Bailout Blues: Hummer goes down without much of a fight
Hummer now joins Pontiac, Saturn and Saab in the GM abandoned brand bin.
Now, I never really understood Hummer. Okay, that’s only half true. Hummer was a fashion statement. Yeah, I got that.
Yet nothing said I-have-more-money-than-brains than owning what was effectively a GM pickup in military drag. And as with most fashion accessories, the best-before date is something that needs to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for GM, after all the GI Joe types bought the first Hummers, for the "normal" new car buyer, if made little sense to apply any kind of logic behind the purchase of one of the “civilian” H3 or H2 Chevy-truck based models.
That is, unless you were under the age of five. And liked playing in sand boxes. While making vroom-vroom noises.
Predictably, like other fickle segments (hello sports coupes!) Hummer sales fell off a cliff when the fashionistas moved on. Hummer's 67 per cent sales decline last year was the biggest of any mainstream brand in the U.S.
So although there were talks in the last few years to make Hummer GM’s “diesel” brand, and a much needed entry-level Jeep Wrangler-fighter (like the HX concept above, from Detroit two years ago, above) was planned, GM’s monumental financial collapse after gas topped $4 per gallon, and the start of the Great American Recession in fall 2007, meant there was simply no money left in the coffers to make any of these potentially saving Hummer graces come to fruition.
Outside influences aside, what I never understood was GM taking so long to figure out what Hummer could and should have been.
First, like Clint Eastwood and Elvis, Hummer was an American stereotype that could have been sold around the world. Arnie The Terminator smoking a stogie at the wheel of his Hummer said it all. And not giving the Wrangler any competition will go down as a major faux pas.
With the product mix, do you think GM, or anyone else, for that matter, could have made Hummer viable?
Or will the brand simply go down in history as an example of American hubris run amok?