UnTreeHugger: China Buys Hummer Brand and Wants to Expand It and Make 'More Efficient' Hummers
There's a reason we post a lot on the ludicrous GM Hummer - it's a symbol of the American love affair with big (and grossly inefficient) cars. Now GM is in its death throes but instead of letting the Hummer rest in peace (sales of the big vehicle in the U.S. have dropped 67 percent in 2009), a heavy duty truck manufacturer in China is buying the brand. Isn't there something flat out wrong with the Hummer - it gets between 8 and 12 mpg - continuing to exist in today's world, except as a museum piece? How many Hummers can China take?China has a big hunger for automobiles right now, and a lot of money floating around. And sad but true, Hummer sales are said to be stronger internationally than domestically. Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd (Tengzhong) is the purchaser of the Hummer brand, and wants to keep the existing Hummer dealership structure in place in the U.S., as well as beef up its own line of heavy trucks and machinery with the Hummer's "premium off-road vehicle segment."
Here's what Yang Yi, Tengzhong CEO says about the deal:
"The HUMMER brand is synonymous with adventure, freedom and exhilaration, and we plan to continue that heritage by investing in the business, allowing HUMMER to innovate and grow in exciting new ways under the leadership and continuity of its current management team. We will be investing in the HUMMER brand and its research and development capabilities, which will allow HUMMER to better meet demand for new products such as more fuel-efficient vehicles in the US."
The New York Times, in reporting on the deal, said that if Tengzhong imports US-manufacured Hummers to China they might face a 40 percent tax the Chinese put on SUVs and other vehicles with engines over 4 liters. That might help with what Umair Haque of Harvard Business School calls the Hummer's - and most SUVs - hidden societal costs.
"SUVs were "more profitable" because society subsidized them," Haque says. "SUV owners emit more carbon, but paid proportionally less for it. SUVs were "more profitable" because neither Detroit nor the capital markets counted opportunity cost. What was the opportunity cost of SUVs for Detroit? Simple: making authentically innovative cars — renewably powered, awesomely designed, carefully crafted cars people wanted, enjoyed, and loved."
So possibly the big question is will Tengzhong make the Hummer into an efficient and profitable vehicle for the small amount of people that need and want these large off-road vehicles? U.S-based Raser is working on a hybrid-electric Hummer EV that it says will be twice as efficient as a gas-guzzling Hummer and cost about $.05 per mile to operate (fuel only). Possibly Tengzhong will make alternative fuel and diesel Hummers to help get better gas mileage. China has set some of the world's strictest fuel economy limits, so it's a bit of an irony that it is now purchasing one of the symbols of U.S. CO2 emitting excess.
Read more about the Hummer's history at TreeHuggerThe TreeHugger Hummer: We Don't Have Anything to Do With ItHummer H2 Reaches the End of the Road, Will Be TerminatedA Green Hummer? It Runs on Biofuels