Category Archive:

HUMMER Demise on the Horizon?

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Following General Motors’ Board of Directors meeting on Monday, Rick Wagoner dropped the bombshell that the Corporation was considering closing HUMMER, selling HUMMER or completely revamping its product line. Any of these drastic steps could dramatically impact the vehicle fleet on a small 46-home hilltop enclave in Orange County, California.

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Among those 46 homes there are seven HUMMER H2s. One family has three H2s with two drivers – two H2 SUVs and one H2 SUT. Clearly these big, thirsty SUVs were purchased before gasoline topped $4 per gallon, but I don’t see folks rushing to replace their H2s with Kia Rios either.
Being as image-conscious as Orange County is, it will be very interesting to see how social pressure to drive something more fuel efficient will impact the hilltop H2 crowd. If it turns out that after months of super-high gasoline prices H2s are not cool anymore, will these folks conclude – as it appears GM has – that they should replace their HUMMERs with something more socially responsible?
Escalade Hybrids anyone?


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Kia Sorento and HUMMER H3 Win AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle Segment

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Owners of the Kia Sorento ranked the vehicle at the top of the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle Segment in the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Sorento received top marks for Power, Acceleration and Safety, but what really sealed the deal, owners said, was Kia’s 10 year/100,000-mile warranty.
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The HUMMER H3, with its unmistakable styling and go-anywhere attitude, earned top ranking in the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards’ Mid-Size Sport Utility Segment. Satisfaction scores for Styling, Traction in All Weather Conditions and Feeling Safe While Driving topped owners’ lists.

Posted in: Awards, Hummer, Kia

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.


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Hummer H3T – Refining Niches and Brand Identity for Changing Times

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Times have certainly changed since the Hummer brand’s relaunch a few years back with the H2. Back then, 9/11 was fresh in Americans’ memory, and the H2’s military-inspired shape stirred up patriotic feelings among many. Heck, the fact that it slurped fuel with alarming thirst was probably a “badge of honor” among many Hummer owners. You took down our Twin Towers? Watch us take your oil!
Fast forward to 2008, and it’s a very different world indeed. The war that (at least in some small way) helped fuel Hummer’s initial popularity has reached an all-time low in terms of public support. Buzzwords like “foreign oil dependence” and “carbon emissions” are at the top of America’s collective mind. The values that Hummer stood for just a few years back are now far out of step with today’s national mood. Indeed, sales of traditional truck-based SUVs in general have declined significantly in favor of more efficient and “right-size” car-based alternatives.
So what’s a brand like Hummer to do? They can reposition the brand towards something more politically neutral, and they can perhaps increase the brand’s reach with interesting niche products. This new Hummer H3T seems to support both of these strategies.
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Saturn and Hyundai Lead in Improvement in Opinion

The brand-by-brand results for the VehicleVoice Image and Consideration Tracking Study. Earlier we had released the results of the changing opinions for nine “manufacturers”. Now, the information for the 36 individual brands we measured have been analyzed.

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Saturn and Hyundai Tops in Positive Opinion Change
In a virtual tie, Saturn and Hyundai are tops in opinion improvement over the past year. With a net better-vs.-worse score of +29%-points Saturn nudges past Hyundai at +28%-pts. Cadillac posted a respectable showing with a 23%-point improvement.
Saturn’s positive results come from a respected and expanding lineup of new cars and trucks. Winning the Car of the Year Award with the Saturn Aura did not go unnoticed. Also, addition of the Saturn Outlook Crossover SUV to the lineup was a very positive move. And, we cannot forget the Sky sports car. While Sky may not sell in huge numbers or generate huge profits, it is having a substantial positive effect on the image of Saturn. As a pure “halo vehicle” Sky is doing its job.
Hyundai was the top manufacturer in image change (Hyundai + Kia), but came in second among individual brands when considering Hyundai alone. Hyundai gets strong credit for having a solid warranty, improving durability/quality/reliability, better styling, better products overall, and an outstanding value. Hyundai has done an excellent job communicating the basic values of the brand to VehicleVoice panelists.

