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2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept

2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept

The Brave Little Toaster grew into a self-driving concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept
2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept

Volkswagen is launching a new initiative – create a world with self-driving vehicles that transport people in living room-like comfort, all without the need of a driver’s license, eyesight, or even the physical ability to drive. Leading the charge is the first concept car from Volkswagen Group. It’s named Sedric, which is short for self-driving car. VG says Sedric is the “father” of other autonomous concepts soon to come, each branded from different subsidiary brands under the VG umbrella. These “children” and “grandchildren” will build on Sedric’s foundation, eventually providing ride-sharing and private ownership experiences unlike anything known today.

Granted, this is a tall order for Volkswagen. There are a ton of moving parts that must be incorporated, not the least of which is the proliferation of the Internet of Things. Still, the new world previewed by Sedric is one of comfort and convenience, without the hassles inherent to driving. Think inner city commuting or the daily grind of chauffeuring kids to school, parents to work, and the insane scheduling that surrounds after-school activities. Sedric’s self-driving and autonomous nature alleviates the stress of transportation. Or so Volkswagen hopes.

Sedric’s overall design is one of originality. It doesn’t need to conform to the traditional configuration of a car or SUV. It has almost no overhangs beyond its wheels, it doesn’t waste interior space with driver controls, and it incorporated technology in nearly every aspect of its design. Its all-electric drivetrain offers clean, quite transportation, while requiring minimal space under the floor.

Now Volkswagen isn’t trying to kill the joy of driving. Rather, the automaker is trying to revolutionize personal transportation for busy families, older children, and senior citizens. The local Porsche dealership will still have go-fast fun machines ready to tackle the back roads and by-ways.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Sedric Concept.

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2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric

2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric

Peugeot’s trusty passenger van goes electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric
2017 Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric

The second-generation Peugeot Partner was introduced in 2008 alongside its PSA sibling, the Citroen Berlingo. Like its predecessor, the current Partner is available in both panel van and passenger versions, but the latter has been renamed the Partner Tepee. Offered with four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines since its introduction, the Partner gained an electric drivetrain in 2013. The utility vehicle was updated in 2015 with a redesigned exterior and a revised cabin. At the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Peugeot introduces the electric version of the Tepee passenger model.

Called the Partner Tepee Electric, the "leisure activity vehicle," as it’s being described by Peugeot, uses the same electric motor as the pavel van version. Mileage is similar, while the Tepee Electric will also benefit from tax exemption with new VED regulations from 2017. Peugeot also added a range of new features, especially in the connectivity department, as well as a comprehensive battery warranty program.

The new Tepee Electric is basically a passenger-friendly alternative to the panel van EV for customers that need the cargo room of an utility vehicle, while also being able to transport up to four passengers when needed. It also enables Peugeot to finally offer an alternative to the passenger version of the Renault Kangoo Z.E.

"Whether for personal or business use, the Partner Tepee Electric stands out thanks to its blend of practicality and efficiency. The vehicle offers an impressive range and is easy to run and maintain, making it a highly attractive option for those looking to switch to electric," said David Peel, managing director of Peugeot U.K.

Continue reading to learn more about the Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric.

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Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago

Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago

This is perhaps the wildest concept at Chicago!
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago
Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept Showvan Unveiled In Chicago

Mercedes-Benz has been know to build some extravagant concept vehicles over the years, but nothing in recent memory compares to the outlandish endeavor that is the Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Concept show van. Quite obviously, this Metris van is designed to mimic a toolbox, hinting at its more utilitarian nature inside. Large hinges and toolbox-like clasps allow a large panel on the driver’s side to lift up, revealing the aftermarket shelving and tool storage solutions available for the Metris van.

Mercedes is working hard to promote the Metris van here in the U.S., and it’s a sure bet this concept will call plenty of attention to itself. The German automaker already has a firm grasp on America’s commercial work van segment with its full-size Sprinter van. Mercedes has added to that with the new-for-America, mid-size Metris van. Combined, the two vans offer customers a wide range of space and capability.

Not only is Mercedes showcasing the Metris, but its MasterSolutions line of commercial upfits. These upfits are done through partnerships with trusted venders, which take a bare Metris or Sprinter van and customize its cargo area with shelving, tool chests, or any other job-specific equipment. Specialty upfits are often done for refrigeration, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and delivery services.

