To look at the history of the Hummer we have to look to its military beginnings to get the complete story. That is right it did not start out just being a car but an HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) with 4-wheel drive for the military. This vehicle was nicknamed the Humvee. It was developed by the AM General Company. Later after the military using it the Hummer vehicle for consumer use came out. This history will look at both the military and the consumer versions.
The U.S. Army discovered, during the 1970s, it needed more than civilian trucks converted for military use. By 1979, the Army had drawn up specifications for a HMMWV. In July, 1979 AM General (owned by American Motors Coporation) started to work on a preliminary design, had its first prototype in less than one year, the M998 and began testing. By 1980 more than 500 vehicles were produced which included other models too.
The Army, in June of 1981 awarded a contract to AM General to develop some more prototypes for delivery to the government of the United States for testing, which led to the company getting a production contract for the initial 55,000 HMMWVs for delivery in 1985. There was more testing done on these and finally in 1989 the HMMWVs finally saw combat in the United States’ invasion of the country of Panama in the Operation Just Cause.
This vehicle quickly became the backbone, vehicle wise that is, for the United States’ forces throughout the world. During the Operation Iraqi Freedom more than 10,000 of them were used by the coalition forces, in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2004 though, the HMMWVs came under criticism for not having enough armor to provide soldiers with enough protection (found out in Iraq invasion) for guerilla warfare. Now the U.S military is in the process of replacing the HMMWVs.
In 1992 though, AM General started selling the first of the commercial M998s for consumers calling the brand Hummer. General Motors (GM) then took over the Hummer brand in 1998 and called its first models H1 and later on the H1 Alpha. In 2003, AM General and GM collaborated to make the Hummer H2 which had improved road ability. AM General still performed the final assembly. This model had a 6.0-liter GM V-8 engine and a Chevy Tahoe modified chassis among other features.
In 2006 a cheaper, lighter and smaller Hummer the H3 came out. GM manufactured the H3 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Hummers were export to 33 countries around the world. Then in 2008 trouble hit because the U.S. fuel prices soared. The Hummer being a fuel guzzler was put under review to see if the franchise was going to be canceled or if it would be sold.
A deal was in negotiations in 2009 with the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, a Chinese company, but when funding could not be found by the company to purchase the Hummer brand, the deal fell through. The Chinese government would not approve it either, because of its own reputation for the company being a top polluter and leading consumer of natural resources.
GM, in April 2010, offered large rebates to help the remaining Hummers to be sold. Also GM told the dealers to close up their franchises. The Hummers just became a bad investment and failed for that reason in civilian use. Over 355,000 Hummers were sold to the general consumer though.