From the guys at TFLtruck: the Dodge M80 Concept

When Chrysler Group Designer John Opfer sketched out the Dodge M80 Concept, he was thinking about “stylish, low-cost four-wheel drive” vehicles. That’s exactly what the Dodge M80 Concept was, and so much more. Based on a modified and shortened Dodge Dakota platform, the Dodge M80 Concept had hints from vehicles like the 1949 Dodge TC and ’41 Dodge WC.

Should Ram build a compact pickup truck, similar to the M80?

It utilized much of the running gear from a Jeep Liberty including the 210 horsepower V6 that made 235 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual and standard (for the Liberty) 4-hi/4-lo transfer case were part of the package too. All of the body panels, bed and interior were unique to the vehicle, but a majority of the switchgear was shared with its brethren.

The interior was extremely flexible with some cargo space behind the seats and the rear glass flipped up, giving the short bed a little extra space for long objects (surfboards?). The passenger seat folds flat and a stainless steel cupholder is embedded on the back of the passenger’s seat too.

Sadly, Dodge never produced the little truck, although it is said that there was quite a debate and the M80 was nearly given the green light.

The reason we wanted to look at this truck concept this week is because of one of its spiritual successors, the Jeep Scrambler. Like the M80, the Jeep Scrambler pickup truck is super utilitarian and built for off-road adventures. We just found out that the Jeep Scrambler may be hitting the road with (possibly) higher towing ability that most of us expected.

Click (here) for that story.

While many of us love the design of the Dodge M80 Concept pickup truck, it’s doubtful that Ram would every build anything like it. Consumers have lost their taste for two-passenger trucks and, while the mid-size market is back on the rise, why build a competitor to the upcoming Jeep Scrambler?

What do you think?

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Top 10 Scary as Hell Films featuring Automobiles – with Video

Via: TFLtruck.com

Here are the Top 10 scary and creepy truck and car movies counted down. Halloween is almost upon us, and there is no better time to watch these classic scary movies that involve trucks. The movies listed here are Rated R. They are not for kids or the faint of heart.

FREEWAY

This 1996 little gem fell off the radar but, it’s a cult classic. One of the first big roles for Reese Witherspoon, this is a rather unusual take on “Little Red Ridding Hood.” Freeway covers many sadistic areas of life from the believable to the fantastic. Many of the pivotal scenes take place in cars (and a trailer). Mix a better-than-you-might-think story together with the title and you have a horrific flick good enough for all hallows eve.

JOY RIDE

This 2001 Paul Walker suspense/horror flick had shades of “Duel” and “The Hitcher” intertwined with modern, fun dialogue. A cruel CB joke (seriously, who uses CB now-a-days?) goes awry leaving deathly consequences. There are some great scenes mixed with sadistic stuff, and some great one liners from Steve Zahn. Look folks, don’t ever mess with truckers!

HIGHWAYMEN

There’s lots of great car action in this 2003 Jim Caviezel flick, but it has a weak plot and lacks a concise story. I wasn’t pleased with the bad-guy’s car (’72 El Dorado grandma–mobile), but loved Caviezel’s beefed up 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. He’s seeking to stop the Caddilac murderer who preys on women (including Caviezel’s film wife).The half man half machine bad-guy is like a character out of David Cronenberg’s Crash and his car is supposed to reflect his personality. This is kind of scary at times with a few creepy scenes. All in all, it’s fairly entertaining.

THE WRAITH

This teeny-bopper child of the 80’s (1986 to be exact), was more of a Dodge commercial than a true horror film. The real star of the movie was the Wraith’s car, a copy of the 1984 Dodge M4S prototype (sorry Charlie Sheen). With the exception of a Corvette driven by the main bad-guy, almost every other car was a Dodge. All in all, it did provide some spooky-ish moments (to some) and encompassed a decent back-from-the-dead revenge movie. 

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE

Not only is this 1986 movie based on a Stephen King story, but the man himself opted to direct it. Yes sir, Stephen King donned a director’s cap for this one and only picture. Homicidal machines hunting humans… Hmmm, not the best place to make a directorial debut. I suppose it’s just as well. He did pull together a rocking soundtrack (AC/DC) and that’s just about it. Many didn’t like it very much; your mileage may vary..

