We had a terrific response to our first “Ask Jim” segment, in which readers got to submit their questions to HUMMER’s CEO Jim Taylor. Jim was a little tied up with negotiations last week, but was able to respond to the queries this week.
He addressed concerns about diesel models in the U.S., International sales, future production locations, electric HUMMERs, and future HUMMER models.
We’re extremely appreciative to Jim for taking the time to answer so many questions, which are available after the jump along with his letter to HUMMER fans.
Jim Taylor’s note to readers:
Thank you all for taking the time from your busy daily lives to write me about HUMMER. I understand the concern that every HUMMER enthusiast has about the future of the brand, which is why I commit to making myself and my team available to answer your questions on an ongoing basis. It is important to me to answer as many of your inquiries as possible, however, since many were about similar subjects, I responded to at least one question on each topic. There were also many subjects, like timing of future vehicles, which at this time, I can’t answer since it would provide details which I’m sure my competitors would love to know.
I can tell you that every skilled member of the HUMMER team is enthusiastic about the future potential of the brand and our designers and engineers have done a fantastic job of evolving the iconic HUMMER brand styling in the future vehicles, while retaining focus on capability and improved efficiency.
Thanks again and I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you on a regular basis.
Questions & Responses
Name: Brant – St. Louis, MO
Question: I’ve read various reports of “possible” cancelation of the Hummer H2 model. PLEASE tell me that isn’t true – in my opinion that is the boldest, beautiful model in your lineup! Yes, BEAUTIFUL! I do plan on getting an H2 somtime in the near future, and would like to buy a new model from Lynch Hummer (which is just right down the road from me) and not an older model because the H2 was discountinued…
JIM: The H2 is a very important part of the HUMMER product portfolio and it will continue to be sold by HUMMER for the foreseeable future. We expect to have production at AM General back up and running by the first quarter of 2010 at the latest. Long term, you can expect to see design, performance and efficiency improvements to the H2.
Name: Bob Weir – CANADA
Question: Hey Jim, Long Time Listner, First Time Caller……What is going to happen to HUMMER in Canada? As of NOW, my HUMMER dealer is a GM/Chevy dealer who ALSO has HUMMER?? Since HUMMER will no longer be GM, are us Canadians out of LUCK??
JIM: We fully expect to keep HUMMER sales, service and support in Canada and will have the agreements in place with GM to maintain those dealer locations. We’ll continue to work with our current and future dealers in Canada and in every other country to continue to improve the service experience for every HUMMER owner.
Name: Ken Neilson – Johannesburg, South Africa
Question: Why close a plant in South Africa that is making the right hand drive vehicles for Australia and other right hand drive countries?
JIM: It was an extremely difficult decision to make, but for the long-term viability of the brand, it made the most economic sense to move all H3 production to a single facility. As the Shreveport, LA facility currently produces the largest volume of H3 and H3T vehicles, all H3/H3T production will occur at that facility. This includes both right-hand and left-hand drive vehicles for export, and will also include the future export diesel H3 production.
The South Africa plant will continue to produce other GM vehicles
Name: Alexander – Moscow, Russia
Question: Will Hummer continue to develop the Russian market? We have a big problem with Hummer spare parts in Russia. Despite this Hummer is the only brand on Russian market with 100% sales growth.
I can advice you not to treat Russia as a part of European market. It’s more like Arabian or American than European. Lexus was the first who understood this and it succeeded. Good luck.
JIM: Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. Russia is an extremely important market for us and will continue to be in the future. As we move forward as an independent brand, we will be able to provide more attention to every market and I assure you that service and support for our customers will be a top priority.
Name: Mark Arentsen – South Africa
Question: I know it is probably a difficult question to answer at the moment, however as the secretary of the hummer owners club in South Africa, what are the possibilities of the H3T and H4 coming to our shores?
JIM: When the H3T planning began, it was not engineered for right-hand drive homologation for sales in countries like South Africa and Australia. However, if we see enough interest, we will revisit the subject to determine whether we would see enough sales to justify the investment.
Going forward, our intent is to make HUMMER a truly global company and the next generation of vehicles that we introduce, like the HX Concept, will be designed from the outset to be sold in every country around the globe.
