AM General, the automotive manufacturer best known for building the Humvee multipurpose vehicle for the U.S. military, is finding tremendous success overseas, a key ingredient to its competitiveness, Andy Hove, the company’s president and CEO, said on Wednesday.
Hove said AM General has the largest installed base of military vehicles globally, with more than 260,000 in service with over 70 countries. In 2017, 80 percent of the company’s military vehicle production was for international customers, he said as part of a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council that focused on defense contracting strengths and challenges for mid-size companies.
AM General in Indiana also produces a luxury sports utility vehicle for German automotive manufacture Mercedes-Benz that is exported exclusively to China.
Competing globally is “key to our survival,” Hove said. “As a big-small company that doesn’t have the protections of small businesses and it doesn’t have the scale and the heft of the large businesses, you have to compete in the market a very different way and you have to access the global market to be competitive and have longevity.”
Despite losing out on a Defense Department competition a few years ago for the replacement to the Humvee, which is officially called the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, production continues to hum along. Last summer, AM General won a $2.2 billion order through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program to sell thousands of Humvees to multiple international customers.
“And despite rumors to the contrary, we are actually still in production on the Humvee,” Hove said. “In fact, we produced more military vehicles last year than any military vehicle manufacturer in the world.”
During the question and answer portion of the event, the panelists were asked if they were worried about a “backlash” from President Trump if they pushed back against his recent tariff announcements. Hove replied that he isn’t, but said there needs to be a balance between global and national interests in trade.
“There clearly has to be a balance between the recognized fact that we live in a global world, we operate in a global economy,” he said. “But, if we cannot produce steel in the United States, that’s a national security problem. It just is.” He added that without steel, aluminum and machine tools, “you don’t have a defense industry.”
Barbara Humpton, the president and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies, Inc., which is the U.S.-based federal business of Germany’s industrial manufacturing giant Siemens, responded that “at Siemens, we are all about global trade.”