THE CAR

For no apparent reason, a highly modified, black car terrorizes a small town. Uh, that’s about it… the whole premise in a nutshell. There are a few scenes that I consider “gem” moments in the film. I LOVE the fact that the CAR goes after a bicyclist on a bridge near the opening of the film. The Sheriff is played by James Brolin. His deputies cry a lot in the film; I guess that’s what guys did in the 70’s (this movie came out in 1977). The vehicle itself is a modified Lincoln Continental Mark III modified by the “master” George Barris. This film goes well with popcorn, late at night.

THE HITCHER

This movie caught me by surprise in 1986. Rutger Hauer plays a creepy as hell hitch-hiker and C. Thomas Howell is seriously put through the ringer by him. This is a road movie in a sense and vehicles are used to kill; thus, it makes it onto our list. Check out the way Hauer’s character dispatches Jenifer Jason Leigh’s character! Very cool flick to watch with a plate of French Fries!

JEEPERS CREEPERS

Don’t yell, “aint’ no car movie!” yet. I know that this 2001 film has a bat-like cannibal hillbilly as the main bad guy. Despite his fluttering about in the last 3rd of the film, the bad guy drove one hell of a nasty truck for a good portion of the film. Check out the beefed up 1940s panel van with the license reading: “BEATNGU.” This is a fairly scary movie with some intense and disturbing scenes – just the thing for Halloween!

DUEL

For those of you who forgot that Steven Spielberg got his start in horror (remember Jaws?), this was his first big step into mainstream film, way back in 1971. With a very limited budget and a tiny cast, Spielberg manages to create a taught, scary film. There’s just enough action to make up for long, still shots and little music. This is one of the most menacing looking trucks I’ve ever seen in film. By the way, this flick (released for television in the US and theaters everywhere else) proves that Dennis Weaver can play more than just a cowboy. He’s real good in Duel. 

CHRISTINE

Not only is this one of Stephen King’s masterpieces, it is one of the best examples of horror transcending time and proving relevant years later. Christine was a red 1958 Plymouth Fury, which looked like the type of ride the Devil would cruise in. Christine came out at an auspicious time. 1983 came out a year after The Thing, one of the goriest, scariest films ever. John Carpenter directed both – what a match-up, King and Carpenter. Great flick for October 31st!

Check out TFLtruck’s Nathan Adlen as he hosts a Top 10 Best Videos for a Car-lover’s Halloween!

Ferrari celebrates 70 years in Maranello, Italy [Via Corsa Magazine]

September is the month for world wide celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the sports car manufacturer Ferrari. Rallies were organized around Europe in early September with events in Korea and the United Kingdom to be held later this month. But the big blowout and the event to top all events was the Ferrari Gala dinner and performance on September 9th and the Concours on September 10th in Maranello, Italy. Stay tuned for more as our Matt Stone was there as was my wife and I!

An amazing Ferrari 500 TRC up close as Ferrari celebrates their 70th anniversary in Maranello, Italy on September 9th and 10th

Here’s the Lowdown on the Striking Audi A7 Sportback

The Audi A7 Sportback represents the next generation in German four-door “coupe” design. With so much to offer, we added Audi’s press release to this post.

  • Four-door coupe embodies progressiveness in design and technology
  • All-digital control system, comprehensive connectivity and mild hybrid technology
  • Gran Turismo with enhanced handling and more long-distance comfort

Ingolstadt, October 19, 2017 – The A7 Sportback represents the new Audi design language to a great extent and delivers on the design promise made by the prologue studies. The fourdoor coupe sets standards in the luxury class when it comes to progressiveness. It embodies a new style of Gran Turismo, with dynamic lines, systematic digitalization, a sporty driving experience and a versatile space concept.

Consumption figures for the Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI quattro S tronic:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.2 – 6.8* (32.7 – 34.6 US mpg)
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 163 – 154* (262.3 – 247.8 g/mi)

Dynamics at their most beautiful: the exterior design
The exterior design of the A7 Sportback is an expression of the new design language that Audi introduced with the prologue study and made its production debut in the new Audi A8. With large surfaces, sharp edges and taut, athletic lines, the A7 signals dynamics and progressiveness from every perspective.

