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Taking heed of lessons learned when it shed the Oldsmobile brand, General Motors is quietly negotiating with HUMMER dealers to prevent lawsuits if the brand is sold or extinguished. Even though confidentiality agreements have been signed, HUMMER dealers are reporting heavy discussions with GM to buy back stores and compensate owners. GM has even paid second- and third-quarter bonuses (averaging six figures) in advance. June delivered gloom to HUMMER as the brand's sales fell 59.3 percent (to just 2,072 units) as near $5-per-gallon fuel prices began flowing through pumps. If that weren't bad enough, the rugged off-road brand was hit with another mass exodus of sales on GM's announcement that HUMMER might be sold. With sales falling, experienced dealership staff leaving, and fuel prices still up in the air, GM's Jeep-fighting brand has literally fallen off the road.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd, Photo by Scott Olson/Getty]