RPM Automotive News - October 2014

What's Happening In The Automotive Industry

That’s Interesting
Ford is chatting up Heinz -- yes, same as the ketchup -- to figure out whether tomato fiber can be used for more sustainable bioplastic material. We’re talking dried tomato skins, and we’re talking wiring brackets and storage bins.

The U.S. Postal Service has created new stamps -- two hot rod forever ones, both with a 1932 Ford. Does this mean snail mail isn’t dead?

Via a survey by automd.com, we’ve learned people be feeling overcharged during auto repairs. Those surveyed compared the experience of a repair shop/dealership to that of going to the dentist. Women voted for the dentist.

IHS Automotive has punched the numbers and learned that the combined average is 11.4 years. As in, average age of passenger vehicles on the road today in the U.S.

Fred C. Offenhauser, the famous engine builder, has been inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame.

Jeep’s best sales month ever? May 2014.

The Ford Explorer for 2015 will gain an appearance package for the XLT, a Class III trailer tow package for the Sport, and three new colors: Magnetic Metallic, Caribou Metallic, and Bronze Fire Metallic.

Four Wheeler App
Four Wheeler is on the go. With you. Wherever you are. On the trail. In the garage. In the reading stall. Just go to the iTunes app store and download it. You’ll get articles, news, features, road tests, products, and more. On the go. With you. Wherever you are.

Is It True?
Ram is pondering an ambulance-door– style tailgate?

Roush is working with Google to build its self-driving car?

Your Government At Work
Looks like the House passed a bill to get a report done on asbestos in imported brake products. U.S. manufacturers have to meet standards, but some internationally made parts have asbestos -- and are imported here.

A House bill has been introduced called Servicemembers Insurance Relief Act, designed to solve the issue of eliminating the required auto-insurance change for service members who relocate.

RIP: Off-Road Icon Mark Smith
Very sad news for the off-road family: One of our pioneers, Mark Smith, has passed away at the age of 87. He was the first to lead an organized Jeep trip over the Rubicon Trail, and the icon helped to put four-wheeling on the map, into our lexicon, and into a global hobby and business. He founded the Jeep Jamboree and had been a consultant for the Jeep division of Chrysler back in the day. He even led a Camel Trophy. In his other life, Mark had been a U.S. Marine and also a deputy sheriff. He is a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

2015 GMC Sierra All Terrain HD
The new GMC Sierra All Terrain HD can be had as 2500HD or 3500HD double-cab and crew-cab models, and is the brand’s venture into upping the fancy factor of the 4WD truck. Included is the Z71 off-road package, the 6.0L engine (the Duramax diesel is available), chrome on the outside in various locations like the grille, adjustable outside camper mirrors, and various connectivity technology. The CornerStep rear bumper, EZ Lift and Lower tailgate, locking tailgate, and more things are included.

What’s Happening In The Industry
Official tire of the Olympics? Bridgestone. The partnership will last through 2024.

CURT Mfg. has acquired Aries Automotive, which makes truck accessories.

Goodyear is building its first new tire plant in the U.S. in about 20 years. It’s likely going to be a new $500-mil facility in South Carolina.

Toyo is the official tire of SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road for the 2014 season.

Holley will build an R&D facility at its Bowling Green HQ with a focus on exhaust systems from the Hooker Headers and Flowtech brands.

Ford Lightweight Concept
The fact that Ford dumped about 700 pounds from the new F-150 through high-strength steel and aluminum alloys has been massive news in the auto industry. And now it is experimenting further with its Lightweight Concept vehicle, examining ways to reduce weight, such as through the use of specific application of aluminum, carbon fiber, magnesium, and uber-high-strength steels. The Lightweight Concept was developed with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program and Cosma International.

Bomb, Dead Body, or Drugs in Your Truck? Some Dogs Know It
We’re dog people at Four Wheeler, so we got curious about the types of dogs involved directly with our world. For example, if you get lost on the trail or wander from camp, a search-and-rescue dog may be deployed to find you. Or that 4x4 in front of you could have more than your typical “camping supplies” in the cargo area, and a police dog may be called in to sniff it out. And a chunk of readership is in the military, and they serve alongside four-legged soldiers too. Here’s a look at their dog days of summer.