Up front, the Singleframe grille – wider and lower than that of the Audi A8 – the narrow headlights, the boldly contoured air inlets and the flat front end convey at a glance the sportiness of the Gran Turismo. The headlights are available in three versions. With the middle and top equipment lines, the light signature takes up the subject of digitalization: 12 adjacent lighting segments separated by narrow intervening spaces evoke associations with the binary digits 0 and 1. The top version is the HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light.

The Audi A7 Sportback is an athletic sculpture with a long engine hood, long wheelbase and short overhangs. Pronounced contours emphasize the wheels, which measure up to 21 inches in diameter, and reference Audi’s quattro genes. These genes determine the proportions of the vehicle’s body. The silhouette is defined by the dynamic roofline, which drops sharply toward the rear. Four figures delineate the sporty character of the large coupe: It is 4,969 millimeters (16.3 ft) long, has a wheelbase of 2,926 millimeters (9.6 ft) and is 1,908 millimeters (6.3 ft) wide, but stands only 1,422 millimeters (4.7 ft) high.

As with the previous model, the rear end is tapered like that of a yacht. The long luggage compartment lid terminates in a pronounced, curved lip from which an integrated spoiler extends automatically at 120 km/h (74.6 mph). A flat light strip – a design feature common to all of Audi’s top models – joins the rear lights, whose tail lights are made up of 13 vertical segments. When the doors are unlocked and again when they are locked, fast-moving light animations play in the rear lights and in the headlights, highlighting the big coupe’s dynamics while standing still. The progressive exterior design of the new Audi A7 Sportback is largely devoid of chrome. The paint range offers a choice of 15 colors, eight of which are new. The optional S line exterior package further hones the look, with modifications to the radiator grille and the front air inlets, the sills and the front and rear diffusers. They are trimmed in gloss black and more strongly sculpted.

Show car design comes to production: the interior
The interior fuses design and technology in a unique way. The interior of the new Audi A7 Sportback dazzles with its futuristic lounge atmosphere. Its reduced, clean design language is based in a one-of-a-kind balance of tension and coolness. The horizontal lines and sleek instrument panel provide for a feeling of airy spaciousness. The center console is oriented toward the driver, underscoring the Gran Turismo’s sporty character. Four key values characterize the interior concept: progressiveness, sportiness, intuitiveness and sophistication. All colors, upholstery materials and inlays underscore the new aesthetic, from the base version to the design selection, the S line sport package and the particularly sophisticated Valcona leather. The optional contour ambient lighting package traces the contours and subtly highlights the space.

The 10.1-inch upper display (in combination with MMI navigation plus) is tilted toward the driver. With its black panel optics and framed in a graphite gray aluminum clasp, it almost disappears into the dashboard when switched off. The body supporting the clasp is itself a geometric sculpture. The display’s user interface appears as soon as the car is opened. In keeping with the interior design, the look is reduced and succinct. All screen content can be quickly registered.

Control at your fingertips: MMI touch response control system and online voice control
The new Audi A7 systematically continues the digitalization strategy of the A8. The interior architecture melds seamlessly with Audi’s new MMI touch response operating concept. It replaces the rotary pushbutton and the conventional buttons and controls of the previous model with two large, high-resolution touch displays.

The driver controls the infotainment system from the upper display. Mounted on the asymmetric console of the center tunnel, the 8.6-inch lower display provides access to the climate control system, comfort functions and text input. Drivers can rest their wrist on the automatic transmission’s wide selector lever knob.

Audi offers an optional head-up display that projects important information onto the windshield. MMI navigation plus also includes the Audi virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch display.

The MMI touch response operating concept features haptic and acoustic feedback and is as intuitive to use as a smartphone. Users hear and feel a click as confirmation when their finger triggers a function. With its logical and flat menu structure, the system allows fast access to the various vehicle functions, and it can also be personalized thanks to configurable and movable favorites buttons.

The optional voice control in the new A7 Sportback makes operation even more convenient. With MMI navigation plus, the natural speech dialogue system processes questions and commands in two ways – with information stored onboard and at the same time with detailed knowledge from the cloud.

Fully connected for more convenience and safety: infotainment and connect features
With its comprehensive connectivity, the Audi A7 is perfectly equipped for long-distance touring. It offers customers more convenience, safety and customization options. The Gran Turismo features the same infotainment and connectivity range as the Audi A8. Up to seven drivers can store their preferred settings in individual user profiles. As many as 400 parameters can be personalized. The online services from Audi connect have been expanded. Additions include the traffic sign and hazard information Car-to-X services, which utilize the swarm intelligence of the Audi fleet.