HUMMER Trails List of Image Improvement

Any list with top to bottom ratings has to have a last place finisher. For this wave of the research HUMMER was tail end Charlie. While the opinions of most individual brands improved, HUMMER showed the most net loss. In an environment of high fuel prices spiraling upwards, HUMMER is seen as out of touch with what the country wants and needs. The large, fuel in-efficient, brutishly styled HUMMERS are the poster children for the eco-friendly.

Two Luxury Brands Dip Below the Line

VehicleVoice panelists indicate that their opinion of Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz are lower today than a year ago. Both of these brands are dinged for reliability problems especially with electronics systems.
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2008 Hummer H3 Alpha: New York Auto Show

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Hummer Brings its Second Alpha Product
Back in 2005, Hummer introduced a new performance label for the range, Alpha. The first was a short-lived H1 Alpha that boasted a 6.6L Duramax diesel, available only for the 2006 model year. In 2007, we see the second Alpha product, in the form of a much-needed V8 for the H3. Hummer introduced the Alpha H3 along with updates to the H2 and H2 SUT at the 2007 New York auto show, with sales set for summer 2007.

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The H3 launched with only the 220HP in-line five-cylinder from the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, an engine American buyers don’t really understand, and more power had been in the works since launch. Enter H3 Alpha.
The H3 Alpha gets a 295HP 5.3L OHV 16v V8 (from the Chevy Silverado) under the hood. Bundled with the Alpha package is the Chrome Appearance package, the Luxury equipment package, a 4.10 rear axle ratio, and Alpha insignia on the tailgate, horn pad, and embroidered into the front headrests. A real in-your-face look can be created by adding the H3 X package, which adds bright roof crossbows, chrome fuel door, body-color grille, and specific spare tire cover, tires, wheels, and brush guard.
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Along with the H3 Alpha, Hummer announced a few minor changes the full H3 2008 range. The previously optional head curtain side air bags become standard and the Rear Vision system introduced on the H2 and a navigation system join the H3’s options list. New standard safety equipment includes StabiliTrak and four-wheel antilock brakes with traction control.
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2008 Hummer H2 and H2 SUT: New York Auto Show

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More Power, Improved Interior, Same Strong Hummer Look
Even several years after introduction, Hummer’s H2 and even the H2 SUT are strong image cars. These aren’t high-volume products, and sales have slipped as demand is being filled, the car du jour changes and folks opt for more fuel efficient transportation. But the iconic look of the H2 is too much a part of its success to change. As a result, improvements for 2008 model year focus on making the vehicle more comfortable behind the wheel and for your passengers rather than looking different on the outside.

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There is a revised interior, powertrain, and new safety features, with almost all changes applying to both models. (The notable exception being that the H2 SUT doesn’t get a the new full, two-passenger third-row seat.) Outside, distinguishing the 2007 from the 2008 means looking to the new versions larger openings in the seven-slat grille and larger lower grille, both to address cooling the new V8. Lower bumpers are also now painted silver instead of black.
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The new engine is the 6.2L V8 delivering 393HP and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The new wide-ratio automatic, as well as features on the new engine like variable valve timing, should result in a smoother driving experience and help combat the gas-hogging nature of the beast. GM claims improved efficiency over the outgoing powertrain, as wel as increased towing capacity (up 1700 pounds to 8200 pounds). There is a new traction control system, the six-speed’s tap up/tap down feature Hummer says will also provide more control on grades, and it offers automatic grade braking. The new air intake and exhaust systems are tuned for less noise.
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The interior gets new seats, a redesigned six-gauge instrument panel, new door trim panels, new controls, a new rear-seat HVAC system, and improved in-car entertainment with new radios and a new rear-seat overhead DVD system. The 2008 interior should have much better fit and finish, being designed with gap tolerances of one millimeter or less and using more soft-touch materials. The redesigned center-stack vents will better heat or cool the whole vehicle, including second- and third-row passengers.
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Safety updates include roof-rail head curtain side airbags, including GM’s rollover sensing system, electronic stability control (with roll mitigation), a new traction control system, and a panic-brake assist feature (a first for GM full-size trucks and SUVs).
All in all, GM updated the Hummer H2 where it was needed, and kept the goodness that makes up the strongest appeal for Hummer buyers.
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Ten Worst Cars for 2006 – Truth About Cars