Name: Craig Caldwell
Question: I am interested to know how will the sale of Hummer affect warranty issues with older Hummers for future maintenance and any recall issues should they arise.
JIM: HUMMER customers can rest assured that their warranty will be honored. As we negotiate the terms of the brands sale, we are paying special attention to the sales, service and support for our existing customers.
It is our hope that you will see continued improvement in service as HUMMER becomes an independent company.
Name: Scott Howell – East Hampton, CT
Question: Thank you for taking the time to answer questions from HUMMER owners and enthusiasts. Will the HX (H4) be a reality or is it just an example of HUMMER’s vision?
JIM: A vehicle similar to the HX Concept will become a reality. For competitive reasons, I can’t divulge any more details at this time. Once the sale is complete, we will be working feverishly to bring a vehicle extremely close to the concept in design, size and capability to market.
Name: Frank O – Texas
Question: Where will the H3 be built,if not in LA., and if the HX comes to be(HOPE SO), where will it be built?
JIM: The H3 and H3T will be built in Shreveport, LA for a duration to be announced once the brand sale is complete. We are looking at all manufacturing and contract manufacturing possibilities for future HUMMER models. Regardless of what direction we choose for manufacturing, rest assured that HUMMER vehicles will continue to be built long-term in the U.S.
Name: John C – Reedsburg, WI
Question: Have there been any commitments in the Hummer sale that will ensure some form of production (existing or new models) will stay in the US?
JIM: HUMMER will remain a US-based brand for the long-term. The global headquarters will be based in the U.S., and we are currently working to identify our long-term manufacturing strategy for production in the U.S.
Name: Kevin Szczepaniak -Detroit, MI
Question: What is the likely hood of a diesel engine as an option in any Hummer, once Sichuan Tengzhong becomes owner? If there is, how soon would this option be made available?
JIM: Diesel engines seem to be a natural fit for HUMMER and are one of the best ways available today to increase both efficiency and performance. We are finalizing emissions testing on a diesel H3 that will be available outside North America next year. Our next task will be to identify a diesel that meets the stringent U.S. emission standards and bring it to market as quickly as possible.
Name: John Feifel – Sunset, Utah
Question: I own a 06 H3. For such a great offroad vehicle it’s always aggravated me that it came with an aluminum front differential and no front locker. Is there a plan to offer an OEM upgrade to a cast iron differential with a locker?
JIM: Prior to GM putting the brand up for strategic review, there were a lot of programs in development to address the availability of off-road accessories from both HUMMER and the aftermarket. Once the brand is sold, we will renew these programs with the intent of increasing the availability of both Genuine HUMMER Accessories and aftermarket accessories that continue to improve the inherent off-road capability of HUMMER vehicles.
A H3 upgrade kit with the front locker and cast iron differential is one of the many components that we will be working on bringing to market as quickly as possible following the sale.
Name: Thomas – Michigan
Question: Will the H3 be available as an electric vehicle in the future?
JIM: Prior to the brand’s sale, we began exploratory work on the feasibility of plug-in hybrid technology in a vehicle like the H3. The project included technology from Raser Technologies and vehicle integration from FEV. This vehicle has been touring the country and is undergoing testing of the component durability and packaging. We will continue to study the impact that plug-in hybrid technology has on the durability and vehicle capability in the off-road environment.
Name: Jerry Kosteck – Illinois
Question: Will Hummer continue to work with AM General on future models and possibly a limited or special order H1?
JIM: As part of the sale, AM General will continue to build the H2. The original H1 is not part of the brand sale.
Name: David McMahan – Newport Beach, CA
Question: When will new product start showing up in showrooms? Most Hummer dealers are down to a handful of new trucks and selection is very limited.
JIM: We expect to resume production of all HUMMER models as quickly as possible following the brand sale. 2010 H3 and H3T production would resume before the end of the year, while H2 production will likely resume in the first quarter of 2010 at the latest.
Name: Josh – Dayton, Ohio
Question: Will the NEW Hummer brand offer GM or military discounts?
JIM: We are currently working on pricing and incentive availability from HUMMER following the sale. More details will be announced once the brand is functioning as an independent company.
Name: Hans Mertens – Essex Junction, VT
Question: Will Hummer continue to offer jobs in the states, and if so, how do you suggest I work towards fulfilling my dream of one day working for the brand I so greatly respect?
