AM General leaning on flexibility, foreign sales

29 September 2017

Key Points

  • AM General has sold out nearly one-quarter of its USD2.2 billion FMS contract
  • The company is developing a range of modifications to help the HMMWV programme continue to be marketable

AM General, maker of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee) family of vehicles, is looking at broad flexibility for its platforms and international sales to keep its production line in South Bend, Indiana, running.Engine assembly on the AM General HMMWV assembly line. (IHS Markit/Zachary Fryer-Biggs)Engine assembly on the AM General HMMWV assembly line. (IHS Markit/Zachary Fryer-Biggs)

The company invited Jane’s , and a handful of other publications, to tour its manufacturing facility and drive a light-weight variant of the Humvee on 27 September. AM General paid to fly the reporters to Indiana from the Washington area for a day, which included walking much of the continuous production line that produces roughly 12-20 vehicles per day.

The assembly line moves at a steady stream, ostensibly never shut down for reconfiguration according to company executives. The workers can make any variant of the Humvee – which can amount to dozens of different set-ups depending on the kit included – without having to change the line, which leads to meaningfully different vehicles marching along the production floor back-to-back.

When Jane’s visited there were six variations being produced for five countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Tunisia, and the United States. The US variants were taking advantage of a US Army recapitalisation programme where Redstone Arsenal takes existing Humvee bodies, cleans them up, and ships them to AM General to be paired with a new chassis and powertrain. The bodies, made from aluminium, can be reused largely because they do not rust, while the vehicle frame faces more wear and tear and engines have improved over the nearly three decades AM General has been building the Humvee. The recycling saves about 10-15% on the cost of a new vehicle.

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