Recently Cars.com released a study that announced the Top 10 American-Made Cars, and much to our surprise the Dodge Ram was not on the list!
Here are the results from the Cars.com study:
- Ford F150
- Toyota Camry
- Chevy Silverado 1500
- Chevy Cobalt
- Ford Focus
- Toyota Sienna
- Chevy Malibu
- Pontiac G6
- Ford Escape
- TOYOTA TUNDRA
See what’s NOT on the list? No Dodges. None.
We had to see this for ourselves, so we went and took some photos this weekend at a couple of local Denver dealerships.
The Dodge is 72% domestic parts, with the transmission coming from Germany:
The Tundra has 75% domestic parts, with the most expensive components (engine and transmission) being made in the U.S.
It’s pretty clear to us that driving a Tundra helps the U.S. economy more than driving a Dodge Ram…not to mention it’s more “American”.
In your face Dodge owners! (just kidding)
According to a local source, Toyota is currently weighing the cost and impact of recalling all of the 5.7L V8’s that were produced before March 15, 2007. By some estimates, that may be as many as 30,000 vehicles.
The recall is being considered because an unknown number of 5.7L V8 Tundras have defective camshafts. Specifically, the camshaft may snap during hard acceleration because of a manufacturing defect. While Toyota is fairly certain that the number of vehicles effected is very small, the possibility of negative publicity and future failures is enough to consider replacing the camshafts in the Tundras in question.
Here at TundraHeadquarters, we’re wondering what would be worse for Toyota — recalling 30k vehicles and declaring to the world that their newest, most powerful engine could disintegrate under acceleration OR acknowledging this may be a problem but refusing to take a pro-active stance.
We’re of the opinion that the problem is still fairly small (20 trucks out of 30,000) and that Toyota really doesn’t need to do anything at this point. Other manufacturers have had far worse problems that went uncorrected. If Toyota announces a recall, the problem will look worse than it really is.
When you’re at the top of the food chain, everyone wants to eat your lunch. Toyota, arguably the MOST successful car company in the world, is sometimes a victim of its’ own success. When Toyota has a minor hiccup, the press lunges at the opportunity to discredit and devalue the company. Most recently, Automotive News has reported that “The launch of the all new 2007 Tundra full size pickup continues to go anything but smoothly” due to a mysterious camshaft failure found on the 5.7L V8.
Before anyone takes their new 5.7L down to their local Ford, Chevy, or Dodge dealer to trade it in, let’s evaluate the facts:
- Automotive news reports 20 instances of this camshaft failure, but this isn’t a complete number. There could be more, and there could be less. Weighed against the current total of 30,000 trucks sold, that amounts to a very small percentage of defects.
- To their credit, Toyota has acknowledged there is a problem with SOME of the 5.7L camshafts. If any camshaft has failed, Toyota may replace the entire engine according to correspondence with PickupTruck.com.
- If this were happening in a new Dodge, Ford, or Chevy, this wouldn’t be news. The fact is that the only reason camshaft failures are news is because they’re happening on a Toyota.
The bottomline: Until this starts happening with any sort of regular frequency, it’s not a problem. Toyota warranty’s the camshafts on a new Tundra for five years or 60k miles. If there is a defective camshaft in your truck, it’s going to grenade long before the warranty is up. If Toyota installs a new motor (and grants you an extended warranty on the rest of the power train), what’s the harm? Besides, it’s probably not going to happen to anyone that it already hasn’t happened to.
It is the firm belief of everyone here at TundraHeadquarters that a hybrid version of the Toyota Tundra will be available no later than 2010. We have come to this conclusion after careful study of Toyota’s product announcements and of the Tundra itself.
Specifically, we’ve found the following clues that have led us to this conclusion:
- Masatami Takimoto,a V.P. of power train development at Toyota, stated that current efforts by Toyota’s design teams to reduce costs of the key hybrid components will most likely result in the cost of hybrid powertrains to be equivalent to that of a gasoline powertrain by 2010.
We think this may be a little gamesmanship by Toyota. For years, competing automakers have argued that Toyota is selling its hybrid vehicles at a loss or for very little profit. However, if you look at Toyota’s projected hybrid sales this year (expected to be just shy of 1,000,000 vehicles) it’s clear that Toyota certainly isn’t losing money. If you consider the fact that the Prius currently is being sold with a cash incentive, it becomes obvious that Toyota is making money on ALL of their hybrid powertrains now. The writing between the lines is that all current powertrains could be produced in a hybrid configuration right now at roughly the same cost, if the market would support them. Currently Toyota’s production of hybrids is limited only by demand.