As for the Metris van itself, Mercedes is touting the Metris Worker, a trim line designed for commercial and fleet use. The Metris Worker comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The rear-wheel drive van is capable of hauling 2,500 pounds inside its cargo area or towing up to 5,000 pounds. And despite its $25,995, the Metris Worker comes with interior niceties like a five-speaker stereo system with Bluetooth, and AUX input jack, and a USB port. Six airbags, Mercedes’ Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist, and Hill Start Assist are also standard. Optionally, the Metris Worker can be had with Blind Spot Assist, Power Heated Exterior Mirrors, and a rear view camera.

That’s a lot of bang for the buck.

Continue reading for more information.

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2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van

2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van

This isn’t your average cargo van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van
2017 Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van

Nissan is dumping the conventionality of the monotonous cargo van with its Cargo X Project van – a hard-core, Cummins-powered rock crawler with a heavily modified suspension and solid axles. The Cargo X Project was headed up by legendary off-road builder and host of Spike TV’s Xtreme Off-Road, Ian Johnson and fully supported by Nissan. Needless to say, this isn’t the average fleet van.

The NV2500 van started life as a standard cargo van, powered by Nissan’s 5.6-liter Endurance V-8. It rode on an independent front suspension with a leaf spring suspension holding the solid rear axle in place. Rear drive and an open differential, combined with the rest of the road-going suspension wouldn’t cut it for rock crawling, so modifications began.

Though the NV Cargo X might seem more like a SEMA build, Nissan is bringing it to the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. It will be on display for show-goers to check out from February 11 through 20. Those not able to make the show can see all the details below.

Continue reading for the full review.

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Ford Idling F-150, Transit Assembly Plant for One Week

Ford Idling F-150, Transit Assembly Plant for One Week

Maintenance and inventory reduction are lead factors
Ford Idling F-150, Transit Assembly Plant for One Week

Ford Motor Company is planning to idle F-150 and Transit van production for one week during January at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri. The time will be used primarily to help reduce Ford’s supply of the trucks and vans as consumer demand wanes. Facility maintenance will also be performed during the down time, scheduled for January 2 through 9.

Production of the F-150 will continue uninterrupted at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

Ford says it has a 108-day supply of Transit vans, up from an 83-day supply at this time last year. The F-Series pickups currently have an 85-day supply, which is actually down from an 87-day supply last year.

The Kansas City Assembly Plant employs roughly 7,400 workers and runs three shifts around the clock. Employees will be retained for the week-long stint. This marks the second time in four months Ford has idled the Kansas City Plant. Back in October of 2016, the plant, along with four other Ford manufacturing facilities, halted production for a week.

Other automakers are doing the same. General Motors is having to go a step further come 2017. The automaker is planning to idle a number of its small car assembly plants in order to realign its output supply the slowing customer demand for compact and mid-size cars. Come January, GM will begin laying off nearly 3,300 workers as it cuts production shifts in three of its assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio.

Continue reading for more information.

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2017 Buick GL8

2017 Buick GL8

The company’s sole minivan gets new looks and technology for 2017
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8
2017 Buick GL8

After many years of struggle, the Buick brand is finally doing well financially, thanks to its successful strategy China. Buick products have been selling like hot cakes since 2013 in China, where the American brand offers significantly more nameplates than in the U.S. One such vehicle is the GL8, a minivan that is about to received its third-generation redesign. Set to debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November 2016, the new GL8 was recently previewed by Buick.

For the uninitiated, the GL8 nameplate has been around since 2000, and it’s Buick’s sole minivan since the Terraza was discontinued in the U.S. after only two years on the market. It’s also GM’s only MPV, with the Detroit-based giant having replaced every minivan with SUVs in recent years. At first based on the Chevrolet Venture, launched in 1996, the GL8 carried over mostly unchanged until 2010, when it was redesigned on an update platform.

To be discontinued in 2016, the second-generation GL8 has been a key member of Buick’s lineup in China, helping the brand become the country’s third-largest passenger car manufacturer. In 2015, Buick sold 76,607 GL8s, a figure it is hoping to improve with the new, third-generation minivan. Details about the redesigned MPV are still scant, but until Buick releases more data, let’s have a closer look at what we already know about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the Buick GL8 Luxury MPV.

