Luck was on my side this week when I was able to fly in and out of Chicago without so much as a delay – considering over 1200 flights were canceled out of O’Hare and Midway due to hazardous weather. The purpose for my windy city trip was to attend the 2008 Chicago Auto Show press preview, as a guest of General Motors. This gave me a chance to see the HUMMER H3T before the show opens to the public today.
“It’s the ideal combination…all the capabilities of a HUMMER combined with all the flexibility and usability that you get with a pickup,” said HUMMER general manager Martin Walsh as we overlooked the H3T. With a 10.2 inch ground clearance when equipped with the optional 33 inch tires, the H3T will have the best ground clearance of any HUMMER vehicle currently being produced. From the driver’s seat forward, the H3T is the same as the H3 SUV, so the approach angle has stayed the same. HUMMER was also able to maintain the departure angle by moving the rear wheels as far back as possible. “We lengthened the wheelbase 22inches over the SUV,” said Walsh, who also pointed out that during the reconfiguring for the H3T, they were able to make the changes without infringing on any of the interior comfort in the second row.
Another key to the HUMMER H3T is its versatility with multiple configurations built in. “This vehicle was designed from the beginning to be able to accommodate a lot of different needs of consumers,” said Walsh. They started with the standard bed liner, which also includes an aluminum rail along three sides. “That rail is designed to accommodate literally hundreds of accessories.” HUMMER teamed up with several aftermarket accessory providers to produce officially licensed accessories for the H3T, a first for the brand, who normally utilizes in-house engineering. The sheer number of accessories HUMMER desired for the H3T necessitated some ‘engineering outsourcing’ to product experts — a first for HUMMER.
The H3T is expected to bring in another class of HUMMER buyers. Walsh expects the key demographic for the H3T to be a little younger and less affluent than the current HUMMER buyer, but with a household income of $90,000, that expected customer is still a pretty affluent. The number of H3T sales expected is being kept under wraps, but since it will be produced in the same facility as the H3 SUV, production of either H3 model can be adjusted as demand requires.
Time will tell how successful HUMMER’s first real pickup truck is, but I’m pretty certain this will be a hit – especially in markets like Florida, Texas, and California, where 50% of all pickup trucks are sold.