- Officials at Toyota have also been quoted as saying that expensive lithium-ion battery packs are available for installation in a hybrid vehicle at “any time”, and without a substantial cost penalty.
This is the next evolution of hybrid technology — lithium ion battery packs can hold 2 or 3 times the energy of the current nickel-metal-hydride (NMH) battery packs, will last longer, and will weigh less. Most importantly for future Tundra owners, the use of lithium ion battery packs allows economic charging from a much larger engine than the current technology. Currently a V8 is too much engine for a hybrid — a V8 can generate more power than a decent sized NMH battery pack can store. But with new lithium ion packs a large V8 could be used in a hybrid without sacrificing any efficiency. The extra storage capability of a decent sized lithium ion battery pack would prove useful in towing and hauling situations, something that can’t be said about the current NMH packs which would need to be huge to be able to offset fuel consumption for much more than stop and go traffic.
- Toyota and Isuzu are expected to make an announcement about an Isuzu diesel hybrid powertrain in July of this year.
Toyota has all but admitted it will be developing a diesel engine for the Tundra (with Isuzu’s co-operation). The upcoming announcement will most likely be simply the debut of a prototype diesel hybrid powertrain for one of Isuzu’s medium duty trucks. But that technology could EASILY be integrated into a 3/4 ton Tundra (due out in 2009). Even if Toyota doesn’t debut a diesel hybrid Tundra by 2009, the transmission used in these trucks could be adapted to a Tundra.
- On October 26th, 2005, Toyota admitted to studying the feasibility of creating a hybrid Tundra. But the finding was that the value of a hybrid powertrain is reduced for a vehicle engaged in towing and hauling due to the current NMH battery packs inability to store more than a few minutes of power.
Toyota’s admission that they have a lithium ion battery pack ready for hybrid use is an indication that an oversized battery pack could be installed in a Tundra and offer its owner improved fuel economy over a long trip, even if towing or hauling. Remember, lithium ion battery packs can store 2 – 3 times as much energy as the current technology.
Some other facts to consider:
- The Tundra has been designed to haul at least an extra 2000 lbs in just about every configuration available. Toyota could insert a fairly large battery pack into this vehicle without substantially reducing the payload rating or performance.
- The debut of the FT-HS, a 400hp hybrid sports car concept, is proof that Toyota has a transmission capable of handling a very powerful hybrid motor. The kind of powerful hybrid that would be needed in a Tundra.
- Toyota’s oversized brake system lends itself to being replaced by a regenerative braking system.
- There are a lot of indications the Tundra was designed to be as lightweight as possible, even if the expense was greater. The frame isn’t fully boxed, special (and more expensive) coatings were used on all the wiring, aluminum is used in many places on the vehicle where steel (which is cheaper) would have been good enough, etc. Obviously, light weight is key in a hybrid.
- Dodge’s new Hemi will debut in 2008 with a hybrid option. Ford’s new F150 rolls out in 2009, with the expectation being that the segment leader will bring a hybrid option to the table as well. Finally, the GM products are expected to offer an upgrade to the hybrid system currently available to fleet users within the next year or two. Toyota must respond.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, conservative estimates of U.S. gasoline prices show that a gallon of fuel will cost $3.50-$4.50 by 2010. The market demand for a hybrid truck, even if it only improved fuel economy by 25%, would be HUGE. Remember that Toyota said by 2010 all of their current gasoline powertrains could be replaced by hybrid powertrains at no additional cost? That’s Toyota’s way of saying they could bring a hybrid Tundra to market at the same cost as the current Tundra. Put another way, Toyota’s risk of developing a hybrid Tundra is reduced if they don’t have to charge a premium for the technology. After all, if a consumer can buy a hybrid for the same amount of money as a gas engine, most will do so. As long as the hybrid option sells in volume it will be a profitable choice for Toyota.
We think the first hybrid Tundras will be CrewMaxs. They are the most profitable and are also the vehicles most likely to be used as a commute vehicle. Since the value of a hybrid Tundra will be limited for anyone doing constant towing and hauling, you’ll still see the 5.7L non-hybrid as an option. Also, expect to see the smaller single cab Tundra V6 offered in a hybrid. There is no reason that a lot of the current systems can’t be adapted to a 2wd Tundra single cab, and the fuel economy gain would be significant for a lot of fleet users. However, Toyota’s fleet sales will have to skyrocket for this option to appear before the more consumer oriented Tundra CrewMax hybrid.
