What Happened To The Hummer?


In the early 1990s, one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars pestered a U.S. defense contractor to sell him a truck the American military had famously used in a war with Iraq. And so America got the Hummer. The angular, militaristic go anywhere truck became an emblem of 1990s pop culture, a coveted status symbol sought by celebrities and a sometimes mocked and vilified example of just how far America’s newfound love for sport utility vehicles had gone. The Hummer was huge, brash and often brightly colored, and it became a favorite choice for adventurous buyers who didn’t mind attracting attention. And then it was gone. As parent company General Motors collapsed into bankruptcy. I would say there probably isn’t many more iconic vehicles of this century than the Hummer. I would put like the Hummer, the Prius, the Beatle. I would say they all existed for a time and were so incredibly popular and their popularity has faded for all of them. But I mean, Hummer was so ubiquitous at one point in terms of representing that overly emasculated, aggressive, almost stereotype. The Hummer had a brief life spanning just under two decades, but it made a lasting impression. The vehicle that would come to be called a Hummer actually began as the U.S. military’s High Mobility Multi-purposed Wheeled Vehicle. The name’s cumbersome acronym H M M W V landed the truck with its nickname Humvee. It was first developed in 1981 by U.S. defense contractor AM General. It was most notably used in the first Gulf War, but the kind seen on roads and highways later on came about because as the story goes, Arnold Schwarzenegger saw a convoy of Hummers in Oregon while filming a movie and decided he had to have one. Upon seeing them, he would later say he could see himself driving the vehicle in the mountains and in the desert. Schwarzenegger reportedly lobbied AM general repeatedly for one of the vehicles. At first, he demanded one of the same Humvees the company had sold to the military, but he was refused since the truck was not street legal. Then he began asking AM general to make a civilian version. He even flew out to the company’s headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, to make his case. The contractor eventually created a civilian version in 1992 and named it the Hummer. Schwarzenegger was there for the unveiling of the vehicle and drove one of the first specimens off the assembly line. By many measurements, the Hummer outdid every other passenger vehicle on the market. It had a full 16 inches of ground clearance. That’s over nine inches more than the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It was also seven feet wide, almost as wide as the biggest street legal semitrucks, making it stable and resistant to rollover, despite its height. The civilian version came with a more comfortable cabin geared for cruising and commuting rather than combat. But the truck did retain some of the features found in the original version. There’s a vehicle that was extremely capable of going anywhere off road. So even if most owners never actually took it off the pavement, the vehicle did have the credibility behind it. Owners of the vehicle knew that it could go really far off road if they so desired. And the capability of that vehicle was part of its credibility. And the Hummer was a success for a while. Gm bought the brand in 1999 and expanded the lineup with progressively smaller models called the H2 and H3. By 2002, General Motors was launching the Hummer brand in a big way with the H2, which was a smaller version of the smaller, more consumer friendly version of the H1 that was heavily based on GM pickup. Heavy duty pickup mechanicals. And the timing of it was sort of fortuitous for General Motors because the second Gulf War was starting and all over the news, all you saw were military Humvees storming into Iraq. And right about that time, General Motors launched the H2. So it was able to capitalize on it was able to capitalize on current events at the time. It also made it a very polarizing vehicle because Americans were either in support of the war or they were really, really against it. Eventually, every celebrity seemed to have one. Schwarzenegger himself owned at least seven at one point. Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson had six. At its peak in 2006, Americans bought more than 71,000 Hummers. The vehicle was an oddity in the marketplace, huge, blunt and aggressive. But that appears to be part of what people liked about it. It was a vehicle that absolutely could not be ignored. I think the fact that there were so many of them that were painted bright yellow sort of spoke volumes about the fact that this is the view that people really want to be seen in. I mean, people generally chose pretty extroverted colors to go with this vehicle. You know, the vehicle was, of course, extremely often capable, but there were a relatively small number of people who actually use it for that purpose. Really, it was a fashion statement. For some people was even a political statement. And most of all, it was a vehicle that vote for those who were really into the product. It was something that they really wanted to show off and be seen in. However, there was also backlash against the truck, which critics viewed as an obnoxious gas guzzler. The original Hummer H1 got about 10 miles per gallon, the smallest of the lineup, the