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March 2013 RPM - Off Road Industry News

Posted in News on March 1, 2013
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That’s Interesting
American Suzuki Motor Corp. is in the midst of shutting down auto dealerships and also borrowing up to $45 million (with the hope of $100 mil) Suzuki Motor put the U.S. distributor in bankruptcy over losses in the states.

Toyota has built its 25 millionth vehicle in North America. Not a truck, but we’ll overlook that.

Carrentals UK studied more than 700 people in the UK and found that women were better drivers than men—based on having fewer accidents and fewer points on their driving record. And, you know, because women are better than men.

The HondaJet has begun production. Can a HondaJet car be far off? No.

South Australia’s Motor Accident Commission’s antispeeding campaign features bodies intertwined in a wrecked car to make its point. Because speeding is an art form.

Put it on your calendar now: July 12, 2013, Collector Car Appreciation Day. It’s the fourth-consecutive event that raises awareness of how much auto restoration and collection matter.

Phoenix Marketing International took a look at public perception of brands—advertising awareness, purchase consideration, and more—and Ford and Toyota came out as, well, well-perceived.

Nissan is creating more than 800 jobs at its Smyrna Vehicle Plant in Tennessee.

Is It True?
This is what it looks like when about 200 ’13 Ram 1500 Big Horns are hanging out at a dealer drive-away event.

Land Rover hybrid with electric motor and diesel V-6?

Check, a vehicle history reporting service, which learned that many cars destroyed in some way from Hurricane Katrina are still on the market these days, and with Hurricane Sandy, the cycle may repeat. How can you tell if a vehicle has been flood-damaged before it ended up in your hands? Try that site as well as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, which pulls data from the DMV, salvage yards, and insurance carriers.

And: Automotive News reports that Toyota, Chrysler, Honda, and Nissan will dump more than 15,000 new vehicles because of damage from Hurricane Sandy that renders them “un-saleable”?

Gas is so expensive, people have taken to Craigslist to trade s-e-x for f-u-e-l?

Jaguar wants to make the manual transmission en vogue again?

Is a federal lawsuit headed Hyundai and Kia’s way due to overblown fuel-economy claims?

Your Government At Work
The EcoLogic Partners lawsuit against the California Department of Parks and Recreation about the closure of recreational vehicles routes in Truckhaven/Freeman Property has ended with the judge finding the parks violated the California Environmental Quality Act “when it approved a boundary signage and fencing project without first analyzing whether or to what extent the project would have adverse impacts on natural and recreational resources.”

Gee, That Press Release Sounds Naughty:
“New Preval Product Takes the Pain Out of Spraying.”

Which States Are Gaining and Losing Vehicles? took a look at vehicle inventory info to sort out which state has the most vehicles entering and which has the most leaving, via customer-transfer data. Michigan has the most entering, with 287.5 percent more entering versus leaving. It’s the top state for cars imported from nearby states, and even from California. New Jersey ranked second highest, followed by New York. Illinois is tops for vehicles exiting, with 181.3 percent doing that compared to arrivals.

What’s Happening In The Industry
More scoop on the HUMVEE C-Series vehicle kit: The base kit starts at $59,995. Details are at

The SCORE Baja 1000 is 45 years old. And did you know Rod Hall has competed in all?

Colorado’s Stay the Trail program is about proper trail etiquette; its reps teach about OHV use on public land and trail ethics. Now it’s training volunteers to be Stay the Trail Ambassadors and spread the word on responsible trail use. Get the details at and

In case you were asking around, the answer is: Haartz. That’s the supplier of the ’13 Jeep Wrangler’s soft-top material, called Twillfast RPC.

Here’s an anniversary we probably won’t add to our calendar’s regular birthday alerts: Ford SYNC, the connectivity system, is five years old.

Newsweek named Goodyear one of America’s Greenest Companies in its annual ranking of U.S. corporations, but cooler was Time mag’s nod of its Air Maintenance Technology being named a best invention of 2012.

Omix-Ada, which makes Jeep accessories and parts, has turned 20 years old. (And to commemorate the occasion, it will donate $200,000 to causes that matter to the off-road industry. Rethinking that commemorative drinking spree on your birthday?)

Dana scored the “People’s Pick” award for best axles in an eBay Motors competition.

And another winner: The Wrangler was named Hottest 4x4-SUV for 2013 by SEMA via the SEMA Award.

PBM Performance Group has bought World Products Auto Division.

Yokohama has upgraded its iPad app. The free deal is available through the iTunes app store.

Girls Gone Weld: Lincoln Electric has launched a line of women’s welding apparel.

Conversion Kits
VWerks, which builds specialty vehicles and is an off-road parts manufacturer, now has a dealer-direct program for customizing Wrangler JKs. The packages come in five different stages, ranging from performance shocks and rubber to a fabricated steel rear bumper and CV-style front driveshaft. The company also offers the Ram Baja KTS Series for converting ’09-’13 Rams to desert-ready, including a KORE Baja 1000-style suspension, exhaust, and other beefy components. There’s also the availability of a 392 Hemi conversion for the ’12 Wrangler and JK8; the conversion package makes for 465 horses and 465 lb-ft of torque, and a V5 package with a 4-inch lift, steering stabilizer kit, wheels and tires, and other parts. Go to for the scoop on all three vehicles.

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Which Vehicle Was the One That Got Away?
We’re wondering which vehicle was the love of your life and the one that got away, and what happened. Come on over to Four Wheeler’s Facebook page ( and tell us! These are our picks:

Brubaker: Darn rust. It consumed my ’77 International Scout at such a shocking rate I just couldn’t keep up with it. It was on its third body tub when I finally raised the white flag over my white Scout. I really miss that rig. I drove the truck to work every day and my wife and I had many off-road adventures in that truck, from logging trails in northern Wisconsin to old mining roads in the high country of Colorado. The truck was mega ugly, but I loved its simplicity. The 345ci V-8 never let me down, nor did the TorqueFlite 727 trans, Dana 20 T-case, or Dana 44 axles. As they used to say, “Scout. Anything less is just a car.”

Cappa: Maybe I’m an oddball, but I don’t fall in love with my 4x4 projects. I build them up to use them. Oh sure, when I first finish them, I’ll baby them for a bit, but after they get a few dents or have been on their lid, it’s game on. I’ll find trails they have no business being on and then drive, bash, and squeeze through. Typically, by the time I get rid of my old rigs, they are pretty well used up and I have wringed just about all the fun I can have out of them. So would I want one of my beat-up, old, and wornout 4x4s back again? Nope, no thanks…Oh, anyone wanna buy a used 4x4? Never been off-road...yeah, right!

Mansour: I wish I still owned my ’98 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It wasn’t overly unique or the best wheeler, but I learned so much building and wheeling it that in hindsight I feel I should have just held onto it. It’s one of those vehicles that I often wonder how well it could be built now with my current knowledge, skill set, and aftermarket support.

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