Hummer (stylized as HUMMER) is a brand of trucks and SUVs that was first marketed in 1992 when AM General began selling a civilian version of the M998 Humvee. Although discontinued in 2010, Hummer returned as a sub-brand of GMC in 2021. In 1998, General Motors (GM) purchased the brand name from AM General and marketed three vehicles: the original Hummer H1, based on the military Humvee, as well as the new H2 and H3 models that were based on smaller, civilian-market GM platforms.
By 2008, Hummer’s viability in the economic downturn was questioned. Rather than being transferred to the Motors Liquidation Company as part of the GM bankruptcy in 2009, the brand was retained by GM, in order to investigate its sale. No final deal was made, and in 2010, Hummer dealerships began shutting down. Ten years later in 2020, the nameplate returned, not as a separate brand but instead as two models, an electric pickup truck and SUV, to be sold under the GMC brand as the “GMC Hummer EV“. The pre-production versions of the EV began November 2021 after a $2.2 billion investment to build a variety of all-electric vehicles in GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.
AM General had planned to sell a civilian version of its Humvee as far back as the late 1980s. Having the same structure and most mechanical components, the civilian Hummers were finished in automotive gloss paint, adding passenger car enhancements such as air conditioning, sound insulation, upgraded upholstery, stereo systems, wood trim, and convenience packages. The civilian model began in part because of the persistence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who saw an Army convoy while filming Kindergarten Cop in Oregon and began to campaign and lobby for a civilian version to be available on the market.
In 1992, AM General began selling a civilian version of the M998 Humvee vehicle to the public under the brand name “Hummer”. The first two Hummer H1s to be sold were purchased by Schwarzenegger.From left: Hummer H3, H1, and H2
In December 1999, AM General sold the brand name to General Motors, but continued to manufacture the vehicles. GM was responsible for the marketing and distribution of all civilian Hummers produced by AM General. Shortly thereafter, GM introduced two of its own design models, the H2 and H3, and renamed the original vehicle H1. AM General continued to build the H1 until it was discontinued in 2006, and was contracted by GM to produce the H2. The H3 was built in Shreveport, LA alongside the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, with which it shared the GMT-355 platform (modified and designated GMT-345). Hummer dealership buildings featured an oversized half Quonset Hut style roof, themed to the Hummer brand’s military origins.
By 2006, the Hummer began to be exported and sold through importers and distributors in 33 countries. On October 10, 2006, GM began producing the Hummer H3 at its Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa for international markets. The Hummers built there at first were only left-hand drive, but right-hand drive versions were added and exported to Australia and other markets.
The H2 was also assembled in Kaliningrad, Russia, by Avtotor, starting in 2006 and ending in 2009. The plant produced a few hundred vehicles annually, and its output was limited to local consumption with five dealers in Russia.
On June 3, 2008, one day prior to GM’s annual shareholder meeting, Rick Wagoner, GM’s CEO at that time, said the brand was being reviewed, and had the possibility of either being sold, having the production line completely redesigned, or being discontinued. This was due to the decreasing demand for large SUVs as a result of higher oil prices. Almost immediately after the announcement, a pair of Indian automakers, including Mahindra & Mahindra, expressed interest in purchasing all or part of Hummer.
Failed sale and shutdown
On June 1, 2009, as a part of the General Motors bankruptcy announcement, the company revealed that the Hummer brand would be discontinued. However, the following day GM announced that instead it had reached a deal to sell the brand to an undisclosed buyer. After GM announced that same day that the sale was to an undisclosed Chinese company, CNN and the New York Times identified the buyer of the Hummer truck unit as China-based Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd. Later that day, Sichuan Tengzhong itself announced the deal on their own website.
On January 6, 2010, GM CEO Ed Whitacre said he hoped to close the deal with Tengzhong by the end of that month. On February 1, 2010, it was announced that Sichuan and General Motors had agreed to extend the deadline until the end of February as Sichuan tried to get approval by the Chinese government. It was also revealed that the price tag of the Hummer brand was $150 million.
