THE LAST HUMMER

The vehicle that looks like a railway carriage on wheels charging down the highway is a reminder of the rapid evolution of vehicle design priorities. The last Hummer rolled off the production line in 2010, its fate sealed by being a tad large for parking in suburban streets, and having earned more than five times the US average of parking fines. The Hummer was itself an extended version of the Humvee, designed to transport military personnel safely on the streets of Iraq during the occupation. In Australian cities the 16-seater dinosaur is still available for hire – for entertaining a rugby team or other sports drinking groups. Hummers are not armoured apart from protectively tinted windows, and with easy access to champagne and other chilled beverages, there’s more danger inside than outside. Mutants from the civilian environment can be bought under the name of SUV (sports utility vehicle), shorter in length, with the lines of a young elephant, plus luxury features that befit a maharajah going on safari. It’s called “rugged sophistication”. A smaller species is the FUV (fun utility vehicle), designed for family recreation except when FUV is taken to mean “farm utility vehicle”. Or “flying utility vehicle”, according to a YouTube clip where it mutates again into a “roadable aircraft”.
Written by Emeritus Professor Pam Peters, researcher with Macquarie University’s Centre for Language Sciences.

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