AM General Re-Entering Civilian Vehicle Marketplace with Humvee C-Series Kit Car

Thu, Aug 2, 2012

Hummer News

HumveeCseriesForSale

AM General LogoAfter 12 years of being out of the business of selling vehicles to the general public, AM General is jumping back into the civilian market with the Humvee C-Series – a kit-car offering that will conform to the various constraints put on the automaker by the HUMMER deal with General Motors and U.S. Government regulations and emissions standards, according to multiple sources within AM General and those present during a recent focus-group-type discussion with the Canadian HUMMER Club.

First some background. The legal situation between AM General and General Motors is complicated, but we wrote about the specifics a few years back when there was some confusion as to who owned what when GM was trying to unload the HUMMER brand to a third party. Without getting into too much detail here, the only way for AM General to offer a vehicle to the civilian market while protecting the terms of their agreement with GM would be to fundamentally change anything that was unique to the H1 civilian vehicle, and not call it an H1 or even a HUMMER. At the time I said “It’s highly unlikely that AM General would try to design a completely new vehicle that didn’t look or have the same technology as the H1 and market it to civilians,” – and that’s still true. However I was only considering the possibility they would be selling a complete vehicle, not a kit-car, which clears many of the hurdles keeping AM General out of the civilian game.

Humvee C-Series Kit

GenuineHumveeCseriesKitIn short, the Humvee C-Series kit will allow customers to build a street-legal HUMVEE provided they have the means to outfit the vehicle with a powertrain. That means you need to outfit it with an engine, transmission, etc. on your own. This is how AM General is getting around the EPA emissions standards and U.S. Government safety regulations that played a big role in shutting down civilian HUMMER H1 production years ago. But this is also the beauty of a kit car. You can add a Duramax Diesel (since the C-Series will likely come with the same lift as the 2006 Alpha) and Allison transmission if you so choose. The cost of the Humvee C-Series kit – $59,000 (subject to change, of course) may sound like a lot of money for a vehicle with no engine, but 2006 HUMMER H1 Alpha Wagons were running close to $140,000 new in 2006, and you can put in a hell of a drivetrain setup for much less than the difference. Yes, the H1 and Humvee are two different animals – but considering you could legally drive a brand new Humvee with your choice of powertrain options for $75k – give or take depending on options and how much labor you need to farm out – that’s a reasonable prospect for a lot of people in the off-road community, not just the HUMMER community. Though we’re told the price isn’t based solely on production cost and that historically high used HUMMER H1 market values played a large role in determining the asking price.

Even though it will be marketed to civilians – it will not contain technology that was created for the civilian HUMMER H1 model – which would be items like the interior trim (dash/radio/leather seats) power doors and locks, door-mounted mirrors, hard doors, and even glossy paint. The body style will need to be necessarily different from the H1, but the idea is to have it similar enough in style that some parts of the H1 may be installed at a later time (such as hard, locking doors). Just remember – it’s a Humvee – not a HUMMER.

The C-Series will have a 4-seat configuration – but would only be available as a soft-top, soft-door vehicle. Additional options, such as CTIS (Central Tire Inflation System), rocker protection, and maybe even two-piece beadlock wheels would be available as ‘add-on’ factory accessories.

Humvee C-Series Kit details

-Body w/ 2800 Installed Rivets
-Chassis ASM w/ Springs including cross members, geared hubs, half shafts, differentials (possibly locking rear), and cool pack.
-Soft Top ASM w/ Soft Doors
-Two Fuel Tanks

Available Humvee C-Series Kit Options

-Rocker Panel Protection
-Drive Line Protection
-CTIS Ready w/ Wheels & Tires
-CTIS Ready w/ Wheels Only
-Geared Fan Drive (Required for 200+ HP)
-12,000 Pound Warn Winch
-Color Options
-Heated Windshield

Who Builds it?

You do! Or, more likely, a network of authorized or suggested mechanics would help you. While kit-car offerings have come a long way in the way of support and education in the last couple decades, it’s still no easy task. To check out a well-established kit-car enterprise, look up the guys at Factory Five Racing.

In the HUMMER world – don’t be surprised if someone like Predator Motor Sports was on the list for the first 5 kits. They’ve been working on and overhauling H1s for some time – and if they crunch the numbers and find out they can make a buck on something like this – they undoubtedly will. Even if they don’t purchase units themselves, they’ll likely be among the first people you’ll want to contact if you have no idea what you’re doing.

Humvee C-Series Kit Availability

We’re waiting on official word as to when the Humvee C-Series kits will be available and how the ordering process will work. It’s possible AM General will take deposits and initial orders, and once a particular threshold is met, the factory will initiate production. We’re told this number is around 50.

From what we understand the prototype should be complete within the next 30 days, and a marketing and promotions schedule will commence later this year. A website dedicated to the kit is currently in development and will likely be ready this fall.

Is it legal?

There are a lot of hurdles to owning a car that you build yourself – from insurance to titling to licensing. The process may be getting easier in some places, but nearly every state is different in how difficult it is. Kit cars are becoming more popular, and plenty of people in your state have undoubtedly gone through the process.

Is there a warranty?

Warranty coverage is unknown at this time, but some indicate they believe it may be 12 month/12,000 mile.

What’s in a name?

The “C” in C-Series refers to “Civilian” – just as it did when the Willys Corporation introduced the CJ series of vehicles which was short for “Citizen Jeep.” Later, Willys would become Kaiser Jeep, who would create a special division for military applications and the forerunner to AM General – which has changed ownership several times since incorporating into a separate entity from Jeep in the 70s. The CJ would ultimately become the Jeep Wrangler. That’s the short version of how AM General, HUMMER, and Jeep are related – for the long version check out AM General’s History page.

