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December 2011 RPM Off-Road Truck News

Posted in News on December 1, 2011
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GM Claims Best in Class for 2012
When it comes to the heavy-duty truck market, only losers sleep. For 2012, GM has made changes to its Silverado and Sierra 3500HD model to increase maximum towing and hauling numbers. Some of the changes are said to include revised rear leaf springs, U-bolts, and box mounts on certain models, with new cargo box strengthening measures and updated shocks rounding out the upgrades on trucks with the maximum payload and towing options. Thanks to these modifications, a properly equipped ’12 3500HD is now rated for 23,000 pounds in a fifth-wheel configuration (vs. 21,700 pounds in 2011) and 18,000 pounds in a conventional towing configuration (vs. 17,000 pounds), while payload has been upped to 7,215 pounds (vs. 6,635 pounds).

Odyssey Powers Finish
At a Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series race on July 2, 2011, the 900hp, number 22 Hart and Huntington/Premier Motorsports Pro 4 truck driven by Josh Merrell lost its alternator belt on lap 4 of a 20-lap race. Thanks to the performance of an onboard Odyssey battery, the truck was able to finish the additional 16 laps without the ability to charge the battery, despite using a powerful MSD ignition system. Merrell finished in a solid Fifth place.

Dakota Joins Ranger
The Dakota, which was the original mid-size pickup, debuted for the Dodge brand back in 1986 as an ’87 model. Over the years, the Dakota came in many variants, such as the familiar regular cab with two bed lengths and a performance-oriented V-8-powered Shelby Dakota model. In 1989 a convertible soft top version of the Dakota became the first American convertible pickup since the Ford Model A and in 1990 a Club Cab model was added with enough room to seat six. The last redesign came in 2005 and never really caught on. It was never offered in a regular cab configuration, only Club Cab and Quad Cab and shared a platform with the now defunct Mitsubishi Raider. The last Ram/Dodge Dakota rolled off the Warren Truck Plant assembly line on August 23, 2011, following Ford’s venerable Ranger into the automotive history books.

4x4s Top Most Stolen Vehicle List
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) released its list of the most stolen vehicles, based on an analysis of insurance claims from 2008-2010. Topping the list are all variants of the Cadillac Escalade, which is more than six times as likely as the average vehicle to be targeted by thieves. Pickups are another favorite of thieves, and the Ford F-250 Crew Cab 4WD is second to the Escalade for the most theft claims, with other models ranking high on the list. Overall, pickups have much higher theft losses than passenger cars and SUVs ($24 per insured vehicle year versus $9 and $12, respectively), though from 2007 to 2009 pickup losses fell substantially. The decrease may be because of the fact that ignition immobilizers, which prevent vehicles from being hot-wired, recently have become more common in pickups. The technology became widespread in cars and SUVs earlier. Rounding out the remaining eight in order are the Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab, Ford F-450 Crew Cab 4x4, GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab, Chrysler 300, Ford F-350 Crew Cab 4x4, Chevy Avalanche 1500, GMC Yukon, and the Chrysler 300 Hemi.

Quick Hits
Starting in 2014 medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be required to meet federally mandated fuel economy standards.

Land Rover is working on ways to take 1,000-pounds of mass out of its vehicles over the next decade.

Ford and Toyota have jointly announced a partnership that will co-develop the next-generation hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs. The new system will be available later this decade.

MDR California 200 Memorial Dedicated
The MDR California 200 Memorial has been permanently located at the Slash-X Ranch Café at 28040 Barstow Road (Hwy 247) in Stoddard Valley, 8 miles south of Barstow, California, for all to visit for years to come. The dedication on Saturday, August 13, 2011, one day less than a year after the accident that changed so many lives in the off-highway community, was built around the true spirit of life. The whole concept is meaningful: a figure “8” with the Ribbon Memorial sitting at the very top. Eight trees dedicated to those lost surround it, with 22 lights going up the walkway and 22 shrubs planted to represent the injured. Slash-X Ranch Café owner Brian Lynn graciously offered a piece of property to put this memorial. In a most unfortunate turn of events, Lynn was killed in an auto accident three days before the dedication. The Lynn family was added to the prayers of all at the event. The complete dedication can be viewed at

Legislative Notes
House Panel Considers the Benefits of OHV Recreation
A House Natural Resources Subcommittee recently held a hearing called “Opportunities for Outdoor Recreation on Public Lands.” The main topics of discussion were protecting recreational access to federal lands and recognizing the economic benefits derived from such activities. Witnesses included representatives from the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition and other OHV organizations. The hearing included testimony in support of multiple-use federal lands and responsible OHV recreation. Don Amador, Western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, spoke on the need to reopen the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in California. Currently closed due to an “emergency closure” in 2008, the CCMA contains more than 75,000 acres of land containing off-road trails. Amador testified that the decision was based on inaccurate data and false assumptions and that the land should be designated as a National Recreation Area with prescribed OHV uses. SEMA promotes the responsible use of federal lands for recreation and continues to oppose land use policies that are unnecessarily restrictive. “Wilderness designations” are of particular concern since no motorized activity is permitted on such land. In 2009, lawmakers passed 160 separate measures as one omnibus bill, thereby designating 2.2 million acres of new wilderness in nine states. Lawmakers are now discussing the possibility of designating millions more acres in the same fashion.

Recent Land Use Decisions a Mixed Bag for SEMA Members
The U.S. Department of the Interior has withdrawn its controversial “wild lands” policy, which directed lands with potential wilderness qualities to be managed as wilderness. SEMA joined with a number of other organizations to oppose the program, implemented last December by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), since it usurps the exclusive authority of Congress to designate “wilderness.” The designation is consequential to SEMA members that produce equipment intended for off-road activities and their customers since no motorized activities are allowed on “wilderness” lands. The BLM manages more than 250 million acres across the western United States and Alaska, 22-percent of which already have the wilderness designation. Under the wild lands program, the BLM was directed to review its inventory in search of more wild lands. Program opponents noted that it did not take into account input from local communities and elected officials on how the lands should be managed, such as permitting multiple uses that provide jobs and economic benefits. The controversial program was being challenged in Congress and in the courts.

In a separate action, the BLM closed 37 miles of roads and trails in southwest Idaho to protect a rare plant—the Packard’s milkvetch. Last November, the plant was listed as a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection and off-highway vehicles were identified as a threat. The plant is known to grow in a small area of Payette County. The BLM closure of 37 miles of OHV recreation around Willow Creek will last at least two years as the issue is reviewed. While supporting the need to protect endangered plants and animals, SEMA has called on Congress to update the Endangered Species Act to allow the government to pursue recovery habitats rather than simply close huge tracts of land.

A federal judge has rejected Utah’s lawsuit claiming state rights to a 10.5-mile road in Canyonlands National Park. The National Park Service closed the road in 1998, blocking motorized access to Angel Arch. The state of Utah and San Juan County had argued that the dried-up Salt Creek Canyon riverbed had a history of continuous use by vehicles, homesteaders and cattle herders, which provided a right of way to the national park. Widely considered the most spectacular arch in the park, visitors must now walk about 12 miles to reach Angel Arch.

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