Yes, that quintessentially American vehicle - the lane-straddling, gas-guzzling Hummer - will soon be owned by a Chinese machinery company, according to a report by CNBC.
If the deal does in fact go down, it will constitute the first purchase of a major American car brand by a Chinese company. The Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd. currently
manufactures a wide range of road equipment such as highway
construction and maintenance machinery, but it has recently begun
making heavy-duty trucks.
The deal still has to receive approval
from the Chinese authorities. While the company is privately owned,
Beijing still has the final say over the purchase of a foreign company
by a Chinese business.
According to the terms of the deal
announced today (which did not name the buyer), GM will continue to
manufacture the Hummer for Sichuan Tengzhong, which will then sell the
vehicles worldwide. GM stated that the deal would save 3,000 jobs, and
emphasized that it will keep Hummer in the US.
That's likely to
be a major sticking point. While Hummer has become the albatross
around GM's neck and symbolic of the US automaker's misguided reliance
on large, inefficient vehicles, it attracts its customers by appealing
to a sense of patriotism. After all, the first Hummer was modeled
after the military transport vehicle that became famous during the
first Gulf War.
The ownership of the Hummer brand by a Chinese
company may ruffle the feathers of American owners. Hummer spokesman
Nick Richards said that Sichuan Tengzhong has "capital to invest in
more efficient vehicles," however, which indicates that the new owners
may be looking to modify the brand somewhat.
Which may be just
what Hummer needs. Sales fell 51 percent last year, and the number is
down an additional 67 percent so far in 2009. See Also: Expert Insight on Business Laws of China (FindLaw's Strategist)