There's no better moment than the day after Earth Day to announce a new smaller, kinder, gentler Hummer. Martin Walsh, Hummer's general manager, said "Our growth will be downwards in terms of size," and that begins with the now-official H4. Walsh also indicated there might be a smaller model than the H4 if need be.

The H4 comes below the H3 in the pecking order, meant as a compact SUV to go against competitors like the Nissan Murano. As such, Walsh said the H4 would be built on an upcoming compact GM platform, but didn't say which one. As long as Hummer-philes get the same gruff styling cues and useful ability in the dirty stuff, that shouldn't be a problem. Hummer insiders are apparently fretting that GM might "go soft" with the H4, but even Walsh readily admits, "We have to offer legitimate off-road capability."

Last year Hummer sold 56,000 H3's and 14,000 H2's. The H4 could bump those numbers up by an additional 40,000 units. Also in the pipeline are "bio-fuel powertrains '...in every single vehicle application," an H3 SUT, and even though it was ruled out late last year, news out of Australia is that a hybrid could even be in the works. It's a new day indeed. As for the H4, sources tell us to look for a preview of it in concept guise during next year's auto show circuit, likely in Detroit.

[Source: GoAuto via Top Speed]