Hummer, the brand that has come to symbolise America’s military might, could end up being owned by a Russian oligarch.
GM recently admitted that it was considering the brand’s future following the collapse of sales as oil prices rise and the American economy falters. Now it seems that one of the potential bidders is billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
One of the world’s richest men, with assets reportedly worth around £15bn, Deripaska already controls Russian car-maker GAZ and the aluminium smelting company, RusAI.
GAZ is already in the military vehicle business, making a Hummer look-alike for the Russian military – the 2330 — and an eight-wheeled armoured car, the BTR-90.
GM bought rights to build civilian versions of Hummer trucks from AM General, which produced the original Humvee – a ‘backronym’ formed from its official title of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle.
Civilian versions of the military-spec Hummer, branded the H1, kick-started interest in the brand, which GM capitalised on with the launch of smaller H2 and H3 versions, based on mechanical architecture shared with pick up trucks. The H2 is built in Indiana while the H3 is made in Louisiana.
The H3 is also assembled in South Africa and the H2 in limited numbers in Russia by Avtotor, an arrangement likely to end if the GAZ buyout goes through.
It’s unclear how well the bid will be received in the US, especially considering the tense situation between Russia and Georgia. But if it does go ahead, GAZ will only purchase rights to produce civilian versions of Hummer products – rights to the Humvee will remain with Am General.