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Second-coming of Hummer: Why the new GMC Hummer can succeed where the original failed

Would Hummer work in Australia this time around?

Should General Motors offer the new GMC Hummer in Australia?

It’s probably a question that has already been asked many times inside the offices of GM Specialty Vehicles, with the brand looking at what vehicles it can source from the US that would have appeal here.

There’s an argument that the hulking, military-inspired off-roader with a powerful electric drivetrain would be a compelling proposition for an Australian audience. After all, the likes of the Toyota LandCruiser and Land Rover Defender continue to sell in big numbers as buyers flock to big SUVs.

The problem comes when anyone at GM remembers the last time it launched the Hummer here in Australia back in 2007. Then it was the smallest H3 model that was offered here as a would-be rival to the Toyota Prado and Nissan Patrol.

It was also meant to form part of a three-pronged GM premium assault on the Australian market - alongside Saab and Cadillac. The combination of underwhelming products and the global financial crisis meant the GM-owned Saab quickly disappeared and Cadillac stalled at the very last-minute (literally Australian-destined right-hand drive Cadillacs had to be redirected to South Africa).

The Hummer H3 lasted three years on official sale, between 2007 and 2009. During that time GM/Holden only managed to sell 1780 examples of the big machine, which is hardly a solid foundation for the brand to re-emerge here.

However, there’s a strong argument to be made that the H3 was the right car at the wrong time. As we’ve already asserted, Australians love large SUVs, in fact sales of that type of vehicle are up 4.5 per cent year-to-date (at the time of publication). In the decade since the H3 departed we’ve seen a more Americanisation of car design in Australia too, particularly with utes like the Ford Ranger, which has taken styling inspiration from the F-150, as well as the introduction and popularity of vehicles a size up like the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500.

In the current Australian automotive landscape the Hummer would no longer stand out in the same way it did back in 2007. Back then it was too big and too brash for buyer’s to flock to, but now it would be seen as acceptable and even appealing to many.

One particular advantage the new Hummer has over the old H3 is its powertrain. Whereas the H3 was powered by a modest 3.7-litre five-cylinder petrol engine, the new version has GM’s all-new Ultium Drive electric motors and batteries.  

The initial GMC model is good for 750kW of power, has a range of 529km, four-wheel drive and steering and adaptive air-suspension, even a diagonally-driving 'crabwalk' mode - tempting specifications for many potential Australian customers.

The question now, is can General Motors and GMC in the US as well as GMSV locally find a way to make the second-coming of Hummer a reality in Australia…

Stephen Ottley
Contributing Journalist
Steve has been obsessed with all things automotive for as long as he can remember. Literally, his earliest memory is of a car. Having amassed an enviable Hot Wheels and...
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