Hummer Terminated by High Gas Prices?
General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has announced the closure of four truck and SUV plants in North America and says the Hummer brand may be discontinued altogether.
The civilian version of the Hummer came out as I was getting out of the Army and, frankly, I never much understood the appeal. I had spent enough time riding and even living in a military HMMWV to know what an unwieldy, uncomfortable vehicle it was. The smaller H2 and H3 variants that came out later were more drivable but never made sense to me at the high prices they were bringing.
Regardless, we’ve seen this happen before. In the late 1970s, everyone was shifting to small cars. The previously scoffed at Japanese brands Toyota, Datsun (later, Nissan), Honda, and Mazda were suddenly seen everywhere as the American Big 4 (American Motors, which made Jeep, was still in existence then) were scrambling to catch up. Diesel powered cars were a significant market niche and cars that got 50 miles per gallon were widely available.
A decade later, though, the trend reversed itself and people were demanding comfortable, powerful cars again. That’ll happen again if gas prices settle down or the industry figures out how to power their vehicles more efficiently.
Still, even with the rise of behemoth SUVs, we never saw the resurgence of the land yachts. Today’s “large” cars would have been classified as “mid-size” in the 1970s. If the Hummer goes away, it may never come back. I doubt we’ll see a wave of Desert Storm nostalgia.
Photo credit: HydrogenCarsNow