Coming to America
We expect to see India's Mahindra line of pickup trucks sold in the U.S. by July 2009. If you've never heard of Mahindra (or maybe you have), you can trace its roots back to post-World War II when the company won a contract from Jeep to produce the Mahindra Jeep under license. Now one of the Top 200 reputable companies according to Forbes, Mahindra has partnered with importer Global Vehicles, USA to bring some of its vehicles to the U.S. The initial lineup will include a mid-size SUV and a midsize pickup available in regular-cab or crew-cab configurations. The vehicles will feature a four-cylinder commonrail clean diesel backed by a sixspeed automatic transmission, and will be the first Indian-made vehicles to be sold in the U.S. To gain the trust of American buyers, Mahindra will offer a 4-year/60,000-mile warranty.
Gets New Diesel Always popular internationally, the low-volume U.S.-spec Land Cruiser has only seen V-8 gasoline engines in the U.S. in recent years. For international markets, the Land Cruiser is available with the D-4D 4.5L twin-turbodiesel V-8, which has common-rail injection and variable nozzle turbocharging. Output is 268 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. While there are no current plans to offer this engine in the U.S., those plans could certainly change, depending on the economic climate. It would also be a great fit for the Tundra when the F-150 comes out with the rumored 4.4L turbodiesel V-8 and the Silverado gets the new 4.5L Duramax V-8 in the next couple of years.
Next-Generation Hummer H2 Cancelled
While the H2 will continue on the current platform until the end of its life cycle in 2011 or so, GM has announced that the next-generation H2 has been shelved, opening up resources for the upcoming H3T, H4, and H3 redesign. We have seen the next-generation H2, and we can tell you that losing it will be a huge blow to the Hummer brand. The next generation was to offer an even more luxurious interior (even better than an Escalade), a 4.5L Duramax V-8, and a longbed H2 SUT. While you won't see a diesel H2 or a longbed SUT, some of the styling cues and interior refinements may appear on the current platform as Hummer keeps it fresh and relevant as long as possible.
Super Dodge Conversion
Warner Bodies has released its new pickup conversion for the Dodge 3500/4500/5500 chassis cabs and Sterling Bullet. This conversion includes a 30,000-pound convertible gooseneck hitch, a bedliner, and a 10-inch polished stainless step bumper. With the new 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel and an industryleading 52-gallon fuel tank, this conversion could be just the ticket for your heavy hauling needs. For more information, check out www.warnerbodies.com.
When the Hummer H3 is freshened in a couple years, you can expect a few major changes, such as the addition of the 3.6L DI V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission. What will be gained is incredible engine refinement, as the 3.6L is arguably the best V-6 to ever come out of General Motors. What remains to be seen though, is if the 3.6L will be as tractable at low rpm as the I-5 is. We also hope Hummer finds it in themselves to keep a manual transmission on the options list to maintain one of the best crawl ratios in the business, as well as having something for those shift-it-for-yourself kind of guys.
Tread Lightly!Charity Auction
In an effort to raise money to combat urgent off-road recreation issues on public land, the nonprofit Tread Lightly! is holding a large charity auction on eBay, June 2-11. More than 150 items have been donated from companies across the country for the cause. The lineup includes a new UTV from John Deere, an electric winch from MileMarker, and lots of four-wheel-drive, outdoors, and powersports equipment with low starting bids. Get more information about the auction and see the rest of the products at www.treadlightly.org.
BFG Announces Outstanding Trails 2008
BFGoodrich recently announced six new trails to be recognized as part of its Outstanding Trails program for 2008. Over the past two years, BFG has partnered with Tread Lightly! and United Four Wheel Drive Associations to recognize 11 trails in 10 states and one in Canada. This year, the list of Outstanding Trails will expand to include the following:
Superstition Mountain, California
Blacktail/Wild Bill National
Iron Range, Minnesota
Pritchett Canyon, Utah
Quinn Trail, Ontario, Canada
Beasley Knob, Georgia
The Outstanding Trails program is dedicated to the responsible use and preservation of off-road trails, while providing aid in the conservation efforts for the trails. We hope to attend some of the Outstanding Trails events this year and will keep you up to date from the trailhead. For more information, point your browser to www.bfgoodrichtires.com, www.treadlightly.org, and www.ufwda.org.
Land Use Notes
New Proposal Seeks to Add 375 Miles of OHV Trails to Plumas National Forest
The Plumas National Forest (PNF) will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement associated with its Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) route designation project, which designates authorized motorized trails and riding areas within the forest. Established in 1905, the Plumas National Forest occupies 1,146,000 acres in California's northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. This project is part of a nationwide U.S. Forest Service process to authorize OHV use on those existing trails, roads, and areas which will provide for a variety of recreational experiences within the national forest system. Over the past few decades, the availability and capability of motor vehicles, particularly OHVs and SUVs, has increased. Nationally, the number of OHV users has increased sevenfold in the past 30 years, from approximately 5 million in 1972 to 36 million in 2000. California is experiencing the highest level of OHV use of any state in the nation. There were 786,914 ATVs and OHV motorcycles registered in 2004, up 330 percent since 1980. Annual sales of ATVs and OHV motorcycles in California were the highest in the United States for the last five years. Four-wheel-drive vehicle sales in California also increased by 1,500 percent, to 3,046,866, from 1989 to 2002.
In addition to the existing 102 miles of motorized system trails that exist in the PNF, the draft proposal includes 375 miles of additional motorized trails- many of which were previously unauthorized, usercreated trails. The proposal also includes the addition of a 36-acre open riding area and adds three existing routes to the motorized trails system in previously vehicle-restricted locations. Following a decision on this proposal, a map will be produced identifying all roads, trails, and open areas that are designated for motor-vehicle use. The map will also specify the classes of vehicles for which use is designated. Maps and tables describing in detail both the PNF transportation system and the proposed action can be found at: www.fs.fed.us/r5/plumas/projects_and_plans/ ohv_route_designation/.
* VW has a new pickup truck that has been spotted in cold-weather testing and is rumored to be named Robust.
* The American Trucking Association is pushing a plan to have a national 65-mph speed limit for vehicles with trailers.
* Kia is said to be readying a midsize pickup for the U.S. market that will be built in Georgia.