JIM: We have received an overwhelming amount of resumes from HUMMER enthusiasts interested in working for HUMMER in the future. Once we are an independent company, we will communicate how to submit resumes for any possible positions within HUMMER.
Name: Phillip McGinnis – Oklahoma
Question: I have been EXTREMELY excited about the HX since I first viewed it online. It seems to combine Hummer’s demonstrated 4WD prowess with the smaller size necessary to maneuver the trails that I like to explore. With Jeep clearly dominating this market niche, I would think a viable competitor would be eager to build a capable alternative. If an entrant into this market segment gave additional thought to add-on sales, the rigs could be customized and modified to suit individual tastes/needs. I’m referring to trail ready equipment (not “chrome bling”) thus providing additional and (important for the manufacturer) ongoing revenue streams for the manufacturer. For verification of the profit potential one needs only glance at the massive aftermarket support for the Jeep. Why can’t the factory design, build, and sell accessories for the HX instead of giving this market away?
Obviously my primary question is WHEN do we get to see the HX hit the market and how much of it will translate from concept vehicle into actual production? The HX is WAY cooler than the Jeep and many of us are eager to find a rig as capable as a Rubicon right out of the box (Hopefully MORE capable so we can erase their smug smiles!).
The secret to success will be bringing the HX to market at the right entry point (price wise). If targeted sales prices were too high the HX could be designed so customers could add some of the features they desire at a later time. For example, if the winch was a deal-breaker then list it as an option or leave it off so the customer can add it later but please design the mounting points and leave room behind the front fascia. Another example might be rock sliders (std. equip. on the H2) or tires and/or shocks. Obviously the concept vehicle has “one-off” tires and shocks. If the production vehicle hit the street with standard shocks and/or smaller tires simply leave room for the customer to upgrade at a later time. Why should Jeeps have all the fun? One of their chief attractions is the relatively easy path their owners can take to address trail readiness. Why are their designers the only ones who can see this?
One of the vehicles I currently own is a GM 4WD ZR2 Blazer that stickered for $31K+ in 2000 (not much in today’s $$ but plenty back then). I have been fairly satisfied with it but my largest area of frustration has been the lack of support for it in terms of off-roading. Few companies make anything for it hence everything is exorbitantly priced. As an example, one of the first things a customer wants to do is increase the trail capability with larger, more aggressive tires. GM designed the wheel arches so that the factory 31″ tires barely fit. Forget about changing wheel offsets if you felt the factory wheels were ugly There is no way to increase tire size without suspension modification or adding one of only two lifts kits on the market which still only allow 33″ tires. GM effectively limited their sales of this vehicle by designing their customers into a corner; both in terms of trail capability and creative expression. The vehicle has such poor aftermarket support that everyone of them is modified almost exactly alike. While I realize that we are constrained by the original design of the base vehicle, one only has to look toward the Jeep to see how a good (not great) original design allows for individual creativity at a later time. If it sounds like I am a Jeep fan I am not; in fact I dislike them. They are crude, rough-riding vehicles but I am jealous of their owners ability to easily customize and modify them to suit their own tastes. Jeep has been successful following this formula for years.
I can guarantee that I’ll be taking a serious look at the new HX to see how it stacks up in stock form and how easy it will be to add accessories. If I am satisfied with its potential I’ll definitely be taking delivery. I remember anticipating the Avalanche w/the same excitement and the actual vehicle was pretty close to the concept when it finally hit the market. I love the one we bought (Z-71). The one disappointment I have……you probably guessed it…….wheel wells too tight for larger tires! I must lift it to go any larger! Uggh!!!!
Thanks again for allowing this opportunity,
A lot of the experience we gained from the H2 and H3 will go into the design and engineering of the next generation of HUMMER vehicles. The H3, for example, is not only offered with a 33” tire , the largest in its class, but the wheel well openings are large enough to accommodate a larger tire without needing a vehicle lift kit.
Today we have a better understanding of the types of accessories and aftermarket components that owners desire for their vehicles and we will design our future vehicles to accommodate those components from the factory. We will also work more closely with the leading aftermarket companies to develop accessories for the vehicles so that a full portfolio of components, including those for both on-road and off-road performance, are available when the new vehicles launch.