Good Oil: The most practical pick-up feature ever?
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The rechargeable torch in the boot. The flip-up integrated child’s booster seat. The “curry hook” hiding in the top of the glovebox lid. All amazingly simple automotive advents. And all brought about by sophisticated Euro manufacturers. (Yes, even the curry hook).
So, the chances of a blunt-edged American pick-up truck manufacturer coming up with something equally clever ... possibly even more technologically-advanced? Not likely, you’d be thinking. We’ll admit it: we would have presumed so, too. But then, this from Fiat Chrysler’s yeehaw! division. It’s possibly the cleverest OEM component we’ve seen on something designed to also have a gun rack fitted.
The new-for-2019 Ram 1500 is to feature an impressive multifunction tailgate, which can open in a 60:40-split barn door configuration, or as a conventional drop-down tailgate.
Some clever-clogs engineering inside the sheet metal simply adjusts the hinging to suit. In its side-opening barn door configuration, each door opens out to 88 degrees meaning that you can load a quad bike into the tray of the Ram with ramps hooking straight on to the lip of the load bed (rather than the tailgate itself). But in the more traditional drop-down mode, Ram says the tailgate will still support 900kg of weight. That’s nearly seven motoring writers.
The split-opening tailgate will also mitigate the annoyance of needing to stow something underneath a larger, heavier item that has been thoughtlessly plonked on top, without having to prey the larger item doesn’t start sliding towards your shins as soon as you drop the back panel.
It also looks like fewer gymnastics would be involved in hopping up into the load bed with the smaller of the door partitions swung out to the side; the wellside wall being right there to grab on to as you lumber aboard, rather than needing to stretch out for it.
No word yet on whether Ram trucks sold in New Zealand will take the new feature up when we get the face-lifted models. It’s set to be an optional extra on US market Ram 1500s, priced at US$995 (approximately NZ$1500). Worth the money in our opinion.
Ford’s 7-litre V8 laughs in the face of fuel prices
Proving that practicality can also take a running jump where American pick-ups are concerned, are the first images of the 2020 model year Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks (F-250, F-350 and F-450). The big news is that an all-new V8 option will be available in the range: a 7.3-litre V8.
Clearly the old adage that there’s no replacement for displacement is alive and well in Dearborn.
The new 7.3-litre V8 joins two others already doing super duty; a trifling 6.2-litre unit and a downright weedy 6.7-litre Power Stroke turbo diesel.
The new trucks will feature Ford’s 10-speed auto ’box. According to US motoring publication Autoweek, the new V8 engine utilises all-new cam-in-block, overhead-valve architecture that features a forged steel crankshaft and a cast iron block.
Ford is already saying the big 7.3-litre donk is the most powerful V8 it has built. That’s all well and good, but the missing elephant somewhere outside the room is that they’ve not yet published peak power or torque figures to back up the chat.
Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, North America did say that “Super Duty customers have demanding and diverse needs. Productivity is their lifeblood, and their truck is their biggest tool. Our new Super Duty has more power ... and better technology than ever to help these customers build a better world”.
Although, clearly Galhotra’s better world is a different world to the one we’re living in, where oil reserves have been depleted significantly and exhaust emissions are, not to put too fine a point on it, helping exacerbate some bad climate-y stuff ...
Mercedes EQV concept: not all EVs must be sexy
An all-electric people carrier? Well, not every EV can be an ultra-sexy design study with 4K cameras instead of wing mirrors, right?
In the brave electric tomorrow, for every Tesla there’ll probably be a sort of BEV equivalent of a Toyota Tercel. It’s only fair and right.
And Mercedes-Benz has gone some way to demonstrate that people carriers are just as viable an EV as a hip, mega-unit shifting crossover.
Based on a face-lifted V-Class passenger van, the Mercedes-Benz EQV concept will be shown off at the Geneva Motor Show. It will serve to underline the fact that , it is hoped the battery capabilities of vehicles tasked with carrying bigger loads will be long-range in nature.
Right now, legislation in the key Chinese market requires that for manufacturers to receive market incentives, their BEVs must attain a minimum range of 100km pure-electric running on a single charge.
Mercedes’ engineers say that, using available battery technology, a vehicle the size of a people-mover would need a dual-battery set-up to meet the minimum electric-only range. This would add complexity to the car and cost to the end-user.
By 2021, however, a V-Class-style EV could incorporate a much larger battery pack meaning it would meet legislation requirements.