AM General logo.
The Early Years.
The origins of AM General can be traced to 1903 when the Standard Wheel Company of Terre Haute, Ind. expanded its bicycle operation to include the Overland Automotive Division to manufacture motor vehicles, when the Overland "Runabout" was introduced.
In 1908, John North Willys purchased the Overland Automotive Company then located in Indianapolis, Ind. In 1912, the Willys-Overland Company was formed and, in addition to the Runabout, began producing the Willys-Knight series automobile and the popular "Whippet." In 1936, the company became Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.
Jeep excels in wartime service.
In the 1940s, Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. designed and manufactured America's first four-wheel drive one-fourth-ton tactical utility truck - the famous "Jeep." After the war, Willys-Overland began to explore peacetime uses for the popular 4x4 Jeep vehicle.
In 1953, the facilities, plants and other physical assets of Willys-Overland were purchased by the Henry J. Kaiser interests and named Willys Motors, Inc.
In 1960, the company began its first civilian government program by successfully winning a bid to develop and produce a half-ton delivery van for the U.S. Post Office. More than 14,000 of these half-ton vehicles were eventually produced.
In 1963, Willys Motors was renamed the Kaiser Jeep Corporation.
Kaiser Jeep purchases Studebaker facilities.
Early 1964 marked a significant milestone in the company's history when the Kaiser Jeep Corporation purchased the Studebaker Corporation manufacturing facilities on Chippewa Avenue in South Bend, Ind. Over the next 25 years, the Chippewa facility was to produce nearly 112,000 5-ton and 150,000 2 1/2-ton trucks for the armed forces of the free world.
In 1967, Kaiser Jeep Corporation formed a special division devoted exclusively to the research, development and production of government vehicles. The Defense and Government Products Division was a direct organizational forerunner of AM General.
In 1967, the company was awarded a contract by the U.S. Post Office for the production of the 1/4-ton DJ-5 Dispatcher. The U.S. Postal Service, police departments, utility companies and small package delivery firms used this rugged and durable delivery vehicle. Over 150,000 Dispatchers were produced.
In 1970, American Motors Corporation purchased the Kaiser Jeep Corporation from Kaiser Industries.
AM General incorporates.
On April 1, 1971, AM General Corporation was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Motors Corporation and separate from the Jeep Corporation. This move was initiated to give independent status to AM General to fulfill the special transportation requirements of the U.S. Government and pursue further diversification.
Responding to the need for increased mobility in the military, AM General developed and patented the Central Tire Inflation System (CTI) to be used on the M809 and M939 5-ton trucks. The CTI featured driver-activated dashboard controls that altered tire pressure to suit terrain conditions while the vehicle was in motion. The CTI improved vehicle-towing capability and contributed to longer vehicle life and lower life-cycle costs.
The Humvee is born.
In 1979, AM General began preliminary design work on the M998 Series High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, pronounced Humvee®); a 1.25-ton truck intended to replace the M151 and other light tactical vehicles. The U.S. Army awarded AM General a prototype contract in 1981 and the development and operational testing was conducted over a five-month period in 1982. In March 1983, AM General won an initial $1.2 billion contract to produce 55,000 Humvees to be delivered in five basic models and 15 different configurations over a five-year period. The Army subsequently increased their order with over 15,000 additional vehicles, raising the total contract order to 70,000 Humvees valued at $1.6 billion.
The Humvee offers exceptional speed, mobility and agility and is built upon a multi-purpose platform which will accommodate a broad range of configurations. Humvees feature full-time four-wheel drive, independent suspension, steep approach and departure angles, 60 percent gradeability and 16 inches of ground clearance. Humvees are currently in use by the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy at locations throughout the United States and overseas.
In 1983, the LTV Corporation bought AM General from American Motors Corporation and established it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company.
In 1984, the AM General headquarters moved from the American Motors AMTEK Building to Livonia, Mich. and two years later to South Bend, Ind. where the primary manufacturing operations were located.
AM General relocates to downtown South Bend.
In 1989, AM General completed its remaining medium truck business and closed the Chippewa Avenue facilities in South Bend which had been acquired from Studebaker in 1964. In early 1990, the AM General headquarters relocated from Chippewa Avenue to its current offices in downtown South Bend.
In August 1989, the U.S. Army awarded AM General a new multi-year contract for continued production of more then 33,000 Humvees. First deliveries under this new contract began in January 1990. Total value of this second multi-year contract was approximately $1 billion. Options raised the number of vehicles produced to nearly 50,000.
The U.S. Army awarded AM General an additional contract in 1994. The latest U.S. Army contract, awarded in 2000 through 2009, has resulted in the production of more than 65,000 additional Humvees through 2007. More than 200,000 vehicles have been built and delivered to the U.S. Armed Forces and more than 50 friendly overseas nations.
The workhorse Humvee was very prominent in the U.S. military action in Panama in 1989-90, and even more so in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, where some 20,000 Humvees won high praise from U.S. troops. More recently, Humvees have played important roles in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Wherever American soldiers go, their Humvees go with them.
In April 1992, The Renco Group, Inc. of New York City purchased AM General Corporation from LTV.
Revolutionary HUMMER® introduced to civilian world.
In 1992, AM General began production of versions of the Humvee, called the HUMMER for civilian use. Known as "the world's most serious 4x4," the vehicle has found favor with commercial users who appreciate the value of HUMMER's long life and amazing performance, and individuals who seek the ultimate in toughness and mobility.
General Engine Products begins production of diesel engines.
In 1999, AM General incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary, General Engine Products LLC (GEP), and constructed a new plant in Franklin, Ohio to build 6.5-liter diesel engines. GEP supplies service engines to General Motor's Service Parts Operation (SPO) and builds engines for AM General's use, as well as for other customers.
GM begins marketing HUMMER H1 and H2.
In December 1999, AM General and General Motors Corporation finalized an agreement to jointly pursue product, marketing and distribution opportunities for HUMMER. GM acquired the exclusive ownership of the HUMMER brand name worldwide and the current HUMMER was renamed the HUMMER H1. In 2002, AM General began assembling the HUMMER H2, a new "next generation" sport utility vehicle designed by GM, at a new factory in Mishawaka. GM now has responsibility for marketing and distributing all HUMMERs. Although GM acquired the HUMMER brand, they do not own any part of AM General.
In April 2002, AM General was converted to a limited liability company.
In August 2004, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings and the Renco Group announced the formation and capitalization of a new venture to own AM General LLC.
In 2007, AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems formed a joint venture named General Tactical Vehicles to compete for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program.
AM General also provides parts and training support for all its products and its Engineering and Product Development Center provides systems technical support for several military vehicle systems in addition to the Humvee.
During eight decades of growth, AM General has established a reputation as the world leader in the design, engineering and production of military and special purpose vehicles.
AM General and Humvee are registered trademarks of AM General LLC.
HUMMER, H1 and H2 are registered trademarks of General Motors Corporation.
(source: AM General).
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