CHENGDU, China – The Chinese bidder for Hummer says it plans to give the gas-guzzling vehicles new life by promoting the brand around the world, including China, and by investing in clean-engine technologies.However, little in the short history of Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. suggests how it might pull off the turnaround of General Motors Corp.'s Hummer brand, a collection of rugged sport-utility vehicles based on the concept of the U.S. military Humvee vehicle.
Analysts said the deal could face major hurdles in getting official Beijing sanction because it conflicts with recent changes in China's industrial and environmental policies.
The company, which makes heavy commercial vehicles like dump trucks, is little known even among Chinese auto makers.
"'Who?' That's what I said to myself this morning when I heard the news," said a senior engineering executive at Changfeng Motor Co., a manufacturer of SUVs based in Hunan province. "I had never heard of the company before."
Tengzhong's headquarters, set among rice paddies an hour's drive south of the western Chinese boomtown of Chengdu, offer few clues. The spacious complex, a collection of production shops with dark gray siding and red trim, is protected with concrete walls and monitored by security cameras.
Chief Executive Yang Yi declined to disclose how much his company is proposing to pay for the Hummer brand, which thrived in an era of cheap fuel and conspicuous consumption but has since become a symbol of Detroit's commercial and environmental missteps.
According to estimates by analysts, Tengzhong is likely to pay $200 million to $300 million. Mr. Yang declined to provide any financial information about the company, saying it isn't obliged to do so as a private concern.
Mr. Yang wants to transform Hummer — a U.S.-focused brand even though its vehicles are available in more than 30 countries — into a global icon and expand its presence in China, where it sold 69 vehicles last year.