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Ford Fires New Salvo in Pickup Wars

Detroit maker boosts F-Series towing capacity to 21,000 pounds.

by on Jul.18, 2016

The 2017 Ford F-450 Super Duty boasts up to 27,500 pounds of towing capacity with a fifth wheel.

Pickup sales are hot right now, but competition is heating up even faster, and automakers are putting more emphasis than ever on the durability and capabilities of their trucks in a bid to win over buyers.

In recent months, fuel economy and cargo bed toughness have been spotlighted by various makers. Now, Ford Motor Co. is turning to towing capacity as it reveals specifications for the new, aluminum-bodied version of its big F-450 Super Duty model.

Ford says the heavy-duty version of the more familiar F-150 will be able to tow up to a 21,000-pound trailer, about 1,000 pounds more than competitive models. Add a fifth-wheel package and towing capacity jumps to 27,500 pounds, or more than a ton over the competition, according to Ford.

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“This is the best heavy-duty truck we’ve ever made,” says Doug Scott, Ford truck marketing manager.

After falling sharply during the Great Recession, pickup sales have posted a strong rebound over the last few years. But competition has also accelerated. Nissan recently launched the second of two new versions of its Titan truck. Toyota has been tinkering with its Tundra model, as well. And Detroit’s Big Three have been steadily trying to one-up each other, as well.


First Look: 2013 SRT Viper

The snake charms again.

by on Apr.04, 2012

SRT chief Ralph Gilles - also Chrysler's corporate design chief, plants a welcome kiss on the new SRT Viper.

It’s the rare automaker that can keep secrets, but Chrysler pulled off a coup by keeping the covers on the reborn Dodge Viper up until the very moment the 2-seat supercar made its debut at the opening press day of the 2012 New York Auto Show.

Make that the SRT Viper, because the 2013 model will wear the badge of Chrysler’s Street Racing Team division when it returns to showrooms this year.  And it will live up to the full meaning of that name.  With its 640-horsepower V-10, Chrysler expects the 2013 Viper to dominate on both the street and the track, with the new model set to enter the American Le Mans Series.

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The launch of the snake is clearly one of the highlights of this year’s show, an overflow crowd struggling to get a look at the long-nosed sports car.  All but jumping for joy, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler’s chief corporate designer and the head of the SRT division, recalled the improbable story of the fight to revive the Viper – which former owners Cerberus tried to sell in the months leading up to the maker’s 2009 bankruptcy.

“It’s huge that we’re here today,” proclaimed Gilles. “It’s like being pregnant for 24 months.”


Public Still Opposes Auto Bailout

New poll shows Republicans overwhelmingly negative.

by on Feb.23, 2012

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney hopes to benefit from the continued opposition to the 2008-09 automotive bailout.

While the U.S. auto industry may be “back,” as President Barack Obama recently declared during his State-of-the-Union address, that hasn’t changed the fact that a majority of Americans remain opposed to the 2008 – 2009 bailout of Detroit.

A new Gallup poll finds 51% of those surveyed still disapprove of the $85 billion rescue effort, with only 44% saying they approve.  And the figure is even more lopsided when party affiliation is considered.  The poll, conducted for the public radio program Marketplace, found 73% of Republicans opposed – though 63% of Democrats were supportive of the bailout.

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Though the results are still in negative territory, overall, that’s still a significant improvement from 2009, when various polls showed that the vast majority of Americans, regardless of political persuasion, were unhappy with the use of taxpayer money to save General Motors and Chrysler.