The new A7 Sportback comes standard with the MMI radio; MMI navigation and MMI navigation plus are available as options. There is a choice of four sound systems. The top version, the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, also delivers fascinating 3D sound to the rear seats.

Intelligent and convenient: the Audi AI systems
With the AI button, the driver activates the Audi AI remote parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot, which will be made available at some point in 2018. They autonomously maneuver the A7 Sportback into and out of a parking space or garage. The driver can get out of the car before launching the function via the myAudi app on their smartphone. To monitor the maneuver, the driver presses and holds the Audi AI button the entire time. The central driver assistance controller (zFAS) merges the data from a sophisticated set of sensors to continually compute an image of the surroundings. Depending on the equipment level, there can be as many as five radar sensors, five cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner.

Besides the Audi AI systems, the new A7 Sportback features a total of 39 driver assistance systems to make things easier for the driver. They are split up into three packages: the Audi AI parking package (gradual introduction beginning 2018), the City assist package with the new crossing assist, and the Tour assist package. The latter includes such things as the efficiency assistant, which facilitates a driving style conducive to reducing consumption, and the adaptive driving assistant (ADA), which supplements the adaptive cruise control (ACC) with helpful steering interventions to maintain the lane. All driver assistance systems feature improved control mechanisms.

Handling and long-distance comfort: the chassis
The new A7 further extends its synthesis of sportiness and comfort. The optional dynamic-allwheel steering, the new electronic chassis program (ECP) – the central controller for the chassis – and the updated air suspension make it even more agile, nimble and comfortable. The A7 is thus the perfect Gran Turismo: dynamic and agile on twisty country roads, yet comfortable on long highway stretches.

Many aspects of the front and rear axles have been developed from scratch. The standard progressive steering, whose generally sporty ratio becomes even more direct the further the steering wheel is turned, features a new concept for intensive road feedback. Mounted behind large wheels – up to 21 inches and 255/35 – with improved rolling comfort are aluminum fixedcaliper brakes with discs up to 400 millimeters (15.7 in) in diameter. Customers can choose between four suspension setups: a conventional steel spring suspension, the sport suspension that lowers ride height by 10 millimeters (0.4 in), electronically controlled damping and the self-leveling adaptive air suspension.

The top chassis-related innovation is dynamic-all-wheel steering. It combines direct, sporty steering response with unshakable stability, resolving the conflict of aims between agility and comfort. The steering ratio varies as a function of speed between 9.5:1 and 16.5:1 by means of active steering interventions at the front and rear axle. At the front axle, strain wave gearing is used to superimpose these in response to the driver’s steering input. At the rear axle, a spindle drive turns the wheels by as much as 5 degrees. At low speed, they steer counter to the front wheels to further increase the agility of the big coupe when parking or driving in urban traffic, for example. This reduces the turning circle at full lock by 1.1 meters (3.6 ft). At 60 km/h (37.3 mph) and above, the rear axle steers in the same direction to increase straight-line stability and facilitate lane changes.

The optional sport differential improves handing even further. It actively distributes drive torque between the rear wheels, complementing quattro all-wheel drive. Like dynamic-all-wheel steering, controlled damping and the adaptive air suspension, the sport differential is integrated into the control function of the electronic chassis platform (ECP). These systems are closely networked for maximum precision. The driver can use the Audi drive select system to activate different ride profiles featuring a more pronounced difference between comfort and sportiness than in the previous model.

Broad-based electrification: mild hybrid system for greater comfort and efficiency
All engines used in the A7 Sportback come standard with a new mild hybrid system (MHEV) for greater comfort and efficiency. With the two V6 engines, this uses a 48-volt primary electrical system. A belt alternator starter (BAS) works together with a lithium-ion battery and achieves a recuperation performance of up to 12 kW when braking. At speeds between 55 and 160 km/h (34.2 – 99.4 mph), the four-door coupe can coast in freewheeling mode with the engine deactivated and then restarted comfortably via the BAS.

