GM is shopping (or is that 'Saab-ing') Hummer

Posted by: David Welch on February 25, 2010

10c5-Hummer_HX_Concept.jpg


There’s a new verb in the auto vernacular. Saab-ing it. That’s what people inside Hummer and General Motors say they are doing with the menacing-SUV brand now that a tentative deal to sell it to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Industrial Machinery has fallen through. GM says they will wind Hummer down. Recall over the past several months before closing the sale of Saab to Spyker Cars that GM said a couple of times that a sale was unlikely. They said that they planned to wind it down, thereby putting pressure on any bidder to come up with a cash deal quickly. It worked. So GM is playing a similar game with Hummer. The company says Hummer is in wind down mode, but if a buyer comes along with cash in hand there still could be a sale.

Well, I have another definition of Saab-ing it. GM management has already done it with Hummer. They just didn’t know it. To Saab a car brand means to buy it, give it some initial investment money in the early honeymoon years and then starve it of new models and marketing dollars until it has to either be shuttered or sold. GM spent a pittance on Saab and Hummer marketing in recent years. After the H3 was launched, GM didn’t add anything new. They had a great concept called the HX (pictured above) but it was never built. Both Hummer and Saab were limited to just two models to sell for most of their existence under GM ownership. Nothing in equaled nothing out.

To be fair, Hummer is a tough sell these days. Americans are in a recession-driven period of austerity. Fuel is cheap, but the prospect of a gasoline price spike sits on the consumer’s shoulder like a fat gargoyle. In an era when conspicuous consumption is scorned and consumer confidence is low, Hummer would be a tough sell.

That said, Lamborghini and Ferrari aren’t withering away. A new buyer could take Hummer back to what it was before GM bought it and Saabed it. It could be a niche brand selling expensive, recreational, ultra-rugged suvs that can go anywhere. And by anywhere, I don’t mean the speed bumps in the prep school parking lot. I mean the Dakota Badlands. Remember the H1? Imagine that, only more refined. In other words, it could be to suvs what Ferrari or Lambo are to sports cars, but its new owner can’t Saab it.

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Reader Comments

Clyde

February 25, 2010 06:37 PM

Parking lots at the local high school will be the main route for this vehicle rather than the Dakota badlands. Looks kinda stupid, not going to be many takers, but if you can bump the price high enough, maybe GM might break even.

batnit

February 25, 2010 08:36 PM

Ford announced this week a huge raise of its production to take advantage of Toyota's problem. BUT NO NEW HIRES. That's classic America right now. The temp job is the new full time job. I work for http://storyburn.com and the mess that lands on our doorstep is crazy bad. We have the most read home foreclosure story on the web and plenty of job hunting stories

blowfish

February 26, 2010 02:31 AM

Hummer's new buyer is not going to be that easy to make them sell like hot cakes.
Gas price, Gas price & Gas price.
All going to hamper her sales.
Even diesel running with used veg oil is still going to need a lot of oil to burn.

Gary

February 26, 2010 10:07 AM

Check out the real situation here:
http://www.amgeneral.com/corporate/faq.php

Schmeltz

February 27, 2010 12:33 PM

I've thought for some time that the Hummer brand could be a decent fit into International Trucks Corporation, (Navistar), provided they would have the wherewithal the brand would require. Think back to the late '70's when International had the Scout line of vehicles--(my family had a Traveler). Hummer could theoretically take over where the Scout left off. I would push to make the Hummer trucks much more utilitarian, rather than the almost cartoonish persona they portray now. Design and develop the H-4 shown above, and Convert the H-2 into more of a Tahoe/Expedition competitor. Install an International mid-duty diesel engine such as previously was sold in Ford HD pick-ups. If someone like Navistar could take the brand, re-vamp the vehicles into 4x4 workhorses instead of icons of excess, Hummer could have a new lease on life as the American Worker's faithful friend. Just some ideas.

Garrett

February 27, 2010 11:25 PM

How about a 3rd definition. To "Saab" a brand is to disencumber yourself from a brand in corporately tone-deaf and deal-driven a way that you lose total sight that you have angered a lot of your former customers who believe that you are vastly more concerned about squeezing a few more million out of a potential buyer than you are about retaining any of your former loyal customer base.

HARSHAD

March 24, 2010 05:52 AM

exlent and butiful

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Detroit bureau chief David Welch , Dexter Roberts and Ian Rowley bring daily scoop, keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business from around the globe. Read their take on such weighty issues as Detroit’s attempt at a comeback, Toyota’s quest for dominance and the search for an efficient car.

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