Smaller Hummer H2 SUV to Go On Sale in July
Two years after buying the Hummer brand name from AM General Corp., General Motors Corp. on Dec. 11 in Pontiac unveiled near-production versions of the Hummer H2, which is to go on sale next summer.The Hummer H2 is smaller than the H1 and with an expected base price of about $50,000 is about half the cost. Even at $50K, it's still competitive for the upscale buyers at which the H2 is aimed, according to industry analysts.The H2 will go on sale in July at about 150 selected dealers and will be supported by the sale of branded accessories such as caps, jackets, commuter cups and mugs, according to GM.The Hummer H2 will get around 13 miles per gallon when it goes on sale next summer, according to GM officials.Like the massive Ford Excursion, the Hummer H2 is so heavy its falls outside U.S. regulations on fuel economy.Dan Becker, director of the global warming and energy program with environmental group the Sierra Club, calls the Hummer H2 "a gas-guzzler par excellence." Michelle Robinson of the Union of Concerned Scientists agreed. "Maybe they ought to change the name for the Hummer H2 to the Guzzler H2," Robinson said.Since the corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE) were adopted in 1975 as a response to the OPEC oil embargoes, automakers are required to meet average fuel economy ratings for their cars and light-duty trucks. Trucks with a combined weight and payload capacity above 8,500 pounds, which at that time were commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks, were exempt from the restrictions.But the five-passenger Hummer H2, which will have an optional third-row seat for a sixth passenger next to a spare tire, has a combined weight and payload capacity of 8,600 pounds, 100 pounds above the cutoff point. The Ford Excursion also weighs and holds 8,600 pounds for the two-wheel-drive version.GM has long maintained that federal fuel economy regulations don't work and should not be raised.Steel and thick aluminum skid pads run under the vehicle and rocker protectors run along the side to protect the H2 from boulders and tree trunks along the roughest trails, thus adding to the H2's weight. The H2 also has a steel reinforced chassis to withstand extreme twisting pressures.The H2 stands 6-1/2 feet tall, without a roof rack, and is 6-3/4 feet wide. It captures the Humvee's slab-sided look, with a near-vertical windshield that sacrifices aerodynamics for style.Although sales of the Excursion have been much fewer then expected, GM's large Chevrolet Suburban SUV is enjoying a record year, and GM says it expects Hummer H2 to also be a hit.GM could sell as many as 40,000 Hummer H2s a year, and expects Hummer to become a very profitable division for the automaker.GM acquired the rights to the Hummer brand name from AM General in 1999 after research showed that the rugged Hummer H1 and the military's Humvee captured widespread acclaim among younger buyers.With gas prices at their lowest levels in three years, people who are the target market for the H2 probably aren't concerned with what environmentalists think, according to many industry analysts.