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Ram Partners with Walmart to Promote Pickups

Tapping into “the hunting/fishing lifestyle.”

by on Aug.12, 2011

Ram hopes there's synergies in a new partnership with Walmart tapping into the "hunting/fishing lifestyle."

Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand will partner with Walmart this fall to promote its pickup trucks.

Details are still forthcoming, but the partnership will “recognize the alignment between truck buyers, the hunting/fishing lifestyle and Walmart. We are working on a promotion that brings all three together,” said Marissa Hunter, Ram’s head of advertising.

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Walmart’s fall outdoor lifestyle partnership program, which includes the Mossy Oak camouflage brand, will go live across thousands of Walmart stores, Hunter said.

The Walmart effort will be part of Ram’s newly launched “Code of the West” national ad campaign that debuted online in June and will begin airing on TV in September.

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Unofficial Details Leak out About Next-Gen Ford and GM Pickup Powertrains

Horsepower matters but mileage is the mandate.

by on Jul.29, 2011

Ford's F-150 EcoBoost engine shows there's a lot of room to improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance and payload.

The pickup market, though barely half the size of its one-time peak, is still a viable – and profitable – force in the U.S. automotive market.  So, expect to see Detroit makers, in particular, do everything they can to retain the segment’s viability – though that won’t be easy, especially in light of today’s announcement outlining tough new mileage standards set to reach more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

Next-generation full-size pickup trucks from Ford and General Motors will have to balance towing and hauling capability with unprecedented frugality to meet the tough new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

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That has some folks worrying it may be too much of a challenge to pull off, at least not without sacrificing the functionality American truck buyers expect.  But don’t plan on holding onto your big rig ad infinitum.  As we’ve begun seeing with such innovations as the turbo-powered EcoBoost V6 on the 2011 Ford F-150, there are some promising ways to reach mileage never seen before.

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Arizona Cops Get Ram Plug-In Pickups

Putting the heat on criminals.

by on Jun.01, 2011

Two of the Ram plug-in pickups going to Yuma, AZ, as part of a 3-year field test.

Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Energy have delivered the first 10 Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric pickup trucks to Yuma, Ariz. for testing in the region’s extreme summer climate. Fittingly, they’ll also be used to put the heat on criminals.

Eight of the experimental trucks will be modified and used as patrol vehicles by the Yuma Police Department, according to the Yuma Sun newspaper.

Jerry Geier, Yuma’s police chief, said he’s “really looking forward to the trucks…getting them outfitted and out on patrol and putting them to use.”

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The trucks rely on a 345-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 mated to a modified version of Chrysler’s two-mode hybrid transmission.  A 12.9 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery has been substituted for the smaller, nickel-metal hydride battery in Chrysler’s conventional hybrid system.

The system is expected to yield about 20 miles on pure battery power – and up to 655 miles on a tank of gas.  The performance of the big V8 isn’t compromised by the hybrid drive, so it can tow up to 6,000 pounds and carry a payload of up to 1,000 pounds.

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Nissan Turns to Cummins, Feds to Help Develop Diesel for Titan Pickup

Could debut with all new version of Japanese truck.

by on May.23, 2011

The next-generation Nissan Titan may be getting a much-needed diesel option.

Cummins is developing a high-efficiency inline-four-cylinder diesel engine with money from the U.S. Department of Energy and in partnership with Nissan for demonstration in the Titan light-duty pickup truck.

The project, announced at the DOE’s 2011 Merit Review in Washington, D.C., could mean the next-generation of the Nissan Titan will come to market with a decidedly higher-mileage oil-burner.  That, in turn, might finally help get the truck out of the full-size sales cellar.

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Most half-ton truck makers are betting on small-displacement direct-injection gasoline engines to meet future fuel economy regulations, but Cummins expects its small displacement oil burner to get 40 percent better fuel economy over current light-duty V-8 truck engines. The Cummins average fuel economy target for this new diesel engine is 28 mpg while meeting tough U.S. Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions limits, according to the presentation.

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First Look: Next-Generation Chevrolet Colorado Show Truck

Thinly-disguised show truck could become only domestic compact in the U.S.

by on Mar.21, 2011

The 2011 Chevrolet Colorado Show Truck makes its debut at the Bangkok Motor Show.

GM takes the covers off the Chevrolet Colorado Show Truck at the Bangkok International Auto Show in Thailand, and the rugged concept previews the next-generation Colorado midsize pickup that officially goes on sale in Thailand later this year — and eventually will arrive in North America, our sources say.

The Colorado Show Truck is an all-wheel drive extended cab that sports sleeker styling than the current 2004-2011 Colorado sold in the U.S., Asia and Australia. The front end shares a strong family resemblance with other recent bowtie-badged vehicles, like the Chevrolet Equinox and the upcoming Orlando. There’s a two-tier grille with wraparound headlights and two small heat extractors on the side of the hood. An aerodynamic “cab collar” ties the cab and bed together. Integrated steps in the cargo box make accessing the business end of the truck easy and for security and improved fuel economy there’s a hard tonneau cover. Twenty-inch aluminum wheels are paired with Cooper 285/50R20 Zeon LTZ all-terrain tires.

