China doesn't want Hummers

Perhaps the true death knell of the road hog Hummer has come when it’s even too embarrassing for the Chinese to manufacture.  The once-popular gas guzzler had a certain amount of contrarian panache when enviros used it to paint America as an Earth-hating group of Moneybags.  When gas prices shot out of sight, the Hummer suddenly became a white elephant for its owners — and its manufacturer:

A Chinese firm’s bid to buy the gas-guzzling Hummer car brand will be blocked on environmental grounds, according to Chinese state radio.

Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery emerged as the surprise buyer for the brand earlier this year.

But China National Radio said Hummer is at odds with the country’s planning agency’s attempts to decrease pollution from Chinese manufacturers.

The acquisition from General Motors would need Chinese regulatory approval.

The irony, of course, is that China just got done snubbing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on climate-change cooperation.  They told the US in no uncertain terms that they would not limit their ability to produce energy for the questionable tradeoff of adopting a scientific hypothesis that has lost ground in the last couple of years.  Now they get a chance for a coup de grace by blocking this transaction on environmental grounds, leaving Obama holding the bag.

How much does GM stand to lose from the aborted sale?  The BBC says $100 million, which at this point looks like a darned good deal.  Certainly they will find few buyers in this market, when car sales have plummeted anyway and people have to prepare for years of stagflation as energy prices go up while the economy declines.  With the 1970s fast approaching in the rear-view mirror, buyers won’t be looking for Hummers — even if Government Motors was allowed to produce them with Barack Obama as the not-so-silent partner to GM management.

The question for Obama and the rest of the auto industry task force is whether they can afford to let Hummer die outright, politically if not financially.  With GM already closing plants and dealerships, even a weak-selling line would keep jobs in place for a transitional period.  Without the cash infusion from the sale, GM will have to make even more cuts if it just shutters the line as it did with Pontiac.  Would anyone else buy the Hummer line?

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