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July 2008 4x4 Truck News - Drivelines

Posted in Features on July 1, 2008
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Auctions To Support Land Use Issues
A John Deere Gator CX utility vehicle and a Warn PullzAll pulling tool are among more than 150 items being offered June 2-11 through special eBay charity auctions hosted by Tread Lightly! "Recreation access has come to a pivotal crossroads this year," said Lori McCullough, Tread Lightly! executive director. "Tread Lightly! needs to grow its resources immediately to implement several education, communications, and restoration initiatives designed to protect the outdoors and access." Many companies have donated 4WD, power sports, and outdoor equipment to the fundraising drive, including Bushwacker, Hi-Lift, MileMarker, and TeraFlex. Log on to www.treadlightly.org for more info.

Mahindra Bringing Trucks To U.S.
Mahindra, a major vehicle manufacturer in India, is poised to enter the U.S. market in 2009 with two midsize pickups (a two-door and a four-door) and a midsize SUV. If the maker's name rings a bell, it may be because Mahindra already exports tractors to the U.S. The company got its start in automotive manufacturing more than 50 years ago building Jeeps in India for Willys. A few years back there were rumors the Mahindra flatfender look-alike would be sold here, but that never came to pass.

What we will be getting about this time next year are three compact trucks powered by common-rail diesel engines. While the U.S.-spec powertrains are still under development, sources at Mahindra tell us they'll be based on the 2.2L I-4 mHawk diesel currently in the Indian trucks. Output is expected to be around 150 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, solid numbers for vehicles of this size. (The Scorpio SUV sits on a 105.5-inch wheelbase, about the same as a Ford Escape; the trucks, with 119.7-inch wheelbases, are about the same size as a regular-cab/longbed Ranger.) Down the road, Mahindra also has plans to market a hybrid diesel in the U.S. Though a launch date for that vehicle is still to be determined, Mahindra wants to be the first in the U.S. with such a powerplant.

The Mahindras will be sold through a national dealer network. Prices have not been established, but Mahindra estimates the pickups will start in the low $20,000 range, while the SUV will start in the mid $20,000s.

The photos shown here are the current versions of these vehicles, not the U.S. versions. Expect some styling and equipment differences when the U.S. models are introduced. Mahindra says the trucks are being developed "with U.S. consumers in mind," and will offer such features as third-row seating in the SUV and class-leading payload capacity in the two-door trucks.

Dakar Back On
Sort of. Organizers hope the Dakar Rally, cancelled this year due to terrorism concerns, will return to Africa someday. But for 2009, the Dakar (which may or may not be called that) will take place in South America in January. Starting and finishing in Buenos Aires, the event will be run over some 3,700 miles in Argentina and Chile. Though the exact route is still being mapped, organizers expect it to include stages in the Andes mountains and across the Atacama Desert.

Telluride Tours
The Telluride Rotary Club will host its annual guided 4x4 tours again this July. The family-friendly event covers some of the most scenic trails in southwestern Colorado, including Black Bear Pass (which is run backwards on this tour), Governor Basin, Poughkeepsie Gulch, and Imogene Pass. Tours are available for all 4x4 experience levels. For more information, contact Telluride Rotary Club, 888.605.25778, www.telluride4x4.com. You can also register online at www.tellurideticket.com. The event is limited to the first 65 vehicles to register.

Trent In Print
He may not be on Superlift TV anymore, but you can still get your fill of Trent McGee by picking up his latest work: CarTech's 4x4 Suspension Handbook. The book explains all the different suspension systems available on the most popular 4x4s, as well as modification techniques to personalize your own lift system. The $24.95 book is available directly from CarTech at www.cartechbooks.com.





Streeeeetch That Truck!
It takes cajones in these days of super-spendy gasoline to make a big truck even bigger, but that's just what the Stretch Truck Company is doing-adding two more doors and more seating capacity to four-door pickups and big SUVs. They may not fit on tight trails, but as people haulers they're certainly cooler than a minivan. Check out www.stretchtruck.com for more info.

