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Hummer heads Down Under

Team America: The Hummer team features the 'baby' H3 (centre), H2 (right) and the military-derived H1.

GM announces a right-hand drive version of the 'baby' Hummer H3 for Australia

15 Apr 2005

HOLDEN is downplaying reports of a Hummer invasion after its General Motors parent last week confirmed it would launch the rugged H3 off-roader in Australia.

Despite a GM release stating Australia was one of the right-hand drive export markets destined for South African-built H3s, Holden spokesman Jason Laird said Holden had no plans at present to launch the off-roader here.

"They’ve simply said that it gives them the opportunity to export into right-hand drive markets like Australia and New Zealand," he said. "But this announcement does not declare a Hummer export program for Australia.

"At this point there is none."Mr Laird said it still remained speculation when, and even if, the brand would be sold here. At present there was no business case to do so, he said.

Should it be launched here, he said it would be a low-volume player that could nonetheless turn a profit for Holden.

"It’s one thing to say you want a brand but another to actually fill that with some choice across the range," he said. "There is a lot more to establishing a export program than having one vehicle available to you."Late last week, GM announced it would invest more than $US100 million to assemble both right-hand drive and LHD Hummer H3s at GM’s Struandale plant at Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

Production will ramp up late next year and GM expects to build more than 10,000 annually.

The H3 is slightly shorter and narrower than a Toyota LandCruiser. It boasts a wheelbase of 2842mm, just 8mm shy of the big Toyota. The H3 is also slightly lighter at 2132kg.

It will initially be available with a 3.5-litre five-cylinder engine that develops 164kW at 5600rpm and 305Nm at 2800rpm. There will be a choice of manual or automatic transmissions and a premium, full-time 4WD system with stability control systems as well as fully locking rear differential.

The statement made it clear the H3 should be sold both here and in New Zealand in petrol and diesel engine variants. Pricing is tipped to be around $US30,000 for the entry H3.

"Right-hand drive versions will be exported to markets such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and other Asian markets," the statement read. "Another specific product feature for international markets, coming at a later date, is a diesel engine."The H3 is the latest in a family of Hummer vehicles. The original, the H1, made its name as a military version called the HumVee in the 1991 Middle East Gulf War. Civilian versions were later built for the US market.

Last November, GoAuto flagged the global expansion of the Hummer brand, including Australia, after talks with General Motors global product czar Bob Lutz. At the time, Mr Lutz said he believed the full Hummer brand, H1, H2 and the "compact" H3 could do well here.

59 center imageH3 production starts soon at GM's Shreveport, Louisiana, plant in the US, with those vehicles primarily destined for markets in the North America, Europe and the Middle East.

When South African assembly of the H3 begins late next year, it will use Shreveport-sourced components and its main focus will be on re-engineering the car for right-hand drive markets.

"The assembly of the H3 in South Africa is another important step for Hummer in becoming a truly global premium brand," Hummer brand manager Susan Docherty said in the release.

GM’s group vice president and president of GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Maureen Kempston Darkes, said the H3 had the size and features to expand the brand’s appeal to an international audience.

The Hummer H1 and H2 have been sold mainly in the United States and Canada, although GM started exporting the H2 to countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East last year.

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