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Drivelines - November 2013

Brian Shirleys Buggy
Drew Hardin
| Contributor
Posted September 11, 2013

The Latest Industry News

Diesel Power for Ram 1500
The 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6, the same turbodiesel offered in the new Grand Cherokee, is available in Ram 1500 pickups for 2014. Making 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of peak torque, the dual-overhead-cam engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the same trans found behind the 1500’s optional 5.7L Hemi V-8. (The standard Ram 1500 motor, the Pentastar V-6, is also backed by an eight-speed, though it’s a lighter-duty transmission.)

Ram says the EcoDiesel will give the 1500 “best-in-class fuel economy.” Official mileage numbers haven’t been released, but Ram’s engineers expect highway fuel economy to exceed 25 mpg. When the trucks go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2013, the diesel option will cost $2,850 more than the Hemi.

“EcoDiesel gives the Ram 1500 best-in-class fuel economy”

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This Just In
Our big boss Doug Evans, the executive vice president and group publisher of the Enthusiast Automotive Group, has been elected chairman-elect of SEMA. Evans will remain chairman-elect for two years, then serve as chairman for two years, then end his run by transitioning to the position of immediate past chair for two additional years. The chairman position is the highest volunteer position and highest honor in the entire SEMA organization. During his term, Evans will work with SEMA’s president and CEO, Chris Kersting, and the board of directors on guiding the association, the SEMA Show, and by extension the entire automotive aftermarket industry over the next six years.

NORRA has put a second vintage racing event on its calendar. In addition to the springtime Mexican 1000 Rally, the sanctioning body will put on a Mexican 500 Rally Sept. 27-30, which starts and finishes in Ensenada.

Ford will no longer offer a Harley-Davidson edition F-Series pickup, says Automotive News. Doug Scott, Ford’s truck marketing manager, was quoted by the trade paper saying, “We’ve got 10 models including a brand-new Limited, which was new for 2013. We feel like we’ve got the market really well covered.”

Callaway, best known for its supertuned Corvettes and other high-performance cars, also offers hot-rodded trucks: Suburbans, Tahoes, Escalades, and so on. Its engineers are currently developing supercharged versions of the new GM EcoTec3 V-8 engines that will be available in ’14 GM pickups. Callaway hopes to squeeze more than 450 hp out of the 5.3L V-8 and in excess of 540 hp out of the 6.2L, and put them in Callaway-branded sport trucks.

New Hemi, Suspension for Ram HD
There’s big news on the heavy-duty side of the Ram house too. Bigger news, in a way. A new Hemi engine, displacing 6.4 liters and producing 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque, will be available in ’14 Ram 2500 HD and 3500 HD trucks. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the 6.4L will cost $1,495 more than the 5.7L Hemi that’s standard in the HD lineup. (The 6.7L Cummins is still available for the HD trucks as well, backed by either a manual or automatic transmission.)

Ram engineers have also taken the link-coil rear suspension setup used beneath the light-duty pickups and adapted it for the 2500 trucks. Ram expects the new five-link, coil-spring suspension to deliver “best-in-class” ride quality while not compromising the truck’s payload or tow capabilities. Complete tow and payload specs for the ’14 models haven’t been released, though the 2500 will have a max tow rating (for 4x2 models, we’re sure) of up to 17,940 pounds.

The 2500 HDs can also be fitted with an optional air suspension that replaces the coil springs with airbags. In addition to improving ride quality even further, the air suspension offers automatic load leveling to adjust the height of the rear springs to level the truck when cargo is in the bed.

Airbags are available on the 3500 HD trucks too, as a supplement to the leaf springs. By adding the bags, the leaves can be softer, say the Ram folks, allowing for more suspension movement and the automatic load leveling.

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Jeep, NHTSA Settle Recall Dispute
It was an unprecedented action: When the NHTSA requested that Jeep recall 2.7 million ’93-’04 Grand Cherokees and ’02-’07 Jeep Libertys to better protect their fuel tanks during rear-end collisions, Chrysler at first refused, something manufacturers rarely do.

The safety board maintained that the vehicles were a fire risk, as some 51 people had died in fires following collisions that damaged the rear-mounted fuel tanks in those Jeep models. Chrysler’s response was that those vehicles actually exceeded the safety requirements mandated during those model years. The deaths, while tragic, occurred at a rate lower than other vehicles in the class. The Jeeps were actually “among the safest in the peer group,” said Chrysler, and were not defective.

But understanding the potential damage to its reputation in the court of public opinion, Chrysler compromised. It instituted “a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts,” said the company in a statement. That upgrade is a bolt-on steel trailer hitch.

Our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one in a vehicle accident. But we totally understand Chrysler’s position. Is it really fair to hold an automaker responsible for meeting ever-changing safety requirements? Would we demand Ford put seatbelts in Model Ts? Demand Jeep put airbags in CJs?

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Rescue Rubi Gets Revived
Bryan Hutton was visiting his parents in Moore, Oklahoma, this past May when the EF-5 tornado ripped through. Hutton, who was raised in Moore, and his family rode out the 210-mph winds in a storm shelter. His ’12 Rubicon, called Stomper, was in his parents’ garage.

The tornado leveled the neighborhood, including the garage where Stomper was parked. Hearing neighbors trapped beneath rubble, Hutton decided to see if his damaged Rubicon would fire. It did, and he was able to drive over debris on three flat tires. He used his Warn winch to help free Moore residents trapped beneath toppled walls. He then ferried injured people to triage.

Camp Crocker at Cop 4x4 in Mesa, Arizona, saw Stomper’s story on the Web. He contacted Hutton and offered to revive the JK as a thank-you for his heroism. Airaid supplied the trailer to transport the JK from Hutton’s home in Ohio to Arizona. Other companies that got involved include Rugged Ridge, Diablo Sport, Rock Slide, Teraflex, Rock Krawler, Warn, Metal Cloak, Bushwacker, RCD, RCV, Amsoil, Kicker, ARB, and Burnsville Off-Road.

A fully redone Stomper will be on display at the 2013 SEMA Show in Las Vegas this November. Omix-Ada/Rugged Ridge is flying Hutton and his wife Brenda to the show, where they’ll be the guests of honor at an industry function. For more information, see Cop 4x4’s Stomper Fan page at Facebook.com/TheRebuildingOfStomper.
—Tom Morr

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  • Ricky Hutton rode in his car seat while his dad Bryan winched walls off of trapped residents. The Huttons then shuttled tornado victims to emergency care.

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