If Dinosaurs were cars, Hummer would be a T-Rex. A brand name with roaring resonance, it sparked attention during the 90's with release of the civilian version of the Humvee in 1991. Manufactured by AM General, a division of American Motors and presently part of the GM group, the Humvee, which stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle was launched in 1985, garnering lots of acclaim especially after the vehicle's involvement in Gulf War operations.
Large, rugged and completely devoid of any fuel-efficient mechanics, the Humvees, later renamed into Hummers, entered metamorphosis stages in the late 80's when AM General though of building a civilian version of the vehicle. The raw cut of the military-purposed vehicle was kept and by 1991, several units were completed.
Although iconic, Hummers are hardly best sellers due to their large size, weight and outrageous criticism-igniting fuel consumption. GM acquired the rights over Hummer in 1999, after which the marque went through an image-strengthening process, aiming at sales increases and revenue growth. As from the signing of the takeover deal, GM is responsible for marketing all vehicles sold under the Hummer name.
GM further helped to develop a range of Hummer models. The first Hummer was renamed into H1 and the later models carried on with the single letter/number labeling, through the H2 and the H3 which is the latest. The H3 was built to match the preferences of SUV drivers, being a tad less rugged than the previous models.
The brand went international with selected importers in Europe, Australia and South Africa. Despite its dealership network coverage, the Hummer has only sold in small volumes, being highly expensive and unpractical for city use. Still, it's one of the favorite brands among celebrities which have helped build the brand into something extravagant to some extent.
As of 2006, Hummer are sold through 300 dealers in 34 countries worldwide. More than half of the network is US based, the country that registers the majority of sales. Hummer plants operate outside US borders as well, the H2 being assembled in Kaliningrad, Russia. Sadly, the H1 is no longer available, having ceased production two years ago.
The Hummer's only generally approved strengths are its sturdy chassis, increased protection and looks. Still, Hummers are torn between between flashy-ride approvals and sheer criticism generated by the vehicle's fuel inefficiency. Concerns about Hummer's average fuel consumption were voiced by several publications, including auto-specialized zines that further pointed at the vehicle as being strongly unsuitable for urban use but perfect for outdoor activities and off-road driving.
As a curiosity, Hummer's most rugged looking model and closest to its military counterpart, the H1 was the poorest selling vehicle of the line-up. The Hummer managed to survive solely because of good advertising and fortunate popularity with celebrities in a world where fuel efficiency matters more than ever.
However, Hummer's steel-clad wheeled gas-guzzling mammoths still turn heads wherever they go and for a particular category of people, this effect exceeds in importance that of being environmentally friendly. Of course, Hummer-heads know of this and act accordingly. If they could, they would chase hybrids around like a dog chases cats.