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Freightliner Unimog - 4X News

Posted in News on July 1, 2001 Comment (0)
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It Had to be the Dana 44
Working in the magazine industry, we're often reminded that we aren't perfect. Sometimes we remind ourselves, and other times we leave it to you, the readers, to levy this distinction. Most recently, we earned it via the "Axle Spotter's Guide" that appeared on page 90 of the May '01 issue. Somewhere along the line of putting together the story, the photo of the Dana 44 got shuffled out and replaced with one of a GM 12-bolt. Jim Huff at HyTech Automotive & 4x4 Service in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was the first reader to bring this to our attention, though we expect to hear from many others. We apologize for the mistake and hope it didn't confuse too many of you with a Dana 44 under your rig. The correct photo appears at left.

Freightliner Brings Unimog Stateside
Introduced in 1948 as a multipurpose farm vehicle, the Unimog, short for UNIversal-MotorGert or universal power unit, is beginning yet another chapter of its life. Big rig player, Freightliner, will manufacture and market a new Unimog in North America in 2002.

Though the Unimog has been sold in the U.S. since the early 1950s, it has jumped from marketer to marketer, starting with Mercedes-Benz, then J.I. Case, back to Mercedes-Benz, then to Schmidt Engineering and Equipment Company, and back to Mercedes-Benz in 1991. This time around, DaimlerChrysler subsidiary, Freightliner, will take the helm, offering the hefty 4x4 in a medium-duty configuration with all the bells and whistles of a modern SUV.

The new 'Mog will be available with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) of as much as 27,500 pounds, and with short and long wheelbases. Engines will be four- and six-cylinder Mercedes offerings mated to the Telligent Shift Control System automated-mechanical transmission, a unit said to combine the best attributes of both manual and automatic transmissions. Other features include the optional VarioPilot, a system that lets you move the steering wheel, pedals, and the necessary switch controls from one side of the vehicle to the other in under one minute. Freightliner will also offer a SportChassis version for the sport and recreation market. Suggested retail base price will be $84,000. Look for the Freightliner Unimog starting in late 2001.

Humjeep
There's trouble in manufacturer land over GM's '02 Hummer H2 SUV. Turns out DaimlerChrysler is not too thrilled over the use of a Jeep-like grille design on the new GM beast. Spokespeople for DC filed a suit over the matter, stating that GM allegedly appropriated the trademarked design, which they contend is one of the world's most recognizable auto-styling features.

DC cited that in an independent analysis conducted by a market research firm it was determined that the new Hummer grille is likely to mislead potential buyers. Nearly 2/3 of all Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee owners taking part in the survey incorrectly associated the H2 with a Jeep, and more than 50 percent of the other SUV owners polled did the same. Why did they think it was a Jeep? Well, it was that Jeep grille design, of course. DC wants GM to recall all H2s shipped with the Jeep-like grille, account for all profits made from it, and pay for the trademark infringement and related violations. Can't everyone just get along? We'll keep you posted.

Would You Like a GPS with Your CB Radio?
Cobra Electronics has purchased Lowrance Electronics, which manufactures the Eagle and Lowrance lines of GPS receivers and was the first GPS manufacturer to cater to the off-roading community with its Accu-Trail receiver/plotter. GPS Notes reported in the Sept. 2000 issue that the previously announced acquisition of Lowrance by Orbital Sciences (Magellan GPS receivers) had collapsed.

If you own a CB radio, the chances are very good that it's made by Cobra. Owners of Lowrance units now have a much stronger company to support its products. Lowrance should have access to new capital, as well, which will allow for a modernization of its product line.

Truckin' Nationals locks in Three-Year Agreement
A three-year co-promotion deal was struck to host the Gr8Ride Truckin' Nationals and Hot Bike Jamboree, the preeminent truck and motorcycle show in the country, between Phoenix's Firebird International Raceway and McMullen Argus Publications. If you were wondering, that's us, along with the likes of OFF-ROAD, Today's SUV, Classic Trucks, Mini Truckin', and, of course, and Hot Bike. This also marks the second year of Gr8Ride as the title sponsor.

The 2001 event, being held October 13-14, will offer a wide range of activities and events, including show 'n' shines for both trucks and bikes, drag racing, toughest 4x4 championship, off-road rides and drives, monster trucks, a beauty contest, live bands, and more than 100 vendors and displays. For more information about this year's event, visit the Gr8Ride Web site at www.Gr8Ride.com.