H3 got 14 miles per gallon with an automatic transmission in the 2010 model year. To activists and other critics, the vehicle became a symbol of excess and the American addiction to fuel at a time when prices were beginning to climb and the country was fighting wars in the oil rich Middle East. In one high profile case, a dealership in West Covina, California, was vandalized, including 20 Hummers valued at about $50000 each. The perpetrators spray painted messages on several of the damaged trucks, including gross polluter and fat, lazy Americans. Apart from the environmental backlash. Rising fuel prices and a grueling recession spoiled America’s taste for big vehicles. Hummer sales fell from their 2006 high to 55,986 in 2007, 27,485 in 2008. And just 9,046 in 2009. Unfortunately for Hummer, as the decade progressed, after a decade progressed, fuel prices went haywire in 2008. All the sudden, it made the Hummer look very unfashionable because he was a vehicle that got maybe 10 miles a gallon when gas prices were shooting up to near about $4 a gallon across the country. And all the sudden it looked very out of step with the times and it looked like a dinosaur. And sales fell off like a rock. They Hummer did introduce a smaller multi-culti H3, but by that time, I think that damn, that’s pretty much already done. To make matters worse, General Motors itself had collapsed, the largest U.S. automaker filed for bankruptcy in 2009. GM put several of its brands to the axe, including Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saab and Hummer. So I think for for those times when General Motors was looking at what they should do as they were going through bankruptcy, moving forward, Hummer was a brand that they had to unload. I mean, even if you look at what their pickup truck sales were at the time, those had just fallen off the cliff as well. So it was clear that Americans are not interested in these larger vehicles. All of the things that had made it appealing. It’s big, loud, brash attitude were now liabilities. GM would later try to sell the brand to Chinese investors, but that deal fell through. The strange thing is that as prices have fallen from an all time high set in 2008 and as the U.S. has pulled out of the recession, customers have run back to sport, utilities and trucks. Fast forward to today and now, although smaller, not Hummer size, SUVs are nearly 50 per person of the new Khazaal in the United States. So what’s old is new again, essentially, I think that’s that in fromwhat everything. But it seems like it certainly is the case here with Humarr as well. But it is possible the brand could have a second life. At least two reports have said GM is considering bringing the Hummer back as part of a fleet of electric and hybrid sport utilities and trucks. Gm didn’t comment on the report, but a move like that would allow the automaker to capitalize on the Hummers, military pedigree and adventurous image while keeping in step with what GM CEO Mary Barra calls GM’s all electric future. Over the years, even Schwarzenegger has been seen piloting Hummers, running on alternative fuels. One of my Hummer has been turned into a hydrogen Hummer. And that, of course, emits no greenhouse gases at all. And the other Hummer has been turned into a biofuel Hummer and that one now releases emits a 40 to 50 percent less greenhouse gases. So I think those are the kind of initiatives each individual of us can take. Reviving the Hummer could also be a relatively inexpensive way for GM to broaden its truck lineup at a time when Americans are scooping up pickups and sport utilities at an unprecedented rate. Several industry watchers have said the shift toward utilities and trucks and the new car market is here to stay. If that is true, automakers are likely to keep trying to carve out new niches to distinguish themselves and squeeze higher margins out of each purchase. Big, butch, off-road ready vehicles are once again the order of the day. The longtime off-road favorite Jeep Wrangler has climbed from eighty four thousand six hundred fifteen units in 2008 to two hundred 84,615 units in 2018. And Jeep added the gladiator pickup truck to its Wrangler lineup for the 2019 model year. While GM has off-road capable vehicles, it doesn’t really have one that directly replaced the Hummer, nor one that could directly compete with the Wrangler. Having a dedicated, off-road oriented brand could be a boon to GM and its ongoing war for truck and SUV dominance with its Detroit rivals. So I think that it does make sense from a manufacturer standpoint, but also it seems like the consumer base is there. I mean, how much hype was there around the Jeep Gladiator launch? I mean, tons. I mean, people are, you know, still very excited about that vehicle you know, a year later. The gladiator is actually a revival of a pickup truck Jeep sold in the 1960s. In similar manner, Ford plans to revive the Bronco, another once popular utility vehicle. Toyota brought back its Supera sports car. Honda pulled the passport name out of its archives for a new sport utility. When automakers reintroduced brands, they can take advantage of nostalgia while also saving money they would have to spend introducing customers to a totally new product. Even a brand is notorious as Hummer is still a recognized one. The Hummer was certainly a polarizing vehicle, but reviving it in this market is starting to look like a smart bet.

