Hummer Terminated by High Gas Prices?

Arnold Schwarzenegger Hummer Photo 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

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DL says:

    Perhaps if we could fill its oversized tires with helium we can reverse the global warming hoax sponsered by the UN.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Appeal? I thought it was insane. But, as H. L. Mencken noted, nobody every lost money by betting on the poor taste of the American public.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I’m just waiting on GM to resurrect the Chevette.

  4. Bithead says:

    I’m just waiting on GM to resurrect the Chevette.

    Really. And the same people pushing small cars now, still question why small cars disappeared once Cater was out of the WH. the Chevette is emblematic of that, I think… and they’ll do it again.

  5. DC Loser says:

    Bit – No, it’s just that the Chevette was a piece of crap. Notice the Honda Accord (which was pretty small at the time) and the Toyota Corolla have not disappeared. Even the Ford Escort survived relatively long. GM never was serious about building quality small cars and the Chevette was the result of that philosophy.

  6. DC Loser says:

    The above only applies to the North American market. GM has very good small cars in their Opel division. But we’ll never see them here.

  7. Bithead says:

    Well, no… actually, we did, the last time we had a gas crisis. The quality of the cars, (Design, durability, lack of size, rust away in three years) established a reputation that I doubt can ever be overcome. That we saw them here last time is why we won’t see them this time.

  8. Bithead says:

    Oh… I should mention that they’re already budilding the Opel GT here. Wilmington DE, if I’m not much mistaken.

    But for the reasons I listed, they’re not selling.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Look, the market is pushing away from large SVUs and trucks and towards smaller cars. The market is working. What’s all the crying about?

    Small does not necessarily equal crap. Test drive a Civic or a Mini Cooper.

  10. Bithead says:

    Comon, Anjin…

    This has nothing whatever to do with ‘the market’. There is no logical reason to refer to what’s happening with Anergy as ‘free market’ when it’s is in fact being controlled by the government, and the enviro-whackos every bleeding step of the way from dead dino to pump, except so it can be used to whip your opposition into shape by the misapplication of the phrase.

    YOU tell ME…How does people being priced out of a market because of governmetal interferennce in a market, constitute a good thing at all, much less a FREE market? This is not a free market, Anjin… this is the result of the use of governmental force.

    Do you really have that hard a time in recognizing the difference between governmental force and free trade?

    I’ve driven a cooper exactly once… when Cooper still made them. No, thanks. They make a nice go-kart, but I choose life, thank you.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Poor Bit. Liberals want to kill him by forcing him into small cars. Evil, scary Muslins are plotting to convert him at the point of a sword. Liberals are using mind control rays to make people hate our health care system. Meanwhile, black helicopters are circling overhead…

  12. Bithead says:

    I’ll take that as a yes.

  13. teqjack says:

    “I never much understood the appeal.”

    Well, in Western Union colors it looked cool. But the price was about twice what the vehicle (in its civvies) justified.

    Except… I did read at some point that if your company bought it for you the $50k price was fully tax deductible. Even if you were the only employee.

  14. Bithead says:

    Depends what you’re doing with it. The thing was prolly the most trail capable truck I’ve ever driven (H1), while doing a very nice job on the road, too.
    I dunno as I’d wanna long haul with it, but it wouldn’t kill ya.

    Diesel would have helped some, too, I think. Too bad the fed clamped down so hard on Diesel power lately.

  15. anjin-san says:

    The Hummer is probably the ultimate male inadequacy compensation vehicle.

  16. Bithead says:

    The Hummer is probably the ultimate male inadequacy compensation vehicle.

    Is there a reason liberals are obsessed with that kinda thing?