The following is from the June 14, 2008, edition of The Ottawa Citizen. Marketing Professor Daniel Howard, chair of the marketing department at the SMU's Cox School of Business, provided expertise for this story.

Owning a Hummer was a gas. Really

While celebrities still flaunt the gas-guzzling beasts, sales figures show the iconic monster American SUV is in decline, writes Brendan Kennedy.

Brendan Kennedy
The Ottawa Citizen

It emerged as a symbol of American military might in the First Gulf War as CNN beamed images of the Hummer into North American homes, toppling the enemy and rambling over rough terrain in Operation: Desert Storm.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator himself, was one of its earliest champions. Gas cost about a buck a gallon in the United States. That was nearly 20 years ago.

Today, the Hummer faces a very different setting: The U.S. is back in Iraq, this time stuck in a seemingly intractable war; Mr. Schwarzenegger is the governor of the state with the most stringent fuel-efficiency standards in North America, and gas prices have risen to more than $4 U.S. a gallon.

Although celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham, hip-hop artist 50 Cent and Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery still proudly boast of their gas-guzzling beasts, sales figures show the Hummer is clearly in decline.

And a recent announcement by General Motors suggests its future with the company is in doubt. . .

Recently, the U.S. has suffered the mortgage crisis, a shrinking economy and a declining dollar; is the death of the Hummer next?

Professor Daniel Howard, chair of the marketing department at the Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business in Dallas, Texas, thinks so.

Mr. Howard said GM's announcement signifies the end of an era.

"The Hummer represented the gas-guzzling fast lane life of many affluent enthusiasts," he said. "It is a sobering reminder the automotive world Americans once knew and took for granted is rapidly coming to an end."

The Hummer's possible death is a signal of the restructuring of the North American automotive industry, he said.

"And it's not pretty at the moment, it's not pretty at all."

Read the full story.

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