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Auto blogFri, 09 Dec 2011 09:28:00 EST
The military's High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), better known to most of us as the Humvee, has already served a long and distinguished career in the battlefield, and there have been a number of replacements waiting in the wings to take over where the HMMWV left off. Or, should we say, leaves off... assuming that ever happens.
It seems that the Humvee is set to get a new lease on life as military budget constraints are forcing the government to reconsider its replacement. But there are still some pesky safety issues to work out before American soldiers will feel comfortable inside the confines of the off-road box on wheels.
As you're likely aware, improvised explosive devices are an ever-increasing threat to the lives of American troops serving overseas. The Humvee, which traces its design all the way back to the year 1984 when it first saw duty as a replacement for the long-running series of military Jeeps, has seen a number of incarnations over the years that added armor and improved safety, but the latest version may feature something hitherto unseen: a chimney.
When General Motors put down several of its brands in recent years, it also let loose thousands of brand-loyal customers who will eventually need another car.
R.L. Polk Associates estimates there are more than 18 million cars from 16 discontinued makes on the road today. Those "orphan owners" have sales-hungry competitors seeing dollar signs. GM is offering Saturn owners $1,000 cash toward a Chevy Cruze, Cadillac CTS or a GMC Acadia. Ford is giving its Mercury lease customers a chance to get out of their contracts with no early-termination penalty and offering to waive six remaining payments if they drive off in a Ford or Lincoln.
Edmunds.com research shows the efforts are paying off somewhat for GM, with 39 percent of Pontiac owners, 37 percent of Hummer owners and 31 percent of Saturn owners taking delivery of another GM-branded vehicle. But that leaves as much as 69 percent of owners going elsewhere. Ford, Honda and Toyota seem to be attracting many former GM owners.
Lynch Hummer dealership in Chesterfield, Missouri - Click above for image gallery
You've heard of art imitating life? Well how about life imitating war? That's another story entirely, but not so far fetched when it comes to the Hummer. The sport-'ute that met the public eye during Operation Desert Storm has all but completely gone through its entire life cycle in the intervening years: first as a military-only vehicle, the original model became available to the public, then GM bought the rights and started churning out pickup-based H2s and H3s, the U.S. armed forces went back Iraq, the original H1 was discontinued and now GM is preparing to wind down the brand entirely. But not before one last pistol-shootin' hoorah, courtesy of the one dealership that arguably sees the truck for what it is more than any other: Lynch Hummer.
The St. Louis-area franchise made headlines last year when they started filling their emptying showroom with gun racks, selling firearms to make up for dwindling sales in the gigantic SUVs. Now the dealership is connecting the dots with a one-of-a-kind promotion: Buy a Hummer, get a free shotgun.