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13.05.2006 Business & Finance

Giant car reaches end of the road

By BBC

The American car manufacturer General Motors is to cease production of one of the largest and most eye-catching cars in the world - the Hummer H1.

The car, which does a petrol-guzzling 10 miles to the gallon (4.5km to the litre), was based on the military vehicle the Humvee.

It became a status symbol among celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

GM said it expected the last H1 to be built in June while the car's "DNA" would live on in the Humvee.

No job cuts are foreseen as a result of the decision as workers would be switched to military production, the firm said.

Since the H1 was launched in 1992, H2 and H3 models have appeared which are said to have broader appeal to motorists.

'Out of place'

More than 4.5 metres long and weighing four tons, the H1 is built to appeal to those who do not need to worry about fuel consumption or parking spaces - or indeed anything to do with money, the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says.

Prices for the latest version of the H1 start at $130,000 (£70,000).

"It's really one of those over-the-top vehicles," car analyst Erich Merkle told the Associated Press news agency.

"It doesn't really have much of a place in everyday society. You can't put it in the parking ramps. Parking spaces can't accommodate it."

Statistics suggest the Hummer's appeal has been reduced in recent years.

Since the first Hummer H1 lurched off the production line, 12,000 have been sold but sales were down 16% last year.

In a nation obsessed with the price of motoring, perhaps this kind of conspicuous consumption - even if it could be afforded by the owners - seemed tasteless, our correspondent suggests.

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