•The ’17 Jeep Grand Cherokee snagged itself another title: Japan Eco-Car tax incentive vehicle. It’s a tax break for buyers, and this Jeep is only the second gas-based, American-made/brand to qualify there. The first? Come on down again, Jeep—the ’16 Cherokee Trailhawk.
•Seems the automotive and aftermarket industries are taking over Silicon Valley. The newest resident is Porsche Digital, which is going to be all about digital things, as well as mobility and connectivity.
•What turned 40 years old? Toyota North America’s R&D operations. And with that comes the growth of its R&D center in Michigan. The Toyota Motor North America Research & Development Purchasing and Prototype Development Center has expanded. We at first assumed this expansion was to fit that full name on the side of the building, but it seems to be about more capabilities regarding vehicle development, advance research, and the like. It’s a $154 million experience.
•Now you can get a Nissan-themed credit card. As in, it’s a Visa that gives you points toward vehicle purchases, accessories, and services. Or, oh, hey there, also cash.
•Here’s a fun idea: Whip out your Nissan credit card and go to the movies. Specifically, to the new Toyota 4D Engineering Theater at the Michigan Science Center. You can take your irony and plastic to check out films and other activities meant to pique the interest of STEM kids.
•How many people can you name in the Inventors Hall of Fame? Here’s an answer: Dr. Haren S. Gandhi. The late research engineer/staff scientist at Ford has been inducted, thanks in part to his whopping 167 global patents. His career also included being winner of various tech awards and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation—the highest honor in the U.S. for tech achievements. We made toast today.
•The University of Michigan will be naming its new robotics lab after Ford. There was a donation behind this, not just kindness of heart.
•AAA has named the winners of its Top Green Vehicle award for 2017, and the Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew topped the pickup category. SUV went to the Tesla Model X 75D.
•Mopar has opened the doors to its new Parts Distribution Center in Virginia.
•The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles was one of the winners of the ’17 American Architecture award. But haters still gonna hate.
•Chevy and AT&T can now add unlimited data to their vehicle. There are some parameters, natch.
•A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute has predicted that “the risk of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle has gone up slightly.” Sorry, spoiler alert. The study revealed that the overall rate of driver deaths for 2014 models is 30 per million registered vehicle years. All that matters in that sentence is that it translates to increasing from the 28 for 2011 models. Also, the words “tiny vehicles, high death rates.”
•Jeep scored Activity Vehicle of Texas for the ’17 Compass, and Performance Utility of Texas for the ’17 Grand Cherokee SRT from the Texas Auto Writers Association.
•Hot Shots is a new maintenance-parts express delivery service from Ford. We’re talking hoses, brakes, and filters, for starters.
•Wikilender studied both reported and unreported accident info and figured out the vehicles with the highest number of accidents. They included the Range Rover Evoque.
•The most searched vehicle in 2016 on classiccars.com was a ponycar, but it was interesting to see that Jeep was most searched in Pennsylvania and the F-100 topped Oklahoma.
•You know how awful you think you sound when you hear your voice on a recording (like the voice equivalent of accidentally opening your front camera)? Waze has figured out how to prolong this agony for you—there’s a new voice-recorder feature that allows you to record your own turn-by-turn directions.
•Another study has found that millennials and centennials both want self-drivers. Autolist.com learned that the M and C generations and also men are feeling the desire, and that male and female drivers of Audi vehicles “were among the most trusting of level two autonomous technology or above,” while male drivers of Acuras were the most trusting. Level 5 is considered complete autonomy, FYI.
•Hustler Turf Equipment has thrown its hat in the utility vehicle ring. Its Maximum Duty Vehicle is its first foray into side-by-sides/utilities, and it features things like LeveLift cargo box, CVT trans, load capacity of 1,685 pounds, and top speed of 37 mph.
Is It True?
•Is GM next at bat in the accusations of diesel-emissions tampering? Specifically, its pickups?
•Mergers of Fiat Chrysler with TBD companies? Fiat Chrysler selling off its arms, such as Jeep? It’s all bogus? (For now?)
•Six different engines for the all-new Jeep Wrangler?