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Inside, the Colorado Show Truck features a twin cockpit design that’s more stylish and sculpted than the Colorado’s current, basic cabin. The instrument panel and dash flows into the doors and motorcycle-inspired three-dimensional gauges use ice blue lighting for sporty effect. Dark wood trim with chrome highlights provides an upscale feel with plenty of soft touch surfaces instead of hard plastic.

There’s also plenty of storage space and cubbies inside to keep items secure at night on the street or while bouncing around off-road. High tech features include a 7-inch flat screen displace for audio, navigation, hands-free phone and web access. There’s also a dual-zone climate control system to keep the driver and front passenger comfortable.

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Ford Seeks to Block Ferrari from Using F150 Badge

U.S. maker taking dispute to court.

by on Feb.09, 2011

Ferrari F150 - definitely not a pickup truck.

A simmering dispute between U.S. automaker Ford and Italy’s Ferrari has bubbled into public view and could soon land the two makers in court.

Ford plans to seek an injunction, this week against Ferrari over the use of the F150 name for the Italian maker’s latest Formula 1 racecar, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Similar disputes have occurred over the years, though were usually settled without going to court – or even appearing in public.

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Toyota, for example, once planned to adopt the 150 designation for its full-size pickups, an upgrade of the earlier T-100.  Facing Ford’s wrath, the Japanese maker eventually went with Tundra.

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In-Depth: GMC Sierra All Terrain Heavy Duty Concept

A halo truck for a halo brand?

by on Jan.13, 2011

Will GMC put the Sierra All Terrain HD Concept into production? Inside sources say that's likely.

Could GMC add a halo off-road truck to its full-size pickup lineup? The diesel-powered GMC Sierra All Terrain Heavy Duty Concept — which made its debut, this week, at the 2011 Detroit auto show — points to how the “professional grade” brand thinks it might deliver a credible competitor to the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon in the current or next-generation Sierra HD.

The light-duty Raptor and heavy-duty Power Wagon are two of the most capable off-road pickup trucks ever to jump or climb off the showroom floor. We love both because these purpose-built rigs can go places and do things off pavement that would kill lesser trucks within yards of the trailhead. The Raptor flies across the desert at high speed, like a Baja trophy truck, while the Power Wagon can rock crawl over the toughest terrain you’ll find in Moab.

But these traits make an apples-to-apples comparison of the trucks difficult because their off-road strengths lie at opposite ends of the wheeling spectrum. This is where GMC smells opportunity.

The short-box crew-cab Sierra All Terrain HD threads the needle between the half-ton Raptor and three-quarter-ton Ram 2500 Power Wagon by carving a new niche that blends the off-road prowess and features of the Ford and Ram trucks with a few new innovations.

The GMC Sierra All Terrain HD concept would go up against the likes of the Ford Raptor or even heavier models, such as the F-250.

As with all off-road pickups, the heart of the All Terrain HD is its suspension. The concept’s running gear makes good use of the overhauled box-frame ladder, shocks, springs and axles that were introduced for the 2011 model year.

“The capability-enhancing attributes of the Sierra All Terrain HD build on the already outstanding capabilities offered in the all-new production Sierra HD trucks,” said Lisa Hutchinson, GMC product marketing director. “Although it’s strictly a concept, it’s a pretty realistic one.”

But some heavy-duty off-road users have criticized GM’s HD pickups for their torsion bar independent front suspension instead of a coil spring solid front axle, like Ford’s and Ram’s heavy-duty pickups use.

An independent front suspension generally provides better ride comfort on- and off-road, which the light-duty Raptor uses for high-speed desert running. A solid front axle allows higher ground clearance and superior articulation — for low-speed rock crawling — which the Power Wagon excels at.

The All Terrain uses independent front suspension to its advantage. For improved off-road stability, the standard A-arms have been replaced with custom double-wishbones and offset wheels that give the Sierra a 73-inch track up front — 4.2 inches wider than the current Sierra HD and nearly identical to the Raptor’s 73.6-inch track.

The All Terrain’s rear track is also 73 inches from a stock rear axle and offset wheels. Ram Power wagon’s track is 68.3 inches in front and 68.2 inches in back.

The GMC Sierra All Terrain HD concept combines greater heavy-duty truck capability with greater off-road versatility.

An independent front suspension isn’t the only thing the Raptor and All Terrain HD have in common. They also share Fox Racing internal bypass shocks, though instead of piggyback reservoirs in back, the Sierra has remote reservoirs (for improved capacity and cooling) integrated into the truck’s wheel wells at all four corners.

If GMC wanted to get Ford’s attention, this should do it. Fox’s shocks are the key components that give the Raptor such awesome wheel travel at high speeds off-road.

