Another day, another dig at Hummer, the white hot epicenter of scorn from New York to Beijing. But environmentalists might want to check themselves: they may not have Hummer to kick around for much longer. And then what?
Brands are, of course, a set of attributes agreed upon by brand owner and consumers. And no brand may have suffered worse from the latter part of that arrangement than Hummer, the unthinking environmentalist's go-to brand shorthand for bad autoing. The brand is so synonymous with a lack of concern about the environment that it is assumed Hummer owners, while claiming they are attracted by the “American exceptionalism, rugged individualism, love of the frontier, community and freedom" characteristics of the brand, really just revel in the image of sticking it in Mother Nature's ear. Radical activist group Earth Liberation Front even set one Hummer dealership on fire several years ago.
But then there are facts.
It's not that Hummer is misbranded as bad for the environment; it's that it is largely carrying the burden alone. According to government fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions ratings for Miles Per Gallon City/Highway (MPG) and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (tons/yr), the Hummer Hummer H3 rates 14/18 MPG; 11.40 t/y.
- Cadillac Escalade 12/19; 12.20 t/y
- Rolls-Royce Phantom 11/18 MPG; 13.10 t/y
- Land Rover Range Rover 12/18 MPG; 13.10 t/y
- Porsche Cayenne 12/19 MPG; 13.10 t/y
And then there is the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, which at 11/15 MPG and 15.20 tons/year makes the Hummer look like an environmentally reasonable choice.
The media doesn't cut the Hummer any slack, either. In a recent interview with Su Wei, Beijing's top climate-change negotiator, Newsweek threw out the possibility that Hummer may soon be a Chinese company. The question elicited the cliche response that Hummer was "a garbage brand." (The claim, of course, went straight into the article's title.) Of course, Newsweek passes up mentioning that the Beijing Jeep brand joint venture has been selling tens of thousands of units a year since it was established in 1983, many of these units being Jeep Cherokee models (14/20 MPG; 11.4 tons/yr).
The Sierra Club has gone to great lengths in its anti-Hummer crusade, which at one time included the satirical site hummerdinger.com, mocking Hummer for its poor gas mileage. Meanwhile, there slim mention of the Escalade or Mercedes or Range Rover or any of a number of other brands with ratings as bad as Hummer's.
But now, Hummer is gone. For years, the sole focus of fuel inefficiency, what brand can environmental groups find to replace it? By largely ignoring the nearly equally disastrous environmental impact of many other brands, such as Cadillac and Mercedes, environmentalists have done themselves the disfavor of putting too many of their eggs in one basket.
Meanwhile, up next for the Hummer brand? There's an opening for singularly representing xenophobic, anti-China globalization.