In recent years civilian Hummers like the H1 and H2 have become symbols of extravagance and disregard for the environment. While the H2 is essentially a re-bodied version of the last generation Chevy Tahoe, the H1 was a barely civilized version of the military Humvee. The Humvee was developed in the late 1970s as a replacement for the Jeeps that had been used by the military since the second world war. While renowned for its off-road capability, the Humvee has never been very efficient. The official designation of the vehicle is High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or HMMWV or as it became know the Humvee. The key to that name is the word multi-purpose. The specs set out by the defense department resulted in a vehicle intended to be used for a wide range of tasks that ended up being optimized for none of them. As a result, this is a vehicle that can be used as a general transport, but weighs 2.5 tons (or up to 5 tons if fully armored) but only carries 4 people in base configuration. Even with a diesel engine, the Humvee only gets 4 mpg in urban driving and 8 mpg on the highway. The US defense department spends over $10,000,000,000 a year on fuel cost alone and needs to find ways to reduce its dependence on oil. As part of a drive to reduce energy costs the pentagon is now looking toward a radically redesigned replacement for the Humvee. Given that US military is now spending upwards of $2 billion a week on the war in Iraq, at least in part to try and stabilize the political situation in a region of the world that supplies a large portion of the oil that the military is burning, this needs to be a major priority.
[Source: Detroit News]