Humvee Steers towards Right-hand Drive Markets
The Humvee, manufactured by AM General LLC, has served more than its purpose in many a war, being a tactical vehicle. Over 60 countries and military organisations across the world operate these vehicles. As of 2012, an estimated 3,00,000 HMMWVS have rolle
The Humvee, manufactured by AM General LLC, has served more than its purpose in many a war, being a tactical vehicle.
THE HIGH MOBILITY MULTI-PURPOSE wheeled vehicle (HMMWV), popularly known as Humvee, is still an iconic military vehicle. It became a symbol of American military might during the Iraq War when reportedly the coalition forces deployed about 20,000 Humvees to great effect. Its popularity ascended when Terminator film star Arnold Schwarzenegger bought one, starting a whole new craze, including the birth of Hummer. The Humvee, manufactured by AM General LLC, has served more than its purpose in many a war, being a tactical vehicle. Over 60 countries and military organisations across the world operate these vehicles. As of 2012, an estimated 3,00,000 HMMWVs have rolled out of the Mishawaka unit in Indiana, United States. From Iraq War to present day, the battlefield has undergone a drastic change with asymmetric warfare and improvised explosive devices being the norm of disruption. In the light of this, the US Army is now scouting for a mine resistant vehicle as a replacement of the Humvee.
Light tactical vehicle
The Humvee itself replaced the M151 series jeeps. As a light tactical vehicle for command and control, special purpose shelter carriers and special purpose weapons platforms, the Humvee has been a crucial ingredient of battlefield requirement. The HMMWV has been manufactured in several configurations to support weapon systems; command and control systems; field ambulances; and ammunition, troop and general cargo transport. Its four different models are the A2 series vehicles, reliability extended vehicles, expanded-capacity vehicles and international vehicles. The international models are the vehicles produced in collaboration with Swiss firm Mowag and Turkish company Otokar. The Eagle and Cobra are two of its international models.
First US Army Contract in 1981
The US Army awarded AM General a prototype contract in 1981 and the development and operational testing was conducted over a five-month period in 1982. In March 1983, AM General won an initial $1.2 billion (`6,000 crore) contract to produce 55,000 Humvees to be delivered in five basic models and 15 different configurations over a five-year period. Of the 55,000 units, 39,000 were for the US Army and remaining for the US Marine Corps, US Air Force and the US Navy. The US Army subsequently increased their order, raising the total contract order to 70,000 Humvees valued at $1.6 billion (`8,000 crore). In 1989, it entered combat as part of “Operation Just Cause”, the US invasion of Panama. The workhorse Humvee was very prominent in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and more recently they have played important roles in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. By 1991, AM General had produced 72,000 Humvees and it touched a staggering figure of nearly 3,00,000 by 2012.
Forecast International Weapons Group had estimated that there would be a requirement of 71,300 light-wheeled vehicles, worth in excess of $21 billion (`1,05,000 crore), through 2017 and that the HMMWV would have a significant impact on the overall market. Forecast Group said that the Humvee will dominate during the forecast period, accounting for almost 70 per cent of all light-wheeled vehicle production worldwide, worth a commanding 35 per cent of the market value, through 2017.
Popularity Sees Similar Vehicles
Humvees popularity has been such that several countries have come up with similar vehicle and they include the Tiuna from Venezuela; GAZ-2975 Tigr from Russia; Koukidousya which is with the Japanese Self Defence Forces; Iveco LMV; Renault Sherpa, etc. Recently, Israeli Army bought 2,000 HMMWVs from the US Army.
A large portion of the HMMWV fleet was built in the first six years of the programme, with life expectancy of 15 years. By mid-1990s, the US Army’s Product Manager, Light Tactical Vehicles, recognised the need to address the rapidly rising operation and support costs
associated with these ageing vehicles and began to develop a programme to rebuild and upgrade the fleet of over 1,00,000 vehicles. The programme’s initial objective was to return HMMWVs to a near zero hours/miles condition to extend their life for an additional 21 years. As of February 2011, the HMMWV recapitalisation programme had converted over 45,000 vehicles in total.
With cost and other factors involved, now the US Army is looking for replacement of Humvee and has selected three vehicles for the joint light tactical vehicle (JLTV). Getting contracts valued at a combined $185 million (`925 crore) are AM General, Lockheed Martin and Oshkosh. The programme is worth an estimated $20 billion (`1,00,000 crore). The Army wants at least 20,000 JLTVs, with the potential to buy a lot more. Officials want to replace a third of the 1,50,000 vehicle Humvee fleet with the JLTV. The Marine Corps plans to buy 5,500.
AM General has put forth the JLTV prototype called the blast resistant vehicle-off-road (BRV-O). Many have described it as a “Hummer on steroids.” Lockheed Martin along with BAE Systems is another contender. The two beefed up force protection while cutting weight and cost during the technology demonstration phase. It already has conducted helicopter lift tests—a critical issue in early development—and has logged more than 2,56,000 testing kilometres. Oshkosh Defense is another contender who has taken the success of the M-ATV’s modular and scalable protection and packaged it into the light combat tactical all-terrain vehicle (L-ATV). The diesel-electric power train was replaced with an electric power train, but mobility is its key strength. The TAK-4i intelligent suspension system provides up to 20 inches of independent wheel travel. These combine to provide a vehicle that is 50 per cent faster offroad than the M-ATV.
Right-hand Drive Market
While the US military programme is on, AM General is eyeing global military spending and targeting international customers who drive on the left side of the road. As such, about a sixth of its total Humvee sales have been outside the US and with the right-hand drive market, it hopes it will boost its revenues. Roughly 18 months and $10 million (`50 crore) in investment later, the right-hand drive Humvee was launched by AM General at the Singapore Air Show in February 2012. AM General is planning to make inroad into markets such as the UK, Ireland, Japan, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and many more where vehicles are driven on the left side of the road.
“We studied the right-hand drive market and realised that there is no other light tactical vehicle available that can compete with the HMMWV,” said Rick Alpaugh, Vice President, International Sales, AM General. “We worked very closely with our design, engineering and production teams to ensure that the right-hand drive HMMWV meets the same high quality standards as the lefthand drive HMMWVs in use with the US Military.” This is one of three new internationally focused HMMWV models the company is now offering—aiming to expand beyond the 68 countries it is in. Nearly 50,000 Humvees are in use in these countries. AM General not only builds the most versatile, dependable and mobile light tactical vehicle in the market, but also provides a total package solution to include training, parts and support to the user.
Keeping with the changing trends, AM General also announced the launch of a new programme to sell civilian Humvee kits comprised of certain military-style Humvee body and chassis components minus the power-train. Initial orders for this oneof-a-kind kit are now being taken at the newly launched Humvee C-Series website, genuinehumveekit.com, for the base price of $59,995 (`29,99,999). The Humvee C-Series kit will offer the best in industry mobility technology with a host of off-road ready options, including AM General’s central tire inflation system, electronic locking differentials and others. The initial C-Series offering is a soft top body style.
The Humvee has indeed come a long way. Wherever American soldiers go, their Humvees go with them, at least, until now.
AM General, with the right-hand drive version of Humvee, is looking eastwards to cater to the requirements of customers who mostly operate on right-hand drive
unlike their western counterparts
AM General not only builds the most versatile, dependable and mobile light tactical vehicle in the market, but also provides a total package solution to include training, parts and support to the user