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2016 Mercedes Vision Van

2016 Mercedes Vision Van

Part delivery van, part futuristic philosophy
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van
2016 Mercedes Vision Van

In the future, everything will be faster, more efficient, and more intelligent – even when it comes to delivering that pair of cat socks you ordered off the Internet. Mercedes just announced something called adVANce, a “future initiative” looking to invest 500 million euros over the next five years in the realms of “digitalization, automation and robotics.” Where’s all that tech going? Why, to vans, obviously. You see, Mercedes is imagining new ways of bringing the goods transportation industry into the 21st century, and the amorphous four-wheeled contraption you see here is the automaker’s first step in that direction. It’s hugely automated, all-electric, and there’s a squadron of drones parked on the roof. Sounds like sci-fi, but something like this concept might be closer than you think.

Mercedes says it’s already got 200 employees hammering away on ideas similar to the Vision Van, with folks stationed in Berlin, Stuttgart, and (of course) Silicon Valley. The automaker is also working with tech startups to infuse the timeworn parcel delivery model with fresh ideas and new perspectives.

So what are some of the cool ideas we can expect to see in the near future of delivery? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes Vision Van.

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2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX

2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX

Gordon Murray now building a go-anywhere truck for the African wilderness
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX
2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX

He’s known for many things, but Gordon Murray can now add an inexpensive, easy-to-assemble, all-terrain truck to his F1 racing and McLaren resume. That’s right, Murray, along with famed philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman, are in the process of kick starting Global Vehicle Trust, an automobile company focused on making rugged and inexpensive trucks designed to haul heavy loads over primitive roads through third world countries.

GVT’s prototype is called the OX, and it’s designed for both regular transportation and for use in emergencies. A team of three people can assemble it in roughly 12 hours with average mechanical skill using basic hand tools. It comes packed flat in a box and uses common parts on each side of the vehicle. Even the three-piece windshield uses interchangeable glass panels.

True to Gordon’s McLaren F1 design, the OX uses a centered driver’s position, leaving the two outboard seats for passengers. Three occupants can fit up front, while 10 more can ride out back. And despite only weighting 3,500 pounds and powered by a 100-horsepower four-cylinder, the OX can carry 4,200 pounds – far more than most conventional car-based pickups in the affordable price bracket. And interestingly enough, the OX is only FWD. This makes it far easier to manufacture and assemble, while knobby tires held down by the engine and cab’s weight make for good traction.

All this comes from Sir Torquil Norman’s dream of helping people in developing countries with cost-effective transportation. He founded GVT five years ago and has been working on the OX project ever since. The fledgling automaker is currently seeking donors willing to support the ambitious project.

Continue reading about the OX below.

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2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van

2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van

Pioneering a new form of bio-fuels
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van
2017 Nissan Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell NV200 Van

Bio-fuels have been around a while, just like the concept of hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle. Nissan is taking these two concepts and combining them into its Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell powertrain. But this is no theoretical lab experiment. No, Nissan has built a working model with its mid-size NV cargo van.

It’s called the e-Bio Fuel-Cell and it offers the benefits of a hydrogen fuel-cell without the need for compressed hydrogen gas and the complicated infrastructure required to handle it. Rather, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell runs on bio-ethanol harvested from corn or sugarcane and can be dispensed in liquid form the same way traditional gasoline and diesel fuels have been for the last century – at a filling station.

"The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production… all the while supporting the existing infrastructure," says Nissan president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn. "In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. Without the need to create new infrastructure, it has great potential to drive market growth."

Nissan says this NV e-Bio Fuel-Cell concept van runs on 100 percent ethanol to charge a 24 kWh battery, which affords more than 373 miles of driving range via an electric drivetrain. And of course, it does this with a very small global impact. The little CO2 emissions generated by the e-Bio Fuel-Cell is offset by the growing process of the corn and sugarcane, effectively canceling out the vehicle emissions for an overall zero-emissions impact.

Continue reading for the full run-down and informative video.

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2017 Volkswagen Crafter

2017 Volkswagen Crafter

VW’s new Crafter is now an in-house creation
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter
2017 Volkswagen Crafter

Volkswagen has just updated its largest euro-style van, the Crafter, for the 2017 model year. “Update” might be an understatement, though, as the Crafter is new from the wheels up. This comes as Volkswagen split with its long-time van-building partner, Mercedes-Benz. Yep, VW basically badge engineered itself the Crafter off the Mercedes Sprinter platform. Mercedes even built the van for VW, though the Crafter was powered by VW-sourced powertrains.

