Joe Polimeni  /  AP file
The Hummer H3T concept vehicle is shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
updated 1/14/2004 7:43:12 PM ET 2004-01-15T00:43:12

General Motors Corp. is expanding the lineup of its popular and controversial Hummer brand, adding a midsize sport utility vehicle that could go on sale next year.

Hummer spokesman Pete Ternes said the division, known for its hulking SUVs, told dealers of the addition in September. He said it was too early to say when the next version of the trendy nameplate would reach showrooms or how much it would cost. More specific information will be available next year, Ternes said.

Last month at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, GM introduced a design concept for a midsize pickup called the Hummer H3T, which features a pickup box with side-access doors and a drop-down rear window to offer open-air driving.

The H3T concept is built on a modified GM midsize truck platform and powered by a 350-horsepower, five-cylinder turbocharged engine.

Ternes said the new H3 will be similar in size to the H3T concept but will not be a pickup.

The H3 will join the H1 and H2 SUVs and the H2 SUT, which has the features of both a large pickup and an SUV. Production of the H2 SUT is scheduled to begin in the spring.

With a mix of muscle and sizzle, Hummer has become America's new status ride, attracting celebrities and athletes who aren't bothered by its steep sticker price and gas mileage that barely rises above single digits. The H1's price starts at about $105,000 and the H2 at roughly $50,000. Pricing for the H2 SUT has yet to be announced.

GM reported 35,259 Hummer sales in 2003, an 80 percent increase from the 19,581 sold in 2002. But Hummer also has its critics, such as the Sierra Club, which faults the vehicle for its bulk and poor gas milage.

Mike Wall, an analyst with CSM Worldwide, said depending on pricing, the H3 could add 70,000 sales a year to the Hummer lineup. But pricing is the key, he said.

If GM decides to sell the H3 for $35,000 or slightly less, the automaker will increase sales but likely create competition for SUVs from its other brands, Wall said.

His prediction for the eventual tag: between $35,000 and $40,000, still well below the H2.

"That way they create volume but keep the overall upscale image," he said.

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