The New York Times and the Associated Press are both reporting today that the previously "unnamed buyer" in this morning's Hummer sale announcement is Sichuan Tengzhong, a Chinese heavy-equipment manufacturer which (one supposes ) is looking to expand into the car business. If approved (by the Chinese government, which has veto power over acquisitions in excess of $100 million by Chinese corporations) this would be a truly historic event: The first time a Chinese company has bought a controlling interest (or, in this case, outright ownership) in an American car company.
Positives? Well, from what we've heard, some 3,000 (American) jobs would be saved by the deal, and that sounds mighty good to us right now. Also, the Hummer brand would get an entree into the world's largest, and fastest-growing, consumer market, i.e., the People's Republic, though the vehicles would be subject to the 40-percent tariff the Chinese government slaps onto imported trucks (ouch!). In addition, the H2 will continue to be built (by GM for the new owners, on a contract basis, through 2010); the H3 will also continue to be built at Shreveport for the near term, and the H4 will still be (at least) a possibility in the future, so the product line remains intact for now.
Negatives? Well, obviously this most conspicuous exemplar of American Patriotism on Wheels may suffer a P.R. black eye with some of its most devoted aficionados, being that it'll soon be in the possession of a firm located not in the U.S. of A. but in an Asian
worker's utopia hypercapitalist dictatorship. Then again, it's the 21st Century, and for those of you who think you can stuff that anti-globalization genie back in the bottle, good luck with that. For now, we're just thankful that the Hummer brand has been given a new lease on life, and we look forward to testing future models---most likely to be equipped with new and more fuel-efficient powerplants, including diesels, hybrids and biofuels---in the years to come. And we're brushing up on our Mandarin for the next Hummer media program.
So what do you think? Will Hummer's image (or sales) suffer as a result? If you were looking to buy an H3 right now, would it make any difference to you whether Detroit or Beijing was getting a cut of the action if American jobs are saved as a result?