Proving that car guys will get wistfully nostalgic over anything, even cars that don't deserve it, and that the American buying public has the memory of a goldfish, the current trend of low, low gas prices has some dealers longing for the good old days of Hummer. No, really.
I never thought I'd live to see the day where "Hey, you know what we should bring back? Hummer!" is a sentence uttered by an actual human being, but considering all the other terrible and disappointing things that happened this year, I don't know why I'm surprised by anything anymore.
Automotive News reports that thanks to the trend of cheap gas over the past few months, SUV and crossover sales are currently surging, especially Jeeps. This leaves General Motors-centric dealerships lusting after more Jeep-like vehicles, especially Hummers.
Most of those old Hummer buyers went out and bought Jeeps instead; Jeep sales have more than doubled since 2009, when Hummer went kaput in the U.S. Today, AN reports, "former Hummer dealers and brand loyalists to wonder what might have been." UGH.
From the story:
Dealer John Bergstrom, whose Bergstrom Automotive in Wisconsin owned four Hummer dealerships, thinks GM could keep those orphaned Hummer owners with an outdoors-minded SUV that's more refined than a Wrangler but more off-road-capable than the unibody Cherokee or Grand Cherokee. He envisions something with a smaller footprint, an eight- or nine-speed transmission and other fuel-saving technologies.
"I don't think I'd try to refloat the Hummer name — it could be a Chevrolet or a GMC — but you need a vehicle for that niche," says Bergstrom.
"GM has this built-in knowledge base from what they learned from Hummer. They know that market."
And this gem from an analyst:
"There is space in the marketplace for this combination of off-road capability and patriotism now occupied only by one brand: Jeep," Libby says. "GM ceded that space when Hummer went away."
Off-road capability and patriotism? Jesus. JESUS! That's the kind of line I'll throw into a story as a sarcastic joke, but they're actually serious here! Apparently, loving your country really does directly correlate with how huge your vehicle is.
Let's take a moment here to remember some key facts about Hummer. By the end of Hummer's run in the U.S. before the brand nearly got sold to the Chinese, it was a slow-selling symbol of American excess and Bush-era, post-9/11 hubris. Sales were about a fifth of what they were during their early-2000s peak.
Also, the trucks themselves weren't even that great — the H3 was just a re-bodied Chevrolet Colorado, and thanks to being built by AM General, the H2 had lower profit margins than other GM vehicles.
All that isn't enough to stop buyers and dealers from pining for Hummer once again, now that gas is cheaper than it's been in years. Let me remind you how long that's been going on — since about the beginning of July. That's it.
But hey, there's no chance gas could get more expensive in the future, because it's not like petroleum is a fluctuating commodity, right? That's never, ever happened before. Buy your giant SUVs. Happy days are here again!
Oh well. At least Americans learned enough from the financial crisis not to go out and buy cars with 84-month loans on interest rates they can't afford.
Oh, wait. Fuck.
Photo credit AP