The End of an Era For Hummers

May 25th, 2010
The GM Hummer had an interesting life, but after 18 years it is time to retire this vehicle ...

I have fond memories of the GM Hummer.  It was actually based off of the Humvee, a military vehicle that had been in operation since 1984.  Those vehicles run between $65,000 and $140,000, based upon if you need for them to be armored or not.  They are still in production.  The GM version sold for $100,000 easily, though older models would go for a lot less.  You may be able to snag one for under $35,000 these days.

The Hummer went away quietly.  It was going to be picked up by a Chinese brand but they backed away from it back in February. It had a good run from 1992 to 2010.  The first model, the H1, ran up until 2004; it was a pickup truck created by AM General.  The last model, the H3, did not come about until 2005.  The H2 had a longer bed and was a six passenger vehicle.

More important than the details though is what the Hummer represented.  It was a huge, menacing vehicle, and fit the GM image of always having the biggest and the best brands.  In fact the sport utility market was so huge at the time that GM had taken their other brands, such as Cadillac, and created a truck for those brands as well.  There was a truck for everyone, but the Hummer was something special. It was a masculine sport utility vehicle; if you wanted to show off your wealth you could drive around in a BMW X5, or a Mercedes or a Range Rover.  But this vehicle was not for the luxury crowd.

When Sport Utility Vehicles ruled the earth it was a curious time.  Sure we had cheap fuel, but there was also an arrogance and mindset that came with these vehicles.  Suddenly a regular automobile was not enough.  You had to be up off of the ground and able to look down onto someone else's vehicle.  By the middle of the last decade the whole SUV craze had died down.  I can understand why the big three automobile makers pushed the SUV's as hard as they did.  Consumers were willing to pay a premium, and they enjoyed hefty profits.  There was not a lot of competition in a niche market that never really matured.  Gas mileage was not very good on these vehicles, though the models that are out now tend to work a lot better than the older models did.

But the automakers could have taken those profits and invested the money back into cheaper vehicles with better gas economy for those who were looking to keep their fuel costs down.  In the late nineties, everyone who wanted to have an SUV that did not mind paying as much on a car as they were paying in rent could get one.  These days only those who can truly afford the vehicles are rolling around in one.  As a result the demand for a Hummer is not as high.  The culture has changed, and the vehicles are a casualty of that culture.

The funny thing about the American economy is that deep down, we really like to be able to spend a lot of money.  Some of us spend it all on one thing, some of us spread ourselves around and some of us just like to be able to pay $5 for a loaf of bread or $20 for fancy cheese but part of the experience of being an American is that there will always be a luxury item to spend your money on.  People are just now starting to spend large sums of money again, but they are still cautious.  When you do not have any savings because you figured there would always be money around you may come out of those dark shadows and look around for a bit before you really commit to making any large purchases.  But at least people seem to be talking about spending money again, which is far cry from the depressing times we were in last year.  In the future, practical Hummers that ran on electric power and had great fuel economy would be a chic and interesting alternative to these fuel efficient cars that you may or may live to tell about an accident if you were ever caught in one.  But then again the Hummer was never a practical vehicle, and it is too bad that it will not live to see another day ...

I have fond memories of the GM Hummer.  It was actually based off of the Humvee, a military vehicle that had been in operation since 1984.  Those vehicles run between $65,000 and $140,000, based upon if you need for them to be armored or not.  They are still in production.  The GM version sold for $100,000 easily, though older models would go for a lot less.  You may be able to snag one for under $35,000 these days.

The Hummer went away quietly.  It was going to be picked up by a Chinese brand but they backed away from it back in February. It had a good run from 1992 to 2010.  The first model, the H1, ran up until 2004; it was a pickup truck created by AM General.  The last model, the H3, did not come about until 2005.  The H2 had a longer bed and was a six passenger vehicle.

More important than the details though is what the Hummer represented.  It was a huge, menacing vehicle, and fit the GM image of always having the biggest and the best brands.  In fact the sport utility market was so huge at the time that GM had taken their other brands, such as Cadillac, and created a truck for those brands as well.  There was a truck for everyone, but the Hummer was something special. It was a masculine sport utility vehicle; if you wanted to show off your wealth you could drive around in a BMW X5, or a Mercedes or a Range Rover.  But this vehicle was not for the luxury crowd.

When Sport Utility Vehicles ruled the earth it was a curious time.  Sure we had cheap fuel, but there was also an arrogance and mindset that came with these vehicles.  Suddenly a regular automobile was not enough.  You had to be up off of the ground and able to look down onto someone else's vehicle.  By the middle of the last decade the whole SUV craze had died down.  I can understand why the big three automobile makers pushed the SUV's as hard as they did.  Consumers were willing to pay a premium, and they enjoyed hefty profits.  There was not a lot of competition in a niche market that never really matured.  Gas mileage was not very good on these vehicles, though the models that are out now tend to work a lot better than the older models did.

But the automakers could have taken those profits and invested the money back into cheaper vehicles with better gas economy for those who were looking to keep their fuel costs down.  In the late nineties, everyone who wanted to have an SUV that did not mind paying as much on a car as they were paying in rent could get one.  These days only those who can truly afford the vehicles are rolling around in one.  As a result the demand for a Hummer is not as high.  The culture has changed, and the vehicles are a casualty of that culture.

The funny thing about the American economy is that deep down, we really like to be able to spend a lot of money.  Some of us spend it all on one thing, some of us spread ourselves around and some of us just like to be able to pay $5 for a loaf of bread or $20 for fancy cheese but part of the experience of being an American is that there will always be a luxury item to spend your money on.  People are just now starting to spend large sums of money again, but they are still cautious.  When you do not have any savings because you figured there would always be money around you may come out of those dark shadows and look around for a bit before you really commit to making any large purchases.  But at least people seem to be talking about spending money again, which is far cry from the depressing times we were in last year.  In the future, practical Hummers that ran on electric power and had great fuel economy would be a chic and interesting alternative to these fuel efficient cars that you may or may live to tell about an accident if you were ever caught in one.  But then again the Hummer was never a practical vehicle, and it is too bad that it will not live to see another day ...

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