Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is Hummer Dead?

Hummer appears to be history, but as we saw with Saab it may not be dead yet.

Nick Bunkley of The New York Times reports:
Hummer, the brand of big sport-utility vehicles that became synonymous with the term “gas guzzler,” is being shut down after a deal to sell it to a Chinese manufacturer fell apart, General Motors said Wednesday.

G.M. said only that its planned sale of Hummer to the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines Company “cannot be completed,” without giving a reason, but the $150 million deal had been stalled as the companies awaited approval from the Chinese government. G.M. had been trying to sell Hummer for a year, and struck a preliminary deal with Tengzhong last June.


  1. Hummer's original strategic theme of course was "looks rugged". The H2 vehicles were actually rugged enough, but not particularly more so than other trucks of their weight class. They did offer good offroad potential by virtue of their wheel size and short overhangs. Nonetheless, clearly the company's raison d'etre was informed by appearance and therefore psychological appeal.

    It's unfortunate that GM didn't have someone at a strategic-management level to demand an additional strategic theme: equal on-road fuel mileage to the most common Jeep and Toyota Landcruiser models.

    Or, failing a willingness to commit to such a mileage goal, at least having a high mileage engine as an available option so that in the event of a fuel price shock, a rapid public response could be made by making that engine the new standard equipment.

    All of this failmode has occurred because of strategic shortsightedness, which for a company that pays its top people a ton of money is really bad.

  2. To be fair, the Hummer H2 was no worse than the heavy duty pickups offered by GM or Ford. All got roughly 10 mpg average, which isn't good by any measure, but since it looks huge, the Hummer got a lot more flack than it really deserved. Most pickup and SUV drivers don't necessarily need huge vehicles, but honestly, most people don't need anything more than a two-seater most of the time. Hummer was an SUV brand, so it was bound to fall out of style eventually. A station wagon-only brand in the seventies or a minivan-only brand in the eighties would have done the same.

  3. Exactly was no worse than many others, but somehow it came to represent the worst in American life for me. My truck didn't get much better mileage, but somehow seeing a hummer just infuriated me. I feel like it will be studied by archeologists 500 years from now and they'll be wondering why the F*** we were ever driving this things. I suspect they'll think it was a religious rite, and they'll sort of be right.

  4. Do you feel the same fury when you see a Jeep Wrangler (similar capabilities, pretty similar looks), or a Land Rover (more expensive), or a Mercedes G class (considerably more powerful and expensive)?

    How about when you see a classic 50s car, that gets worse mileage than a modern Hummer H2 or full sized pickup?

    How about people who buy 4WD pickups? They also have capabilities that aren't needed most of the time, but their buyers like knowing that they'll be safe if it snows or they need or want to head offroad...whatever their reason.

    How about people who drive full sized pickups around with the beds empty? They, too, are driving a large vehicle with capabilities that they're not fully using most of the time...but they like having the capability to handle special circumstances and accomplish stuff that they want to do.

    How about people who drive Corvettes or Porsches...are they just enjoying life, or are they trying to make you angry by ostentatiously flaunting their sufficient income to own those wheels?

    So anyway, what is it that you are angry at?


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