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Australia's Hummer delayed

Off the planet: H3 customers will have to wait an extra three months.

Australian design rules and production hiccups spell a fourth-quarter launch for H3

25 Jun 2007

HUMMER’S incumbent H3 SUV has been delayed until October this year.

Originally due to be rolled out this month, the mid-sized four-door 4WD wagon has been held up by a myriad of Australian Design Rule requirements.

Included in these are issues concerning wiring looms, mud flaps, and tow bar regulations.

“They are specific for the Australian market,” reveals Parveen Batish, managing director of General Motors Premium Channel in Australia.

However, most have been sorted and the first lot of customers should be receiving their vehicles before September.

Each customer is being informed of the delay personally.

According to Mr Batish, Hummer already holds in excess of 300 orders for the H3, with each customer having already lodged a 10 per cent deposit.

So far, the model mix has been higher than anticipated, with the top-line Luxury model accounting for around 70 per cent of sales, followed by the hardcore-4x4 Adventure at 20 per cent, and the base model making up the remainder.

Mr Batish attributes the relatively small gap between the cheapest and most expensive model as a deciding factor in the rich model mix. The base H3 manual opens at $51,990, with the Luxury automatic costing $59,990.

The Australian media launch for the H3, which was due to be held in June or July, will now also have to wait til October.

All right-hand drive H3s will be built at General Motors’ Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa. Full-scale production is only now just commencing.

The only engine on offer for Australia for now is a 3.7-litre inline five-cylinder petrol engine producing 180kW of power at 5600rpm and 328Nm of torque at 4600rpm.

59 center imageIn April, Hummer launched the H3 Alpha V8 in the United States, powered by a 5.3-litre unit developing 224kW at 5200rpm and 438Nm at 4000rpm.

This powerplant should make it to Australia very late next year, or in early 2009. Expect an example to be displayed at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October 2008.

At the same time, expect the long-awaited turbo-diesel H3 to be released here.

As reported by GoAuto in April, GM is keeping mum on it for now, but we understand that it is a development of the 2.0-litre common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit supplied by GM DAT and VM Motori and launched recently in the Holden Captiva.

Speculation suggests that the Captiva’s engine can be enlarged to 2.2 or even 2.5 litres in capacity.

In the meantime, Mr Batish does not believe the lack of a turbo-diesel will be a hindrance to H3 sales.

“We would like to have one now,” he admits.

“But I don’t think we will be disadvantaged, adding: “We will sell every one that we get.”

Nor does Mr Batish believe that pairing Hummers with Saabs in dealerships will be a negative thing. Of the 21 dealers currently signed up, all bar five also sell the Swedish luxury car brand.

“They are two entirely different types of customers,” he says.

Beyond the H3 SUV, Hummer is preparing a utility version called the SUT (Sport Utility Truck).

Set for a US launch sometime next year, this four-door crew-cab model will be aimed at the Toyota HiLux SR5 set.

It may also be joined later on by a two-door utility with an extended bed for greater commercial-vehicle applications.

Beyond that, there is the much-speculated H4, the world’s first compact SUV Hummer.

According to Hummer’s global General Manager Martin Walsh, this vehicle will be twinned with an upcoming compact General Motors platform (probably the Theta Premium, that will ironically underpin the upcoming Saab 9-4X crossover).

“It will be another GM platform that will allow us to build a smaller vehicle,” he told GoAuto back in April.

Mr Walsh also hinted at an even smaller model beyond the H4, if existing market trends – driven by spiralling fuel costs and increasingly punitive legislation against heavier SUVs – continue to prevail.

“Our growth will be downwards in terms of size,” Mr Walsh says, adding, “... opportunities will lie in smaller segments.”

Hummer is also looking at E85 ethanol versions of its two petrol engine choices, as well as a move to bio diesel technology.

In fact, within the next three years, Hummer will offer bio-fuel powertrains “... in every single vehicle application” according to one company spokesman.

Back in Australia, Mr Batish is excited by Hummer’s future model prospects.

“There is lots on the horizon for the brand in Australia,” he reveals.

Read more:

First drive: Hummer H3 is just the beginning

Hummer H3 to spawn ute, V8, diesel versions

Hummer H3 here by July, priced from $52,000

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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