GM Kills the Hummer


The environmental benefits of this move are clear, but it will also make the roads safer.

Next up, SUVs?  We can hope.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “GM Kills the Hummer”

  1. "…but it will also make the roads safer."

    If only this was true. As the linked article notes, the large quantity of traffic violations per vehicle model may have more to do with the type of person who is drawn to a particular model than with any negative characteristic of the vehicle itself.

    All those self-involved Hummer drivers will still be on the road creating hazards, albeit in slightly less obnoxious cars. Unfortunately, now they'll be less conspicuous and, thus, more difficult to identify and avoid. (They'll also be harder to mock. In my part of the world, the mountains southeast of Sacramento, mocking Hummer drivers is considered great fun.)

  2. I doubt this has a lot to say about SUVs in general. The Hummer (at least the H2 and H3 models) was not only a badge of entitled jerkdom, it was a lousy SUV. By all accounts it had worse mileage, carrying capacity, off-road capability and comfort than other vehicles in its class. So you had to be particularly intent on broadcasting your personal and policy preferences. Most other SUVs impose a far lower cost for doing this.

    And the self-involved rich jerkwad market seems to have moved on to the "crossover" hightop station wagon category.

  3. As Jim Bradsher suggested in 'High and Mighty' the large SUV is evolving towards the CUV/ Crossover vehicle. More car like in its construction, drivability and features.

    Looking at target demographic, European estate (station wagon) cars are getting popular again, and I can see a return of the station wagon in American life. Ford actually makes some quite good ones (in Europe).

    We will still have SUVs (consider those not particularly environmentally friendly Lexus Hybrids) but the 'super SUV' class is probably dead, unless gas prices go low and stay low.

    The pickup, the people mover and the station wagon together seem to fill the main demographics that drive SUVs. The SUV is really a derivative of the 4WD offroader (Jeep, Land Rover etc.) and that will remain a durable market segment.

    For Hummer to stick around, they really would have had to drive the diesel angle, and that did not conform with US EPA restrictions especially in California. Even now, the diesels being introduced to the US that do meet that standard, have an unknown reliability record– they are based on European designs but the standard met is tougher.

    No coincidence, I think, that the peak Ford Explorer year was 1998, the year that gas prices dropped to their 1950s low.

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