The Hummer is becoming something of an exotic species of cars since the production stopped in 2010. Due to multiple factors affecting sales and the vehicle’s popularity, GM discontinued the production of the H2 and H3, to the disappointment of Hummer heads all over the world.
Is the Hummer legacy dead for good or it’s still in production? Find out more about this hot question in this article.
Are Hummers still made?
The original Hummer brand owned by General Motors does not produce any of the three models H1, H2, and H3. But a new Humvee-C Is being produced under license for export markets primarily.
Here are the facts! Hang on as we guide you through the complicated story of the Hummer!
Who Made The Original Hummer?
The Hummer was made by AM General, then a subsidiary of the American Motors Corporation (AMC).
In 1981, the US military contracted AM General to build over 55,000 units of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) nicknamed the Humvee by operators.
Hummer was an off-shoot of the powerful Humvee vehicle that was widely deployed in the 1989 Panama War and the Operation Desert Storm.
The Humvee was designed as a replacement for the Jeep and Maga Goat vehicles and would serve the military in the tactical, logistic, intelligence and medevac roles.
Humvees tipped the scales at over 10,000 pounds, provided protection against indirect fire and had excellent off-roading capabilities.
In 1990, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger saw a convoy of 50 Humvees while filming the kindergarten Cop in Oregon, and developed an instant liking for the vehicle.
He promised to own one if there ever was a civilianized version of the Humvee. And that was the beginning of his advocacy for a civilian Humvee.
Who Makes the New Hummers?
Production stopped in 2010 when sales plummeted. However, the powerful truck is making a comeback in the form of the Humvee-C but from another company.
The new vehicle is named Hummer-C as GM still owns the original Hummer brand.
The Humvee-C is built from AMG-supplied kits in Detroit by former GM president Bob Lutz’s company but for the export market.
Where Is the Hummer Made?
In 1992, AM General released the first Hummer H1 for the buying public.
The vehicles were made at the company’s Mishawaka, Indiana commercial vehicle manufacturing plant along with their military cousins.
AM General produced the H1 until 2006 with the last model called the Alpha.
GM Buys the Hummer Brand
Meanwhile, AM General and General Motors agreed to co-produce the Hummer vehicles.
In 1999, GM bought the rights to the Hummer brand but AM General continued producing the vehicles at its Mishawaka facility.
In 2002, GM designed the smaller but more roadworthy Hummer H2 which featured more creature comforts and better fuel economy. AM General also built the H2.
The H2s were also assembled in Kaliningrad, Russia by Avtotor to serve the local market.
GM designed a smaller version of the Hummer in 2006 called the H3. It weighed a little less than 5000 pounds and was based on the Chevy Colorado chassis.
This time, the H3 was manufactured at GM’s pickup plant at Shreveport, Louisiana for the local market while it built the export models in South Africa.
Despite its popularity as a road warrior with excellent off-roading capabilities, the ugly reputation of the first Hummer as a gas-guzzling beast continued to dog later models.
The Hummer brand will run into serious troubles in 2008. Facing a financial crisis, GM stopped Hummer production in 2010.
Enthusiasts are always on the lookout for a rebirth of the Hummer. But if feelers from GM is anything to go by, don’t expect the truck soon as its fuel consumption does not align with the goals of company executives.
Thankfully, other companies are trying to bring back the Hummer but not for the US market.
Are Humvees Still Made for the Military?
AM General still makes the Humvee for the military but in small numbers. The new Humvees are called NXT360, a variant of the original M1100 series.
This upgrade features a turbo-diesel 6.5 liter V-8, rated 15,500 GVW and has improved off-roading capabilities among others.
The NXT360 comes with blast seats and blast mats, blast protection and B7-level ballistic protection.
The new Humvee addresses most of the weaknesses of the Desert Storm era vehicles.
However, the military is focusing on the JLTV as its main tactical vehicle of the future.
Humvees are now being phased out of the military but there are still thousands in active service.
The realities of the Iraqi war showed the weaknesses of the Humvee as a combat tool.
Being a Light Tactical Vehicle, the Humvee was designed to carry troops from one point to another within the shortest time. And with its 55 mph cruise speed, it excelled in this role regardless of the terrain.
Why the Military Stopped Buying the Hummer
As the Iraqi war transformed into a full-blown insurgency, GIs and their commanders discovered the Humvee’s weaknesses.
It lacked the survivability required in a kinetic theater with IEDs and tank-killing explosives blowing up Humvees and their occupants.
To reduce the casualty rate, operators added slat armor to their LTVs but at a great expense to speed and maneuverability.
More armor made the Humvee top-heavy, sluggish and prone to rollovers.
More so, it became a sitting duck and the heavy doors made it almost impossible for emergency egresses in ambush situations.
After much backlash from politicians and the public who didn’t quite understand the realities of war, the US Army and the Marines ordered the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle from Oshkosh.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
The JLTV boasts the survivability of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles with a V-hull that deflected blasts away from the truck.