The start-stop function has been significantly expanded and now activates at 22 km/h (13.7 mph). In combination with the standard front camera, the engine is restarted predictively while at a standstill as soon as vehicle ahead begins to move. In real-world driving, the MHEV technology reduces fuel consumption by up to 0.7 liters per 100 kilometers.

The new Audi A7 Sportback will initially launch with the 3.0 V6 TFSI. The sonorously understated V6 turbo produces 250 kW (340 hp) and 500 Nm (368.8 lb-ft). The four-door coupe sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph). In the NEDC, the base version of the Audi A7 55 TFSI consumes 6.8 liters of fuel (34.6 US mpg), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 154 grams (247.8 g/mi). The 3.0 TFSI is paired with a sevenspeed S tronic. Its quattro drivetrain uses the efficient ultra technology that activates rear-wheel drive as needed. Additional six- and four-cylinder engines, both gasoline and diesel, will follow shortly after the start of production.

The body concept: Coupé, Sedan and Avant in one
The A7 Sportback combines the best of all worlds and is a dynamic all-around talent for business and recreation. It offers the design of a Coupé, the spaciousness of a Sedan and the variability of an Avant. The interior concept of the A7 Sportback impresses with more space and more comfortable seating – and that despite having a dynamic roofline. Compared with the previous model, interior length has increased 21 millimeters (0.8 in), resulting in more rear knee room. Rear passengers also enjoy more head room. The loading width has also increased compared with the previous model and now measures 1,050 millimeters (3.4 ft).

Topping the range of all-new seats are the multi-adjustable, customized contour front seats with ventilation and massage. The configuration with individual rear seats (alternative: 2+1 bench) offers a plenty of space and comfort. New high-tech options make life with the Audi A7 Sportback even more comfortable and convenient. The air quality package improves interior air quality by means of fragrancing with subtle scents, an ionizer and an effective combination filter.

The body, which features steel and aluminum composite construction with large components such as add-on parts made of aluminum, is a key factor in the improved handling and greater comfort. The four-door coupe scores top marks with respect to body stiffness, aeroacoustics and aerodynamics. The Gran Turismo spoils its passengers with improved acoustic comfort and – thanks to sophisticated aerodynamics – minimal wind noise.

The improved panoramic glass sunroof with particularly large glass elements lets more light into the cabin. The heated windshield and wipers with integrated nozzles are additional options for more convenience.

Despite the markedly dynamic lines, the luggage compartment has a base capacity of 535 liters (18.9 cu ft) . This increases to 1,390 liters (49.1 cu ft) with the rear seats folded down. The luggage compartment has been optimized so that two golf bags now fit horizontally – in addition to the optional spare tire. The optional sensor-controlled rear hatch opens and closes automatically in response to a foot motion.

The new Audi A7 Sportback rolls off the assembly line at the Neckarsulm site and will launch on the German market in late February 2018. The base price for the 55 TFSI quattro S tronic is 67,800 euros.

Rare Car Collection Destroyed in Northern California Fire: Before and After Photos

Gary Dower, Santa Rosa, California resident and owner of a substantial car collection shows us the devastating totality of the recent wild fires in Northern, CA. He displays his photos of his destroyed vehicles along with the obliterated storage facility they were in.

This information and photos sourced from dailymail.co.uk.

According to the Daily Mail UK, “The collection included a 1992 Dodge Stealth (valued between $2,500 – $5,500, according to Kelly Blue Book website); a 2010 Dodge Challenger Limited Edition SRT8 ($20,000 – $23,000); a 1973 MGB Roadster ($5,000 – $20,000); and a classic 1967 Chevorlet Camaro estimated at a value upwards of $70,000.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5003639/Rare-car-collection-destroyed-California-fires.html#v-4517182360762956344

Video of the Aston Martin DB11 Volante is Here!

The Aston Martin DB11 Volante is the latest version of Aston Martin’s iconic convertible Sports GT. The Aston Martin DB11 Volante has a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces well over 500 horsepower (510 PS) and comes with an eight-speed, paddle-shifting transmission.

Max Szwaj, Aston Martin Chief Technical Officer, adds: “The challenge of creating a convertible car is retaining structural and dynamic integrity. To protect the former you need strength and rigidity, but to preserve the latter you need to keep weight to a minimum.