Final Considerations

AM General BRV-O PrototypeThe idea of a kit-car, sold as-is, seems like a no-brainer for AM General on some level. They have the design, they have the means, it’s less work on the production side and only adds few more challenges on the order/shipping side. It’s not that AM General doesn’t have the capacity to succeed with this project, but it’s whether or not they want to invest all the resources they can in a program that will pale in size and scope to their military and government operations. They’re currently in the running for what could ultimately be a $5,000,000,000 contract to produce military vehicles like the BRV-O – and its only logical to assume priority is placed on programs like those rather than kit-cars sold to Joe Public. I would imagine the top-level discussion went something like, “if you think you can wholesale some body-only kits and the lawyers say it’s OK – we’re OK with it.”

It would certainly make for some interesting build threads in the various HUMMER forums – which interestingly enough – AM General used to float rumors and gauge interest in the idea back in January.

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18 Responses to “AM General Re-Entering Civilian Vehicle Marketplace with Humvee C-Series Kit Car”

  1. bob Says:

    Sounds like a load of heffer dust. First of all your picture isn’t an H-1, it,t the military HUMVEE which sells for $250k.

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Bob – did you by chance read the article?

  3. seth Says:

    that’s cool. i want one… put a cummins diesel in it, manual tranny, 3 speed transfer case… that would be awesome but expensive

  4. bigk Says:

    Bob, can you tell me what spec HMMWV you are quoting for $250K? I’m assuming you are talking about a fully armored, weaponized truck with Rhino, Comms gear, CROWS, and other hardware which is added after assembly.

    A base HMMWV is around $50K for the DOD, thats with no doors, 2 seats and a detuned 6500 optimizer. Back in the 80′s the m998 base configuration was around $38k for the taxpayer.

    From my source at AM general the general plan and name is correct, the real question is details.

    -Actual power train options [P400 6.5 turbo and Duramax were mentioned with Alison transmission]
    -The doors and roof thing, rumor is no doors.
    -Electrical system voltage, 12v or 24v
    -Wheel options.

    All should be answered soon.

  5. elguapo Says:

    this is all “news” that’s been posted on a few forums (hummer4x4offroad.com and hummernetworkforums.com. Is this info just pasted together from them or do you have sources to validate it further than it’s already been? Also is that logo something from AMG or your own made up design?

  6. william Says:

    @ admin: the article was a bit too long for Bob to read…LOL! Wat would it take for AM General to finally get to fix the legal issues & buy the “Hummer” brand from GM? I read the news almost daily, wishfully hoping that some company would reintroduce, jump start and remarket the hummer brand.

  7. admin Says:

    @elguapo – We have multiple sources within the organization confirming what has only been rumor on the forums. The specific details are always subject to change, but as of now, these plans are accurate. The logo is what AMG appears to be using – it was produced by AMG.

  8. admin Says:

    @bigk RE: doors – I’ve got 2 separate employees saying soft doors. Interesting point about the Electrical system.

  9. admin Says:

    @william GM owns, outright, the HUMMER name. GM makes hundreds of millions off licensing every year – so the deal would need to be pretty lucrative to sell the brand right for that reason alone, but there are many other considerations. For instance, it would take an enormous investment to get even the previously produced models up to snuff with gov’t regs. It makes more sense for companies to go through those hoops for a car that you can sell a million of rather than 10,000 – and even they don’t always make profits (see GM).

  10. corey Says:

    Yes, this is all true and accurate, I sat in that focus group when it was unveiled to us by the head of AMG.

  11. Alienhummer Says:

    In my opinion AM General would succeed if they sold them and would ship them to a conversion shop or to you directly. I can’t see a Car Dealer getting involved in this process. Also they would sell more if the offered optional camoflage paint schemes. For the extreme do-it your-selfer a completely un-assembled kit option would cut down the cost too. All the parts in a huge box with an un-painted shell would be awesome.

  12. Aleardo Says:

    Fantastico!!!!! Speriamo possa questo Kit-Humvee essere disponibile anche in Europa!!! Lo aspettiamo tanto,…. in attesa che il marchio Hummer ritorni!

  13. Jim Carl Says:

    I just bought a black Hummer H3T last July and was wandering if- there was any news on it’s possible reserection?

  14. admin Says:

    @Jim Carl – Hummer isn’t coming back anytime soon – not even being considered right now. Though the way you worded your question, it leads me to believe you might be wondering about the resurrection of your H3T, in which case, I have no idea.

  15. Mike Says:

    Love it. Wish they would fire up h2s again. Never understood why they could not offer it in durAmax and get better mpg. I guess I’ll keep hoping and praying

  16. hummer3 Says:

    I don’t think its right that GM can hoard the brand like they are doing. If they aren’t using it someone else should be able to pick it up (especially when that somebody is the company responsible for the brand in the first place!)
    If this program is a success would AMGeneral consider making smaller/lighter/more affordable kits? I read something like that a few months ago on a forum… maybe it was one of the rumors AMGeneral put out there?

  17. BILL Says:

    I WANT ONE TOO..SURE MISS THE H-2S THEY WHERE GREAT VEHICLES .LIKE NOTHIN ELSE.

  18. Mike Says:

    Love it. Would also love to see h2 come back. Don’t know why my last comment was deleted. But anyway hope to save up for one.