The Bumbling of HUMMER

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

As every salesmanperson knows, you’ve got to close the deal. It’s as simple as ABC. Always Be Closing. Looks like the only thing GM is adept at closing is dealerships. All deals to get rid of its unloved, neglected, and money losing brands have either been canceled, or are barely up in the air. From Opel to Saab to HUMMER. Yes, HUMMER. Haven’t we been told that that beast has long been foisted off on a formerly unknown Chinese company called Tengzhong? It hasn’t. And it won’t be for a while. If at all.

“Hopes that China’s Tengzhong will complete the deal to buy General Motor’s Hummer brand as early as this week appear unlikely to be fulfilled,” writes Reuters.

See, in China, deals with foreign corporations, from the desk where I type to big multinational mergers, need government approval. You file your papers, if everything is ok, papers come back with a big red stamp and you are good to go. But you’ve got to file. No tickey, no washey, as they say in China.

In early November, China’s Commerce Ministry had not received an application. Finally, one came in. The Beijing bureaucrats did read the document, wrinkled their foreheads, and could not make heads or tails of what Tengzhong was really trying to buy (or rather, what GM was trying to sell or not to sell.) Tengzhong was ordered to go home and come back with a new application that details what Tengzhong is exactly getting for their money.

The Ministry is still waiting for the updated application. “We have not received formal application materials from Tengzhong,” Reuters quotes an official at MofCom.

Tengzhong doesn’t sound like they will hand in anything anytime soon: “We have been cooperating with the government all along and have submitted whatever materials needed for the approval,” said a Tengzhong representative to Reuters. “There is little we can do at this stage. We can only wait.” Are we getting this right? MofCom is waiting for Tengzhong while Tengzhong is waiting for MofCom? There doesn’t seem to be a big rush to close this deal. The ham-handed HUMMER hawking is in no big hurry.

In closing, who’s the winner? So far Tengzhong. The previously widely unknown maker of heavy equipment and bridge pontoons has their name all over the worldwide media. “Tengzhong” gets more than a million hits on Google. Soon, their brand will be better known than Ho-HUMMER, while another piece of unfinished business is swirling down the drain.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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5 of 13 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 03, 2009

    Maybe Chrysler should buy Hummer, further lowering their CAFE numbers. Then we'd have RAM Hummer.

  • Superbadd75 Superbadd75 on Dec 03, 2009

    Hummer is no longer relevant in any market, burn it down. I feel bad for all of the dealers that really thought GM would make it worth their while to build million dollar dealerships for a brand with only 2 models and limited appeal. Then again, anyone that actually bought that drivel probably deserves to fail. Or shouldn't be allowed to make their own decisions.

    • See 2 previous
    • Davey49 Davey49 on Dec 03, 2009

      I want Hummer to succeed because I'd like to buy one someday and I'd like to have a dealer to go to buy one or at least get service. My other hope was that the H3 would revert to Chevrolet and become a new Blazer. I hope someone makes a good boxy shaped rock hopping 4x4 SUV in this sea of egg shaped CUVs If Hummer disappears I'll likely have to go for a Wrangler Unlimited or a Liberty depending on how much off road vs on road I want.

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.