David Oberer is used to being stared at when he drives his Hummer H1.
“You either gets a thumbs up, or flipped off,” Oberer told. People approach him at gas stations, he said. Some want to see the Hummer’s engine, or its interior. Others hate him, he says, and want to know how he could drive such a vehicle.
As Oberer sees it, his family owes everything to his diesel-powered Hummer.
History Of Hummer
“The business, our livelihood, the food we put on the table,” said Oberer, who owns a business selling Hummer parts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “It all goes back to that one decision with that vehicle.”
The Hummer dates to 1983, when Indiana manufacturer AM General won an Army contract to produce the vehicle. AM General began producing a civilian version of the truck in 1992, after the Hummer was used in the Gulf War.
Oberer fell in love with Hummers when a friend offered a test drive in 1996. They drove a Hummer through a ditch and a chain link fence, wowing Oberer. Now Oberer, like many longtime Hummer enthusiasts, is intrigued to see GM revive the Hummer brand with an electric model that will be revealed Tuesday. GM stopped producing the original petroleum-powered Hummers in 2010, in the wake of a national recession and a sharp increase in gasoline prices.
Shift To Electric Vehicle
For Hummer loyalists, the electric version offers a chance to appease environmental critics. But they also have concerns that the switch could impact its off-roading prowess. They wonder if it’ll have the battery range for a weekend of off-roading in remote locations, far from charging stations. So far, little is known about GM’s electric Hummer, including its price, though the company has said it’ll go 0-60 mph in three seconds and have up to 1,000 horsepower.
A GMC spokeswoman told that the vehicle would have extreme off-roading capability, and declined to reveal its range.
Oberer said he’s impressed by GM’s promise of 11,500 pound-feet of torque. (The measurement has been criticized by some news outlets, which have questioned if GM’s way of measuring torque is unusual and inflating its value. GM declined to say how it measures the Hummer’s torque.)
Oberer also said he feels torn on the switch to electric motors, as his business could be impacted. He hopes that he has 10 to 20 years to transition his business away from internal combustion engines, and would like to see a retrofit program for converting vehicles.
The Silent Hummer
One of the most obvious differences of the new Hummer will be its sound. “A quiet revolution is coming,” GM has said.
Speaking with four longtime Hummer owners, all who said the diesel engine in the Hummer H1 and its gears make for a distinct, powerful sound.
“Does this thing get any quieter?” Mark Price recalled yelling at a car dealership employee in 1999, immediately after turning on an H1 on his first test drive. Price had to have one.
“It just screamed alpha male. Diesel smell and loud noise,” Price told. “It was slow, it was gigantic. It was like nothing you’ve ever driven before in your life.”
He’s open to embracing a quiet Hummer. He believes that an electric Hummer could bring the best of both worlds if its maintains its off-roading ability and is environmentally friendly.
Hummer Fans Will Miss Off-roading?
Price said he’d love to test drive an electric Hummer on an off-roading course, to determine if it gets his stamp of approval.
Oberer too, says he won’t mind a silent Hummer. For him, the Hummer brand is defined by power.
“You can tow a house off a foundation,” Oberer said. “That’s what makes it a Hummer.”
Grant Rees, who has owned five Hummers over the years, said he’s happy to see the Hummer brand keep up with the times and go electric. He hopes that the Hummer will have 500 miles of range, to suit his off-roading trips.
He’s watching to see if GM lives up to the Hummer brand. He bought a Hummer H2, the first Hummer produced after GM bought the Hummer brand from AM General in 1999. But he got rid of it after a few years, as he felt he might as well have been driving a Chevrolet Suburban. (GM stopped making the H2 in 2008.)
Mike Miserendino of Noblesville, Indiana, who uses his Hummer H1 to volunteer for emergency response efforts, hopes that the new Hummer matches the brand’s reputation durability and toughness.
“Is the utility there where I can abuse it?” MIserendino said. “If it lives up to that I’m sure there will be a new audience for it.”
But Angie Schmitt, the transportation consultant and author of “Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Crisis of Pedestrian Deaths in America,” said that the revival of the Hummer brand is typical of American automakers focusing on large trucks and SUVs, which exacerbate environmental and pedestrian safety issues. SUVs like the Hummer are taller and heavier than typical vehicles, making them more deadly if a driver strikes a pedestrian.
“All things being equal it’s better that it’s electric,” Schmitt said. “But taking large SUVs that are wasteful and turning them electric isn’t going to solve all our environmental problems.”