China Gets A Hummer

Guest Blog Filed by: IoGT Applied Mechanical Engineering Prof. Stanley Ku P. Eng.

News of GM’s Hummer unit being aquired by China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industries will have come as quite a surprise to many Americans. Although the iconic Hum-Vee design is a much-loved fixture of American motoring culture, China will present the macho SUV brand with an entirely new set of challenges.

Chinese auto brands have come a long way in recent years. Early success will not come easy, and its long term viability in China will depend on how differente itself from exising auto brands.

 - Expect stiff competition from Chinese brands

Despite a smaller body, next generation rice burners pack plenty of grunt under the hood.

 - Available in any color you want, as long as its red.

2 decades of economic boom times in China have led many domestic automakers to incorporate the technology of their US counterparts into showroom models. Sometimes even with the prior knowledge and consent of said US companies.

- A 2010 Sichuan Tengzhong Motors Hummer prototype rolls off the production lines in Shanghai.

China’s consumers are immensely fickle and trend driven in terms of their taste in automobiles. They constantly demand next generation technology and design at a competitive price.

Well, most of the time.....

The wide body design of the Hummer will come as a god send to many commuters such as the Xian family of Guandong, seen here in their family car. The Xians were amongst the first to adopt carpooling as a means of combat the congestion and gridlock plaguing Chinese roads.

Many Chinese residential areas also suffer acute parking shortages. For many average Chinese motorists such as Mr. Feng Qian of Shanghai (pictured below) there is little choice but to pay extortionate hourly rates for the convenience of a regular parking space close to home.

For many urban white-collar professionals though, China’s public transport networks still provide the most effective means of commuting to the office.

Chinese public transport- Safe, affordable, and green.

Although China’s rail network has improved remarkably in recent decades, service remains patchy in most non-urban centers. As levels of comfort could be much lower than visitors are used to at home, the few extra dollars required to avoid second-class carriages is money well spent.

- Not for the faint hearted. Mr. Hu Tiang Zhe commuting in a Second Class commuter carriage to Beijing

- Mind the gap. Onlookers watch in awe as Jiu Zhe Quie pilots the 8:39am commuter express off Platform 12 at Xian Station.

And although most middle class consumers may not be able to afford a brand new Hummer just yet, China’s novel approach to road safety will ensure urban residents are able to easily access a seamless public transport infrastructure in the meantime.

Well, most of the time anyway….