It has more ground clearance, improved speed and is maneuverable enough for deployment as a tip of the spear in offensive campaigns.
But it will take over two decades for the military to replace all Humvees with the Oshkosh JLTV. Until then, Humvees will serve alongside the newer and more capable vehicles.
AM General produces only a trickle of Humvees for combat, but the Pentagon has requirements for the type as medevac vehicles.
The company produces small batches of the vehicle configured as ambulances for the medical corps.
3 Reasons The Hummer Was Discontinued
The story of Hummer’s discontinuation is multifaceted. But the most crucial factor is the vehicle’s gas-guzzling reputation.
1) The Arnold Effect
No other person contributed to the success of the Hummer brand than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
At the time, Arnold was a world-famous bodybuilder, and a highly sought Hollywood actor starring in movies like the Terminator.
He needed a street-legal military-grade vehicle to complement his macho persona, and the Hummer was a perfect choice.
This was a great boon for AM General, as the free publicity quickly made the Hummer H1 a country-wide sensation.
But nothing good lasts forever and people change.
During his tenure as the governor of California, Arnold realized his passion for the gas-thirsty Hummer does not align with the mood of Californians.
With his fleet of seven Hummers, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love of the big cars didn’t sit well with his constituents who have always been champions of strict environmental and emission laws.
To avoid the wrath of his base, Arnold sold his Hummer fleet in September 2006. Interestingly, Hummer sales peaked in 2006 and dropped afterward.
In 2007, sales dropped from 54,052 units in the preceding year to 43,431 units and 20,681 units in 2008.
By 2009, the economy was in the throes of a debilitating recession, wiping out the dollar’s purchasing power and reducing Hummer sales to a paltry 5,487 units.
But this is just a part of the story.
2) Oil Troubles
As Americans awaken to the realities of one of the worst recessions in world history, oil was making a remarkable return.
Gas skyrocketed to $4 per gallon, making it unwise for many cash-strapped Americans to buy notorious gas guzzlers like the Hummer.
Car sales plummeted globally, but the gas guzzlers suffered the most. The hike in fuel prices didn’t help matters, and this put a huge dent in the fortunes of the Hummer.
People who could afford to buy Hummers will probably be able to pay the higher fuel prices, but there was no escaping the negative effect on buyers’ mood.
Environmental activists didn’t help matters. They castigated the Hummer’s poor fuel efficiency as a huge contributor to global warming.
This made it difficult for many people to buy or even drive their Hummers regularly.
Ironically, activists didn’t have any qualms with pickups with the same mileage as the H1.
3) GM Files for Bankruptcy Protection
By 2008, GM was already reviewing the Hummer brand.
CEO Rick Wagoner announced that the company is considering redesigning the vehicles to make them more fuel-efficient.
He also mulled ending or selling the franchise. The slowing car sales and the hard-hitting recession was putting GM in a bad financial situation.
It received $50 billion dollars in bailouts from the federal government to stay afloat and had to file for bankruptcy protection in 2009.
As part of its reorganization efforts, GM announced it was selling the Hummer brand to the Chinese company Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery.
The deal was to be concluded by March 1, 2010, for $150 million.
Unfortunately, the deal didn’t go through largely because of the poor image of the Hummer.
The Chinese government did not approve the transaction because of the vehicle’s gas-guzzling reputation and China’s contribution to global pollution.
No banks in China wanted to fund the project and the Communist Party was not willing to allow foreign investment to back the deal.
If the deal had gone through, GM aimed to use it to serve the export and US markets while producing the vehicle offshore.
The last production Hummer H3 rolled off the assembly line on May 24, 2010, marking the end of the iconic vehicle in the mass market.
GM retains the brand rights for Hummer and had a concept HX in the work before things fell apart.
The Future of the Hummer vehicles
GM may have stopped producing Hummers, but several companies are working hard to bring it back. One such company is Michigan-based VLF Automotive.
VLF Automotive, a brainchild of former GM chairman Bob Lutz is making it happen.
The company is collaborating with Humvee Export, a group of Hummer enthusiasts to assemble the trucks on GM drivetrains.
However, the new vehicle is called Humvee-C because the Hummer trademark belongs to GM.
These vehicles are destined for markets in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa because it does not meet the requirements of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act.
Humvee-C will be available in Bravo, Charlie and Delta trims and will use four different GM engines.
AM General has been selling the Humvee-C kits since 2013 and VLF assembles them at its Auburn Hills, Michigan facility.
However, the company makes the vehicles for Chinese buyers who order through Humvee Export.
The Hummer was in production for less than 20 years. But its legacy lives on in the minds of owners and potential owners.
While it may be impossible to get a brand new Hummer from AM General or GM, there are thousands of low mileage units of the vehicle for sale worldwide.
If you have a fat purse and don’t mind the maintenance headache, you can order a new military-spec Humvee-C from VLF Automobile.
Sadly, you may not be able to use it on US roads.