PhotosView Slideshow

Coolest Baby Toys
Sebastian Varas, who runs the www.twistedandes.com 4x4 Web portal down in South America, e-mailed us this photo of his son and what has to be the coolest nightlight in the world. Though our Spanish is horrible, we think Sebastian wrote, "Now he's going to sleep much better." In a subsequent e-mail (thankfully in English), Sebastian said, "Now the problem that I have is that he is the whole day on, off, on, off, on, off with the switch!!!"

Pw's response to all this: "See, kids can be useful. How else would a wife allow a CJ grille in the house, much less Jeep toys?"

Outstanding Trails named for '08
BFGoodrich Tires is continuing its Outstanding Trails program for 2008 and has added 6 trails to the 11 that have been recognized over the past two years. This year's Outstanding Trails, presented by BFG, Tread Lightly!, and United Four Wheel Drive Associations, are: Superstition Mountain, California (shown); Blacktail/Wild Bill National Recreation Trail, Montana; Iron Range, Minnesota; Pritchett Canyon, Utah; Quinn Trail, Ontario, Canada; and Beasley Knob, Georgia.

During the year, BFG will host several events at these trails to highlight the individuality of each location as well as educate off-road enthusiasts on the responsible use of each trail. To help with costs associated with the trail's conservation efforts, BFG will also present a grant to a selected off-road club at each trail event.

This Just In
* If you needed any more evidence that we're in tough economic times, Chrysler just announced it is closing its operations for two weeks in July and mandating that employees take vacation time during those two weeks. Automotive News reported that an internal memo from Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli to employees said the company was implementing the mandatory vacation plan "in order to create better alignment and efficiency across organizational lines and boost productivity." We think that's corporate-speak for "save money."

* It's not just Chrysler experiencing a downturn. Toyota is going to cut back on the number of Tundra pickups and Sequoia SUVs it builds in its Indiana and Texas plants because of slow sales. No lay-offs are planned, luckily.

* Blame the weakness of the dollar, not any hiccup in oil production or refinery problems, for the latest spike in oil prices, says the Los Angeles Times. Current record prices for crude oil, at more than $100 per barrel, mean we're almost certain to see $4-per-gallon gasoline by summer, if not before.

Earth Watch
* The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) are teaming up with their nationally recognized attorneys in the fight for Rescue Tellico, a program to protect OHV access in the Upper Tellico OHV Area in North Carolina. This alliance amongst the groups and their attorneys, in cooperation with Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, is a historic undertaking. The groups will consolidate their efforts, bringing together their collective expertise, resources, and other strengths derived from their grassroots memberships. Collectively, BRC and UFWDA represent over half a million recreationists committed to responsible and sustainable vehicle-based recreation on public lands. We'll keep you posted on their progress.

* SEMA reports that Washington, New York, and Hawaii are each considering legislation that would, in various ways, impose a fine on vehicles with big engines. Of course, the various state governments aren't calling it a fine. But what else is a "progressive fee" based on engine size and calculations of carbon emissions (the Washington version); a "progressive purchase surcharge" on new motor vehicles based on calculations of carbon emissions (the New York version); and another "progressive fee" based purely on engine size (in Hawaii)? These fees would be levied at time of purchase, first-time registration, and/or subsequent annual registration. If that makes you mad (and it should), contact your local representative and blast him!

* SEMA also tells us The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that 12,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in California must be closed to the public to protect the Peirson's milk-vetch plant. But the good news is the agency excluded 10,000 acres of dunes, known as the Algodones Dunes, where most off-road activities take place.

* We've also heard from the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) that an appeals officer for the USDA Forest Service reversed a decision that would have closed over 14 miles of historic OHV motorized trails in a Northern California forest. This decision was in response to appeals filed by the BRC and Del Norte County to the Smith River National Recreation Area Road Management and Route Designation Project on the Six Rivers National Forest. BRC believed the Ranger District had misinterpreted the 2001 Clinton Roadless Rule as prohibiting the designation of motorized trails in roadless areas. "This decision clearly supports BRC's continuing legal viewpoint that the 2001 Clinton Roadless Rule allows for motorized trails to be designated in roadless areas," said Don Amador, BRC western representative. "As the route designation process continues on other forests, it will be important for local user groups to highlight important OHV routes that already exist in roadless areas so they may be included as meaningful options in the travel management plan."

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