Should be interesting. I think a new model is in the works, and with the new trend within HUMMER being towards smaller more affordable SUV's, i think an H4 compact SUV will be a good candidate. Especially with the gas prices, and people whining about paying too much at the pump.Hummer considers alternatives for next vehicle as brand encounters sales decline
CHICAGO -- As Hummer gears up to go smaller with its new H3, the brand already is pondering its next vehicle.
At least four alternatives are being considered: a small pickup, large pickup, diesel derivative and the often-discussed H4 compact SUV.
During an interview at the Chicago Auto Show this month, Hummer Marketing General Manager Susan Docherty said GM managers soon will take a serious look at the alternatives.
After its launch in 2000, Hummer's U.S. sales rose quickly, then suffered a sharp decline in 2004. GM is introducing more models and exporting Hummers to overseas markets.
But Hummer has to be careful about entering new segments. Docherty said Hummer must stay true to its mission as an off-road brand, increase conquest buys and stay young. Hummer's average buyer is 40 - one of the youngest in the GM portfolio.
"I like portfolio plays that keep this brand young," Docherty said. "I know Hummer is not a small car and I know it is definitely not a minivan, but there are some other things that you can do."
Docherty's team also is considering high-performance Alpha powertrain options for the lineup. The first Alpha product will be a 6.6-liter turbodiesel, which will be the H1's standard powertrain.
Hummer also plans Alpha versions of the H2 and H3 but has not decided whether those upgrades will be diesels. Other possibilities include superchargers or bigger engines.
"We believe there is enough strength in Alpha that we should have Alpha across the line," Docherty said after the Hummer make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans last month.
With the launch of the H3, GM believes there is potential to add significant volume to the Hummer brand. GM North America President Gary Cowger said H2 sales will be steady this year, "but I think you'll see H3 as a home run for dealers."
GM plans to sell 40,000 Hummers this year, but Cowger said that's a conservative projection: "We're going to be way north of that, in my opinion."
Last year Hummer sold 29,345 vehicles in the United States, down from 35,259 in 2003. The decline was mostly because of a drop in H2 sales.
Hummer hopes to revive sales in part by introducing the brand to foreign markets. Docherty said GM expects to sell 10,000 Hummers annually overseas. But GM's Shreveport, La., assembly plant will not produce any Hummers for export until the third quarter.
Docherty expects to export less than 5,000 Hummers this year.
I'm surprised HUMMER as a brand has one of the of the youngest average buyers of the multiple brands under the GM umbrella. Pretty surprising when you consider the price of admission.
Anyways, there was a time when i thought adding lower-end models and them sharing platforms and engines with other GM SUV's watered down the HUMMER brand, but they've somehow managed to stay true to the HUMMER heritage after seeing the capable H2 and H3.