GM Hummer a Brief History – Auto Africa 2006
General Motors HUMMER brand has its roots in a vehicle originally designed for the United States military and designated the M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or HMMWV, a mouthful that did not take long to be abbreviated to Hum-Vee. The build of these vehicles was contracted to AM General Corporation, formerly a division of American Motors, in its Mishawaka, Indiana plant.
AM General had planned to produce a civilian version of this iconic off-roader in the early 1980s but it was not until 1990, when two matching white HUMMERS were driven from London to Beijing over some of the roughest terrain imaginable, that the civilian potential of this unique vehicle began to surface. The following year would see the HUMMER’s profile rise considerably as it distinguished itself in Operation Desert Storm.
The civilian version of the HUMMER arrived on the scene in 1991 and it was this vehicle, produced by AM General, that first introduced the HUMMER nameplate to American buyers. According to HUMMER legend, the introduction of the civilian version came as a result of a request for one of these vehicles by film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had been suitably impressed when a convoy of these vehicles passed by the set during filming of Kindergarten Cop in 1990 and felt that one belonged in his vehicle collection.
Schwarzenegger would become the first civilian to register a HUMMER and followed his initial purchase with others. One of these would be successfully converted to clean burning Hydrogen fuel in 2003 during his successful campaign to be elected as governor of California.
In 1999 AM General sold the HUMMER brand name to General Motors but continued to manufacture the vehicles. General Motors assumed the responsibility for marketing and distribution of all HUMMERS produced by AM General. Eager to build on the HUMMER brand, GM renamed the original HUMMER the H1 and added the H2 and H3 models to the range. The manufacture of the H2 model was contracted to AM General while the latest addition to the range in 2005, the new H3, saw HUMMER production move in-house at General Motors for the first time in its Shreveport, Louisiana, plant. In May 2006, GM announced that production of the H1 model for civilian use would cease with the focus now on the H2 and H3 models.
The brand went international in 2004 with General Motors announcing the appointment of a number of dealers in global markets, mainly in Europe. Keen interest in other markets encouraged GM to further globalise the brand with the introduction of the HUMMER H3G, a true global model that offers the choice of either left- or right-hand drive and is designed to meet varying global homologation requirements. It is this export specification model that has been designated for production in the GM plant in Port Elizabeth for distribution in South Africa and export to selected global markets.
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