The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 June 2007

Greening the Hummer

Is such a thing even possible? AutoblogGreen considers:

Toward the end of this decade GM will be adding some new engine options to the H2 and H3 that will help a bit, but until these vehicles are completely redesigned on lighter platforms, it probably won't be enough to turn most people around. GM will be adding flex-fuel capability to the H2 in 2009 with the H3 getting it in 2010, but why isn't it there now? The newly announced 4.5L diesel will also go into the H2 at the same time. If the H2 does continue into the future, and that is by no means a given at this point, it may inherit the two-mode hybrid system coming later this year starting on the Tahoe/Yukon.

Most likely the only way that Hummer will be transformed from an environmental pariah to at least respectable would be to follow Jeep's lead and come out with smaller lighter vehicles like the Compass and Patriot. However, Compass sales haven't been anything to write home about so far and there is no guarantee that something similar to the Compass would have any appeal at all as a Hummer. GM's best bet might be to just let the H2 and H3 live out their lifespan and then let the brand die.

A Compass-sized H4 might be salable, if it retains the rock-hopping abilities of the rest of the line — exasperating as they may be on the highway, the H2 and H3 are better-than-respectable performers offroad — and if they spend a few bucks on keeping the mass down to a bearable level. (Land Rover's teensy LR2 still weighs over two tons.) Still, you have to figure that the major reason Hummer sales are on the wane is the sheer thirst of the beast, and the new diesel will help matters somewhat. (And why didn't GM bolt flex-fuel capabilities into these Panzerwagens for '08?)

I don't see GM giving up on the brand: in its role as the Anti-Prius, Hummer has a very distinct market niche. But it's not going to garner any residual sales from outside that niche until they teach it to drink less.

Posted at 6:49 PM to Driver's Seat

I think the problem is that the target market for SUVs is not the target market for greener vehicles. That's why Compass isn't doing better sales-wise. As for Hummer, the novelty of the brand got it off to a good start, but what made the H1 attractive was that it actually looked like the military vehicle.

Nobody can look at an H2 and believe it could be used in combat; it became a prestige purchase for people with more dollars than sense who never would have been attracted to a real truck. That demographic is limited and fickle, and so the H2 has no long-term prospects anyway.

They tried to address the H2's obesity with the H3 but went about it all wrong. The H4 probably won't click either because Hummer as a brand has become cemented in most people's minds as expensive and impractical.

In my opinion, the salvation of Hummer depends on time travel. Someone needs to go back and administer a good, attention-grabbing lapel-shake to the execs who are responsible for the H2, reminding them that the Humvee is a truck, not a high-ground-clearance, 4WD Jaguar.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:33 AM on 21 June 2007