Just when we thought things were bad, they have gone to worse with the latest news out of Detroit indicating that GM has stopped work on the next generation H3 and has shelved plans for the H4, as well as hired a broker to facilitate any sale of the brand.
The company line is “business is continuing as usual and we do not speculate on future products.” In reality, a quick look under the surface (and at HummerGuy.net) reveals what can only be considered a history mismanagement hell for Hummer – possibly dooming the brand from the beginning.
Hummer was born in to a time when fuel prices were low and tax breaks favorable. During the first couple of years, the brand gained notoriety for its in your face advertising promoting lifestyle and brashness over capability, something that haunts the brand to this day, as it was never able to outgrow that perception, despite impressive credentials for the trail and improving quality and fuel economy and changing marketing focus that finally touted the capability of the product line. But now, GM has taken away everything Hummer needs to survive, namely products. In typical GM fashion, right when they get the product right, they kill it, and Hummer is the victim this time around.
Just weeks ago, GM announced Hummer would go under “strategic review” for a possible sale or even closure. At the time we thought that GM might be bluffing until the higher fuel economy next-gen H3 and H4 would come out, but with no more products in the pipeline and the death of the H2, GM isn’t leaving potential Hummer suitors with a very attractive portfolio.
There are even reports that our beloved Bergstrom Hummer dealer in Wisconsin is already preparing for the inevitable doomsday for the brand. Hummer will share retail space with Chevrolet and using the former Hummer Quonset Hut showroom for Certified pre-owned vehicles.
To make a stronger case for our speculation, dealers have been notified today via mail that a broker has been chosen to facilitate the sale of the brand, if that is indeed the goal. From what we can tell, there are only a few things that can happen now. A) GM decides to keep Hummer. B) GM decides to fold Hummer C) GM decides to sell Hummer D) GM decides to sell Hummer and continue building its products for the new owners under a licensing agreement.
We think Hummer is an important enough product to keep around, with increasing sales success in the international market (international sales 20-percent of Hummer sales after a few short years), highly capable vehicles that have been put to use in everything from Border Patrol fleets to American Red Cross recovery efforts. If we were GM, we would sell Hummer as its own brand within Chevrolet showrooms (maybe Bergstrom is on to something), much as they do with Corvette, and let it be a stand-alone brand overseas where it is enjoying success. This would limit dealer overhead and still make an exceptional product available. Unfortunately, we are not GM and it appears we’ll be losing more great off road products.
For those of us who have bought into the brand, supported it, and have been open minded to its products – looking beyond popular perception, this whole thing is a hard pill to swallow. We just hope we are wrong, but we know we aren’t. We’ll just enjoy the hell out of the H3T when it launches later this year as planned.
Get your T-shirts and H3s while you can.
--Sean P. Holman
Tech Editor – Four Wheeler Magazine