Trucks & SUVs

Why Did Hummer’s H3T Fail so Quickly?

Many people are familiar with the Hummer H3. It was the last iteration of General Motors’ attempt to popularize a civilian version of the M998 Humvee. GM stopped production on the H3 when it discontinued the brand in May 2010.

But not many may have known about the H3T, the pickup truck variant of the Hummer H3. Its existence was so brief that it was barely on the radar of car enthusiasts. Why did it fizzle so fast?

The short history of the H3T

The 2009 Hummer H3T was a concept truck that GM introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2008 and production began in September that year. At the time, its sibling the H3 had been in production for four years. Unlike the H1 and H2, though, the H3 wasn’t developed by AM General.

At the time, reviewers such as Steve Siler at Car and Driver loved the idea of a Hummer pickup truck. The H3T was bigger than a midsize truck like the Chevy Colorado but smaller than the Chevy Silverado. In fact, it used the same platform as the one used for the Colorado and the GMC Canyon, according to NADAGuides.com. The H3T’s wheelbase measured just over 134 inches compared to the H3’s wheelbase of just under 112 inches. 

The base, Adventure, and Luxury trims of the H3T were equipped with a 239-hp, 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder engine that could be matched with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Buyers could step up for more power with an Alpha trim that provided a 5.3-liter Vortec V8 mated with a four-speed automatic transmission. This engine produced 300 hp and GM made it compatible with E85 blended gasoline for the 2010 model year.

Standard full-time four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case made the H3T extremely offroad-worthy. Supporting the full-time 4WD were the Hill Start Assist, GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. Other options made the H3T even better off the pavement a 4:1 transfer case, 33-inch tires, heavy-duty skid plates, and locking front and rear differentials.

Inside, the H3T was equipped with Bluetooth, power windows, cruise control, an audio system with CD, and satellite radio. The Alpha trim offered a seven-speaker Monsoon sound system.

The base price for the 2009 Hummer H3T when new was $31,495. The Hummer H3T Alpha’s starting price was $36,015.

An untimely debut and a quick end

Reviewers responded positively to the Hummer H3T at the time of its release. But they also wondered why GM would market a truck with a fuel economy of 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway when both anti-gas guzzler sentiments and gas prices in the U.S. were so high. And the buyers’ response to the H3T reflected this, with fewer than 700 models sold in 2008 and just over 2,000 in 2009.

Hummer H3 sales were also anemic that year. As part of its bankruptcy announcement, General Motors discontinued the brand and closed down production on both vehicles. It sold the Hummer brand to Sichuan Tengzhong, a company based in China in mid-2009 but the last H3T rolled off the production line in 2010.

What kind of legacy did the H3T leave behind?

Although it seems logical that the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison would be the natural successor to the Hummer H3T. The 4WD Bison has an Autotrac transfer case, front and rear electronic differentials, Multimatic DSSV shocks, and offroad rocker protection. It’s a mean-looking Colorado, yet it still lacks the Hummer H3T’s paramilitary cachet.

But that’s only part of the legacy. Another 4X4 contender that could take the H3T’s place is the new Jeep Gladiator, which debuted in 2019. Despite being produced by different automakers, the Hummer and the Jeep share a military heritage that reaches back to World War II. And if we compared the offroad features of the two side by side, they would seem quite similar. 

The final piece of the H3T’s legacy is from Hummer itself. The brand is under the GMC umbrella and is part of its off-road AT4 line. The automaker’s first Hummer is the 2022 Hummer EV SUT. It’s an electric pickup powered by a battery with a maximum capacity of 200 kWh and a maximum driving range of 400 miles.

GMC says that this Hummer can make 1,000 hp and go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. It’s supposed to have an amazing maximum torque of 11,500 lb-ft. This Hummer will be available in one-motor, two-motor, and three-motor configurations.

More importantly, GMC plans to make off-road configurations for the Hummer EV SUT. Details for 4X4 versions aren’t yet available. The new Hummer will be unveiled on May 20, 2020, but it won’t be in dealerships until Fall 2021. The tech behind this Hummer is light-years ahead of the H3T, but the latter was at least 10 years ahead its time in the first place.