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October 2008 4x4 News RPM

Dodge Ram Hd
Sean P. Holman | Writer
Posted October 1, 2008
Photographers: Brenda Priddy & Company, Brian Williams

While the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 was being readied for launch, our spy caught the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty out hot-weather testing in Death Valley, California. We expect the big Ram to be unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Thanks to the challenging sales environment for fullsize trucks, Ford has cancelled plans to use the Boss engine family in the F-150. Our sources tell us that work on the Boss continues in some form and that the engine could still be a candidate for the Super Duty. You might recall that the Boss engine program (formerly known as Hurricane) was revived by Mark Fields to be Ford's next-gen truck engine. What does this mean for the Boss-powered Raptor? Well, considering that the Raptor was to be built on the same assembly line as the F-150, it is not economically feasible to install tooling in the plant to install and test an engine that is only going to be in one limited production model, so the death of Boss for the F-150 also means the death of Boss for the Raptor. Will this be the end of the Raptor program? We have heard rumblings that because of the Boss news, the Raptor program is "under review" with a likelihood of it not going forward, though some sources closer to the program say that there are enthusiasts within Ford still fighting for it and it could go forward, but with a different drivetrain. If this is indeed the case, the introduction of the desert bad boy would be pushed back from the original planned date while development validation is completed on this new engine.

In a surprising move, GM has publicly stated that the Hummer brand is currently under strategic review and that "all options are on the table," including a possible sale of the brand. In recent months GM killed off the next-generation H2, and now suppliers are saying that work has be stopped on the next generation H3, and that plans for the H4 have been put on hold, which is a shame considering that fuel-efficient powertrains were planned for all models. From what we can tell, there are only a few things that can happen now. A. GM decides to keep Hummer. B. GM decides to fold Hummer. C. GM decides to sell Hummer. D. GM decides to sell Hummer and continue building its products for the new owners under a licensing agreement. We hope that GM's knee-jerk reaction to the current economic situation doesn't lead to the closure or sale of Hummer. We think Hummer is an important enough product to keep around, with increasing sales success in the international market (international sales are 20 percent of Hummer sales after a few short years). They are very capable vehicles that have been put to use in everything from Border Patrol fleets to American Red Cross recovery efforts.

If we were GM, we would sell Hummer as its own brand within Chevrolet showrooms, much as they do with Corvette, and let it be a stand-alone brand overseas where it is enjoying success. This would limit dealer overhead and still make an exceptional product available. Unfortunately, we are not GM and it appears we'll be losing more great off-road products, although the 2009 H3T will launch as planned. Good luck Hummer-we are pulling for you.

On May 31, 2008, off-road racing legend and Team Hummer owner Rod Hall entered the record books once again as he earned his record-breaking 18th career Baja 500 win in the 2008 40th Anniversary SCORE International Baja 500. Hall and Mike Winkel, also of Reno, piloted his Rod Hall Racing Hummer H3 to first place in the Stock Mini class in a time of 14:42:54. Hall, 70, finished an hour and a half after his youngest son Chad Hall, also of Reno, won the Stock Full class in the No. 862 H3 Alpha for Team Hummer in 13:09:53 for his first win in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and second class win this season. The H3 Alpha was the first production vehicle to cross the finish line. The 2008 Baja 500 was the third consecutive Baja 500 Hall has won the Stock Mini class and is the seventh consecutive SCORE International race that Hall has piloted the H3 to a class win.

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