The new Crafter still plays on the extreme functionality found in the Sprinter. Its low load floor and available high roof heights allow for large amounts of cargo and even walking room. The van’s short overhangs and tight turning radius is perfect for navigating narrow European streets.

Volkswagen engineers didn’t just reverse-engineer the Sprinter for VW’s use. They reportedly conducted an extensive survey of Crafter customers to find what features they liked, didn’t like, and wanted to see in future products. VW says this lead to driver aids like a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, a side wind compensation system, and even the availability of VW’s 4Motion AWD system.

On top of these features, VW updated the standard powertrain option. The new “EA288Nutz” 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder is offered in four output levels, including a twin-turbo variant with 175 horsepower. What’s more, the Crafter offers more drivetrain choices than just about any vehicle in recent memory. Customs can order FWD, RWD, or AWD, on top of an automatic or manual transmission. Impressive.

Keep reading for more on the Crafter.

Continue reading for the full run-down.

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GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production

GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production

Navistar to build Chevy Express, GMC Savana Cutaways starting in 2017
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production
GM to Increase Colorado, Canyon Production by Outsourcing Cutaway Van Production

The demand for mid-size pickup trucks is apparently overwhelming GM’s Wentzville, Montana assembly plant’s capabilities. In response, GM and Navistar have entered an agreement to free up space at Wentzville by moving production of the cutaway versions of the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans to Navistar’s Springfield, Ohio plant.

The move will happen in the first half of 2017 and will not affect production of the standard cargo and passenger version of the G-series vans. The move will also add roughly 300 new jobs at Navistar as the company recommissions its second assembly line.

"We’re very pleased to partner with GM on this important manufacturing opportunity," said Persio Lisboa, president, Navistar operations. "Our Springfield plant is an important part of our manufacturing footprint, and we’ve been preparing it for a higher volume concentration of light- and medium-duty products as part of our manufacturing strategy.”

GM’s Cathy Clegg, the company’s North American Manufacturing and Labor Relations VP, voiced the positives for GM, saying, "This partnership will provide our Wentzville, Mo., assembly plant more flexibility to keep up with continued demand for mid-size trucks and full size vans."

This isn’t the first we’ve heard news of GM and Navistar teaming up. Back in July of 2015, we reported the pair was entering a mutually beneficial relationship to build Class 4, 5, and 6 medium-duty trucks. The relationship would put GM back in the medium-duty truck segment while giving Navistar the use of GM technology.

You likely remember the Navistar name for its long-standing relationship with Ford, however, which dates back to the 1980s with engine-sharing deals. Navistar also built Ford’s medium-duty trucks from 2001 through 2010. Perhaps the most memorable product was first version of Ford’s Power Stroke engine, the 7.3-liter V-8 turbodiesel. Ford and Navistar parted ways in 2010.

Continue reading for more information

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Ford Introduces EcoBlue Turbodiesel Engine For Europe

Ford Introduces EcoBlue Turbodiesel Engine For Europe

The first in a family of EcoBlue turbodiesels that replaces the DuraTorq lineup
Ford Introduces EcoBlue Turbodiesel Engine For Europe
Ford Introduces EcoBlue Turbodiesel Engine For Europe
Ford Introduces EcoBlue Turbodiesel Engine For Europe
Ford Introduces EcoBlue Turbodiesel Engine For Europe

Ford Europe has broken news of an all-new 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine set to replace the current 2.2-liter DuraTorq four-cylinder in several commercial vans, while being prepared to power future passenger cars. Piggybacking off the recognition of the EcoBoost brand, Ford is calling the turbodiesel the EcoBlue.

The engine is said to be more efficient, cleaner, and more powerful than the outgoing DuraTorq. It will meet or exceed the stringent Euro 6 emissions standards thanks to a urea injection system within the exhaust. The 2.0-liter EcoBlue will come in various states of tune, ranging from 99 horsepower up to 237 horsepower. Likewise, torque will range from 266 pound-feet to 299 pound-feet.

“Ford’s EcoBoost created a new standard for petrol engines – smaller, more efficient with surprising performance. That same obsession to innovate for the customer is behind our new Ford EcoBlue diesel engine range,” said Jim Farley, chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe. “This new engine lifts fuel efficiency and reduces CO2 by over 10 percent in Transit, part of Europe’s best-selling commercial vehicle line-up, lowering costs for our customers.”

