Konichi-wa, HUMMER-san – GM bringing HUMMER to Japan
Next spring, Japanese car buyers already inundated with delectable choices will have one more brand to choose: GM’s icon-or-iconoclast HUMMER division.
According to a Detroit News article, around 14% of HUMMER’s sales tickets come from outside the United States, in recently-added markets like Australasia, South Africa and Europe. With the addition of JDM sales, GM is hoping to push that number closer to 20%.
There are no definitive plans as to which models will make it to the Land of the Rising Sun, although one obvious choice stands out: the Jeep Wrangler-sized HUMMER HX concept, a sketch of which was released Monday. GM’s stated design brief for the production HX prominently features the word “removable”: two removable roof panels over the front seats, a removable slant-roof section over the rear, removable doors and removable fender flares.
Considering GM’s past attempts at brand-expansion in Japan (specifically Saturn’s homely returns), there are somewhat low expectations for HUMMER’s venture. Martin Walsh, HUMMER’s General Manager told DetNews, “It’s a small market, but it’s big enough to sustain demand.”
But perhaps Saturn’s problem was a lack of personality in its offered product line, which at the time was simply the S-series in right-hand-drive. It was expected that Saturn’s exquisite hospitality and customer service would appeal to the Japanese culture in the same way it did here in the US. Unfortunately Saturn’s 1997-2000 run in Japan only yielded only 4,324 sales from eight dealerships in the island nation.
HUMMER certainly doesn’t have a personality problem: with a few locally-registered (perhaps gray-market-obtained) HUMMERs already dotting the streets of Tokyo, the case may have already been made for a few showrooms to back up the vehicles’ incredibly imposing street presence.
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