•And is Jeep going to heavily focus on electric hybrids in the future?
•And Jaguar Land Rover said, go ahead, we’ll take diesels?
•The diesel market takes another hit, with the report that found the engines pollute 50 percent more than originally thought?
•And is Toyota investing its energy into flying electric vehicles for the 2020 Olympics?
•The Lamborghini Urus SUV will make 650 horsepower? And does urus mean an ox that’s a distant relative of cattle, like the dictionary said? And is there some deep meaning to this we need to stew over? And was a pun intended there?
•Aeromobil? A flying car?
•Exported to China—Humvees?
Your Government at Work
•Relationship news: AM General and the U.S. Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center are partnering on autonomous vehicles.
•Thank you, U.S. Census Bureau, for the factoid that Henry Ford set up the first assembly line in 1913, in which building a Model T went from 12 hours to 93 minutes.
•Looks like a land-use win: The BLM will be reopening miles of trails in Recapture Canyon in Utah for motorized use.
What’s Happening in the Industry
•There’s a new global HQ for Line-X. Home base is in Huntsville, Alabama, in a 60,000-square-foot facility.
•Randys has acquired Zumbrota. This is driveline replacement parts joining forces with bearings and gear, respectively.
•Omix-ADA made the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity the benefactor of the ’17 2nd annual Jeep Heritage Expo.
•Valvoline also raised money for Habitat for Humanity. Its Community Celebration was able to give $40,000 in proceeds to the org.
Four Wheeler App
Re-enactment, as told by us, as probably experienced by someone: Trail breakdown. Trail repair needed. Out-in-the-boonies panic begins. Then, remembrance of the installed Four Wheeler app. Instant perusal of topics, solution found in our tech/how-to section, crisis averted, ‘wheeling again. And…scene.
6.“FCA US has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for many months, including extensive testing of the vehicles, to clarify issues related to the Company’s emissions control technology in model-year (MY) 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles.
FCA US is currently reviewing the complaint, but is disappointed that the DOJ-ENRD has chosen to file this lawsuit. The Company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the Company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests. As FCA US announced last week, it has developed updated emissions software calibrations that it believes address the concerns of EPA and CARB, and has now formally filed for diesel vehicle emissions certification with the regulators for its 2017 model year (MY) Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles. Subject to the permission of EPA and CARB, FCA US intends to install the same modified emissions software in 2014-2016 MY Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles. FCA US believes this will address the agencies’ concerns regarding the emissions software calibrations in those vehicles.”
—Official statement from Fiat Chrysler. (“DOJ” is U.S. Department of Justice)
Land Speed Cruiser Goes Really Fast: 230 mph
There’s a custom Toyota that tackled a land speed record of more than 230 mph, with a 2,000hp 5.7L 3UR-FE V-8, with turbos worth 55 psi of boost. With these speeds comes the breaking of the World’s Fastest SUV record, which was 211 mph. The Land Speed Cruiser had been modified by the company’s Motorsports Technical Center.
Mopar One Pack: We Need This in North America
There’s a unique thing Mopar has engineered: the Mopar One pack, which takes a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and turns it into an even-more-off-road-ready rig, straight from the factory. This includes a 2-inch lift, flares and splashguards, bigger tires and wheels, and a steering stabilizer, plus other odds and ends. The “off-road customization package” is for the Wrangler Sahara and Sport. And not currently available in North America.
Nissan’s Project Basecamp Titan XD PRO-4X
Concept and one-off vehicles almost always have a theme. In the case of Project Basecamp from Nissan, it’s for “self-sustaining exploration of backcountry, capable of taking on any climate or terrain in its path.” Translation: It’s a Titan XD PRO-4X with the Cummins diesel, plus a 3-inch lift, 35-inch rubber, and seemingly every single aftermarket accessory known to off-road kind: lights, recovery bags, jack, remote-operated winch, nerf steps, lights, racks, beadlocks, air springs, fridge/freezer, exhaust/intake, tent, storage drawers, and, highly likely, an actual kitchen sink. Watch for this superstar at outdoor/overlanding-themed shows and events.