The HUMMER brand is arriving in the UK with the opening of the first dedicated HUMMER showroom this week. HUMMER will begin selling a right-hand drive H3 in the summer.

Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman, global product development, unveiled a prototype right-hand drive H3 during an opening ceremony at the Bauer Millett HUMMER facility in Manchester. “HUMMER’s iconic design and unparalleled off-road capabilities appeal to a wide audience globally. We are determined to build upon the brand’s unique recognition in Europe and especially here in the UK,” said Lutz.

Bauer Millett, the UK’s sole HUMMER licensee since 2002, has been in business since 1973 and has been associated with General Motors since 1988. Several more dedicated HUMMER showrooms are expected to be opened in coming months in other parts of the country.

GM acquired the rights to the HUMMER brand in late 1999, and since then, HUMMER sales have grown from around 1,000 vehicles in 2000 to more than 82,000 in 2006. The H3 made its debut in North America in May 2005 and helped make HUMMER one of the fastest-growing truck brands in the United States by the end of 2006. With its smaller, more efficient package, the H3 made the brand accessible to more customers, while still retaining the characteristics that make a HUMMER unique: iconic design and unparalleled off-road performance.

In addition to growth in the United States, HUMMER has shown significant expansion around the globe. In Europe, where Kroymans Corporation has the exclusive rights to import and distribute HUMMER vehicles in 27 European countries, sales have more than tripled from 624 in 2005 to 2,006 in 2006.

While all previous H3s have been assembled in GM’s North American facility in Shreveport, Louisiana, the new international H3, intended for most markets outside of North America, is being assembled at the Struandale Assembly Facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where GM invested more than $100 million to prepare for production of the H3.

Since the beginning, HUMMER vehicles have been in a class of their own, with extreme style and capability, unmatched by the competition. The latest chapter in the story is the HUMMER H3, designed in response to demand from global markets for a premium everyday driving vehicle, offering the legendary HUMMER performance.

Developed for markets around the world and built in South Africa, the H3 embodies the marque’s unique styling features and iconic shape. In addition, the H3 has a premium interior design and a 3.7-litre engine with the choice of a manual or automatic transmission and a full-time four-wheel-drive system.

H3 packs its authentic HUMMER style and capability into more compact dimensions. Compared to the HUMMER H2, the H3 is 39 mm shorter, 171 mm lower and 73 mm narrower. Roughly the same length as a larger family saloon, H3 can navigate city traffic, yet still deliver HUMMER’s trademark crawling and climbing capability off-road.

The 4,782 mm long HUMMER H3 is powered by General Motors’ Vortec 3.7-litre engine with dual overhead camshafts and variable valve timing. Specifically designed for this type of vehicle, it delivers 244 hp (180 kW) at 5600 rpm and 328 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm.

H3 is the first HUMMER ever to offer the choice of a manual or an automatic transmission. In addition to the Hydra-Matic 4L60 electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, a smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission is available, offering ultimate driver control.

At the heart of the HUMMER H3’s capability is its electronically controlled four-wheel drive system. The system is augmented with traction control, an optional locking rear differential and StabiliTrak stability control, which is offered as standard. The H3 can ford 407 mm deep water at 20 mph or 610 mm deep streams at a 5 mph pace, and climb 407 mm vertical steps or rocks.

This off-road performance is also aided by the “wheel at each corner” design giving a maximum approach angle of 37.5 degrees and maximum departure angle of 35.5 degrees. These approach and departure angles permit the H3 to drive into a hole and back out again, without getting hung up at the front or the rear.

The H3’s more compact size provides manoeuvrability advantages, such as an 11.3 metre turning circle, making equally easy work of parking manoeuvres or tight turns when off-roading. A 219 mm ground clearance and maximum breakover angle of 23.5 degrees make it possible to clear large obstacles in off-road driving.

Prices for the new right-hand drive HUMMER H3 will be announced later.