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Ford Ditches Navistar for 2011 Super Duty’s Power Stroke Diesel
Sep01

Ford Ditches Navistar for 2011 Super Duty’s Power Stroke Diesel

By Chris Haak

09.01.2009

6.7-Liter Power Stroke(R) V-8 Turbocharged Diesel EngineFord has been in a partnership with Navistar for more than a decade in which Navistar supplies the Power Stroke diesel engines found in the F-series Super Duty trucks and in other heavier-duty Ford applications.  While buyers of these trucks swear by the big diesels, and the current version seems to be fairly reliable, a previous 6.4-liter version of the Navistar-supplied Power Stroke diesel experienced a terrible repair history.  Navistar and Ford had an ugly and very public falling-out over the question of who should be on the hook for the 6.4’s excessive warranty claims.  To shorten a long story, the relationship is ending soon, and Ford has just revealed its in-house developed Power Stroke diesel for the Super Duty trucks.  In the ugliest period before a settlement was reached, Navistar was annoyed enough at Ford developing its own diesel engine that it sued Ford.

As long as this new diesel meets the performance, efficiency, and durability targets that Ford set out to meet, the engine should do very well and help cement Ford’s lead in the truck market.  While power, torque, and fuel economy figures were not revealed today, Ford’s press release (after the jump) touts both improved power and efficiency.  The new engine’s block is made of compacted graphite iron (CGI) in an effort to improve its strength to the point that cylinder walls could be thinned slightly to save weight, but still keep a close eye on strength and durability.

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Mahindra May Build US Plant for Pickup Trucks
Aug31

Mahindra May Build US Plant for Pickup Trucks

By Brendan Moore

08.31.2009

mahindra-logoIn yet another wrinkle in its American strategy, Mahindra and Mahindra may purchase, and then “build out” an existing factory in-country in order to manufacture the pickups it intends to sell in the United States.

Pravin N. Shah, executive vice president for Mahindra’s international automotive operations, told reporters, “We don’t need big volumes to assemble the pickup there (US) and we may do it.”

Mahindra currently owns three tractor factories in the US, the largest in Calhoun, GA.

The reason that Mahindra is considering US production is to avoid the 25% “chicken tax” on all imported trucks. The original plan, which would revert to the interim plan if Mahindra does set up a factory, was to import the trucks as knock-down kits and assemble the trucks in the US.

Mahindra’s strategy for American sales has been fairly fluid, with plans changing several times to date. Originally the plan was to start selling the trucks in early 2009. The trucks would have been subject to the whole 25% tariff.

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Counterpoint: Toyota Prius
Aug31

Counterpoint: Toyota Prius

Editor’s note:  We kind of liked the Camry Hybrid when we orignally tested it, but Kevin Miller didn’t like the one he rented.  When we first tested the Prius, we didn’t like it, but in George Straton’s commentary below, he has a soft spot for the car, in spite of his status as a performance car enthusiast.

By George Straton

08.31.2009

shelby_mustang_gt-h_convt_04For a short weekend vacation at a Florida resort it would actually be nice not to have to drive at all.

The new, vastly improved Southwest International Airport, located in Fort Myers, is pitched as the “Gateway” to Florida’s [ritzy] southwest resort areas – namely Naples, Bonita Beach and Marco Island, even Sanibel further north. Yet no one can explain the conspicuous absence of any regularly scheduled ground transport from the “gateway airport” to any of those destinations.

It could not possibly have anything to do with the available limousine services (which charge $100 each way for the 40 mile trip) and the car rental companies which have virtually their own terminal building?

For about the same money I would have expended for the limo service, I could have rented a Hertz Edition Shelby Mustang GT-H. Having owned a black 1986 5.0 (4.9L) Mustang GT (a car that put the Mustang back on the hi-po map) as my first sporty car the Shelby Mustang GT-H sure was tempting.

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Going For Supper In a Supercar
Aug30

Going For Supper In a Supercar

By James Wong

08.30.2009

2009-lamborghini-lp560-4

Not more than a month ago, my friend took delivery of his spanking new Lamborghini LP560-4.

Shod with 20” wheels and a ground-hugging body, and blessed with a glistening Giallo Midas (a fancy name for yellow) paintwork, the car is any car lover’s wet dream, or anybody’s dream car for that matter. But having had some time with the car, doing the practical things that we usually use a car for, I am not so sure now whether supercars are a good idea for a long term proposition. Let me explain.

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Saab Reveals New 9-5 Sedan
Aug28

Saab Reveals New 9-5 Sedan

But Will Canadian Saabers Have Any Place To Buy It?