Law Enforcement Dogs
Officer Robert Mendanhall has been with the California Highway Patrol K9 unit for 25 years. He’s also one of us, a “new gearhead” with an 1983 CJ-7 he and his son built. His canine partner is Franky.

Job description: Franky has two jobs, to detect drugs, like in a home or vehicle, and to do patrol work, such as find suspects who are hiding or trying to get away and to then apprehend them until an officer can put on the cuffs.

Responsibilities: Scratching, biting, and barking where drugs or bad guys are suspected are the main behavioral alerts.

Paycheck: Frankie works for a tennis ball or a Kong toy. His mind operates like this: “I found it. I’m going to alert to where the odor is and my toy is going to appear.”

Letter of recommendation: As one officer explained to us, “You can point a gun at somebody and they’ll sit there and say, ‘Go ahead and shoot me.’ But the second they hear a dog bark and they know it’s a police dog, they give up real quick.”

Military Dogs
Alex Dunbar is a former marine and now the owner of CQB K-9 (cqbk9.com), which trains dogs for work all over the world (CQB means close-quarter battle). “We have a standard for our dogs that they have to be able to perform their work from Berkeley to Baghdad,” Alex explained.

Job description: Bodyguards, vehicle and personal protection, and duties for special ops and security teams, such as snipers. The dogs do night operations and have been trained/raised to not flinch at gunfire and explosions. Oh, and some of the dogs have titanium teeth. Think of it as the dog’s weapon for extreme counterterrorist-type duty, because titanium can bite through pretty much anything.

Responsibilities: Scent work includes tracking and explosives detection, as in sniffing out bomb materials. They also are useful tools in counterterrorism because, unlike humans, they don’t typically fall for diversions before an attack and therefore can remain on undistracted high alert. Plus, “dogs are there to bite and engage the terrorists.”

Paycheck: “We use a lot of praise for reward, very little food,” Alex said. “Also, the motivation of a German shepherd is to please; that’s the biggest reward. They just want to be with the flock, guarding people.”

Letter of recommendation: “I’ve had dogs in bad situations where we didn’t have time to even give commands or draw a weapon. They just went on autopilot and got the bad guy right there. It’s that quick,” Alex said. “They can perform in a situation with gunfire and loud noises and explosions and still ask for more, and at the end of the day they can be your best friend and companion. But on the other end, they’re somebody’s worst nightmare.”

Search and Rescue Dogs
Kent Stuart, a police officer, and his wife Sandy run Boulder Creek Bloodhounds (bouldercreekbloodhounds.com) and work with Tactical Tracker Teams. They train and are handlers of search dogs (also called air scent dogs) as well as HRD dogs (that’s human remains detection, or cadaver dogs). Their specialty is man trailing with Bloodhounds.

Job description: The canines look for anyone lost, even dementia patients and the deceased. They may be utilized in manhunts too.

Responsibilities: An S&R dog needs to be able to trail but also have true concentration; he needs to focus on only the one scent the handler exposed him to for the search, which can be extremely difficult since there are many variables and distractions. But good trailing dogs can disregard the scents of other people on the trail. And think about this: The older the trail to follow, the less scent left. It doesn’t help either when you wheel down a dirt road and the dust covers up the scent. A key to success is for the handler to read the dog’s body language. And, there’s the physical part. Said Sandy, “Your coordination and upper body strength and being able to keep up and run are key -- not to mention not minding taking faceplants while becoming one with the dog.”

Paycheck: For a working dog like a Bloodhound, the trailing activity itself is typically enough of a paycheck. “This is a blast for the dog. He has all these humans following him and ‘Woo-hoo this is great!’ It’s all about the party for the dog. It’s the fun of the hunt,” Sandy noted.

Letter of recommendation: Sandy’s dog Ben is a Tactical Tracker Teams level-three-certified Bloodhound -- that’s rare -- and is one of the top three dogs of his kind in the world.

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