Axed in the darkest days of the auto industry crisis a decade ago, Hummer is now looking rosier and rosier in the rearview mirror, especially if you consider the rate at which General Motors' competitors are selling trucks and SUVs.
Jeep is churning out vehicles at a pace not seen since World War II, as if suburbanites are mobilizing for Iwo Jima. Ford has not one but two Broncos in the works and has been making noises about ditching cars altogether. Even the Mustang will be some kind of truck very shortly.
Ram has become a runaway hit for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which, if you look at its sales numbers, should really be called Jeep Ram Automobiles. General Motors is scrambling to adapt, seemingly adopting Ford's Big Bronco/Small Bronco tactic by introducing as many Blazer versions as it can. (We wouldn't bet against seeing a giant K5 Blazer at some point, at the rate things are going.)
This brings us to the Hummer brand, which in its best days was a Gulf War I hero despite not seeing much combat and not being armored back in the day, and in its worst days was a caricature of itself in the form of Hummer H2s roaring between gas stations on the school run in some leafy suburb lest it run out.
Arnold Schwarzenegger single-handedly made civilian H1 ownership a thing, all without social media. (Just let that achievement wash over you for a couple of minutes). That's how much power the Hummer brand once wielded, even before GM started churning out slightly more domesticated models.
The gas crisis of 2005 dealt a serious blow to Hummer, but with the oil spigot once again turned back on, thanks to making the Midwest Plains states an earthquake theme park with timing slightly less predictable than Old Faithful, the Hummer brand soldiered on to see something approaching sensibility and variety, thanks to the H3 and the H3T.
But it was not enough to withstand the pressures of the auto industry crisis that also saw the demise of Oldsmobile, Saab, Pontiac and Saturn.
With the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to blame GM for killing off Hummer. A decade ago it seemed that by 2019 we'd all be driving very small hatchbacks that are either hybrid or electric, and hypermiling them to the point that turning on the A/C would make you ineligible for the diamond lane. In 2009, the vehicles of 2019 looked ... a lot smaller than they've turned out to be, and also a lot less expensive. Prius variants of all sizes, all with tapered wheel arches and steel wheels, were supposed to make up the bulk of the country's automotive landscape, and pickup trucks were supposed to be either electric or powered by tiny diesel engines, like they are in Europe.
The landscape did indeed change -- but in a completely different way. Brands once considered above SUVs -- think Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini -- are all aboard the SUV train today, with half of them costing as much as a house in the wealthy Indianapolis suburbs. We don't know when the SUV train will stop, but it's obvious GM now wishes that it had saved Hummer by introducing a Wrangler competitor back when it had the money to do so, thus allowing the brand to survive into the present day.