For a pair of decades, one of the most impressive brands on the road was Hummer. This brand was built to reflect the look and feel if the military style vehicles that were built alongside them, but with a civilian flair and style. Whether it was the original and massive H1, the failing H2 or the long forgotten attempt at resurgence H3, Hummer was a brand that didn’t sell well but was admired for the attempt at being a massive gas guzzling luxury brand. With these vehicles, you could go anywhere and do just about anything you wanted.
While the brand was made popular by then California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the brand has been heading downward for many years and AM General, the company that makes both the civilian and the military versions of the Humvee, has had to face the fact that it needs to make some changes. One of these changes is to sell the assembly plant in South Bend, Indiana to SF Motors. This is a company that is a subsidiary of the Chinese Chongqing Sokon Industry Group that is expected to make something very different from the Hummer brand in this factory in the future.
AM General sold this plant for $110 million but has retained control over the aspects of the plant that produce military equipment. By making this sale, 430 union jobs at the plant will be saved and the team at SF Motors will gain an existing factory and a highly skilled work force that can help them produce what they want to create in this factory. What will this plant be retooled to create and produce? Electric vehicles. The goal is to be able to produce intelligent EV’s in this factory and begin to offer them to the US market in small doses in the future.
Instead of building one of the worst vehicles in modern history in the H2, which is what the plant was originally built for, this will become a facility with an innovative product line and something we’ve never seen before. In order to make this work and to assist with the transition of the factory, Tesla co-founder, Martin Eberhard, has been hired as a consultant for SF Motors. Even though a concept model hasn’t even been shared yet, the goal is to build “clean, smart, quality electric vehicles” according to the website of SF Motors.
Going from massive gas guzzling and military power to an EV lineup that helps protect the environment is a huge change for one factory. The team at SF Motors plans to invest an additional $30 million to get the factory retooled and ready for the product line, which may not be ready to be produced for at least two more years. In the interim, the factory will continue to make the military vehicles it produces and the SF Motors team has agreed to honor the UAW three year union contract to protect the jobs of these workers. There’s a lot going on in South Bend and we may begin to see changes at this factory very soon.