Konichi-wa, HUMMER-san – GM bringing HUMMER to Japan

By David Surace

12.12.2007

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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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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2 Comments

  1. I have seen a Hummer H2 in Tokyo and it looks massive compared to everything else there. Think cars that are smaller or much smaller than a MINI and you’ll have some idea of what I mean. I’m not even sure how their drivers are able to navigate any of the streets in the cities. It’s no problem on the major roads and highways but in the cities it’s got be impossible for a Hummer driver to go certain areas.

  2. Even the Hummer H3 is too big for Japan’s cities. Maybe the rural areas could accommodate the. If this HX is Jeep Wrangler size, that’s a more realistic size.

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