AM General Through The Years
During the 1950s and 1960s, the company was sold, shifting ownership several times. Kaiser Motors bought Willys-Overland in 1953, at which point it changed the name to the Willys Motor Company. The name was altered a second time a decade later in 1963 to the Kaiser-Jeep Corporation. Just one year later, in 1964, the newly named Kaiser-Jeep Corporation took over the Studebaker (another manufacturing brand with strong military ties) facilities located in South Bend, Ind. A few years later, Kaiser-Jeep was sold and purchased once again, this time to American Motors Corporation, who renamed the company one more time to the name we are familiar with today: AM General.
From that point forward, AM General produced a wide range of vehicles for the government and military, as well as for industrial uses. These included jeeps, buses, and large trucks. However, buses were a short-lived development and were only produced from 1974 to 1979. The bus models developed by AM General included articulated buses for several cities, including the Seattle Metro Transit, and also -- once the production of complete diesel buses had halted by 1978 -- trolleybuses for the Philadelphia and Seattle trolleybus systems.
Toward the end of the 1970s, AM General produced two vehicles well-known to almost all Americans: the Humvee, which was later adapted for civilian use, and the Jeep DJ-5 series of vehicles, the "delivery jeep" two-wheel drive used extensively as a right-hand-drive vehicle by the United States Postal Service. The Humvee, properly called the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, was developed by AM General to replace the successful jeep, albeit in a more heavy-duty manner.
Civilian knowledge of the Humvee was increased thanks to its extensive use by the military during Desert Storm. Partially as a result of that interest, AM General began to develop a non-military version of the vehicle, which was launched in 1992. Once the Humvee was converted to become a vehicle suitable for use by civilian motorists, it was branded with the Hummer name. The Hummer vehicles were known as "the world's most serious 4x4" and were well regarded for its mobility and toughness.
Many of the components included in a HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) are also featured on the original Hummer models. A few of the military requirements that didn't need to be included in the civilian consumer version of the vehicle were ballistic protection and CARC (chemical agent resistant coating) paint.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the company was both partially and completely sold several times. AM General sold the rights to the Hummer brand in 1999, but continued production of its original civilian Hummer line until June 2006. (The later Hummer H3 is by General Motors, rather than AM General.)
Although AM General started life as an American company, today AM General is a well-respected brand throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world.
AM General Models
Today, AM General is still an independent government and military contractor. The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) was a mainstay vehicle for the United States military since 1985, thanks to its versatile and dependable nature. More than 200,000 HMMWVs have been manufactured by AM General for both the United States military and the militaries of more than 50 other international forces. Now, the HMMWV continues to be updated as military requirements change; of particular interest are increasingly sophisticated communications and weapons systems.
AM General also worked with a range of other international defense contractors to develop new vehicles based on the successful HMMWV. These include the Swiss firm Mowag and the Turkish company Otokar, and the resulting products include the lightweight Eagle, used for reconnaissance, surveillance and border patrol; and the Cobra, a rugged and armor-protected vehicle available in seven configurations ranging from Personnel to Weapons Carrier.
AM General Products and Services
AM General offers a wide range of vehicles and services for its military and government clients.
In 1999, AM General incorporated General Engine Products and began to build 6.5-liter diesel engines for the use of both AM General and General Motors' Service Parts Operation, in addition to a range of other customers. The General Engine Products plant was built in Franklin, Ohio.