Correspondent: Katherine Zatz
2008 Washington DC Auto Show
The introduction of the clean-diesel 2007 Dodge Ram was held back for the DC Autoshow, in light of this year’s theme - alternative fuel. The show, sponsored by the Washington Automotive Press Association, was opened by Joe Murphy, President of the WAPAA, saying, “With Washington as a backdrop, this is for dealers and US companies, alternative fuels, safety, and politics, you have the whole enchalada.” The intention was to highlight the connections between the automotive industry and alternative fuels, and their relationship to consumers and governmental agencies.
The event opened with a crowd of 150 reporters and exhibitors gathered at the Washington Convention Center in anticipation of an address by Dieter Zetche, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChysler AG and Mercedes Car Croup. First, Joe Murphy made his remarks, and presented the 2007 John Lynker award to the National Highway and Safety Administration in recoginition of the unrelenting pursuit of the NHSTA of safety on behalf of the public. NHSTA Administrator Nicole Nason did not attend the event and the award was received by a representive of NHSTA as Nicole Nason had “things to do back at the office.” Joe Murphy quipped that she was perhaps “occupied helping the President write a speech” (the State of the Union address came later that night.)
I had gotten some good advice on how to fit in. Apprently, all
of those in attendance had gotten the same advice; the
standard unifrom, with the exception of professional photographers,
was a black suit with a reddish tie for men, and black suits without a reddish tie for women. There were very few women. This eerie mob gave me the heebee-geebees, so I found it refreshing
when one of my collegues from the infamous AutoExtremist.com, A.J., a
normal looking person, came over and introduced himself.
It was interesting to watch the small huddle of black suits in white
shirts gather around the platform at 8:50, like the
Penguin Crowd in Happy Feet. It was the media staff of
DaimlerChysler getting their last-minute marching orders. And then
this little group, nearly in unison, sat down in the front row of
seats. This was clearly a DaimlerChysler event.
Dieter Zetsche stated that we “must break our addiction to oil,” noting that it is and should continue to be a top policy item. Zetsche enumerated the various types of alternative fuels and technologies currently available with an emphasis on the developments that will come to market within the next three years. His comments included how clean diesel could be up to 20% more effective than it currently is through the continuing development of Mercedes’ Bluetec technologies; he predicted that diesel would have 15% market penetration (presumably in the US) by 2015, noting that by using Clean Diesel and B20 (20% biodiesel) fuel, there would be a savings of 1.4 million barrels of oil per year.
Zetche commented that old technologies should be re-investigated, noting that hydrogen powered cars appeared in 1902. He advocated that the government and industry continue to investigated all alternative fuels, mentioning a new factory that is converting chicken fat from a Perdue factory into biodiesel fuel.
Continuing the theme, Tom LaSorda, CEO and President of the Chrysler Group, stole the show by introducing the new 2007 clean diesel powered Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500, to be available in March of 2007. The vehicle has a Cummins 6.7 liter engine using Mercedes’ Bluetec exhaust-cleaning system, which already meets the 2010 EPA requirements. Joe Loughrey, President of Cummins’ engines business, described how the partnership between Cummins, Chrysler and Federal Government. Loughrey also announced that Cummins continues to work on improving engines and beginning in 2009, their turbo engine will have a 30% improvement; they are also working on improving the torque at low speeds. Not mentioned by Loughrey, but worthy of note, is the durability of the Cummins engines: designed for mass production and longevity, these are designed to have their first overhaul at around 350,000 miles, as opposed to the non-rebuildable Mercedes' engines roughly-200,000 mile expected lifespan.
Also announced for March of 2007 was a limited edition Jeep Grand Cherokee that uses B20 (20% biodiesel) fuel, witih a Mercedes 3-liter engine and automatic transmission.
Recognizing the partnership with the government in developing new fuels and technologies, in introducing EPA representative Bill Warner, LaSorda, á la Yogi Bera, thanked “all those who made this day necessary.” Bill Warner commended Daimler Chrysler and Cummins for their efforts.
The new Nassau concept
car has a sleek angular lines with some sculpting of the rear quarter
panels. The white-wall 26" wheel are frankly immense, however, they
appear necessary for what appears to be keeping the very low air-dam
from scraping the ground. The ground clearance appears to be six to eight inches.
From what we could see of the inside, it is reminiscent of the 300M. The wheels seem excessively large, with almost no fender clearance, but the production model will almost certainly have more realistically sized wheels with streetable clearance.
The new 2007 convertible Sebring has the updated ribbed hood for our pleasure.
The most exciting change for 2007 may be the folding hard top. This car is simply dynamite in looks - especially in the bright red they chose for the auto show model.
In case you were wondering, this was our Washington correspondent, as photographed by AutoExtremist’s A.J. Morning :
WASHINGTON AUTO SHOW INFORMATION:
The 2007 Washington Auto Show has more than 700 new cars, trucks, mini-vans and sport utility vehicles from over 42 domestic and import automakers. It is in the Washington Convention Center from January 24 - 28, 2007. For directions and more information, visit their web site at http://www.washingtonautoshow.com/
The Convention Center is gigantic,
covering two city blocks. The Metro
stops right at the Convention Center; note that the entrance for this
event is two blocks around to the front of the building.
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