With the DB11 Volante we have maximised the advantages of the DB11’s all-new bonded structure to underpin our new Volante with a structure that’s 26kg lighter and 5 per cent stiffer than its predecessor. The result is a truly magnificent car. One that combines greater performance and agility with increased comfort, refinement and interior space for occupants and their luggage”.

Recommended Retail Price from £159,900 in the UK, €199,000 in Germany and $216,495 in USA, first deliveries of the DB11 Volante are scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2018.

What’s the Best Performance Car and SUV of the Year? Watch the AVA Videos

The Automotive Video Association (AVA) represents nearly 500 million viewers per year throughout the automotive universe. These members come from around the United States and all of these individuals are involved in every aspect of automotive journalistic production. The members are: Nik Miles (OurAutoExpert.com) – Northwest, Roman Mica (The Fastlane Car) – Midwest, Alex Dykes (AlexOnAutos) – Northern Cal, Kyle Lindsey (Saabkyle04) – North Carolina, Sofyan Bey (Redline Reviews) – DC, Jason Fenske (Engineering Explained) – Idaho and Matt Maranowski (Matt Maran Motoring) – Pennsylvania.

Here is an abridged release from the AVA:

The Automotive Video Association (AVA), which represents nearly 500 million unique viewers per year, today announced the list of finalists for the first-ever AVA Awards. The AVA award program will be hosted Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, and held at the Resort of the Mountain in Welches, Oregon. Titled “The Mountain Run,” the AVA selected High Performance as the vehicle category for 2017 pitting some of the world’s most incredible cars and SUV’s up against one another in an all-out battle for driving supremacy. The Finalists are:

Performance Car

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody
Nissan GT-R Nismo
McLaren 570S Spider
Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost
Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
BMW M550i xDrive
Lexus LC 500
Honda Civic Type-R
Performance SUV

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Audi SQ5
Volvo XC60 T8
Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe

 

Is Hyundai thinking about buying FCA?

This is from a question posted on TFLcar.com’s “Ask Nathan” weekly post.

You can read the whole column (here).

Q:Hi Guys, it is true that Hyundai will buy FCA?

Is this for real? If it is true, what’s going to happen to Jeep and Ram?1!? I have nothing against Hyundai, but this seems like a drastic idea. Hyundai is known for smart sensible engineering. As Nathan puts it, everything Italian is built for an emotional connection. They are two completely different philosophies with Hyundai appealing to the brain and Fiat battling for your soul. Also =, with all the instability in Korea, is it such a good idea to absorb a company that American consumers are so reliant on?

What’s your take?

Love your Ike Gauntlet and off road shows!
‘Schmitty

 

A: Hi Schmitty!

Normally, emails take time to post, but your email is rather timely. I just caught wind of this through our friends at Carscoops.com. I investigated this rumor and found out that – yes – there is some truth to the rumor.

My take? If this happens (and that’s a big “IF”), I think Hyundai would gradually make changes to allow the cash-cows of FCA (Jeep and Ram) to expand a bit while they get rid of models that are undesirable or competitive with their brands. I think they would kill off vehicles like the Fiat 500L, Chrysler 300C, Dodge Journey and more. They would plan to platform-share as well; perhaps something like a Chrysler sedan based on a Genesis platform?

There are lots of possibilities. The bottom line in my book is: this could be a good thing. It would make Hyundai the largest automaker on the planet, add to FCA’s financial stability and it would give Hyundai something its wanted for decades, a competitive pickup truck.

N

 

A: Hi Schmitty!

Normally, emails take time to post, but your email is rather timely. I just caught wind of this through our friends at Carscoops.com. I investigated this rumor and found out that – yes – there is some truth to the rumor.

My take? If this happens (and that’s a big “IF”), I think Hyundai would gradually make changes to allow the cash-cows of FCA (Jeep and Ram) to expand a bit while they get rid of models that are undesirable or competitive with their brands. I think they would kill off vehicles like the Fiat 500L, Chrysler 300C, Dodge Journey and more. They would plan to platform-share as well; perhaps something like a Chrysler sedan based on a Genesis platform?

There are lots of possibilities. The bottom line in my book is: this could be a good thing. It would make Hyundai the largest automaker on the planet, add to FCA’s financial stability and it would give Hyundai something its wanted for decades, a competitive pickup truck.

