Hummer owners say they wouldn’t give up their ride
October 29, 2003
LAFAYETTE – The tank-like Hummer can be spotted more and more on local streets, and its owners say the high-cost sport utility vehicle offers more than celebrity cachet. But others question the gas-guzzling vehicle’s effect on the environment.
“I feel safe in it,” said Doug Williamson. “It’s like driving a tank. It has a tremendous ride and great handling for a big vehicle. It handles as well on the highway as any other vehicle I’ve ever driven.”
Williamson said that he primarily bought his Hummer for its appearance. The way it handled, the comfort and the $25,000 federal tax break were all gravy. Williamson decorated the vehicle to advertise his company, Acadiana Fun Jumps.
Kelvin Thibodeaux also bought his Hummer to promote his company, Alty Truck Accessories.
Thibodeaux said that the appeal of the vehicle lies in “the sex appeal, the handling, the wide stance, the originality and the rugged good looks.”
Thibodeaux said he had thought the Hummer was out of his price range, and that by going with his wife, Tina, to test drive it, she wouldn’t want this type of vehicle. But after driving the car, they ended up buying one.
Chad Bell, a sales product specialist at Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge, said his company began selling Hummers in July 2002. There is no Hummer dealer in the Lafayette area, and Gerry Lane has sold about 50 Hummers to residents of Acadiana. There are only two other Hummer dealers in the entire state — one in Shreveport and the other in Metairie.
Bell said that Gerry Lane sells about 16 Hummers a month, which is “pretty good. That’s about what we anticipated.”
Bell said the base price for the Hummer H1 model wagon is $110,000, and the base price of the sportier H2 model is $49,205.
He said that the vehicles come with “power everything” and a nine-piece Bose speaker system as standard equipment.
If you’re looking for a manual transmission, though, you’re out of luck. All Hummers come with an automatic, 4-wheel drive transmission.
“It’s the most capable off-road SUV that there is,” Bell said. “There are people who have bought them that will never use them for what they were intended, but it does have the capability to go off road if you want it to.”
Bell said that about 85 percent of his customers buy Hummers for everyday use. Whether in town or on the open highway, the Hummer’s fuel usage is about 11 miles per gallon.
“This vehicle is very comfortable, very smooth and is capable of higher speeds, but it’s not very aerodynamic,” Bell said. “People who buy them laugh when they ask about the miles per gallon. Most of them say if you have to ask about the gas mileage, then you shouldn’t be buying one.”
Griff Blakewood doesn’t think Hummers are funny.
“I’m still appalled at every manifestation of them that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Nobody actually needs one of those.”
Blakewood, an assistant professor of renewable resources at UL Lafayette, said he rides his bicycle to work every day.
“I’m accomplishing the same with 30 pounds of steel and rubber –– moving my person and my necessary stuff –– to home and work with 200 times less material,” he said.
Blakewood said that Americans have lost the ability to question whether or not their actions are beneficial or harmful to their community and the planet. “The Earth is all of our home. It’s not just property. Why should people be allowed to indiscriminately trash it because of their income?”
“I can sympathize with people who think that way,” Williamson said, “but I enjoy driving the vehicle. I don’t have any hobbies. I don’t fly airplanes, and they use a lot of fuel. This is just something I enjoy.”