Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

AUTO NEWS: Hummer offices, production to remain in America, CEO says

The money behind Hummer may come from China, but the maker of iconic SUVs will keep its headquarters, engineering and manufacturing in the United States, and Michigan may just land the head office, Hummer CEO Jim Taylor recently told me over brea...

The money behind Hummer may come from China, but the maker of iconic SUVs will keep its headquarters, engineering and manufacturing in the United States, and Michigan may just land the head office, Hummer CEO Jim Taylor recently told me over breakfast.

Hummer will also develop new vehicles to replace its current models, improve fuel economy and broaden its lineup, said Taylor, who ran Cadillac and developed the luxury brand's acclaimed CTS sport sedan before General Motors put him in charge of selling Hummer last year.

Taylor now has to make sure Hummer remains a going concern after finalizing the sale to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Machinery Co. Ltd. in mid-July.

From such tasks as hiring staff, figuring out where Hummer will be based, assuring a supply of new models, building sales and burnishing its image, Taylor has his hands full.

"This brand's gone down a long way," Taylor said. "The only way back to health is product."

ADVERTISEMENT

Tengzhong's commitment to rebuilding Hummer's model line was a key reason its offer for the brand won.

"It wasn't necessarily the high bid that won, but the best bid for Hummer's long-term prospects," Taylor said. "GM's livelihood is its dealers and customer base. It's not in GM's interest to hurt them."

Taylor and his associate Wei Shen, who played a key role establishing GM in China, first visited Tengzhong in November. Tengzhong's leaders "understood they were buying the talent and the team, not just a brand," Taylor said. "The human aspects of the deal were far more important than the money."

The independent Hummer will revive vehicles GM shelved to concentrate on high-volume brands like Cadillac and Chevrolet, Taylor said. That includes a replacement for the H2 SUV, a new version of the H3 that borrows ideas from the open-air HX concept vehicle, and maybe a smaller model to compete with the Jeep Wrangler.

Hummer will pay GM to build its vehicles and have access to some GM technology to meet new fuel economy and emissions requirements.

Hummer made money last year, and sells one-third of its vehicles outside the United States, Taylor said. He expects exports to rise, particularly to Russia and the Middle East, where Hummer is very popular, as well as new markets including China. He hopes to stabilize U.S. sales around 25,000 a year, the level Hummer enjoyed in its most successful years.

"Hummer headquarters, engineering and manufacturing will all be in the United States," Taylor said. "It's very important for Hummer to be seen as an American brand, like Harley-Davidson."

That provides an opportunity to "save a lot of jobs in Detroit," Taylor said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hummer's staff will initially consist of about 100 people, most of them probably former GM employees who might have lost their jobs in the automaker's ongoing cuts.

In addition to using GM platforms and assembly for new Hummers, Taylor will hire suppliers with broad technical expertise for engineering work.

Hummer's headquarters will be somewhere with an existing pool of automotive talent, he said. Detroit, Nashville, Tenn., and South Carolina are all candidates.

Michigan is the sentimental favorite, but it must match whatever incentives the others offer.

"We all live here. This is where we'd like to be," Taylor said. "Detroit is very well-equipped with talent in every field you need to make and sell cars."

Hummer should announce its new HQ location sometime in August.

"Assuming Michigan is competitive, my team will treat it as the first choice," Taylor said, adding that he expects Michigan's proposal to be "very competitive."

(Phelan is the auto critic for the Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at phelan@freepress.com or 313-222-6731.)

What To Read Next
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.
The Grand Forks Blue Zones Project, which hopes to make Grand Forks not just a healthier city but a closer community, is hosting an event on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Empire Arts Center from 3-5 p.m.