The rise, fall and return of the Hummer

Chronology: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the Hummer

The Hummer brand has a relatively short history, but its trucks are some of America’s biggest automotive icons (figuratively and literally). Originally designed for the military, Hummers are known for their size, off-road capability, and of course, fuel consumption.

The latter proved to be the Achilles heel of the Hammer. By 2007, a recession was coming, and the appetite for gas binges waned. The Hummer brand was discontinued, and the last truck rolled off the production line in 2010.

More than a decade later, General Motors is reviving the Hummer as an all-electric off-road vehicle. Pre-orders are over 65,000 units, but how does that compare to the brand’s heyday in the 2000s?


Hummer’s roots go back to 1983, when AM GeneralHeavy Vehicle Manufacturer, Inc., received $1 billion from the Pentagon to build a Wheeled High Mobility Multipurpose Vehicle (Humvee).

Humvees became a staple in the US Army, and by 1991, 72,000 vehicles were produced. The truck was particularly useful in conflict zones in the Middle East due to its ability to transport troops and cargo over rough terrain.

If you are wondering how this military vehicle ended up on public roads, you can only thank Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While filming the 1990 action-comedy, KindergartenArnold reportedly fell in love with a Humvee used on the set. Later he persuaded AM General to produce a consumer version of the truck, which arrived in 1992 under the name “Hummer”.

Aside from adding amenities like air conditioning, AM General has made very few changes to the consumer-grade Hummer. She was notorious and unsuitable for city driving, but her military roots gave her a lot of character. General Motors saw an opportunity in expanding the brand, so in 1999, it bought the rights to produce and market the Hummer.

rise and fall

GM moved quickly after buying the Hummer. She renamed the truck “H1”, and released the “H2” just a few years later.

Sales in the United States jumped, reaching more than 35,000 in 2003 before tapering off a bit. To maintain the momentum, General Motors introduced the smaller, cheaper “H3” model in 2005. Sales rose again, and the brand recorded more than 71,000 sales in 2006.

Unfortunately, what goes up eventually goes down. In 2009, during General Motors’ bankruptcy proceedings, the Hummer brand was discontinued along with Pontiac and Saturn.

year Annual US Hummer Sales
1992 316
1993 612
1994 718
1995 1,432
1996 1,374
1997 1,209
1998 945
1999 831
2000 1,333
2001 869
2002 19,581
2003 35259
2004 29345
2005 56727
2006 71.524
2007 55986
2008 27485
2009 9046
2010 3812
2011 0

So what went wrong? For starters, the H2 was a victim of the era. They were big, expensive, and very gas-thirsty – qualities that didn’t materialize well during the recession.

In fact, the H2 has never received an official fuel economy rating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it has. so heavy. Regulations at the time excluded vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds from testing, although journalists noted an average of less than 10 mpg.

The H3 mitigated some of these issues by downsizing, and it quickly became the brand’s best-selling car. This success was short-lived, as H3 alone could not maintain the brand.

shook to life

In 2020, General Motors announced the all-electric car Hummer EV. Much like the H2, it carries iconic design elements such as the front grille with vertical slats.

Compared to the H2, this electric model is taller, wider and heavier. It is estimated that it will weigh more than 9,000 pounds, which according to EPA estimates, is more than twice the weight of a regular car. This is primarily due to the huge amount of batteries the truck has.

Power is also increased thanks to the electric propulsion system, with the “Edition 1” model boasting 1,000 horsepower from its three electric motors (a similar configuration to Tesla’s Plaid). The smaller models, which have only two engines, are expected to generate 600 HP.

Promising restart

Will battery power be the key to Hummer’s long-term success?

So far, GM appears to have played its cards right. New trucks outperform new cars by a 3-to-1 ratio in the United States, and the release of the Hummer EV is just in time to take advantage of the trend.

The Hummer EV also eliminates one of the biggest weaknesses of its predecessors – fuel consumption. With gasoline prices at all-time highs, can we dare call the new Hummer an “economy”?

Either way, GM certainly enjoys the economic advantages of its decision. More than 65,000 pre-orders have been received, and production of the entire Hummer EV is sold out through 2024. The truck is being manufactured in Zero Factory in Michigan, the first production facility dedicated to electric vehicles from General Motors.

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