100 comments

If they bring back the H3, I can see a success because it is a small SUV versus the H1. These have alternatives for more economical engines along with running on natural-gas. In time, the all electric motor might replace the engine. The future is still to come.

Nothing… It's a Chevy Tahoe with a Hummer stamp on it… These things are money pits that degrade value faster than a gallon of milk.

Tesla should buy the Hummer brand and make an electric Tesla Hummer, it will be an instant hit for people who could afford it.

I can tell you. PEOPLE WAS STUPID FUEL EFFICIENT HYBRIDS NOT A COOL OFF ROAD SUV THAT CAN HOLD THE ENTIRE FAMILY TREE

I recently saw a Hummer on the road with a "Suckin' gas and haulin' ass!" bumper sticker while driving my wonderfully fuel-efficient diesel Cruze 🙂

I miss the Hummer I remember when I was young I got to sit in an H3 and I could barely see through it's small windshield.

The first was a humvee not a hummer since the hummer was a smaller version of the hunvee to make it usable in cities

I think GM should have a recall on the motor and replace the 6.0 for a diesel for free?? You guys put it out, might as well fix your issues now.

I owned an H2 for three years. Definitely one of my favorite vehicles. Now they are so expensive on the used market that I can't afford one.

The Tesla S,X,3, modern Vw Bug, 2005 Chrysler 300 and yes the…….. Hummer H2………. are in an elite class of automobiles that the production version looked almost exactly like the show car.

Man I remember just being a kid and having a hummer hot wheels. I thought it was so cool. After the 2008 recession, however, they REALLY fell off the market. Always wanted one as a kid. It was awesome to drive around in my buddy’s girlfriends hummer last year! They’re HORRIBLE in the snow, though! Believe it or not

It has nothing to do with gas price, the people buying hummers weren’t really caring about gas prices. It was just humiliating to own. They aren’t practical they’re horrible off road vehicles they’re made out of plastic. Very cheaply made. Going off road in a hummer is probably the worst off-road experience on earth. You feel like you’re driving a Bubble wrapper, it sounds like the car is going to break into a million pieces. Also visibility is horrible. The car was just made for looks and made you think it was tough and off road ready. But it was not. Any one owning a hummer would immediately have there ego hurt as soon as a Land Rover or a Jeep or a Toyota would out climb them. And be way more effective then the hummer in any way. The hummer is silly and made out of plastic and rich people ain’t as dumb as you think. Now they’ve moved on to Mercedes g wagon and get everything the hummer could never offer and more. The hummer wack

The Prius (or Pious) is still here and somewhat the Beatle. Just discontinued because of lack of sales. Horribly built in Mexico. The H1 wasn't great but, much better than the following iterations. GM remains awful. Cheap plastic crap and reliability issues. GM could take a Toyota Camry and run it. Schwarzenegger screwing up once again and currently he's trying to fix his horrid ways. Money always dictates everything. Gas prices up…No sales. Humans don't care about anything but themselves. I'd rather gas prices be 7 dollars and higher like the UK. How about electric military Hummers? Don't have to lug around Diesel. Diesel is much better than gasoline.

A hummer creates less pollution over 10 years of use from fabrication to being destroyed compared to a Prius. People don’t get that!

When North America (and everywhere else for the matter) was in that recession. I was under the mindset that small European and Asian cars would come to North America because obviously fuel economy was a serious concern then. But the Americans like big cars pickups and SUVs.

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is this generation version of the hummer. Side note Hummer electric version looks dope

I think a few was bought too the UK, but the roads was just too narrow for them to go down. Especially when they are in small towns and villages, and cities and we're the road with was Based on a horse and a waggen that they used to move loads from villages, town's to cities. Just too big for UK roads.

One mistake I noticed was with Oldsmobile. It was discontinued separately in 2004 from low sales, not as a result of the bankruptcy 5 years later.

Hey Americans NO ONE WANTS YOU CARS ! Literally NO ONE. Mercedes G-Class exists 40 years and Toyota Land Cruiser (J70) is probably the best off road vehicle in the world. But you are so stupid that only in USA the SUVs are the best sellers, vehicles like X5, Q7, Range Rover. Even HMMWV is always a donation from th US army stocks to some other army, NOT ACTUALY BUYED, unlike the G-Class or Land Cruiser. YOUR CARS and your lifestyle is everything that is wrong in the world. NO ONE LIKES YOU !

Well, alot of jeep models are just Fiats and the rest are short term use at best and way over priced especially for the baby wagon types . Just junk with the jeep name . I am also a jeep owner and will never again . Probably the most overrated vehicle on the road

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