Later, on February 24, 2010, GM announced the Tengzhong deal had collapsed and the Hummer brand would soon shut down. There were reports that Sichuan Tengzhong might pursue the purchase of the Hummer brand from GM by purchasing it privately through the company’s new J&A Tengzhong Fund SPC, a private equity investment fund owned by an offshore entity that was recruiting private investors to buy into its acquisition plan. The financial markets posed problems for established borrowers and even more for Tengzhong, a little-known company from western China, at the same time as the potential value of the Hummer brand continued to decline given high fuel prices and weak consumer demand.
The company announced it was willing to consider offers for all or part of the assets. American company Raser Technologies along with several others expressed interest in buying the company. However, on April 7, 2010, this attempt failed as well, and General Motors officially said it was shutting down the Hummer SUV brand and offering rich rebates in a bid to move the remaining 2,200 vehicles.
Main article: GMC Hummer EVGMC Hummer EV pickup truck
In mid-2019, rumors began to circulate that General Motors was considering reviving the Hummer nameplate in 2021, as the market for off-road vehicles was reaching historic levels of sales. GM President Mark Ruess was asked about the possible return in the summer of 2019, and said, “I love Hummer. I don’t know. We’re looking at everything.” Credibility to the earlier reporting began to solidify after the conclusion of the 2019 General Motors strike, as contract negotiations led to the commitment by GM of saving its Detroit-Hamtramck facility from closing by investing in and retooling it to build future electric trucks and SUVs; the products were to be built on GM’s upcoming “BT1” electric truck platform. GM’s own documentation listed three brands as receiving products from the BT1 architecture: Cadillac (presumably an electric Cadillac Escalade), Chevrolet (likely under the Silverado nameplate), and a third unknown brand referred to as the “M-Brand.”
Industry insiders claimed they had sources saying that the “M-Brand” was a Hummer because a revival of the brand with established name recognition would help reduce marketing costs. The Hummer revival on the BT1 platform was known internally as “Project O,” potentially named after former Chief Camaro Engineer Al Oppenheiser (the man responsible for the return of the Camaro in 2010), who was moved from Camaro development to overseeing an EV program. Oppenheiser later confirmed this himself. By November 2019, media reports all but confirmed that Hummer would return with two electric models, a truck and an SUV, sometime in 2021. On November 21, 2019, General Motors CEO Mary Barra confirmed in that GM would be releasing an electric pickup truck in the fall of 2021, but did not name the brand under which it would be built.
The new Hummer line will not be a stand-alone brand, as it was before General Motors filed for bankruptcy, but a model within GM’s GMC brand.
On January 30, 2020, GM released a series of short videos revealing the return of Hummers in the form of electric SUV and truck models marketed under the GMC brand. A 30-second Super Bowl ad featured NBA superstar LeBron James. The vehicle was to be revealed on May 20, 2020, but the date was later pushed back to October 20, 2020.
The all-electric sub-brand of GMC will have several versions with initially only the most expensive “Edition 1” four-door pickup available followed other models and later as an SUV.
Main article: Hummer H1
The first vehicle in the Hummer range was the Hummer H1, based on the Humvee. Released for the civilian market in 1992, this vehicle was designed by American Motors‘ AM General subsidiary to meet U.S. Military specifications that were issued in 1979. By 1982, Renault (which was partially owned by the French government) took controlling interest in AMC, and the AM General division was sold in 1983 to Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) because US regulations barred ownership of defense contractors by foreign governments. American Motors itself was acquired by Chrysler in 1987. Production of H1 civilian versions continued through 2006.
Main article: Hummer H2
The Hummer H2 was the second vehicle in the Hummer range built in the AM General facility under contract from General Motors from 2002 to 2009. There were two variations: The H2 SUV and H2 SUT.
Main article: Hummer H3
The H3 and H3T truck were the smallest of the Hummer models and were based on the GMT355 platform shared with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon compact pickup trucks. The H3 line was produced from 2005 to 2010 by General Motors.
Raser Technologies (formerly of Utah) was to use technology similar to that in the Chevrolet Volt. The company unveiled the prototype to the 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit. The E-REV (Extended-Range Electric Vehicle) powertrain technology, was claimed to power the vehicle for up to 40 miles (64 km) on its battery, and then a small 4-cylinder internal combustion engine would start to generate more electricity.
