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September 2010 Power Bits

U.S. Diesel Sales, Diesel Porsche & More!

Text By Tori Tellem

GM Pickups Tow Mo' Better
According to GM, further testing of its '11 Silverado and Sierra HDs revealed that properly equipped trucks were capable of towing up to 21,700 pounds. GM's maximum payload capacity also increased to 6,635 pounds. GM explained the increase was "a result of exceeding the original performance targets." Translation: GM is in a numbers battle with Ford-and it has gone beyond horsepower and torque fugures.

Rumor of the Moment:
A louvered grille for GM pickups in order to meet the new fuel-economy standards?

Diesel Sales
When BMW's diesels arrived in the United States last year, it was the first time the automaker sold a diesel engine in America in 24 years. How'd it do? Diesels made up 13 percent of total X5 sales in the first half of 2009, 22 percent for the second half, and this year 28 percent of sales, BMW spokesman Tom Plucinsky told Automotive News. Meanwhile, USA Today punched some numbers: Although diesel truck sales in the Unites States have been strong and mighty, diesel cars? Not so much. Volkswagen has done the best in that department, although BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz are finally nipping at its heels. Audi said that nearly half of the A3 sedans in the United States have a diesel, while 4 out of 10 Q7s are also diesel. For Mercedes-Benz, its March figures showed that 10 percent of the ML Class, 13 percent of the R Class, and 15 percent of the GL Class were stuffed with a diesel. And VW noted that 85 percent of the Jetta SportWagens have a diesel, with sales up 65 percent for that car in March compared to the same month last year.

Small Talk
It's crash test time again, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety pitted low-speed vehicles (also know as LSVs, or neighborhood electric vehicles) and mini-trucks against each other. It's because neighborhood-purposed LSVs and the mini off-road haulers (often weighing in at 1,500 pounds) are now showing up more often on U.S. public roads. So, the IIHS wanted to explain that LSVs and mini-trucks couldn't compare to the safety of even the smallest of regular cars and pickups-and the best way it knows how to explain such stuff is by crashing it. It tested two GEM e2 electric vehicles and a Changan Tiger Star mini-truck. The GEMs were pitted against a smart fortwo, the Tiger Star against a Ford Ranger. Results in a nutshell? Tiger: "...likelihood of serious neck injuries." LSV: "It doesn't resist the crash forces at all."

Change Of Tone For Porsche?
"The diesel makes a lot of sense in terms of driving behavior and economy because it has a lot of torque and very good fuel efficiency. It needs to be a business case that makes sense with Porsche, and we are evaluating the potential in the United States. The decision should be made in the next few months." - Detlev von Platen, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, to Automotive News on whether a diesel Cayenne or any diesel Porsche will happen in America

Rumor of the Moment:
2013: that's when Land Rover's first diesel hybrid will arrive. U.S. availability is still to be determined.

Rumor of the Moment:
Toyota + Honda = developing a diesel (one or more, actually) engine

Ford and U of Michigan Develop Apps
OK, the name is lame-Cloud Computing in the Commute-but we always dig student automotive projects. This was a 12-week course at the University of Michigan; six teams developed experimental apps for future in-car connectivity based on Ford's developmental application platform built on Windows 7 and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio. Caravan Track was the winner and is said to allow clusters of vehicles traveling together to track each other along the journey. Users would be able to see everything from fuel level and speed to map routes and texts about road conditions.

Who Wants a Diesel?
Bosch borrowed new-car registration data from R.L. Polk & Co. and learned that when both diesel and gas engine choices are on the table, about 30 percent of buyers opt for the correct answer. Furthermore, the average for diesel registrations in a 12-month period that began in January 2009 broke down as follows: 20% Audi A3 TDI
30% Audi Q7 TDI
8% BMW 335d
17% BMW X5 xDrive x35d
18% Mercedes-Benz GL 350 Bluetec
13% Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec
12% Mercedes-Benz R 350 Bluetec
49%+ VW Jetta TDI (Sedan and Sportwagen)
33% Volkswagen Touareg TDI

Diesel Bits Diesel Bits

  • Getting closer-the Mahindra may indeed arrive end of this year in the United States.
  • You can get the '11 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD in two-wheel drive.
  • Tropicana-yup, the OJ-has added two new diesel-electric hybrid medium-duty Peterbilt trucks to its chilled delivery fleet.
  • Word is that Daimler and Allison Transmission will continue to make sweet music together.
  • July 9, 2010: Collector Car Appreciation Day. It was passed in the U.S. Senate. Send a thank you note to SEMA.
  • There are new CARB test procedure requirements to get Executive Orders for emissions-related diesel performance parts. The steps are designed to prevent parts from causing smog-check failures.
  • President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum on fuel-efficiency standards, with the hope of developing a national standard for larger, heavy-duty trucks.
  • Navistar's eStar-it's all-electric.
  • By Tori Tellem
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