(first posted 4/1/2018) In 2007, Hummer started its death spiral. The huge run-up of oil prices that year, which culminated in the all-time peak of $160/barrel in June of 2008, resulted in gas prices in the US in excess of $4.00 per gallon. And during this period, eco-awareness was in full bloom; the Prius was king, and the Hummer became the whipping boy of the rapidly rising green movement. The Hummer H2, poster boy of environmental irresponsibility with it 10mpg city EPA rating, saw it sales droop precipitously all during 2007, and plummet in 2008. The slightly smaller H3, which still swilled gas like a sailor in port, did little to stem the flood of negative press and image problems. Something had to be done, and ultra-fast, before Hummer was swallowed up in a black hole of its own making.
A desperate idea was hatched by one young exec: the EcoHummer – an ultra small, lightweight super-efficient hybrid mini-me Hummer. The sole prototype was long assumed to have been crushed, but here it is, hiding in Eugene after all these years.
Could such a vehicle change the course and public image of Hummer? With the GM mothership sliding inexorably towards bankruptcy, there were no funds to create such a radical concept from scratch; all the development money was sucked up by the Volt. The solution was ingenious: they bought a Scion xB and a Prius, and installed the Prius’ hybrid drive train. One was quickly cobbled up and sent to Portland, Oregon, a bastion of all things green where the Prius was the best selling car, to see how Prius drivers would respond when given the chance to drive the EcoHummer for a few weeks.
GM went belly up during this consumer test, and the folks who were testing the prototype at the time were never asked to give it back. That was ten years ago, and since it’s highly unlikely Old GM will ask for it now, they’ve finally decided to show off their beloved little EcoHummer after keeping a low profile, if that’s possible with a yellow Hummer.
What mattered was economy, and the EcoHummer delivered, despite its atrocious aerodynamics. Preliminary tests indicated it would achieve 44 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 40mpg. Take that, you eco-wienies!
An ingenious solution was found to give the EcoHummer AWD: adapt a small electric motor to the existing AWD rear axle that had been available on the Japanese market bB.
And what was Hummer going to actually build had this concept been green-lighted before the lights all went out? Who knows? Maybe they were going to snap up used xBs and convert them. Or contract with Toyota?
As many of the existing Hummer accessories and miscellaneous parts as possible were used.
Wherever possible, regardless of their functionality.
The current owner, who has of course asked for anonymity, said that initially he assumed that someone would come asking for it back. When the registration came due, the folks at the DMV didn’t blink when he paid for new stickers, even though it was registered to Hummer Division, GM, Inc. Needless to say, he has no title, which means he’s stuck with it.
But he’s more than happy with the prospect of driving the EcoHummer for another decade or more. it’s been dead-reliable, and it has averaged right around 40mpg. He wonders why Toyota never made something like this, as it gets almost twice the mileage of the Subaru Outbacks and Foresters that everyone he knows drives.
Now that oil and gas are cheap, and Hummers H2s are increasingly a common sight on the streets again, the EcoHummer looks like what it is: a lost a relic from a different era. Who gives a damn about gas mileage, CO² emissions or the environment? Where once upon a time Hummer drivers were scorned, their cars keyed (or worse) and the brand pilloried in the arena of public perception, now they’re having the last (or current) laugh. The owner of the EcoHummer says he’s been jeered at and even intimidated by Hummer H2 drivers, and recently had a soft drink poured over his car from the windows of an H2 at a stop light. He has actually been contemplating trying to make it look like a regular xB again.
But then the price of gas just crested $3.00 here recently, so he’s decided to hold off a bit longer.
Surely you don’t believe all this nonsense, Paul? Refer to Proff Paul G. Eselkopfs The Final Crisis of GM (MacMillan New York, 2009, currently out of print).
It’s quite well-known that the original sketches for the Hummer were presented unsolicited from the then-unknown Fabria Genorvo at Gussi, (rather a last gasp attempt to stave off bankruptcy for . them, in fact). Ofcourse, as we’ve read before on this site, Genorvo’s designs after this are rather better known. GM brass liked the sketches (I can’t upload them, sorry), unexpected really given their NIH attitude otherwise. A working prototype was ordered, duly delivered with I think Toyota mechanicals (someone here will know).
Ofcourse, what the head of Special Developments George Lutz – yes, a cousin – did not realize is that the sketches had ofcourse been metric; the end result was what you see here, an astonishing discovery that I am sure can’t be legally road driven as it is titled in Genoa!
Lutz’s language was was pretty choice when this was shown. Let’s just say the words “feet and f**kin’ inches, not ant’s feet milli-f**king-metres” became a refrain in GM for years after. Genorvo’s English was limited, but he was mortified, and got the message, replying in the only American exclamation he knew “Bummer!”. Lutz misheard the accent, and yelled back “Ok, ok! That’s the first f**kin’ thing you’ve done right. I like it. Hummer.” Pointedly speaking close to Genorvo, he used Latin, (presumably thinking it was Italian), and pointing repeatedly at the car, said: “Eco Hummer.”
