About HummerThe Hummer--which was a civilian version of a U.S. military multi-purposed combat vehicle--enjoyed a brief burst of popularity during the late 1990s and early 2000s before rising gas prices forced drivers away from the large, heavy vehicles.
AM General--a division of AMC--created the first M998 Humvees in 1983 as a replacement for the aging military Jeep. The $1.2 billion contract called for building 70,000 military-only vehicles in the Mishawaka, IN, plant.
Famous bodybuilder, movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger helped persuade AM General to start building a civilian version, with a more comfortable interior, glossy paint, air conditioning and other frills. AM General came out with the civilian version, which was called the Hummer H1, in... View more 1992.
The military Humvee became famous during the Gulf War's Operation Desert Storm in 1991, as millions saw U.S. soldiers and marines wheeling around in the rugged, go-anywhere vehicles in television news coverage of the conflict. The fame of the military version helped launch the civilian version.
The Hummer H1 enjoyed brisk sales, and Hollywood stars, including Schwarzenegger, wheeled around in the big, wide, high-riding vehicles. Critics said the H1--in fact, all the Hummer vehicles--were too wide, too heavy and handicapped drivers with long braking distances and numerous blind spots.
But the H1 kept selling. Many versions, including pickup truck and convertible models, rolled off the line.
In 1999, General Motors bought the Hummer brand and marketed the Hummer H1, but AM General continued to build the vehicles. AM General built the H1 until production of the model ended in 2006.
GM introduced two other Hummers: the H2 and the H3. AM General built the H1 under contract for GM at the Mishawaka, IN plant. GM built the smaller H2, which was based on the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon platforms, at the GM Shreveport, LA plant.
The H2 was lighter and less bulky than the original H1, but it had room for up to seven passengers. The H2 shared the wide, squat stance of the H1. The truck got between 9 and 11 mpg in road tests. Most customers used the H2, which came with a full-bore luxury features, such as heated leather seating, cruise control and premium sound system, as a road-going car.
H2 sales peaked in 2005, when about 30,000 were sold. By 2009, less than 2,000 H2s were sold.
The H3 version was the smallest and least bulky of the Hummer models and it was sold as an SUV or as a pickup truck known as the H3T. The H3, which was built on the GMC Canyon platform, got between 14 and 18 mpg.
The H3 was built from 2005 to 2010, and sales peaked at 54,000 units in 2005--and plummeted to 5,400 by 2010. Environmental groups lambasted all the Hummer vehicles as huge, bloated, heavy, gas-hogging monstrosities, but consumers kept buying until the mid-2000s.
Skyrocketing gasoline prices and the economic crash of 2008 and resulting recession all but shut down the Hummer market, and GM decided to shut down the model in 2010. A Chinese company started negotiations to buy the brand, but the deal died, and the brand no longer makes vehicles. View less
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