Hummer was a brand of trucks and SUVs produced by AM General, first sold as a civilian version of the M998 Humvee in 1992. In 1998, Hummer was purchased by General Motors (GM) and they marketed three versions, the original Hummer H1, based on the Humvee, the H2 and H3 models were smaller and were produced for the civilian market.
By 2008, Hummer was placed under review by GM management. Rather than being liquidated as part of the GM bankruptcy in 2009, it was retained by GM.
An announcement in 2009 by a Chinese manufacturer, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, was interested in acquiring Hummer, pending on government approval. Their bid was later withdrawn. On February 24, 2010, a report from Reuters stated the deal was prevented from going through and at the end of February, GM announced it would begin dismantling the Hummer brand.
On April 7, 2010, General Motors officially said it was shutting down the Hummer SUV brand and offering rich rebates for the remaining 2,200 vehicles. By the end of April 2010, the Hummer inventory was depleted and dealerships began shut down. The last Hummer H3 was produced on May 24, 2010 after GM had completed a contract for a rental car order.
The original Hummers were first assembled in Mishawaka, Indiana by AM General Corporation, which was a subsidiary of American Motors (AMC). In 1979, the United States Army was seeking contractors for a new “High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle” (HMMWV). AM General was one of the four contractors who bid on the project. They designed the HMMWV to meet the Army’s requirements and delivered a prototype to the Army within a year. The Army received the first vehicles for testing in April, 1982.
AM General was awarded the contract in 1983 to supply their HMMWV to the United States armed forces. A variety of military style versions of the new vehicles were produced. A total of 55,000 “Humvees” were scheduled to be manufactured with the first production vehicle assembled on January 2, 1985. An additional 15,000 units was later added to the contract.
AM General planned to sell civilian versions of the Humvee in the late 1980s. The civilian Hummers were basically the same design and used the same equipment as the Army version, but with added improvements like air conditioning, sound insulation, upgraded upholstery, stereo systems, wood trim, and convenience packages. Arnold Schwarzenegger played a role in the development of the civilian Humvee after seeing an Army convoy while filming a movie.
General Motors purchased the brand in December 1999, but AM General continued to manufacture the vehicles. GM’s role in the acquisition was marketing and distribution of all Hummers produced by AM General. GM later produced their own versions of the Hummer, the H2 and H3, along with renaming the original to the H1. AM General continued to build the H1 until it was discontinued in 2006 and was contracted by GM to produce the H2.
The Hummer was exported and sold in 33 countries by 2006 and the Russian company Avtotor began to assemble the H2 from 2006 to 2009. However, only a few hundred per year were produced and only sold at five dealerships.
On June 3, 2008, GM’s CEO Rick Wagner stated the Hummer was being reviewed and had the possibility of being sold, redesigned or discontinued all together. A contributing factor in this decision was the decrease in demand for large, expensive SUV type vehicles and the high price of oil and gas. After this announcement, two Indian automakers were interested in purchasing all or part of Hummer.
Image Caption: Hummer H3. Credit: IFCAR/Wikipedia (public domain)