The EcoBlue engine will debut in the Transit and Transit Custom vans, but will eventually make its way to other products. Ford says a 1.5-liter version is in the works as well.

The engine utilizes a host of high-tech innovations, such as an offset crank that reduces piston side-load; a motorized and geared wastegate actuator for quicker response; a belt-in-oil design that drive the camshaft and oil pump; and an optimized combustion chamber said to be more efficient than any diesel Ford has ever made. The engine also features Ford’s first mirror-image inlet design for the intake manifold and a low-inertia turbo that features “rocket engine materials,” more technically called Inconel alloy that is resistant to extremely high temperatures.

The turbo’s compressor wheels are milled from a single piece of metal, with tolerances down to three microns, which is the size of a single bacterium. The engine is fueled by high-pressure fuel injectors that can deliver up to six injections per combustion event while being quieter than before. The

All this is done to make the engine more efficient, quieter, and longer lasting. Ford says it racked up more than 3.4 million miles on the engine during durability testing, which also included 250,000 mile of actual use by real-world customers.

Continue reading for more information

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“Dirt Every Day” Races 1967 Ford F-100 & VW Van: Video

“Dirt Every Day” Races 1967 Ford F-100 & VW Van: Video

This unlikely pairing makes for hilarious fun
“Dirt Every Day” Races 1967 Ford F-100 & VW Van: Video

Fred Williams, 4Wheel & Off Road editor and host of Dirt Every Day, pairs up two unlikely vehicles for an informal (and rather fun) race around a grassy and dirt-filled track in the middle of nowhere. The vehicles: a 1967 Ford F-100 and a 1989 Volkswagen Van. Yep, this is a race for the ages.

Williams employs the help of his friends to get the event going, and his ole buddy Frank supplied the F-100. The truck had been sitting up for seven years, set aside after Frank broke his neck in an accident. Now with hand controls, he’s able to pilot the truck once more. Well, that is after Frank and Williams get the truck running again.

The VW van is in a similar state of disrepair. New progressive-rate coil springs and Fox Racing shocks bring the van’s suspension into the current century, while a slight engine tune and Super Swamper rear tires motivate the mess. It’s pretty impressive how the Van morphs from a heap of crap into something that looks fun.

I won’t spoil all the video’s fun, so enter full-screen mode, crank the volume, and enjoy the pilot episode of season five of Dirt Every Day.

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Nissan's April Fools Joke is a Drifting NV3500 Cargo Van

Nissan’s April Fools Joke is a Drifting NV3500 Cargo Van

Gettin’ sideways in and jumpin’ ramps never looked so utilitarian
Nissan's April Fools Joke is a Drifting NV3500 Cargo Van

The Nissan NV3500 Cargo Van might not be the first choice when it comes to drifting, but that’s exactly why Nissan chose it to prank pro drifter Chris Forsberg. The action-packed video shows Forsberg preparing to drift a Nissan 370Z, but only to be surprised with a NV Cargo Van.

The NV3500 appears to be stock, save for the large handbrake handle and its nanny systems turned off. The lack of anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control allow the van to behave like a proper rear-wheel drive, V-8–powered vehicle should. Sure, sliding sideways under power might not be the most advisable driving style in the high-centered cargo van, but hey, it’s nice to know the NV can handle the abuse.

For those a little rusty on their work van stats, the Nissan NV is based on the first generation Titan pickup. It shares much of its platform and powertrain with the truck, including its ladder frame and 5.6-liter V-8 engine. The 32-valve, DOHC engine makes 317 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 385 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. This gives the 6,121-pound van enough power to haul 3,780 pounds of cargo or tow 9,500 pounds worth of trailer. It’s apparently also enough power to melt the tires off while launching the van over ramps and through walls.

Hey, B.A. Baracus of the A-Team might consider replacing his 1983 GMC Vandura cargo van with something more modern. Let’s just hope he keeps the black, grey, and red paint scheme.

Continue reading for more information

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The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners

The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners

The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners
The 2015 Truck of Texas: Crowing the Winners

Every fall, dozens of journalists from all over Texas and around the country gather to compare, test, and crown the winner of the “Truck of Texas” competition. It’s a coveted award from the Texas Auto Writers Association that signifies Texas’ collective approval of a truck. And not only are trucks involved, awards go out for the SUV and CUV of Texas.

