Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hummer modified in China at the 2008 Auto China

A Hummer modified in China at the 2008 Auto China show in Beijing

A Hummer modified in China at the 2008 Auto China show in Beijing

Some Americans may not be comfortable with the idea, but China is a force to be reckoned with. And now it might even save about 3,000 American jobs.

General Motors has a tentative agreement with Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. of China, which plans to purchase Hummer. If the deal goes through, the new owner of Hummer would contract GM to continue building the Hummer H3 and H3T at their Shreveport, La., plant at least through 2010.

That move, along with saving dealership jobs, would save thousands of manufacturing jobs. It’s hard to find fault in a sale that benefits newly bankrupt GM and saves American jobs.

Even so, it’s hard to look past the irony of an iconic American military-vehicle-turned-civilian-SUV being owned by a Chinese company. We might as well sell the New York Yankees and our patent on apple pie to the Chinese government, too.

What I’m having trouble understanding is how Hummer’s new owner intends to make money. Hummer’s sales dropped nearly 70% in the first four months of this year, and I’m not sure Chinese ownership is a change that will lend itself to sales improvements in this country.

Maybe that’s the point, though. GM has had success with Buick in China, and maybe Sichuan Tengzhong plans to do the same with Hummer. If that’s the case, it’s probably only a matter of time before Hummers will be shipped with the words “Made in China” engraved into the sheet metal.

I guess I should just quit complaining. An Indian company owns Jaguar, and now a Chinese company will likely own Hummer. Maybe it’s time for a U.S. company to buy Kia and complete the circle in this bizzaro new world.