Wednesday 2nd January 1985
The first High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (aka Hummer) rolled off the assembly line of AM General’s South Bend facility in Indiana, US. The original Hummers were first designed by AM General Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary American Motors Corporation (AMC). In 1979, the United States Army was seeking contractors for a new “High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle” which could follow the tracks and ruts of full size army trucks (HMMWV). Among the four competitors for the contract, AM General designed an entirely new vehicle to meet the Army’s requirements. In less than one year, it was the first to deliver a prototype vehicle. Initial production versions were delivered to the Army’s proving grounds in April 1982. After testing was completed AM General was awarded the contract to supply its HMMWV to the United States armed forces. The first models were built in a variety of military-based equipment and versions. The first contract was in 1983, worth US$1.2 billion to produce 55,000 “Humvees” by 1985.
In December 1999, AM General sold the brand name to General Motors, but continued to manufacture the vehicles. GM was responsible for the marketing and distribution of all Hummers produced by AM General. Shortly thereafter, GM introduced two of its own design models, the H2 and H3, and renamed the original vehicle H1. AM General continued to build the H1 until it was discontinued in 2006, and was contracted by GM to produce the H2. The H3 was built in Shreveport, LA alongside the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, with which it shared the GMT-355 platform (modified and designated GMT-345). Hummer dealership buildings featured an oversized half Quonset Hut style roof, themed to the Hummer brand’s military origins.
By 2006, the Hummer began to be exported and sold through importers and distributors in 33 countries. On October 10, 2006, GM began producing the Hummer H3 at its Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa for international markets.The Hummers built there at first were only left-hand drive, but right-hand drive versions were added and exported to Australia and other markets.
The H2 was also assembled in Kaliningrad, Russia, by Avtotor, starting in 2006 and ending in 2009. The plant produced a few hundred vehicles annually, and its output was limited to local consumption with five dealers in Russia.
On June 3, 2008, one day prior to GM’s annual shareholder meeting, Rick Wagoner, GM’s CEO at that time, said the brand was being reviewed, and had the possibility of either being sold, having the production line completely redesigned, or being discontinued. This was due to the decreasing demand for large SUVs as a result of higher oil prices. Almost immediately after the announcement, a pair of Indian automakers, including Mahindra & Mahindra, expressed interest in purchasing all or part of Hummer.