Bottomline: A hybrid version of the Tundra will debut in 2009 as a 2010 model. It will feature the 4.7L V8 and a hybrid charging system that will give the truck 400hp and limitless torque. We think the fuel savings will vary by user, but expect the fuel economy rating to be about 20mpg city, 25mpg highway.
Our recommendation: Lease your next new Tundra for 2 or 3 years.
TundraHeadquarters.com is not affiliated with Toyota Motor Company.
Everyone knows the Toyota Tundra can stop heavy loads, but now an armoring company in Texas has figured out how to make the Tundra stop bullets. That’s right — Texas Armoring Corp. is converting a Toyota Tundra into a personal armored vehicle for a secret client. The Tundra, in addition to stopping armor-piercing rounds from an M16 or an AK47, has the ability to create its own smokescreen, to drop razor-sharp tacks on the road as it escapes danger, and to shock anyone that tries to enter the vehicle with electrified door-handles.
The Tundra being converted is a black 2007 DoubleCab Limited. When it’s complete, the Tundra will have 2″ thick armored glass and a secret combination of steel, nylon, and composite materials hidden in body panels surrounding the cab. The window glass, similar to glass used in the canopies of modern jet fighters, is designed to not only stop incoming bullets but actually reflect them away. The doors of the truck will feature a special woven composite fiber 2″ thick that is much lighter than steel but capable of stopping a round fired from a modern automatic weapon, even from point-blank range. The hood, fenders, fuel tank, radiator, and even battery will all receive armored protection to ensure that this Tundra can withstand several direct hits to critical systems and still be able to whisk the owner away to safety.
Who’s this truck for? That’s a secret. The San Antonio Express-News reports the person this truck is being built for is a Texas resident who frequently travels to Mexico. According to the newspaper, several powerful Mexican drug lords have marked this man and his family for death. Unfortunately, these drug lords have already managed to kill both of this man’s brothers. Obviously, in addition to being armored this Tundra needs this vehicle to be discreet. While we can only speculate, the Tundra Limited was probably chosen for its combination of power, size, and unassuming luxury.
When the Tundra is complete it will look just like any other Black DoubleCab Limited — except for a handful of details that only a keen observer would notice. The armoring in the doors is designed to be light-weight so that doors don’t sag when they are opened or closed, a sure tip-off that the vehicle may be armored. The suspension is upgraded so the vehicle maintains the factory empty ride height, disguising the extra 2,000 lbs of armor the truck will be hauling. The front windows, even though they’re thicker and heavier than normal glass, can be raised and lowered just like a normal Tundra. This combination of armored protection with a nondescript, casual appearance should serve the new owner well.
The Tundra’s smokescreen is produced by intentionally spraying anti-freeze onto the hot exhaust manifold, creating a thick whitish smoke. This is nearly identical to the method used by the US Army M1 Abrams tank to create smokescreens. The electrified door handles, designed to shock anyone who attempts to enter the vehicle while under attack, pass a high voltage charge that temporarily stuns the attacker. Finally, razor sharp tacks, carried behind the rear wheels, are designed to land with the “sharp side up” and can instantly flatten the tires of any pursuing vehicle. If the attackers try to flatten the tires on this Toyota Tundra they won’t be successful — the truck has special run-flat plastic rim inserts that support the truck even if the tires have been turned to shreds.
The entire package is reported to have cost $90,000 dollars. While it may seem like an extravagance to some, Texas Armoring Corp. reports that more than 80% of all attacks (assassination or terrorist) occur while the person being targeted is in their vehicle. The world understands that point too — Texas Armoring Corp has upgraded over 1,500 vehicles with protection and has shipped them to Europe, South America, the Middle East, and the U.S.
Here are some interesting facts and links:
A 7.62 x 51 NATO Armor Piercing (AP) round is used in the US M-60 machine gun as well as various rifles. It can reach a muzzle velocity of 2,756 feet/second, more than MACH 2. The Tundra, when complete, will be resistant to this round.
The total cost of the vehicle is estimated to be $125,000 when completed. That’s about $2,450 a month on a five year loan (plus taxes of course).