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OK, on this one VehicleVoice is just the messenger. The Truth About Cars website has taken it on itself to identify the ten worst cars and trucks sold in the USA in 2006. Not really sure what their credentials are, but here is their press release… When we feel like commenting, see our notes following the press release writeup.
The Truth About Cars Website Names Its Ten Worst Automobiles for 2006
November 8, 2006 – PROVIDENCE, R.I.: The Truth About Cars website (TTAC) has revealed the ten winners of its first annual “Ten Worst Automobiles Today” awards. According to the site’s readers, the very worst vehicles sold in America today are… GM’s minivans.
For voting purposes, TTAC lumped all four of GM’s virtually identical people movers together: the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac SV6.
In his description of the “winner,” reviewer William C. Montgomery slated GM’s minivans for their “antique engineering, woeful looks, cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition.” In terms of dreadful driving dynamics, contemptible aesthetics and torturous ergonomics, no other vehicles sold in America can compete with these ridiculously-named ‘Crossover Sport Vans.'”
The automotive website’s readers voted the new Jeep Compass America’s second worst vehicle: a lackluster vehicle that betrays its storied brand’s heritage. According to TTAC’s description, it’s an “ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed” that “staggers into the light, turning all who see it– or heaven forbid buy it– into grotesque, bobble-headed morons.” The Compass “stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles.”
The rest of TTAC’s Ten Worst are the Jeep Compass (2), Buick Rendezvous (3), Chrysler Aspen (4), Hummer H2 (5), Chevrolet Monte Carlo (6), Subaru B9 Tribeca (7), Saab 9-7x (8), Lincoln Mark LT (9) and Chevrolet Aveo (10). Capsule reviews are below.
To create the list, The Truth About Cars asked its 40k daily readers to nominate the worst vehicles for sale in the United States during the 2006 calendar year. A selection committee comprised of ten TTAC writers selected 20 finalists from the readers’ nominations. Finalists were chosen for their crimes against aesthetics, engineering, ergonomics, driving dynamics and/or brand authenticity. The final ten “winners” were chosen by readers via an electronic poll.
Site publisher Robert Farago said his team created The Ten Worst awards as an antidote to the annual “love ins” provided by the mainstream automotive media. “The profusion of ‘best of’ automotive awards reflects the fact that the manufacturer-sponsored magazines and websites can’t tell it like it is,” Farago said. “TTAC is the home of take-no-prisoners automotive journalism. Our Ten Worst list says we’re not afraid to tell the truth about cars.”


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Toyota to Overtake GM as Top Carmaker

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An article in the Saturday, November 19, 2005 Wall Street Journal projects that Toyota may overtake General Motors as the highest selling carmaker in 2006.
While Toyota (Toyota, Lexus, Scion) may not sell more than GM (Chevrolet, Pontiac, GMC, Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, Saturn, Saab) in the United States, it may sell more worldwide. Toyota is concentrating much of its sales expansion in North America where it is pulling sales from General Motors and Ford. GM is bolstering production capacity in China and South America where it sees room for growth where Toyota is not yet strong.
The Wall Street Journal article is one of many recent media reports confirming the results of VehicleVoice research and forecasts by AutoPacific. VehicleVoice research shows a continuing deterioration in General Motors’ (and Ford and Chrysler traditional brands) market share in the United States under the concentrated onslaught of the Japanese Big Three. AutoPacific’s forecast of United States sales shows Toyota, Honda and Nissan increasing market share by adding new assembly capacity and models.


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