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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 13, 2006

Original Hummer done for after '06

Advertiser News Services

WASHINGTON The Hummer H1, the biggest, toughest sport utility vehicle on the road, could crush anything in its path except poor sales.

General Motors Corp. said yesterday the 2006 model year will be the last for the H1, which has been the foundation for the automaker's Hummer brand. Based on the military's Humvee, about 12,000 put on the road since 1992 defined the Hummer name.

The vehicle, which delivered a shot of in-your-face masculinity, has a price tag of $140,000, weighs 5 tons and gets less than 10 miles to the gallon. But sales have slowed to a trickle. GM has sold fewer than 100 this year.

"It's a reflection of where we're going with the Hummer brand," Hummer general manager Martin Walsh said of the decision. "The Hummer DNA still resides in the Humvee. ... It will always be the core from where we come."

GM expects the last H1s to be built next month.

Many see the H1 as a symbol of personal excess and American over-consumption. The H1 has been the target of at least a half-dozen attacks by radical environmentalists.

"It's the ultimate statement of outrageous excess," says automotive consultant Daniel Gorrell of Strategic Visions in San Diego. "It's the statement of 'I will run over you and crush you like a bug.' "

GM has steadily expanded the Hummer line while shrinking the models' size. In 2002, GM introduced the H2, a medium-size version, and last spring it brought out the H3, the smallest of the group. The H3, which sports a 5-cylinder engine, is popular, but the entire Hummer group has been outsold this year by the Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid. A key member of GM's board of directors has suggested that GM scrap Hummer altogether to save cash.

Hummers often have been associated with celebrities, such as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was AM General's first civilian customer, buying a custom-made conversion of the military model.

Schwarzenegger once owned a fleet of Hummers but now has just three. The California governor's aides say he rarely drives them anymore.

The Hummer's critics include the Sierra Club, which has faulted the vehicle for its bulk and poor gas mileage. Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming program, welcomed the news, which comes as Congress tackles fuel economy standards and some drivers face $3 gas prices.

"The timing is pretty amazing," Becker said.

AM General, which builds the H1, H2 and Humvee in Mishawaka, Ind., said it doesn't plan to cut any jobs as a result of the decision.