Hummer dealerships are built around a giant "H" that functions as both entrance and supergraphic visible from highways. But the best H logo was that of Horch, the prewar German company that enjoyed a status not unlike Buick in the U.S. Its H was formed to suggest the gateway of a city or castle -- an image of sturdy tradition.
Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd ("Tengzhong") has announced that it is withdrawing its proposed acquisition of HUMMER from General Motors, having been unable to obtain clearance of the transaction from the Chinese regulators within the proposed deal timeframe.
Following talks with GM, both sides have decided to discontinue discussions on the transaction and terminate their definitive agreement.
Tengzhong is disappointed that the transaction cannot be further pursued, but the company respects the outcome. Tengzhong worked earnestly to achieve an acquisition that it believed to be a tremendous opportunity to acquire a global brand at an attractive price. The renewed investment to be made by Tengzhong and other investors would have provided HUMMER's existing management team the ability to build greener utility vehicles that would have been attractive and useful in new markets such as China as well as the existing core markets.
Tengzhong expressed its sincere thanks to GM for working diligently with the company. The company also expressed its gratitude and good wishes to HUMMER CEO Jim Taylor and the HUMMER team, as well as the 3,000 people who produce and support HUMMER.
October 9, 2009.
General Motors (GM) and Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd (Tengzhong), today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement that will allow Tengzhong to acquire GM's premium all-terrain HUMMER brand.
Under the terms of the definitive agreement, the buyer will acquire the ownership of the HUMMER brand, trademark and tradenames, as well as specific IP license rights necessary for the manufacture of HUMMER vehicles. The buyer will also assume the existing dealer agreements relating to HUMMER's dealership network.
Tengzhong intends to purchase HUMMER through an investment entity, in which it will hold an 80 percent stake. Mr. Suolang Duoji, a private entrepreneur with holdings that include the Hong Kong-listed thenardite producer Lumena, will hold the remaining 20 percent stake.
February 24, 2010.
General Motors today announced that Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines Co., Ltd. (Tengzhong) was unable to complete the acquisition of HUMMER. As a result, GM will begin the orderly wind-down of the HUMMER operations.
“One year ago, General Motors announced that we were going to divest HUMMER, as part of focusing our efforts on Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac going forward. We have since considered a number of possibilities for HUMMER along the way, and we are disappointed that the deal with Tengzhong could not be completed," said John Smith GM vice president of corporate planning and alliances. "GM will now work closely with HUMMER employees, dealers and suppliers to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner."
GM will continue to honor HUMMER warranties, while providing service support and spare parts to current HUMMER owners around the world.
The History of Hummer.
Before there was HUMMER – H1, H2, and H3 -- there was HMMWV, or “Humvee” in the words of the American soldiers whose lives frequently depended on the capabilities of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles produced by a very small and relatively unknown truck and former city bus builder, AM General.
The Jeep had carried GIs through World War II and Korea , as the Mutt – Military Utility Tactical Truck – had done through the Vietnam era. But the Pentagon knew a more modern vehicle, one capable of carrying troops and increasingly heavier payloads, versatile enough to serve as a remote communications station or a rolling rocket launcher, would be needed in future conflicts.
Specifications were written. Bids were accepted. Trials were conducted. Finally, after more than 600,000 miles of testing that simulated seemingly every possible scenario on the planet, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command awarded a contract for 55,000 HMMWVs to a company that few knew, but that traced its heritage to 1903 and a college student’s ideas for a four-wheel motorcar that went into production as the now-famous Overland Runabout.
Two years later, New York auto dealer John North Willys took over the financially desperate Overland automaker. By 1912 and through 1918, only Henry Ford was building and selling more cars in the United States than Willys-Overland.
Like so many other companies, Willys-Overland was devastated by the Depression. Yet by 1940 it was healthy enough to win a contract to build a new quarter-ton, four-wheel-drive General Purpose vehicle for the U.S. Army. By the end of World War II, Willys-Overland had produced more than 350,000 “GPs.” After the war, the company retained the rights to begin civilian production of the Jeep.
Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser bought out Willys-Overland, which later was enfolded into the American Motors Corporation. Soon, the General Products Division of the Jeep Corp. was renamed AM General. In addition to building a variety of work trucks for the military, the South Bend, Indiana-based company produced some 5000 transit buses for cities across the country.
Like its ancestors, AM General suffered through repeated financial setbacks and was spun off again to new owners. Yet in January 1991, millions of Americans watched their televisions and saw the company’s work in action as Humvees rolled across the Kuwaiti desert.
About a year earlier, Arnold Schwarzenegger had seen a Humvee making its way down an Oregon road while he was filming the movie Kindergarten Cop. The big, rugged 4x4 met the Terminator’s expectations for transportation and he contacted AM General to see how soon he could buy one.
AM General’s CEO Jim Armour had long been thinking about a civilian version of the Humvee, and had a military HMMWV converted into civilian use for Schwarzenegger. With Schwarzenegger making an appearance to tell AM General ownership “you guys are nuts if you don’t do this,” plans were approved for production of a civilian HUMMER, a vehicle that at first was sold by mail order. AM General set up an 800 number that prospective customers could call. They were sent a videotape, a brochure that unfolded into a poster, and an order form. Eventually, several dealerships were organized. As many as 1,000 HUMMERs were sold in a single year.
Armour knew there would be an even larger market for a smaller and less expensive HUMMER, but he also knew that AM General wasn’t in any position to produce one. That’s when AM General met General Motors.
In January 1999, the General Motors North American Strategy Board heard ideas from the company’s recently formed Market Intelligence Group about emerging automotive segments. Among the niches this group identified on the horizon was consumer demand for an incredibly capable sport utility vehicle with rugged, military design cues, perhaps even a full lineup of HUMMER-like vehicles.
A small delegation was sent from Michigan to Indiana to present its market intelligence information to Jim Armour and his executive staff about the potential market for a “son of HUMMER.” They found Armour displeased at the way the Jeep brand was touting its leadership in off-road capability. Armour knew that HUMMERs go where no other vehicle treads. He recognized that GM was ready to provide a way to prove it on a wider scale. GM and AM General agreed to work together on the development of what was known as the “son of HUMMER,” a vehicle that AM General would build and that GM would sell by establishing a nationwide network of HUMMER dealerships.
Just as the original HMMWV had to meet certain criteria – travel at least 60 miles per hour, with a range of at least 300 miles, climb a 60 percent grade, traverse a 40 percent side slope, ford 30 inches of water, etc. – so, too, the “son of HUMMER” and all future HUMMERs would have to have to meet some basic requirements to maintain and extend the heritage.
While qualifying as premium-class passenger vehicles with comfort features rather than armor plating, all civilian HUMMERs still must provide authentic and exceptional off-road capability. They may not have to parachute out of a military cargo plane, but they have to be rugged enough to drive home after making their way over the rocky trails at Moab and The Rubicon, and they have to be able to conquer those same 60 percent inclines and 40 percent traverses as the original HMMWVs. In addition, they have to do all those things while wrapped in sheetmetal that shows the brand’s iconic design.
Even before engineering development work began in earnest on that first “son of HUMMER,” a concept vehicle – codenamed “Project Maria” in honor of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Schriver – was being designed and would be officially unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2000.
By the early summer of 2002, the HUMMER H2 was on sale, setting standards both for off-road capability and for on-road presence. A pickup bed version, the H2 SUT, followed in the spring of 2004.
Under its agreement with AM General, GM owned the rights to design and build other HUMMER vehicles. The first – but certainly not the last – is the HUMMER H3.
General Motors stop build Hummers on January 13, 2010 with 2,500 Hummer H3s still in stock. Their US sales peaked in 2006 with 71,524 units, but by 2009, sales were down to 9,046.
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