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H1 Humvee vs H2 Hummer

"Hummer, Humvee and the Hummer vehicles' grille designs are registered trademarks of AM General Corporation." Humvee is short for HMMWV, a military term for "High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle," while Hummer refers to the vehicles produced for civilian markets. GM owns the brand's retail rights, but Hummers are actually built by AM General, a privately held company based in South Bend, IN, that also builds military Humvees. 'Hummer' refers to the GM trademark, Humvee to the AM trademark. When the H1 Hummer was introduced in the 1990s it was little different from the military Humvee and sold for over $100,000.

The Humvee was featured quite favorably in 1990 news coverage of Operation Desert Shield during the months in which forces gathered in the Persian Gulf for what became Operation Desert Storm. Building on that renown as a Desert Storm "hero," AM General launched a commercial vehicle then called the "Hummer" (now called the "H1") in 1992. The H1 was (and continues to be) equipped with literally the same hood as the Humvee, with the same verticallyslotted grille design.

AM General adopted its "Hummer icon" - a silhouette of an approaching H1 - in 1992. The logo displays in black the vertical, bisected windshield, the side mirrors, the tires and undercarriage/suspension, while highlighting the headlights, the front grille's seven vertical openings, the upper (hood) grille, and a series of three circles below the bumper. The icon appeared on promotional items accompanying the national launch of the H1 in 1992, and has appeared since on all subsequent Hummer dealer signs, company stationery, and business cards. AM General adopted the icon as its official company logo in 1993. Since 1994, several items of Hummer merchandise included in a catalog ("Hummer Stuff") features the icon on such items as mugs, golf balls, key chains, posters, T-shirts, caps, toys, sew-on patches, and a tie tack/lapel pin that shows only the H1 front end, including the grille.

While the H1 was gaining recognizability (though not sales - at more than $100,000.00, AM General never sold more than 900 H1s in a year), General Motors was exploring the possibility of developing a very rugged four-wheel drive SUV - code-named "The Chunk" - under an existing General Motors brand. Market research was promising, but faced with the need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to launch such a new vehicle, General Motors decided to look into the Hummer, which (according to General Motors's research) had a highly favorable image and was well-known to the potential purchasers of such an SUV - qualities that would be difficult to build from scratch for an entirely new model.

Negotiations ensued, and in June 1999, AM General and General Motors announced their intentions to enter into a contract that would transfer the Hummer brand to General Motors and pursue new product opportunities for the Hummer brand.

On December 21, 1999, General Motors and AM General entered into a series of agreements to transfer to General Motors the Hummer brand and all intellectual property rights embodied in the Hummer vehicle. General Motors granted AM General exclusive production rights for the first new model of Hummer vehicle; AM General agreed to construct a brand new facility for that purpose; General Motors gave AM General the continued right to use the Hummer grille design on the Humvee.

The December 1999 General Motors-AM General agreements contemplated a joint effort to manufacture, market, and distribute the Hummer and new Hummer models, the first of which was the H2. The H2 was to be about the same size as the very large original H1 (a bit taller, a bit narrower), but would include luxury features not available on the H1. The H2's 189.8-inch overall length makes it five inches longer than the H1 and its overall height of 77.8 inches makes it nearly three inches taller despite running on much smaller tires.

The H2 is a Chevy Surburban chasis with a hummerish body. The H2 retained the H1's visual brand identity and character, in the hopes of endowing it with the broad recognition and favorable identity General Motors's consumer research found in the H1. That research found the H1's front end, including the grille, to be one of several visual cues important to consumers; accordingly, the grille General Motors uses on the H2 is a narrower version of the grille used on the H1 and the Humvee before it, with the configuration of vertical slots that appear in the Hummer front end registration.

General Motors unveiled an H2 concept vehicle at the January 2000 Detroit auto show, and featured that concept vehicle on its Hummer web site until replacing it with pictures of the H2 production vehicle, which brought no change in the grille design. Since January 1990, General Motors has promoted the H2 vehicle extensively. The H2 has appeared in auto shows, the Hummer web site, in press coverage on television, in auto enthusiast magazines, and in newspapers.

The H2 is comparable in size to the H1 in all but width, and is considerably larger than any Jeep vehicle available in the United States. The word "H-U-M-M-ER" appears on the grille, the rear bumper, and on each of the four wheels. "H2" appears on the left and right front doors. The H2's base price at launch was $47,900.00; options, dealer charges, and taxes took the average consumer transaction over $50,000.00.

The $50,000 suburbanized H2 Mummer has creature comforts like heated seats. By May 2004 sales of the flagship Hummer H2 had fallen for eight consecutive months, and 24 percent in the first four months of the year, compared with the same periods a year earlier. Inventories piled up as Hummers sat unsold 62 days on average in the first quarter, compared with 15 days a year earlier. GM is betting the brand will be revived in 2005 by the H3, a smaller Hummer in the $30,000 range.

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