By Kevin Miller

08.28.2009

2010 Saab 9-5Saab has officially revealed their new 9-5 sedan ahead of its debut on September 15th in Frankfurt. Described as employing a modern expression of classic Saab design cues, the exterior new 9-5 looks amazing from some angles and a bit odd from others, but the interior looks great. The car will be built in Saab’s Trollhättan factory, and will replace the current 9-5 which has been around for more than a decade.

Globally, the car will be available with a 160 HP, 2.0 liter turbodiesel 4; turbocharged 1.6 and 2.0 liter petrol fours (good for 180 and 220 HP, respectively); and a 300 HP, 2.8 liter V6 turbo. The 220 HP four has optional XWD all-wheel drive, which is standard with the turbocharged 6. While the most powerful motor is available only with an automatic transmission, and the least powerful petrol version is available only with a manual, the remaining powerplants offer a choice between either of the six-speed gearboxes.

Great news for Saab dealers then, right? Well, not if you are a Saab dealer in Canada. Earlier this week, our friends over at were the first to report that GM is ending operations at all of their Saab (and Saturn) dealerships on December 31st.

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Chrysler and Nissan Cancel Product Sharing Agreements – What’s Next?
Aug27

Chrysler and Nissan Cancel Product Sharing Agreements – What’s Next?

By Chris Haak

08.27.2009

08_titanYesterday, the news came out that the flurry of rebadged/rebodied vehicles that Chrysler and Nissan were hoping to sell for each other have all been cancelled.  We reported this past February that the agreements were in jeopardy (as Chrysler was receiving money from the US government, pre-bankruptcy).  Now, “in jeopardy” has turned into “is dead.”

This means that the announcement from January 2008 – that Chrysler would sell a version of the Nissan Versa/Tiida in South America is off the table, and the more-extensive product-sharing announcement from April 2008 – that Chrysler would sell a Nissan-built “already designed” small car (rumored to have been the Dodge Hornet) and that Nissan would sell a Chrysler-built Nissan Titan.  The 2011 Chrysler-built Titan was to have had its own unique sheetmetal, interior, and driving characteristics, but I couldn’t help but think of the Chrysler Town & Country’s conversion into the Volkswagen Routan when thinking of “unique sheetmetal, interior, and driving characteristics.”  I guess we’ll never know now.

So why did both companies walk away from these deals?

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Counterpoint: Toyota Camry Hybrid
Aug27

Counterpoint: Toyota Camry Hybrid

By Kevin Miller

08.27.2009

02b_10_camry_hybridIn addition to my myriad responsibilities here at Techshake, I’m also a corporate worker bee–flying off to America’s heartland, renting a car, and driving out to a large factory somewhere to contribute to my customers’ (and my employer’s) success. That gives me the opportunity to sample countless forgettable transportation appliances, usually assembled without many options and without much care, which have been sold to rental fleet operators at big discounts, which get the cars off of the manufacturers’ respective books.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I landed in the heart of California’s conservative Orange County and was handed the keys to a Toyota Camry Hybrid in exchange for my weeklong Category C reservation. Equipped with keyless entry/drive and Toyota’s famed Hybrid Synergy Drive, this was my first chance to experience a hybrid out in the real world.

Before I go any further, you need to know that I hate the Camry. Mainly, my strong feelings toward the car come from the fact that people in American society today who buy Camrys are generally terrible drivers. They wander between lanes without signaling, they don’t use their mirrors, they drive 20 percent below the speed limit.  And most Camrys I see on the road, even newer ones, have scrapes, dents, and dings in them, proving that the drivers are so unskilled that they can’t manage to keep their cars unblemished. If you see a car being driven really badly, chances are it’s a Camry. Or a Corolla, but I digress.

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Nissan and Chrysler Cancel Plans to share Cars and Trucks
Aug27

Nissan and Chrysler Cancel Plans to share Cars and Trucks

By Brendan Moore

08.27.2009

chrysler-logo-smallLast year (which now seems like a hundred years ago in the car business), Chrysler and Nissan announced plans to share a couple of platforms and for Chrysler to build the next Nissan Titan, and for Nissan to build a small car for Chrysler to sell overseas. In addition, Nissan would provide the Nissan Versa for Chrysler to sell in South America.

But, a great deal has happened since then, including Chrysler going bankrupt, and, merging with Fiat, a company that has a considerable amount of good small cars in its roster.

Everyone was wondering when the other shoe would drop, and that happened yesterday, with Nissan and Chrysler issuing a joint statement to the press that said, “It was decided it was in the best interests of both companies to end the projects.

Belaboring the obvious, Chrysler no longer needs a supplier of small cars. The new corporate parent, Fiat, has plenty of those small cars.

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