I already touched on the topic in the preview piece, but awards are also given to the winner in each vehicle category and for various things like “best connectivity” and “best powertrain.”

This year’s competition was fierce. There were 84 vehicles present from 21 automakers entered into 17 different categories. Evaluating the field were 69 TAWA members comprised of journalists and social media influencers.

So let’s get down to the results. Keep reading for the full breakdown.

Continue reading for the results of the 2015 TAWA Truck Rodeo

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Preview: The 2015 Truck of Texas Competition

Preview: The 2015 Truck of Texas Competition

Preview: The 2015 Truck of Texas Competition

Texans love their trucks and SUVs, so it makes perfect sense for the Texas Auto Writers Association to hold a competition each fall that declares an overall winner, crowing that pickup “The Truck of Texas.”

As a member of TAWA, I spent the majority of the week driving the rock-strewn hills outside San Antonio testing more than 80 contenders, including crossovers and SUVs, vying for that coveted award and top rankings within their respective categories. More than 20 automakers from around the world were present, with most bringing several entries.

The epicenter for testing was the famed Knibbe Ranch. The 150 year-old, family-owned ranch is still in operation, with hundreds of acres sprawling over the Texas countryside. Rolling hills with rocky outcroppings and a shallow stream provided the perfect place for exploring each truck’s off-road abilities while curvy back roads and a long highway stretch nearby were well-suited for testing on-road drivability.

Though the pickup trucks and body-on-frame SUVs were often tested on the highways, the covers crossovers and more road-focused SUVs were restricted to the roads only. These family-friendly vehicles were put through their paces just as well as the 4WDs on the off-road course.

The 69 journalists judging the event had an important decision on their hands: How would each vehicle rank in their respective category, and more importantly, what truck had the right stuff to win Truck of Texas?

Curious yet? You’ll have to stick around till tomorrow, October 13, 2015 for the results.

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Preview: The 2015 Truck of Texas Competition

Preview: The 2015 Truck of Texas Competition

Preview: The 2015 Truck of Texas Competition

Texans love their trucks and SUVs, so it makes perfect sense for the Texas Auto Writers Association to hold a competition each fall that declares an overall winner, crowing that pickup “The Truck of Texas.”

As a member of TAWA, I spent the majority of the week driving the rock-strewn hills outside San Antonio testing more than 80 contenders, including crossovers and SUVs, vying for that coveted award and top rankings within their respective categories. More than 20 automakers from around the world were present, with most bringing several entries.

The epicenter for testing was the famed Knibbe Ranch. The 150 year-old, family-owned ranch is still in operation, with hundreds of acres sprawling over the Texas countryside. Rolling hills with rocky outcroppings and a shallow stream provided the perfect place for exploring each truck’s off-road abilities while curvy back roads and a long highway stretch nearby were well-suited for testing on-road drivability.

Though the pickup trucks and body-on-frame SUVs were often tested on the highways, the covers crossovers and more road-focused SUVs were restricted to the roads only. These family-friendly vehicles were put through their paces just as well as the 4WDs on the off-road course.

The 69 journalists judging the event had an important decision on their hands: How would each vehicle rank in their respective category, and more importantly, what truck had the right stuff to win Truck of Texas?

Curious yet? You’ll have to stick around till tomorrow, October 13, 2015 for the results.

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UAW May Strike at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant, Disrupting F-150 Production

UAW May Strike at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, Disrupting F-150 Production

UAW May Strike at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant, Disrupting F-150 Production

Ford’ s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri is under threat of strike by the UAW Local 249 if the automaker and union cannot come to an agreement before Sunday, October 4, 2015. According to UAW leaders, Ford had failed to resolve issues surrounding worker safety, wages, and other employment issues.

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UAW May Strike at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant, Disrupting F-150 Production

UAW May Strike at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, Disrupting F-150 Production

UAW May Strike at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant, Disrupting F-150 Production

Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri is under threat of strike by the UAW Local 249 if the automaker and union cannot come to an agreement before Sunday, October 4, 2015. According to UAW leaders, Ford had failed to resolve issues surrounding worker safety, wages, and other employment issues.

Both the F-150 pickup and Transit van are produced at the facility.

The union has accused Ford of not negotiating in good faith to resolve the issues in a timely manner, and therefore has created a deadline of 1 pm local time on Sunday. If an agreement is not reached by that time, nearly 7,000 workers will stage a walk-off.

