Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Automotive Reporter/Biz News for the Week of 2-23-15

It's 67-degrees outside, just before sunrise, and 68-degrees inside the house this morning. The Weathermen tell us Winter is about to deliver one more cold blast to South Texas for the season, as the rest of the country shivers through the chill.

Baby, it's cold outside!
By now you have seen the iconic image of the frozen Jeep Cherokee grille in a hospital parking lot. Several people snapped photos of the same phenomenon, so it's definitely not a stunt.  
Jeep says a nurse captured the image as she was leaving work last week, it was a hot commodity on social media all weekend. Still, no one knows the owner of the vehicle that left the parking lot ice sculpture. Yet.

Ram Engineering is taking advantage of the chill to test its trucks for severe cold and plow testing--without having to recreate any special conditions. In Houghton, Michigan, sub-zero conditions are perfect for determining trucks' performance under circumstances only a fraction of owners will experience. Some of the experiments include Slush Testing. 

"Slush does not drip off the undercarriage," says Mike Cairns, Director of Ram Truck Engineering. "It hangs on, filling gaps and covering components." Ram enginers know that during a hard freeze, anything covered in slush becomes encased in ice -- fuel lines, diesel exhaust fluid tanks, engine oil pan, brakes, etc. Ram runs trucks through 12-inch-deep slush, and immediately park the trucks overnight in a refrigeration facility set at minus 20 degrees.

2015 Ram Truck with Snow Plow
Each truck is thoroughly inspected to assure components and systems are functioning properly. The diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank is allowed to freeze in such conditions. The tank and lines are made of materials to allow a hard freeze without breaking. An independent heating system keeps just enough DEF above freezing temperatures to allow engine start up while meeting tailpipe emissions. 

The location of vent lines is another key design feature. Water can freeze, clogging vent lines for the axles, transmission and transfer case. And in such sub-zero conditions, windows must continue to roll up and down, as well as windshield wipers and defrost mechanisms must continue to function.

Got Snow?
Ford F-150 with optional plow.
Ford Motor Company is now offering snow plow options for all of its F-series pickup truck cab configurations, including Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew. 

Now that Ford is using more high-strength steel in the frame, and new, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy in the body, there's a weight reduction of about 700-pounds. You can make up for that with a nifty $50 snow plow mount option--Ford's fine print says, "snow plow not included." In Houston, we could use these for the "Steer it or Clear it" operations on our freeways. In all kinds of weather. 

2015 Silverado Black-out option
If you're weary of white-out conditions, Chevrolet is offering a Black-out package for its 2015 Silverado pickup trucks.  The $1,595  option for regular- and double-cab 1500 WT models  includes 20” black painted aluminum wheels, P275/55R20 all-season blackwall tires, deep tinted glass and black bowties. The package is available for order now, and you can have any color you want, as long as it is black.

A chicken in every pot, a Pullman in every garage? 
Not exactly, unless you live in a very tony neighborhood. To mark the 50th Anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz 600--the epitome of luxury sedan travel, the German automaker is rolling out the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S-600 at the Geneva Autoshow

1887 Pullman "Vestibule" Railcar
Historical note: The Pullman label was originally applied to railway carriages with luxurious open-plan compartments. They were built by the American Pullman Palace Car Company. The designation was soon also applied to motor cars from Mercedes-Benz which were based on an extremely long wheelbase, with a generously-sized passenger compartment. In the rear, separated from the driver's area by a partition, there was space for four passengers to recline regally in four single seats facing each other.

 The new Pullman is 21.3-feet long--another 3.5 feet longer than the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. The wheelbase is 14.5 feet, and the car is 5.2 feet tall--more than 3.9 inches higher than a Mercedes S-Class.

The absolute top-of-the-range model is the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S 600. This behemoth is powered by a V12 biturbo engine, producing 523hp from a 5.9-L engine, generating 612 lb-ft. of torque at 1900 rpm. Growl.

If you have to ask, you can't afford it, but prices for "unarmoured models" start at $566,922. Deliveries will commence in 2016.
Grey Poupon?

Yutaka Katayama (1909-2015)
The man credited for developing the iconic Datsun 240-Z now belongs to the ages. Nissan legend Yutaka Katayama, the man known as “Mr. K,” died Thursday, February 19, 2015 at the age of 105.

Katayama joined the company in 1935 handling publicity and advertising. He built the Datsun brand from scratch--the first US exposure to the Japanese company, and assembled the pieces that would become the venerable "Z-car" series. Mr. K. was team manager for two Datsun 210's entered in a grueling rally circumnavigating the Australian continent. Their victory vaulted the brand into worldwide renown and set the stage for Datsun exports. 

Yutaka Katayama
 Katayama promoted the first All-Japan Motor Show in 1954, and in 1998 was inducted into the American Automotive Hall of Fame for introducing a generation of vehicles that redefined the US car market.

Listen to the Automotive Reporter Radio Show every weekend on, or from our webpage.

No comments: