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Winners, FCA restart, losing $1.8 billion, Chevy’s TRX and Ford’s hybrid truck

by David Zatz on

Last week, FCA announced that it had lost $1.8 billion over the last quarter, a bit less than Ford’s $2 billion loss. GM, somehow, managed to declare a profit.  All three companies have opened up new lines of credit; GM in particular has been stashing away cash as though there might be no tomorrow, desperate to avoid another bailout. Electric car maker Rivian actually gave money back to the city of Normal, Illinois, because others needed it more, while Elon Musk, whose company was built with a low-interest government loan, is defying health authorities by re-opening his California plant.

The Ram TRX was aimed at the Ford Raptor, with a hot Hellcat V8 pumping out at least 707 horsepower, adaptive suspension, and off-road goodies so it could make mincemeat of rough trails at far higher speeds than other trucks. Now, GM wants to get in on the action, with a new Chevy Silverado ZRX containing a Camaro V8. GM has already filed for the ZRX trademark, and observers expect it to use the LT4 V8; this is not quite up to the Hellcat, with “only” 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, most likely hooked up to a ten-speed automatic.

Ford, in turn, is looking at making the next Raptor a performance hybrid; and some believe that the 2021 F-150 will, like the 2020 Ram 1500, include a hybrid V6 option using their turbo 3.5 V6 engine. Power is unknown; the hybrid might be like Ram’s, meant only to overcome that instant between the driver releasing the brake and hitting the pedal when the engine might still be starting. Or it might be like the Lincoln Aviator’s, which has a 3-liter V6 and PHEV setup for 494 hp and 640 pound-feet of torque. Or it might be like the Chrysler Pacifica’s PHEV, which is mainly intended to bring insanely high gas mileage. Not everyone is stoplight racing, after all.

Next, we have another reason why Viper production ended when it did: yet another powerful Corvette, which Hagerty says will bring back the ZR1 with 850 hp and 825 lb-ft, using a twin-turbo V8, in 2024; and a new Zora model, with a hybrid V8 pushing out 1,000 hp and 975 lb-ft of torque.

Back in 2013, Mark Trostle, head of Ram Truck and Mopar Exterior Design for FCA North America, introduced the Drive for Design contest based on a contest he won in high school.  This week, the winners were announced.

First was the Ram Magma, a giant-wheeled beast. Despite the wild contours of the body, the pencil sketches show thought given to the vehicle’s purpose; it was done by Job Skandera, a 12th grader in Santa Rosa, California.

Second place went to 11th-grader Vincent Piaskowski of Birmingham, Alabama; his electric Ram includes a dropdown platform for stationary organization, secure storage, a power station, full bed lighting via LED strips, and side storage behind the  doors. The bumper has a lightweight graphene hardcoat.

Third place went to 11th-grader Alex Kirschmann, of Auburn Hills, who showed a Ram 1500 Series A.

Finally, FCA US is planning to restart production soon, using its experiences in China and Italy as a guide. The company has nearly 60 million square feet of production space to disinfect, and will do thisi using daily cleaning schedules. Employees and visitors will get their temperature checked and have daily health self-screening. Nearly 17,000 workstations were analyzed, and over 4,700 must be changed or redesigned for proper physical distancing of employees. The company will stagger start, break, and lunch times to allow people to arrive with proper distances, and increase break and lunch times. Thermal imaging cameras are being installed, and masks and safety glasses will be required. The company’s nearly-47,000 union employees in the U.S. and Canada are getting a package with new safety processes to help smooth the return to work. Plexiglass partitions and other measures are being installed. Production should restart this or next week, with the blessing of Michigan’s,  Ohio’s, and Indiana’s governors.

 

 


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