Despite the lack of an agreement, the automaker and UAW have reportedly met more than 40 times since April to discuss the issues. “We work every day to avoid a disruption of our production,” Ford said in a statement to Automotive News, “and we are confident we will be able to negotiate a fair and competitive labor agreement with our UAW partners.”

According to Jimmy Settles, the UAW vice president, the issues include “manpower provisions, the national heat stress program, and skilled trades scheduling, amongst others.” Other reports detail the issues to be a safety concern regarding excessive heat exposure, scheduling for skilled tradesmen, and provisions for manpower at the Kansas City Assembly Plant.

In the event Ford and the UAW do not come to an agreement, a strike at the KCAP could spell disaster for Ford’s supply of new F-150s and Transit vans. Ford has already been dealing with a slow supply of the F-150 thanks to parts supplier issues. Any additional delays could result in dramatically reduced inventories at the dealership level.

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The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans

The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans

The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans
The U.S. Postal Service Getting 9,000 Ram ProMaster Vans

The United States Postal Service is adding a new van to its fleet – the Ram ProMaster 2500 Cargo. Yep, now your daily delivery of junk mail, bills, and car magazines may have traveled in the cavernous interior of Ram’s largest van.

Ram will be supplying 9,113 new ProMasters to the USPS, adding to the government agency’s fleet of roughly 190,000 vehicles – one of the nation’s largest fleet. The ProMaster vans will be used for mail delivery in various parts of the country, with each being fitted with specialized shelving inside for packages.

“While each and every one of our fleet customers is important to us, none command our attention like USPS,” said Tim Kuniskis, Vice President of Fiat Chrysler’s North American Fleet Operations. “I can’t think of another more mission-critical service than literally delivering the goods of our nation on a daily basis, and we are honored that USPS chose the Ram ProMaster to help them meet their challenging duty.”

Beyond the interior upfits, the ProMaster vans will be regular production units. The USPS has selected the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 as its engine of choice. The venerable mill produces 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will back up the Pentastar, providing smooth shifts and excellent cargo-hauling capabilities.

The ProMaster will replace some of the USPS’ oldest models. The agency is still using roughly 142,000 purpose-built local delivery vehicles called Long-Life Vehicles, or LLVs.

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2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School

2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School

2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School

Ford is ready to take you to school – or maybe just your kids next fall. Meet the Blue Bird Micro Bird T-Series bus, Blue Bird’s latest iteration of the short bus built atop the Ford Transit chassis cab with the bus prep package.

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2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School

2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School

2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School
2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School
2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School
2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School

Ford is ready to take you to school – or maybe just your kids next fall. Meet the Blue Bird Micro Bird T-Series bus, Blue Bird’s latest iteration of the short bus built atop the Ford Transit chassis cab with the bus prep package.

This marks the first time both Blue Bird and the Transit have come together. Traditionally, the Ford E-Series chassis cab has served this role, but with Ford beginning its phase-out, the Transit is getting some attention. The result nets plenty of benefits, including better fuel economy, a lower floor height, and increased outward visibility.

The T-Series bus is available in two wheelbases, with single or dual rear wheels, and with space ranging from nine to 25 passengers. The Transit offer all three of its engine options here as well, meaning school districts can choose between the 3.7-liter V-6, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, or the 3.2-liter inline five-cylinder Power Stroke turbodiesel. All three engines come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Ford’s SelectShift and tow/haul mode.

What’s more, school districts can opt to run CNG or propane with the 3.7-liter V-6 by choosing the gaseous prep package. For those taking the diesel route, the 3.2-liter is B20-capable, so it can run on a 20 percent mix of biodiesel. As far as capability, the Transit T-Series has a lighter curb weight, which directly translates to an improved payload capacity that maxes out at 10,360 pounds.

Like the conventional Transit, bus prep package Transits are produced at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant but come with a heavy-duty alternator, dual batteries, an auxiliary fuse panel, an auxiliary HVAC prep package, and the right-hand door delete. That door delete allows upfitters to install a large window and the two-panel bus doors where the right passenger would normally sit.

Blue Bird is only one of several bus upfitters, including Collins Bus Corporation, Thomas Built Buses, and Starcraft Bus.

UPDATE 05/28/2015: The article previously stated the Ford E-Series went out of production. While that’s true for the E-Series Wagon, Ford says the Chassis Cab will soldier on till the end of the decade.

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