Hummer: Auto industry disaster of the decade

Michael James

The Hummer is the's automotive disaster of the decade.

Originally conceived by the United States Army as a new “High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle” (HMMVV), the later named civilian Hummer is’s automotive catastrophe of the decade.

The idea for the vehicle was so it could follow the tracks and ruts of full size army trucks in military procedures. Original designed by AM General Corporation, a subsidiary of American Motors (AMC), the massive machine debuted in 1982 and should have remained for military use only.

The Hummer is the's automotive disaster of the decade.
The Hummer is’s automotive disaster of the decade.

The civilian model began in 1992 in part because of the persistence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who saw an Army convoy while filming a movie and reportedly purchased a fleet of Humvees. Each weighed more than four tons.

Several new smaller versions of the Hummer arrived and sales peaked at 71,524 in 2006.

But by 2009 the thrill was gone. The Hummer was the original “gas guzzler.” It proved awkward for most road travel, and only 9,046 Hummers sold the entire year.

It died the following year after several pending sales to foreign interests failed.

The Weekly Driver only test drove an early model Hummer. It was pathetic. Hard to drive, gangly and terrible vision were its finest qualities. Gas mileage was putrid. And I remember having to stop and get out of the vehicle at the Bay Bridge toll plaza in San Francisco and hand the toll booth operator the fee. The reason? Neither one of us had long enough arms for an in-car exchange.

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