It’s April 1st…April Fools Day.
Well now you’ve gone and done it. Being way up in the Pacific Northwest you had no way to know that there remain shadowy figures who continue to insist that Old GM was wrongfully stripped of its assets and that it remains the rightful owner of a real automobile manufacturing concern. They have been quite active in the midwest, said to be quietly re-acquiring enough bits and pieces of the company so as to stage a coup.
I know this to be true because we were forced to put the Buick Lacrosse into hiding after 3 men showed up at my door with papers that claimed that cars given away in the Hot Button contests were never meant to be more than 1 year of free use. This is, of course, just a pretext to get the car so as to re-create blueprints for a line of “real” GM cars.
This rare feat of engineering excellence is surely in their sights now and its custodian may find himself with a situation on his hands.
That would sure look good sitting next to an EV-1
A matched set for all conditions 🙂
Another sad example of (Old) GM getting it right just before pulling the plug. That there is a splash of Toyota DNA does not matter, it’s still GM which as we all really know (but few will admit) stands for Genius Motors.
There is a workaround for that pesky little title issue. There is a company in Alabama that will buy your vehicle in exchange for a bill of sale so one can then apply for a lost title. It’s all paperwork gimmickry and it’ll only cost about $50 to accomplish.
I mention that only because so many people are seeking a small car for their driving age children and this would fit the bill perfectly…at least in the non-urban areas of the Midwest. It’s so much better for youngsters than that silly blue Nissan parked nearby.
What this thing needs is a bazooka style soaker gun, filled with the cheapest instant brew available and powered by an on-board air compressor to keep the Starbucks sipping H2 pilots at bay.
Surely this would’ve been built by NUMMI had they not pulled the plug on both programs?
With GM’s bankruptcy, the name would have changed to DUMMI – Defunct United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated. Nobody thought that was a good idea.
Well done Paul. And nice work by the owner.
Indeed. Well done both!
Truly an amazing find.
Now Tesla, on the other hand, is taking another route:
Granted, the article is a tough nut to crack, but the main Tesla V8 specs can be read between the lines.
There is a garage that fits Jag XJ6 engines into Camaros and Porsche flat 6s into Vettes for those who want to replace their failed 350 V8s in Eugene . Word is out that they are looking at fitting Escalade crate engines into Prius whos battery pack has failed.! . My guess is they are going to be busy.
Paul, lightning struck twice today. first J.P and now you.
HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY.
Love the Faux Hummer, perfect for driving on April 1st every year now going forward, especially in Eugene or in Portlandia.
Another April 1st perfect car for Eugene, courtesy of Stan Mott, Minister of Propaganda,
Cyclops Safety Car features.
Looks like a first gen Scion XB. Fool me once…, err, whatever George Bush said.
Your writing was very convincing. However, the lead photo somewhat immediately gave the EcoHummer prototype away. There is no way GM would have put out an SUV in the early 2000s with such generally clean styling. The lack of over-the-top Chevy Avalanche (first generation) style bloated fenders/wheel arches was the dead giveaway. Let alone compromising the Hummer brand with an environmentally conscious model. 🙂
I expect this was a test mule and they hadn’t finalized the side cladding.
I’d cruise it.
It’s funny that everybody thought this was fake. I lived in Springfield and Eugene for 31 years and was used to seeing this butt-ugly turd from time to time. That’s how I found this page, actually, trying to explain the EcoHummer to a coworker and not being able to find anything else online. This thing is absolutely as real and ugly as they come, it’s surprising the owner has kept it in working order for so long since I’m guessing there are plenty of proprietary parts.
Oh dear no. An “Eco” Hummer, where the “Eco” is real, boggles the mind in the same way as a Prius rolling coal through school zones.
Now that we’ve got a looksee five years into the future, there IS a new Hummer in showrooms (though I haven’t seen one in the flesh, yet), and it’s picking up where the old ones left off… only it burns electricity. Somewhere in the vicinity of one megawatt hour per 1000 miles.
The xB Eco Hummer is giving me a grin, though, and this article reminded me that Toyota missed an opportunity in that it never offered the 4wd version in the US. And lastly, does anyone else think that this needs a sack of vegan friendly Truck Nutz on the receiver hitch? I’m picturing a pair of rubber horse chestnuts in their spiky pods swinging in the breeze.
There was an even greener EcoHummer+ prototype based on the Scion iQ that just missed going into production. Too bad; It’s no dumber than the Aston Martin Cygnet…
Reading the story above made me think of Proctor Subaru in Tallahassee, Florida. They’ve taken the place of the old Hummer dealership, and rockin’ a *lightly* reskinned version of the quonset hut.
”He wonders why Toyota never made something like this” . Toyota already has a variety of vehicule offering the E-awd in much smarter body like the Corolla or if you like to play Tonka there is the awful Rav4.