Autowerkz.TV’s 2017 Dodge Durango Citadel V6 4WD

We were lucky enough to secure a 2017 Dodge Durango Citadel V6 4WD for a week’s worth of use. Full disclosure: FCA/Dodge agreed to loan it to Autowerkz.TV for a one week loan

It was a brilliant shuttle, assisting in the transport of over thirty dinner guests from airport to hotel and hotel to dinner party. During that time, we used every inch of its seven-seat capacity. It hauled people, film gear, bicycles, luggage and food platters (enough Hors d’oeuvres for 200 people) that were piled floor to ceiling in the Durango.

It performed flawlessly and more than one guest at the massive dinner party were considering purchasing one by the end of the evening.

There are a few things you need to know about the Dodge Durango with the 293-hp 3.6-liter V6:

It moves: 0 to 60 mph happens in about 7.5 seconds. It’s mid-pack among challengers.
It pulls: Maximum of 6,200 lbs – that’s best-in-class.
It sips: Combined fuel efficiency is 21 mpg. It’s mid-pack among its challengers.
It looks: good…
It is reasonable: MSRP* for the 2017 Dodge Durango Citadel 4WD starts at $43,995


Weak points? Just a few, minor issues.

We wish it had heated and cooled seats front and back. We think the automated breaks, the ones that stop you if you’re too slow engaging them, are far too sensitive. We also wish the exhaust note was beefier… but that’s all.

In this class, with its overall ability, luxury, fun-to-drive appeal and 4WD traction – the 2017 Dodge Durango Citadel 4WD is hard to beat.

Off-Road Hybrids and the Shape of Future Off-Road Electric Cars [Autowerkz.TV Interview]

Recently, Autowerkz.TV had an opportunity to interview an industry insider who follows hybrids and electric cars. While he asked for his name to be omitted, (his publication rarely allows him to ‘officially’ post outside interviews) his professional credentials are impeccable.

Autowerkz.TV: Thanks for meeting with us, we know you’re busy.

Insider: No problem. I like what Autowerkz (Autowerkz.TV) is trying to do.

Autowerkz.TV: Can you share with our viewers what you told me about off-road hybrid and electric vehicles?

Insider: Will do. Many of my cohorts in the automotive and high tech industries have seen a shift in research regarding near-future electric and hybrid vehicles.

Autowerkz.TV: Can you elaborate?

Insider: Automakers realise that, in North America, a disproportionate amount of consumers buy trucks. The Ford F-150 is still one of the most popular vehicles in the USA. A majority of those trucks (including trucks from GM, Ram, Toyota and Nissan) are 4x4s. Automakers know that, if they hope to make inroads into the truck market, they need to build hybrid and all-electric trucks.

Autowerkz.TV: Didn’t we get a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 hybrid?

Insider: That’s a poor example. It’s a half-step at best. Automakers need to make a compelling argument for (plug-in) hybrid and electric trucks.

Autowerkz.TV: Can’t they already point to the torque and capability of electric motors?

Insider: Soon you’ll see vehicles like the Bollinger SUV destroy off-road trails. It should be very impressive, but it’s just a drop in the bucket. Until we see a Silverado, Ram or F-150 out-perform its gas counterparts using electricity, it’s just a novelty.

Autowerkz.TV: What about Tesla?

Insider: Tesla should have built an electric pickup truck a year ago. As it stands. Tesla charges too much for its vehicles as it is. No practical truck lover is going to spend $100,000 on a pickup truck. Sure, trucks are already expensive, my neighbor bought a F-250 for almost $70,000. But that truck can go almost 600 miles on a tank of diesel and it can haul his trailer and toys reliably – for many years.

Autowerkz.TV: This leads us up to the purpose of this interview, what can you tell us about the future of plug-in hybrid and electric trucks?

Insider: It looks like just about every automaker that sells or WILL sell trucks in America is looking at the possibility of using plug-in hybrid systems and all-electric power. Out of all of these automakers, I think Nissan will be one of the first to introduce an all-electric truck or van. We’ve already sampled a Nissan NV200 Electric, which is basically an NV200 with a Leaf power module. It worked well. Nissan is a pioneer in mass-marketing electric vehicles and I think they will be the first large automaker to introduce an electric or, possibly, a plug-in hybrid pickup truck to this market.

Autowerkz.TV: We’ll keep an eye out and we appreciate the information.