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March 2008 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on March 1, 2008
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General Motors recently announced that it is investing $73 million in its Shreveport, Louisiana, truck plant for production of the upcoming Hummer H3T. We recently caught the H3T in Mexico chasing for Team Hummer in the Baja 1000, and for the first time sporting the production bed. The H3T is based off of the H3 platform and has a unique, stretched frame and will only be available in a crew-cab configuration, not the regular cab of the H3T concept. As you can see, the H3T will be a true pickup, with a full 5-foot bed, and not an SUT. Word on the street says it and the H3 will finally get that front locker we have been asking for and will have enough bed accessories to make it the Swiss Army knife of pickups. Drivetrain options will mimic the H3 lineup.

As part of its 60th birthday celebration in 2008, Land Rover has announced plans to offer a limited edition Defender SVX, based on the Defender 90-a rare import that briefly roamed these shores. Only 200 Defender SVX 'utes (in both hard and soft tops) will be produced and will feature individually number plaques, as well as tubular side-steps, front grille surround, unique five-spoke alloy wheels, a reinforced aluminum front skidplate, and clear LED rear lights. The interior adds custom Recaro front seats, aluminum gear knobs, and a new high-end audio system with Garmin GPS. If only they would bring the 90 back to us. Please?

BFGoodrich Tires has announced an extension of its relationship with SCORE International and its Desert Racing Series. The agreement positions BFGoodrich Tires as the official tire of SCORE International into the year 2018. BFGoodrich tires have played a decisive role towards winning the overall title in the Baja 1000 for 20 consecutive years from 1986 through 2005. BFGoodrich Tires' commitment to the growth of SCORE International and off-road racing is also demonstrated in its support of numerous competitors in 18 classes and several volunteer-based pit areas located along the race course of the Baja 1000.

BFGoodrich Tires dedicates 10 full-service tractor-trailer pit vehicles and nearly 250 volunteer and active personnel to support more than 73 percent of the field at the Baja 1000 who will be competing on BFGoodrich Tires, a tradition that has been in effect since 1981.

Could the rumors be true? Highly placed sources and Internet rumors indicate that Dodge is willing to ditch rear leaf springs on the upcoming Charger-nosed 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 in favor of a rear coil-spring arrangement. This would give ample-but probably not class-leading-towing capability, and potentially give Dodge the best riding and handling 1/2-ton in the market and do away with typical leaf-spring drawbacks, such as axle hop. For those who haul the big loads, the 2500-series and up will retain the leaf-sprung setups. We think this revolutionary approach to factory suspension is a great step into the future for Dodge and we can't wait to see what the possibilities are for a true off-road package that might utilize a JK-like rear suspension (or Chevy Avalanche and Hummer H2 SUT, if you prefer). We'll have more information after the North American International Auto Show in January.

To raise public awareness about our severely injured service men and women, the Arkansas Crawlers 4x4 Club enlisted assistance from several aftermarket parts specialists. The result is the Warrior Jeep. This custom 2007 JK Wrangler-donated by Superlift-will be given away in a random drawing on December 1, 2008. Sweepstakes tickets are tax-deductible and cost $25 each. All proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Valued at $80,000, the Warrior Jeep caught the industry's attention at the 2007 SEMA Show. Major modifications include a 6.1L Hemi and a Chrysler 545RF transmission, swapped in by Burnsville Off-Road using a Hotwire Auto harness. The powertrain is completed by an Advance Adapters Atlas transfer case, Dynatrac high-pinion axles with Detroit Lockers, and Tom Woods driveshafts. The Warrior uses a 4-inch Superlift Rockrunner suspension system to clear 37-inch Interco IROCs on 17x9 Walker Evans bead locks. A glut of accessories came courtesy of Mopar Performance, Street & Performance, American Expedition Vehicles, Bushwacker, Katzkin, Hi-Lift, and Powertank. Painter Joey Hutson executed the artistic tribute in DuPont colors. Complete specifications, a sweepstakes entry form, and official rules are on the Wounded Warrior Project Web site at www.warriorjeep.org.

Federal Government To Close 100,000 Acres To Ohv Use In Utah
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced the closure of approximately 100,000 acres in the Indian Creek Corridor of San Juan County, Utah. While OHV use will be permitted on existing roads and trails, all "cross-country" OHV activity within the designated area is prohibited. This closure will remain in effect until the BLM completes a review of its existing management plan for OHV use in San Juan County. Large-scale public land closures are consequential to SEMA members as they deny access to off-roaders and the equipment that they purchase for off-road use. SEMA has worked with the other land access groups on reasonable land-use policies that protect motorized recreation and our nation's natural wonders.

Court Rejects Fuel-Economy Rules For Light Trucks And Suvs
A federal appeals court in California rejected fuel-economy standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for model-year 2008-2011 light trucks, vans, and SUVs. The court ruled that the NHTSA had made several errors in the rulemaking, such as a failure to adequately weigh the economic benefits of reduced carbon-dioxide emissions if the agency had issued stricter corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and a failure to limit the total number of large vehicles that could be produced under the standards. At issue is the NHTSA's new size-based fuel-economy program for light trucks, vans, and SUVs. Under the program, CAFE rates are based on the vehicle's footprint as measured by wheelbase-the bigger the footprint, the lower the mileage requirement. The actual total mileage rates achieved will vary, depending on the mix of trucks sold by each automaker. Manufacturers that sell smaller vehicles will have higher CAFE requirements than those that sell larger vehicles. The automakers have the choice of working within the new size-based system or continuing to meet a traditional total fleet average. The fleet numbers are 22.5 mpg for 2008, 23.1 mpg in 2009 and 23.5 mpg in 2010. The appeals court criticized the NHTSA because the rule did not mandate a minimum fleet average "backstop," thereby preventing manufacturers from producing large numbers of bigger vehicles. The court also said that the NHTSA had failed to revise the definitions of light trucks and automobiles to better distinguish between vehicles, such as certain SUVs that may be primarily designed to transport passengers rather than haul heavy loads or tow trailers. The NHTSA's 2008-2011 CAFE regulations will remain in effect while the agency reconsiders its rules, a process that may take years since the automakers must be given at least 18 months lead time before stricter standards are set.

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