Hummers were originally built by AM General Corporation, which was formerly AMC Jeep's General Products division, in its South Bend, Indiana assembly plant. AM General had planned to sell a civilian version of the Hum-Vee as far back as the late 1980s. In 1990, two matching white Hum-Vees were driven from London to Beijing over the rough roads of central Soviet Union. The Hummers made the trip with ease, for they were built to drive on off-road terrain. The highlights of this journey were broadcast in the United States on ESPN. This publicity would pale in comparison to the attention that the HMMWV received for its service in Operation: Desert Storm the following year.
In 1992, AM General began selling a civilian version of the M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Hum-Vee) vehicle to the public under the brand name "Hummer".
In 1998, AM General sold the brand name to General Motors, but continued to manufacture the vehicles. GM is responsible for the marketing and distribution of all Hummers produced by AM General. In the next few years, GM introduced two new homegrown models, the H2 and H3, and renamed the original vehicle H1. AM General continued to build the H1 until it was discontinued in 2006, and is contracted by GM to produce the H2. The H3 is built in Shreveport, LA alongside the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, with which it shares the GMT-355 platform (custom modified and designated GMT-345).
As of 2006, Hummer has gone international with selected importers and distributors in Europe and other markets.
Since October 10 2006, GM has been producing the Hummer H3 at its Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa for international markets. Hummers at the Port Elizabeth plant are built both for local South African consumption and exported to Australia in the 2008 model year. In Europe, the Middle East, and Japan, the H3 is also already available. As of October 2006, Hummer vehicles are marketed by about 300 dealers in 34 countries. 173 of those are in the U.S.
The H2 is also assembled in Kaliningrad, Russia, by Avtotor, starting in June 2004. The plant produces a few hundred vehicles annually, and its output is limited to local consumption (five dealers in Russia initially).
The new 2008 model of the H2 boasted all new interior and a new more powerfull engine.
The future of the Hummer brand is in doubt. On Tuesday 3 June 2008, one day prior to GM's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Rick Wagoner said the brand is being reviewed, and has the possibility of either being sold, having the production line completely redesigned, or being discontinued. This is due to the decreasing demand for large SUVs as a result of higher oil prices. Almost immediately after the announcement, a pair of Indian automakers, one of them Mahindra & Mahindra, have expressed interest in purchasing all or part of Hummer.
Team Hummer Racing was created in 1993 and showcases the Hummer's abilities. Led by off-road racing legend Rod Hall, Team HUMMER competes in the Stock classes of both BitD and SCORE, which feature production-based vehicles with stock frames, stock suspension designs and production-based engines. Only specialized racing shock absorbers, tires and other minor modifications are allowed, along with the required supporting components and mandatory safety equipment. Minor modifications are allowed to the powertrain, although the rules stipulate it must be based on the stock engine and transmission combination.
The team's latest victories came in April 2008, when Team HUMMER swept the stock class races at the Terrible's Town 250..
Team HUMMER has tallied one of the most impressive records in production-class racing, earning 11 class wins at the Baja 1000.
Starting in the early Nineties, when AM General started selling to the civilian market, Hummers began making appearances in the Film and Television industry. Some earlier and noticeable appearances include seaQuest DSV which used the Hummer H1 in place of Humvees, and Earth 2 which featured a large, "solar-powered" Hummer Concept truck as their main mode of conveyance. More recently noticeable appearances include , being driven by the chief of the crime lab Lt. Horatio Caine (played by David Caruso), during the 6th season of CSI: MIAMI, they received all new 2008 H2's with redesigned interior and in the 2007 Transformers movie the Autobot known as Ratchet transforms into a search and rescue Hummer H2.
Specific extra criticisms of Hummers include: Poor fuel economy: Even compared to other heavy passenger vehicles, Hummers have very poor fuel economy. Because the H2 is built to the over-8500-lb GVW class, its fuel economy is neither published by the EPA nor counted toward Corporate Average Fuel Economy. For instance, H2 in one engine configuration averages about on highways, in the city, and has a curb weight of over , making it technically illegal for use on some streets. Safety: Crash data for Hummers is less complete than for other SUVs. Because of its weight, it takes longer and further to stop in emergency braking situations. As a Class 3 truck, Hummers are exempt from many DOT safety regulations. The H1 lacks standard safety features, including child safety locks, child seat tethers, side air bags and stability control. Large blind spots make parking difficult and possibly dangerous.Size: Some Hummers are significantly bigger than other SUVs; this can cause problems parking, driving and fitting in a garage.Safety and ecology: Safety and ecological perceptions from other road users has attracted a lot of criticism. The Hummer (usually the H2) has been singled out and attacked as a symbol of ecological irresponsibility, sometimes using violent means.
On September 3rd, 2008, General Motors COO Fritz Henderson announced that he hoped to have the sale of the HUMMER brand complete by the end of 2008 or early 2009 at the latest. These statements effectively brought the strategic review to an end. At this time, GM has not announced any potential suitors, but has claimed "significant interest" in the brand.