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2 Jun, 2009 23:10

Even as GM fails, Hummer owners keep singing its praises

The fall of U.S. auto giant General Motors hasn’t diminished the huge demand for its off-road vehicle, the Hummer. The brand was among only a few that has increased sales in Russia amid the worldwide financial crunch.

A Hummer drifting through a Moscow parking lot may seem unusual for some. But that’s how members of the Hummer fun club in Moscow usually get together for a ride.

The International Hummer car owners and fan club was the first organisation of its kind in Russia. Since then, several more clubs have been founded and Hummers were among the few brands that actually increased sales in April in Russia, in spite of the economic crisis.

“There were just a few of us at first, we started by opening a web site. Today we have members in France, Bulgaria, Canada and further afield,” says Aleksandr Gorbunov, President of the Hummer Club in Russia.

Less than a year since the club was founded, it already unites more than 500 Hummer fans worldwide. They say their lives are at full swing and the bankruptcy of their manufacturer – General Motors in the United States – doesn't scare them a bit.

“It doesn't matter who's going to own the trademark. If people are buying Hummers it means their production is going to continue. Just in the last couple of months the number of our club's members grew by 40 per cent,” says Igor Gorsky, co-founder of the Hummer Club in Russia.

Even though Hummers were initially designed for the army, they've become an exotic addition to city traffic. They're huge and powerful, some models weigh around 3.5 tonnes… But their true worth is only revealed when they're taken out of the city to roads that are hell for ordinary vehicles.

The ability of these cars to wander through some of the toughest Russian terrains is an attraction for many of the country's rich. The club’s activities list is diverse – going out on charity events, drives and picnics. An upcoming event is a ride to the south to commemorate the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War.

”It just feels like you can drive through absolutely anything… No obstacles at all!” says a Hummer owner.

According to these enthusiasts, they can’t be stopped by harsh weather, steep Russian hills, fields or swamps. But as it turns out, these brutal trucks are attractive to the fairer sex, as well.

“I love this car! We have four kids and it's quite useful for driving them to school or to picnics,” says a woman who drives a Hummer.

So, Hummers can drive through almost any terrain – off road that is. But back in the city – their size could cause a big headache when looking for a parking space, not to mention the amount of fuel those 6 liter engines consume.