Rod Hall in the 2005 Baja 1000
Team Hummer Racing was created in 1993. Led by off-road racer Rod Hall, Team Hummer competed in the stock classes of both BitD and SCORE, with specialized racing shock absorbers, tires, and other modifications, along with mandatory safety equipment. Team Hummer stock-class H3 driven by Hall finished first in class with the H3 in the 2005 Baja 1000. Team Hummer earned 11 production-class wins at the Baja 1000.
A highly modified, two-wheel drive Hummer was raced by Robby Gordon in 2006 (did not finish), 2007 (8th place), 2009 (3rd place), 2010 (8th place), 2011 (did not finish), 2012 (disqualified), and 2013 (14th place) Dakar Rally.
Hummer modified into a limousine
The Hummer H2 has been stretched by third-party companies into a variety of limousine versions. The Hummer H2 was cut behind the cab and the chassis extended to create a passenger section for 14, 16, or even 22 passengers.
- AM General Hummer H1 Assembly Plant, Mishawaka, Indiana – 500,000-square-foot plant (46,000 m2) opened 1984 to build HMMWV (HUMVEE) and began production of the H1 in 1992. Production ceased 2006, but HMMWV production continues.
- AM General Hummer H2 Assembly Plant, Mishawaka, Indiana – 673,000-square-foot plant (62,500 m2) opened 2002. H2 production ended 2009. Plant sold to SF Motors, maker of electric vehicles, in 2017.
- General Motors South Africa Struandale Assembly Plant, Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, South Africa – built in 1996, expanded to 75,625 square meters (814,000 sq ft) to build H3 models. H3 production ended 2009.
- General Motors Shreveport Operations, Shreveport, Louisiana – in 2005, to accommodate the production of the H3, an additional 296,000 square feet (27,500 m2) was added to plant built by GM in 1981. In July 2009, GM had shut down Hummer production of the H3, but the automaker had a special fleet order from Avis Rent a Car System.
- Avtotor Kaliningrad, Russia – licensed version of H2 starting from 2006 and production ended in 2009.
Criticism of Hummers mirrors the criticism of SUVs in general, but to a higher degree. Specific criticisms of Hummers include:SizeHummers (specifically the H1 and H2) are significantly bigger than other SUVs, which can cause problems parking, driving, and fitting in a garage. Their large size may also pose a serious threat to smaller vehicles and pedestrians.Poor fuel economyEven compared to other heavy passenger vehicles, Hummers without the diesel engine options have very poor fuel economy. Because the H2 is built to the over-8500-lb GVW, its fuel economy is neither published by the U.S. EPA nor counted toward Corporate Average Fuel Economy. For example, H2 in one engine configuration averages an estimated 14 mpg‑US (17 L/100 km; 17 mpg‑imp) on the highway and 10 mpg‑US (24 L/100 km; 12 mpg‑imp) in the city. It has a curb weight of around 6,400 lb (2,900 kg).SafetyCrash data for Hummers is less complete than for other SUVs. As a Class 3 truck, the Hummer is exempt from many United States Department of Transportation safety regulations. The H1 lacks standard safety features, including child safety locks, child seat tethers, side airbags, and stability control. Large blind spots make parking difficult and possibly dangerous.DriversA one-year study, conducted by a firm that provides statistical information to insurance companies, found that drivers of Hummer H2 and H3s receive about five times as many traffic tickets as the national average for all vehicles (standardized based on the number of violations per 100,000 miles driven).
GM is active in licensing the Hummer. Various companies have licensed the Hummer trademarks for use on colognes, flashlights, bicycles, shoes, coats, hats, laptops, toys, clothing, CD players, video games and other items. An electric quadricycle badged as a Hummer was produced in the UK.
- GMC Hummer EV
- List of defunct United States automobile manufacturers
- VLF Automotive#HUMVEE C-Series
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1992: AM General creates the first civilian version of the truck, the $100,000 HUMMER. Arnold Schwarzenegger is among the first buyers.
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