pontiac and Hummer and keeping GMC is just completely bizzare to put it mildely. Unlike you I have no attachment whatsoever to Hummer. However, it's difficult to miss the brand strength and the fact that if managed correctly, Hummer could be a cash cow. There are two niche markets Hummer could easily fit. The first one is the low production, very high end killing machine that both the H1 and H2 fit perfectly well. Given the high price, margins would easily take care of the lower production quantities. The real killer market though is the small serious off road players. The Wrangler is too big, too heavy. The engines are too big. It seems that if Hummer had positioned it's H2O concept with a small engine, lightweight body, under the Wrangler, GM would have had a winner - lower cost, lower emissions and gas consumption. Instead, we have the big GMC boxes (and possibly the upcoming like xB fighter - another little box). The business case for Hummer may not be big, but it certainly trumps GMC's limited, stateside only market impact.
     
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  2. This is an obituary Al Gore has been waiting to read for a long time.
     
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  3. This is really sad and you wrote a nice article about Hummer. What a great brand, history and story.
     
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  4. If GM had been smart it would have put the H2 and H3 on diets to drop 1,000 to 2,000 pounds and developed a clean twin turbo four cylinder diesel engine for them. Such an engine could have easily been handled by Isuzu, one of the larger diesel engine builders in the world. They were already in the GM fold. However, those bozos knew it all. That is why the company is now a ward of the Federal government (i.e., kept alive with our tax dollars). Now Horacio on CSI Miami and his crew will have to find a new rod!
     
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  5. Sad news, but great piece!
     
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  6. Sad to see this. HUMMER is a globally recognized brand. People down here don't even l like SUVs but the new H3 still sold well. I'm holding out for another deal to be made. Remember, GM said Saab would be dead and then look what happened with it.
     
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  7. The only folks who will really miss Hummer are the dealers and guys w/ inadequacy issues.
    Even US Military Officers realize how dumb Hummers are - parkinglots on US bases aren't filled w/ Hummers: They're filled w/ Ford Rangers, Accords and old Volvos.
     
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  8. Goodbye and good riddance.
     
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  9. to the wish they had one crowd, you typical knock on something you cant have are afford I have run the wheels off my h2 all across the us.from hrs at 80 miles per hr to doging it off road during hunting season. the only negative is mileage.Untill your willing to park all the real work horse pickups that really burn an honest 12 plus miles per gallon close your pie hole.I have owned them all,and there all good for the application one needs.Fire the GM BRASS NOT THE HUMMER.
     
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