Hummer's for sale - The Unsustainable Minute for 6.12.2009

General Motors reached a tentative agreement to sell Hummer to the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, based in Chengdu, China. The New York Times reports that analysts estimate the price at $500 million. Is this going to be a $500 million investment in continued fuel inefficiency and extravagance or the revamping of one of America’s most fuel inefficient fleets of cars?

According to fueleconomy.gov, H3s from 2006-2009 get about 14 mpg city mileage and 16-18 mpg highway. It seems that lots of people once interested in the rugged Hummer image have lost that interest. Sales fell 51% in 2008 and are down 67% in 2009.

It’s hard to know how this will play out. There are some reports that Tengzhong will start producing more trucks that use diesel or ethanol – both of which continue to raise eyebrows and some hackles among environmentalists. The Washington Post reports that the emerging green movement China “has complained about its middle-class ostentatiousness and growing carbon footprint.” China’s total greenhouse gas emissions have now exceeded the United States’ though their per capita footprint is considerably lower. Some, including the Chinese government, which can block the deal, see the Hummer purchase as a step in the wrong direction.

So will Tengzhong actually green Hummer? Greenwash it? Or will they continue business as usual and pour more 7,000 pound vehicles that stand as a symbol of everything that has been unsustainable about the auto industry?

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