Chicago Preview-Nissan Debuts Three
Nissan is debuting a trio of trucks at the Chicago Auto Show including the 2008 Titan, Pathfinder, and Armada. The Titan and Armada receive a mild freshening and redesigned dash for 2008, in addition to more features and a long wheelbase and PRO-4X models for the Titan. Both carry on with the excellent 5.6L DOHC V-8 with added flexfuel capability. The Pathfinder is also freshened and refined, and now is available with the same V-8 out of the Titan and Armada. Does this mean we could see a V-8 Frontier in our future? These are all important products for Nissan, and none will arrive a day too early as Nissan has a serious need to fend off the ever-growing Toyota giant.
It is all but official-the Gladiator concept is dead. What interest resonated throughout the four-wheeling ranks was not enough to sustain the concept in production form, according to Jeep insiders. However, we don't think this is the last you'll see of a new vehicle utilizing the Jeep JK platform. It is well known that Jeep is looking to expand the JK chassis to include another vehicle or model, as was hinted at with the Trail Hawk concept at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (see page 46). Perhaps a new Scrambler isn't far behind.
Ford has entered a lawsuit against Navistar International Corporation over warranty costs and engine prices relating to the problematic 6.0L Power Stroke turbodiesel engine. While Ford is using a much-improved 6.4L Power Stroke in the '08 Super Duty, sources say the relationship between the two companies has soured and Ford, a company with a long diesel legacy, is already developing its own replacement diesel, a 6.7L V-8 for the 2010 model year Super Duty. Ford originally intended to use International's 4.5L V-6 "Baby Powerstroke" in the F-150, and has since dropped that plan for an in-house 4.4L V-6.
Jeep has announced that this year's Camp Jeep event will be held at the Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County, Virginia, near Charlottesville, July 26-28. Camp Jeep, which is only open to Jeep vehicles and owners, is only $245 per vehicle through March 31. Registration and additional info can be found at www.jeep.com/campjeep.
Ford's Van Dyke and Livonia Transmission Plants recently received multimillion-dollar investments to install a flexible machining line and new tooling to produce high-performance six-speed transmissions for the Escape and F-150. The F-150 six-speed will make its introduction with the redesigned 2009 F-150.
The industry is abuzz about the Commander being dropped from Jeep's future product schedule, and news reports have said that the Commander will not be redesigned when the current model's life cycle is over in 2009. The reports surmise that the Commander has not brought in new and different customers, rather cannibalizing Grand Cherokee sales while not meeting its own sales targets.
The new 6.7L I-6 turbodiesel offered on the '08 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty Bluetec is so clean, it is certified for strict 2010 emissions and it will be the first 2010-certified truck to be available in all 50 states. The Dodge Ram Bluetec goes on sale in March.
New Hampshire, Vermont Wilderness Bill Signed Into Law
In a flurry of late-year legislative activity, President Bush signed into law a measure that designated 76,000 acres of wilderness in New England. Based on recommendations from the U.S. Forest Service, approximately 34,500 acres of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest were designated as wilderness. The bill also provided for three wilderness areas totaling 41,600 acres in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest. The Vermont designation would have been larger, but Governor Jim Douglas objected to such a large wilderness designation in his state. He worked with federal lawmakers to remove 6,000 acres from the initial proposal.
The SAN continues to support land use decisions that allow local stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process. Within that context, the SAN supports compromise approaches on wilderness areas that balance the need to preserve access to appropriate motorized recreation while protecting some of our nation's natural wonders. The SAN is evaluating the practical or potential impact of these designations on the four-wheeling community.
* New Ford CEO Alan Mullaly has gone on the record stating that the entire Ford lineup will be revamped by 2010, showing that Ford knows new product is something it desperately needs right now.
* Reports say GM is interested in selling its Allison transmission division.
* The next-generation Land Cruiser and Lexus LX are expected to be available with Toyota's new 5.7L DOHC V-8.