The original Hummer, which later came to be known as the H1, was a huge success, being the civilian version of AM General’s High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), popularly known as the Humvee. Its service to the American troops during Operation Desert Storm and the association with Arnold Schwarzenegger gave it a special place in the American psyche.
In a bid to capitalise on this wave of popularity, General Motors struck a deal with AM General to market the Hummer brand and to expand the portfolio with more models. The first model was the Hummer H2, which came out in 2003 based on a GMC chassis. The idea behind the H2 was fine, but the timing was horribly wrong. Reeling from the aftermath of the World Trade Centre attacks, a good majority of Americans had turned against excessively large vehicles that guzzle fuel, seeing them as symbols of the country’s greed for Middle Eastern oil. Some of them were so appalled by this monstrosity that they vandalised Hummer dealerships.
As if this wasn’t bad enough publicity, those who went ahead and bought the H2 believing claims about its off-road abilities were thoroughly disappointed. Based on outdated Tahoe and Yukon underpinnings, the H2 was extremely heavy, making it painfully sluggish despite the 6.0-litre V8 under its bonnet. And it was nothing great off-road. Naturally, fuel efficiency was atrocious, and the interior was claustrophobic and made of low-quality materials.
It was altogether a huge PR fail for General Motors, and after dragging along for a few years, the Hummer brand was put up for sale but there were no takers, and in 2010, the marque was killed.