PickupTruck.com's Top 10 News Stories of 2007
By: Mike Levine Posted: 12-27-07 02:39 PT
© 2007 PickupTruck.com

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Lincoln Kills the Mark LT

Like father, like son

The sales and marketing strategy for the Lincoln Mark LT never set right.

The Mark LT was more mainstream and acceptable to truck drivers than Lincoln’s previous attempt at a luxury pickup, the Blackwood, but Ford’s own King Ranch and Lariat Limited Edition F-Series trucks still outclassed the Lincoln pickup. A chrome grille, big shiny wheels, and blinged-out rocker panels couldn't justify the truck’s $43,000 base price to attract enough buyers.

Look for the 2009 Ford F-150 to reach the prestigious heights that Lincoln had hoped to attain when Ford rolls out its high-end 'Platinum' trim package, which we've glimpsed in spy photos (see #6).

GM’s Advanced Full Size Truck Powertrains

General Motors breaks technical barriers with its light duty diesel and hybrid powertrains

While other companies focused on bringing alt-fuel engines to passenger cars, GM turned its attention to full size trucks and announced two new green drivetrains that look to be winners on paper.

GM’s 4.5-liter V8 Duramax light duty diesel was designed entirely in-house and represents a radical new approach to compression ignition engine architecture. The ‘baby’ Duramax reverses the intake and exhaust relative to a conventional diesel. In the 4.5-liter Duramax fresh air enters the cylinders from the outer edges of the cylinder heads while exhaust gases are dumped out between the cylinder heads and directly into a turbocharger. The breakthrough design eliminates the intake and exhaust manifolds and other related components - saving weight, reducing size and lowering costs by up to $600 per engine. GM promises power ratings for the 4.5-liter Duramax will be over 310-horsepower and 520 pound-feet of torque. And Automotive News says fuel economy will be close to 30-mpg on the highway for 2WD models.

GM teamed up with Chrysler, BMW, and Daimler to develop its new Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain for the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado. It’s expected to be the most fuel efficient full size pickup on the market when it goes on sale in late 2008. GM is already boasting improvements up to 25% in combined fuel economy, 40% in the city driving, and a driving range over 500-miles compared to GM’s 5.3-liter conventional V8 gas engine. The Two-Mode system provides all-electric driving at low speeds and supplements the 6.0-liter gas V8 at midrange and highway speeds. It’s rated to tow up to 6,100-pounds. A brief drive during the summer in a Two-Mode Chevrolet Tahoe was enough to convince that the system is technically slick and well integrated.

The biggest question for both powertrains will be whether buyers will step up and pay a cost premium over conventional gas engines to realize the benefits of being green.

Ford and Navistar Fight Each Other in Court

A once friendly and mutually beneficial partnership is forever tainted

The bitter dispute between Ford Motor Company and Navistar International came to light publicly in January when Ford filed a lawsuit against Navistar and withheld a $160-million payment for Power Stroke diesel engines. Ford's court papers said Navistar unjustifiably raised engine prices and hadn't paid its share of warranty claims for repairs to legacy 6.0-liter V8 Power Strokes.

In response to Ford's legal actions Navistar stopped shipping new 6.4-liter V8 Power Stroke engines for use in Ford’s 2008 Super Duty pickups. Navistar also filed a $2-billion countersuit, claiming Ford was developing a new, in-house 4.4-liter diesel engine for use in its light duty F-150 pickup by 2010. An in-house built diesel would violate Ford’s supply agreement with Navistar, which runs through 2012.

A judge forced Navistar to resume Power Stroke shipments, after production had been halted for several weeks, and ordered Ford to immediately pay Navistar $80-million. Ford also agreed to pay Navistar's full price for each 6.4-liter Power Stroke engine until the dispute is finally settled.

It's likely we'll never see another Navistar-sourced diesel engine under the hood of a Ford truck after this generation of Power Strokes runs its course. Our sources say Ford is heavily considering Caterpillar for the replacement.

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