Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Hummer: A Missed Opportunity / 2010 H3

On April 27, 2009, GM announced that it was discontinuing the Pontiac, Saab, Hummer and Saturn brands. I posted a Pontiac a few days ago. Today I'm dealing with Hummer...

Talk about missing out on a golden opportunity.

At the end of World War II Americans started noticing the little boxy vehicles used by the United States Armed Forces. During the war they gained a well deserved reputation as rugged, go everywhere vehicles. Willys-Overland, who was building these vehicles, thought that there might be a market for a civilian version. The created the CJ (Civilian Jeep) and the rest is history.

Jeep now has a full line of SUVs, but when you think "Jeep" a version of the CJ or the later Wrangler model usually comes to mind.

Fast forward to the early 1990s and the United States is involved in the "Gulf War." Every night we would see videos from the war on TV. Often in those videos were Humvees, the Armed Forces latest go-anywhere vehicle. They were being dropped from airplanes, cruising across sand dunes and rumbling through city streets.

In 1992, AM General, who was manufacturing the Humvee, saw an opportunity to sell a civilian version of the Humvee (later called the H1). The created the Hummer brand. In 1999, AM General sold the brand name to General Motors. GM eventually developed the H2 and H3. (The H2 was built be AM General, the H3 by GM.)

So where was the missed opportunity I mentioned in the first sentence? Think about the Jeep CJ / Wrangler. Nothing has ever competed with it. (In terms of style and ruggedness, you could say the series Land Rovers were competition, but Land Rover never made any real effort to sell them in North America.) The CJ / Wrangler sells so well because it's a Jeep. Chevy, Ford, Dodge, etc., could have built a Jeep-like vehicle, but it wouldn't have done well. Not without the Jeep name and pedigree.

Hummer had that pedigree. Why GM didn't capitalize on that is a mystery to me. The H1 through H3 were decent vehicles - they could go off road like few others - but they were big expensive trucks. Their price and sheer size put them out of reach or made them impractical for the average car buyer. A Wrangler style Hummer would have been a hit. Hummer vs. Jeep, like Camaro vs. Mustang. GM blew it.

The H3 is the smallest and the most refined of the Hummer vehicles. It came with a 3.7-liter 5 cylinder engine. (A V8 was available.) With the 5 cylinder engine it got to 60 MPH in 10 -12 seconds., depending on the transmission and whose testing you look at. Gas mileage was fair, around 14 MPG in the city and 18 on the highway. If you like its almost cartoonish looks, the H3 is not a bad vehicle. This is a 2010 H3 (the last year for Hummer) By the time this one was built GM had solved many of the problems that plagued the early trucks.

Located in Battle Creek, MI, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

1 comment:

pickles said...

It seems as if the only people who drive them now are "fierce" moms with workout tights and baseball caps with their pony tails coming through the back.

In the height of the anti-suv movement, back when these were new, I was in San Francisco at a long red light, behind a new, black H3 (in my rather PC Saab 9-5 wagon). Out of nowhere, a roller blader started circling the Hummer in front of me, with his keys poking from his fingers, ready to key the despised truck. He RACED around it...getting >this< close but just far enough away. It was intense. The owner got out and tried to chase the rollerblader around the car to catch the guy and everyone behind started honking at the pathetic, helpless Hummer owner. Those were the days when SUVs (at least in the Bay Area) were enemy #1. How things have changed. Both in perception but also effeciency. At least now you can get an SUV that gets 30+mpg.