Paris-Dakar 2001
The first race event of the new millennium kicked off before dawn on New Year's Day in Paris at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It began in the dark, in the rain, and wound its way through France and Spain, and on to Africa through Morocco, Mauritania, and Mali, finishing in sun-drenched Senegal. The three vehicle categories - Motorcycles, Cars (SUVs), and Trucks (heavy-duty diesels) - raced on highways and racetracks, through vineyards, in the desert, and on the beach, with the Car class providing the most exciting footage.

The Car class lead changed many times during the course of the race, with France's Jean-Louis Schlesser, in a prototype Renault buggy, and Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka, in a Mitsubishi Pajero, fighting for First Place. In stage 18, Masuoka broke a wheel and Schlesser took the lead - until he punctured a tire, giving Masuoka the stage. At the beginning of stage 19, a controversial early start by the Frenchman caused him to be penalized one hour, a setback that was too much to make up in two stages. He finished Third. Masuoka, then in the lead, battled with German Jutta Kleinschmidt, also in a Mitsubishi, for the win. They raced along the beach in Senegal toward the city of Dakar, and Ms. Kleinschmidt was the first to the finish line, just minutes ahead of Masuoka. Her victory marks the first time in Paris-Dakar history that a German has won. It is also the first time a woman has ever won the 20-stage, 10,000-kilometer (6,250-mile) competition.

CA4WDC's 42nd Annual Convention
The California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs gathered in Woodland, California, last February for its 42nd annual convention. Made up of more than 53 California clubs, the CA4WDC hosts the meeting every year to discuss changes to current policies and governing rules as they pertain to 4x4s and 4x4 enthusiasts, and what trails need extra environmental work to either preserve or make them better.

The chief goal is to get California clubs and individuals involved in what's happening with their sport and educate them on the benefits of working with federal, state, and county agencies, as well as environmental groups. The convention isn't all business, however, as revealed by the vendor's row and awards ceremony, and not to mention the giveaway Jeep TJ raffled off to the crowd. Event vendors included nationally known companies such as 4 Wheel Parts Performance Centers, Advance Adapters, Warn Enterprises, and Sun Performance, as well as local businesses such as Extreme Gear Off-Road Products and O'Briens' 4 Wheels West. Awards were presented to those groups and individuals that made the greatest efforts toward the conservation of the trails and the environment.

For more information about the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, visit its Web site at www.cal4wheel.com.

DC Sets Pricing For 2002 Liberty
With legions of Jeep owners still bellyaching over the loss of the Cherokee, DaimlerChrysler is moving on. The company announced that the all-new '02 Jeep Liberty will be offered in the U.S. market with a base price of just $17,035, and that includes the mysterious $585 destination charge. The 4x4 models, however, are slightly more expensive, with the Liberty Sport coming in at $18,545 and the Limited Editions starting at $23,305.

What do you get for all that? The Sport model features a 150hp 2.4L Power Tech engine with a five-speed manual transmission and all of the good interior stuff that Jeeps come with nowadays. DC will also offer the all-new 210hp 3.7L Power Tech V-6 and a multi-speed automatic transmission as an option in the Sport. Limited Editions get the 3.7L and the auto out of the gates, along with all of the creature comforts. Another new edition for the Liberty will be side airbag curtains, which are designed to provide additional head protection for both front and rear occupants.

The Liberty is scheduled for release early this summer, starting with the 3.7L automatic trans models. The 2.4L lineup will be out in the fall. All vehicles will be built at the all-new Toledo North manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio.

Industry News
Europa International, Incorporated /G-Wagen U.S.A. recently completed the sale to DaimlerChrysler AG of the U.S. distribution rights for the Mercedes-Benz four-wheel-drive Gelaendewagen for 2002 and future model-years. According to David Holland, President of Europa in Santa Fe, the company's success in importing and selling new G-Wagens in the U.S. market sparked the interest of DC's U.S. affiliate, Mercedes-Benz U.S.A., and led to the decision to purchase Europa's U.S. rights. Mercedes-Benz U.S.A. is expected to begin selling the '02 G-Wagen through its dealer network in early 2002. Europa will continue to provide sales, parts, service, and warranty support for 2001 and the prior model-year G-Wagens through its Santa Fe facility. For more information, visit www.gwagen.com.

Black Diamond Advanced Off-Road Equipment, formerly manufactured and marketed by Warn Industries, has been purchased by Woods Ready Distributing. Woods Ready will continue to use the Black Diamond name, though all corporate offices and manufacturing will be relocated to West Monroe, Louisiana. The company plans to continue the manufacture of much of its products in addition to widely expanding the product line to include most popular domestic and import truck applications. For more information and dealer inquiries, visit the company Web site at www.blackdiamondoffroad.com.

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