Domestic automakers Ford, GM, and Chrysler are in trouble. After building their financial futures around the sale of full-size pickup trucks and SUV’s for decades, an increase in fuel prices combined with the sluggish American economy have conspired to slow the sales of these vehicles to a trickle. Chrysler sales are off amid rumors of bankruptcy, GM and Ford stock has seen record lows, and Ford’s F150 appears as though it will lose the crown of “best selling vehicle in North America” to the Toyota Camry.
Ford has realized that it is looking more and more like they will be unable to count on the dollars flowing in from F150 sales. At the same time, Ford understands (perhaps better than anyone else) that there will always be a market for pickup trucks. The company has begun to explore the idea of splitting the F150 into two distinct products in order to meet the needs of a wider range of buyers. The idea is to keep the current full-size F150 while also offering a smaller truck to attract buyers who do not require the full towing or hauling capabilities of the F150.
Will America like the F150 light as much as this guy likes the Coors light girls behind him?
With the emergence of the Chinese auto industry, it’s no surprise that there are a few American companies beginning to import Chinese vehicles. While some companies are importing completed vehicles fully assembled and ready for sale, others are licensing Chinese vehicle designs and producing them in the USA. One of these companies producing Chinese designed vehicles in the USA is Tiger Trucks.
While they might not look heavy duty, the Tiger Truck Star (left) and Champ 4500 (right) are efficient and powerful. The Star (left) is comparable to most small pickups in terms of payload, while the Champ 4500 (right) can haul more than most 1/2 ton trucks currently on the road – including the Tundra.
Based in Oklahoma, Tiger Trucks is taking advantage of Chinese technology and innovation to create jobs in the United States.
How many of us exceeded the speed limit, cranked up our stereo a little too loudly, or neglected to wear our seatbelt when we first began driving? How many of us had a teenage fender-bender? How many of us learned the hard way that one or all of these behaviors were foolish and are now wiser for it?
Ford has come up with a safety system that will allow parents to keep their children from acting stupidly while driving a 2010 Focus with the “MyKey” system. Parents will issue their young driver a specially programmed key that limits top speed and stereo volume, as well as a feature that locks out the stereo so long as seatbelts are un-fastened. The MyKey system also features an earlier-than-normal low fuel reminder and some very innovative radar-based “potential collision” warning sensors. In short, the MyKey system will help parents keep their kids from acting like, well, kids.
Will Ford’s new MyKey system make teens safer at the expense of responsibility?
Fuel economy is a hot topic in every American household, and automakers are doing their best to re-tool their production lines to shift the focus of their newer vehicles onto more efficient designs and technologies. While it is not so difficult to create smaller vehicles which are lighter, powered by smaller engines and use less fuel, it is definitely a challenge to take more purpose-built vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUV
There’s a term for a vehicle that’s so special that it casts a spell on an entire brand – it’s called a “halo car.” There are quite a few halo cars etched in the public consciousness. The Corvette. The Mustang. The Supra. They don’t need to be described by a brand (i.e. Chevy, Ford, or Toyota) – they describe the brand all by themselves.
The Dodge Viper (designs, tooling, brand, trademarks and all) is up for sale, and there’s a good chance the new owner will be overseas.
Flashback to 1990, when the world was abuzz with the news that Chrysler was going to make an affordable supercar. “Chrysler?” people would say – “Really?” The Viper came out in 1991, and it was followed by a series of very successful vehicles (the new Ram, the Intrepid, even the Neon) that arguably resurrected the company. The Viper was, in short, a halo car. It cast a halo upon the entire brand that helped sell cars.
So why in the world would Chrysler part with the Viper?