Fox Racing’s internal bypass technology is slick and maintenance-free. Instead of placing the oil routers outside the shocks, Fox sealed them inside the main tube so that they can’t be adjusted. The valves have been replaced with very small gates, precisely placed for optimal damping in all conditions.

Hardcore off-roaders might not like this setup, but it solves several potential issues both for GMC and for less-obsessive desert-running enthusiasts. There are no external bypass tubes to be damaged by offroad debris striking them; there are no worries about check-valve durability; and the shocks can be tuned specifically to the Sierra All Terrain’s off-road character.

In the Sierra, Fox’s long-travel dampers add 2 inches more travel up front (11 inches total) and 3 inches in the rear (11.75 inches total) over the Sierra’s stock monotube shocks.

While Ram doesn’t offer Fox shocks for the Power Wagon, Chrysler Mopar performance parts division will also feature Fox Shocks as part of its aggressive Ram Runner dealer-installed off-road package for the light-duty Ram 1500.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this latest Fox development effort causes a major rift with Ford, which brought prominence and high-volume production expertise to Fox in OEM off-road applications.

The All Terrain HD also borrows a cool trick for its front suspension from the straight axle Power Wagon. The Ram features a front sway bar disconnect system that increases wheel travel and articulation to climb over tall obstacles. The Sierra All Terrain also has an electronic front stabilizer bar disconnect.

While GMC officials continue to say the Sierra All Terrain HD is nothing but a concept, inside word seems to be heavily leaning towards putting the truck into production, probably sooner than later.  Factors that would abort such a move include a huge rise in fuel prices, or the simple fact that General Motors’ engineering resources, post-bankruptcy, have been overwhelmed catching up on product program delays caused by the run through the courts.

Mike Levine is publisher of PickupTrucks.com.

Are New Names Coming For Ram Truck Line-up?

Bye-bye Dakota?

by on Nov.10, 2010

Would the new Dodge Dakota do better under a new name? Big changes apparently are coming.

To accommodate plans for a Dodge Dakota replacement under the new Ram truck brand, Chrysler is said to be considering a name change for its pickups, two sources have told our columnist, Mike Levine, who also serves as editor of PickupTrucks.com.

The current Ram truck line is split into the 1500 half-ton and 2500/3500 heavy-duty series. That naming scheme has been used since 1994, when the 1994 Dodge Ram 1500 was introduced with revolutionary styling that helped Dodge triple its share of the light-truck segment by 1998.

Chrysler dropped the Dodge name from its pickups last year in an effort to develop a stronger brand identity from its long-overshadowed line of Dodge cars.

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(The decision to create an all-new Ram brand came, however, as a notable shift in direction in an industry that has, if anything, been trimming its brand count.  General Motors, for one, sold or closed four marques following its bankruptcy, while Ford sold off all its foreign brands and announced plans to close laggard Mercury.)

In trying to figure out a new name for the Dakota successor under Ram trucks, Ram execs are said to have thought about two names: Ram 1000 and Ram 100. We’re told they’re leaning toward Ram 100 because it sounds better, but in doing so, Ram would also change all of the truck names to follow a similar naming convention. Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 would be replaced by Ram 150, 250 and 350.

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All-New Ranger Debuting – But Not In U.S.

Ford’s Kuzak sees V6 F-150 as American alternative.

by on Sep.20, 2010

A first teaser shot of the Ford Ranger grille. The pickup debuts in Australia next month.

Ford is rolling out an all-new Ranger but if you want one in the U.S. or Canada, you’re out of luck.

“There are no plans for that at this time,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of global product development.

The redesigned Ranger, which has only been seen hidden by camouflage, will debut October 15 at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The small hauler will be sold in 180 countries.

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“The new Ranger is our global compact pickup truck that serves the world,” Kuzak said. “It’s an all-new truck with new powertrains that promise truck leadership in markets outside of North America.”

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Mahindra Using Loophole to Abandon U.S. Distributor

Indian pickup maker and erstwhile American distributor facing legal battle.

by on Sep.09, 2010

Mahindra's launch of the Pik-Up has so far been delayed four times.

With its planned American debut still indefinitely delayed, Indian automaker Mahindra is taking unfair advantage of an escape clause in its contract with U.S. distributor Global Vehicles USA to terminate their relationship, GV USA CEO John Perez claims.

Perez says Mahindra is attempting to claim exclusive ownership of the distribution and sales channel ahead of the arrival of its small diesel pickup in the United States, a development that has been expected for the last 18 months.

Mahindra officials in India did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

GV USA and Mahindra are fighting in arbitration and in federal court over repeated delays getting Mahindra’s clean-diesel pickup certified for sale in the U.S. At the same time, Mahindra has issued two press releases stating that its relationship with GV USA has “expired.”

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Mahindra’s clean-diesel pickups were expected to go on sale in the U.S. by the first quarter of 2009 but their arrival now has been pushed back four times; the latest on-sale date is reportedly this December.

(Click Here for TheDetroitBureau.com’s review of the Mahindra Pik-Up.)
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