...'Delux Trux' Continued, Page 2

Mercedes may build a big truck, too...

Taking a look at the German automakers, design expert Mark Stehrenberger believes there will be a Mercedes pickup, based on the upcoming 2001 Dodge Ram, and offer it for sale in the U.S., Africa, South America and Asia.

But according to analyst Hall, it's not yet certain what kind of full-size truck program the German automaker will initiate. "I don't think a Mercedes pickup has been given full approval. But that could change, depending on market conditions. I think for now, Mercedes will be content to let Dodge carry the load. As you know, the North American market is the only one that's really receptive to full-size pickups," says Hall.

"If a Mercedes pick-up does get the greenlight, expect Volkswagen to be close behind"

Jim Hall
Vice President
AutoPacific, Inc.

If a Mercedes pickup does get the green light, Hall believes Volkswagen will be close behind.

"Basically, VW is trying to establish itself as a credible rival to Mercedes," observes Hall. "So whatever Mercedes does, they're going to try and go Mercedes one better. While the idea of a luxury pickup was presented to VW's management team, I've seen no movement in that direction yet, even through their SUV is on track for production next year. Volkswagen if fairly straightforward about these things. If there is sound logic for building it, they probably will. If not, they won't.

Hall says if VW does build a full-size truck, similar to the AAC they displayed during January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it could be on sale here as early as 2003.

However, it's unlikely to come equipped with the 313-horsepower V-10 turbodiesel that powered the concept truck.

So what are the domestics doing to counter this potential onslaught? Plenty it would seem, as both Lincoln and Cadillac have plans to become more deeply involved in the light truck market. Dodge could also shift very quickly into luxury mode, should it decide to build the upscale MAXXcab concept truck, currently touring the auto show circuit.

Cadillac's upcoming full-size pickup (codenamed GMT806), will be based on the same Suburban chassis and mechanicals as the upcoming Chevrolet Avalanche, but will have the distinctive styling of the Evoq Roadster, which will soon be rolling of the same assembly line as the Chevrolet Corvette.

Like the Evoq, the as-yet-unnamed Cadillac pickup will feature sharp edges and flat surfaces. It will come with four full-size doors, and feature GM's innovative "mid-gate" that will allow the partition between the cab and truck box to be opened when the rear seats are folded forward - expanding the box from six, to eight feet in length.

The new vehicle, slated for production at GM's Arlington, TX assembly plant, will arrive in the summer of 2001 as a 2002 model, and come equipped with an upgraded version of GMs' Gen III 6.0-liter pushrod V-8 engine, with alloy cylinder heads. It's slated to deliver between 300 and 350 horsepower.

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