In mid 30 April 2007 General Motors South Africa rolled out the exciting HUMMER H3 into showrooms around the country as the HUMMER brand, the youngest brand in the GM global organisation, entered the South African market to build on a short but proud product history.
Just over four years old, the HUMMER brand is the most clearly defined brand in the United States automotive industry.
The clear brand definition flows over into global brand recognition even though the prime market for HUMMER to date has been the United States.
As niche vehicles the HUMMER H1 and H2 have achieved sales of over 200 000 units to date. The introduction of the H3 model further broadens market reach and appeal. HUMMER sales in 2006, the first full year of HUMMER H3 production, were more than 82 000 units.
The HUMMER brand enjoys a youthful buyer profile in the global GM product range.
HUMMER enjoys a competitor product conquest rate of over 60%, the highest of all GM products.
The brand is renowned for its best-of-the-best backup.
In the early 90’s the HUMMER H1 established itself as the ultimate niche vehicle and an American brand icon with its rugged appearance and nature. The sheer presence of this ultimate civilian 4X4 overcame any shortcomings it may have had in terms of creature comforts. This was the ultimate expression of toughness after all. Little wonder that it found favour amongst the stars, mainly as a high profile addition to adult toy collections.
The H1 certainly set the scene for the HUMMER brand with its overwhelming presence but it had little relevance when it came to everyday functionality. That relevance came with the introduction of the HUMMER H2 SUV in 2002. The HUMMER H2 marked the real emergence of the HUMMER brand as a widely available vehicle and a serious contender for a spot on American driveways. The H2 provided the catalyst for wide ranging brand development, although the brand focus remained very much on the USA.
The H2 SUT, effectively a double cab pick-up in South African talk, expanded model choice in the H2 range with an open rear load bed. GM recognised that the full development of the brand would depend on a volume mid-sized model that would offer a good balance between performance and economy in the American market. The H3 is that vehicle. Just as capable, but more accessible than the H2, the H3 provides a platform for global homologation in both left- and right-hand drive versions.
This vision of an expanded global presence for the HUMMER brand led to the introduction of the H3 for American buyers in 2004 and the announcement in 2005 that the H3G model would be developed for global markets.
The requirement for right hand drive as an option for this global H3 model and the emergence of South Africa as an effective automotive exporter saw General Motors South Africa well placed to take on the manufacture of the mid-sized HUMMER for markets outside of the United States.
The company was subsequently named as an off-shore manufacturing hub for the H3.
The Port Elizabeth plant is in fact the sole manufacturer of the right-hand-drive HUMMER H3. This follows an investment of over R650 million in facilities for H3 production at Struandale. The HUMMER project has created 500 new job opportunities in the Port Elizabeth area.
The H3 remains true to the HUMMER brand with its unmistakeable visual links to the H2 and iconic H1. It does this in a mid-size package, however, to significantly enhance the accessibility of a genuine HUMMER to a wider market.
Vehicle styling and performance, including an exceptional off-road capability and excellent operating economy, are important elements of this newcomer to the world’s 4X4 SUV stage.
Just who is likely to buy a HUMMER H3? Global research conducted by General Motors indicates that this exciting SUV will be attractive to those who are independent of mind, self assured and confident.
They are likely to have an entrepreneurial flair and will not shy away from being noticed, they will in fact relish the idea of not being mainstream and have an acute brand awareness.
Already successful, or soon to be so, the HUMMER H3 buyer will likely thrive in a competitive environment and wish to embrace a sense of fun in motoring. As capable off-road as it is in the city, the H3 is the ideal vehicle to provide that sense of fun.
The HUMMER buyer is likely to be a conquest from one of the more utility type 4X4 SUVs looking for better specification, performance and operating economy together with an association with an iconic brand. It is also likely that the HUMMER buyer’s aspirations for a second car are likely to be at the top end of the prestige or premium car brands.