Hummer sales are a bummer

Hummers on the sales lot of Williamson Cadillac Hummer in Miami

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Today, we were supposed to learn the fate of General Motor's floundering Hummer brand. That is, until GM found itself with other pressing business on its plate. Namely a 60-day presidential timetable to make a survival plan or face bankruptcy. The Hummer problem will have to be addressed soon, because sales there have really tanked. And given its dire state, GM doesn't need any more baggage. Rico Gagliano reports.


Rico Gagliano: Oh, how the Hummer has fallen. Sales were down 68 percent in the first two months this year.

Rick Kranz, an editor at Detroit's Automotive News, chalks it up to the powerful car's puny gas mileage:

Rick Kranz: When gasoline was at, what, $4.50, $5, $5.50 a gallon, people looked elsewhere for products and Hummer suffered.

By the time gas prices came down late last year? GM had already announced it was looking to unload the company.

Kranz says that didn't exactly breed sales. Still, GM says they have bids on the table from other companies to buy Hummer.

Analyst Michael Robinet of CSM worldwide says any buyer would have a lot of work to do:

Michael Robinet: Hummer is a rough-and-ready vehicle, it has a very muscular image. But really for Hummer to survive longer-term, they're gonna have to either expand the portfolio and make it a little bit more environmentally friendly, or slim it down and make it a niche brand.

In which case, he imagines fewer Hummer models, and few -- if any -- Hummer dealerships.

Whether the brand lives or dies, through, it won't affect the military. GM owns the Hummer name and makes its own versions of the car, but a completely different company called AM General supplies Humvees to the armed forces.

In Los Angeles, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.

About the author

Rico Gagliano is the host of Dinner Party Download.

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