Monday, February 22, 2016

Brilliant at One Specific Task

Road and Track Magazine has put together a list of Nine Cars That Are Brilliant At One Specific Task, and as predicted the Jeep Wrangler is included.  From the article,
The Jeep Wrangler is one of those vehicles that even non-car people love. It makes you feel cooler no matter who you are, even if you never take it off-road. Especially in Rubicon form, driving a Wrangler around when you don't intend to off-road it makes no sense. It's not built for pavement, no way. But when it's in its element, far off the beaten path, it's amazing.

1921 Plane Crash on the Rubicon Trail

We all know that the Rubicon Trail has quite a history.  A new page in its history recently hit the news.

The Placerville Newswire is reporting that local area historian Guy Nixon found the above USFS picture of an airplane that crashed at Loon Lake on the Rubicon Trail in 1921.  It is reported that after the crash, he followed the Rubicon Trail by foot to Lake Tahoe to rest and eat some food before continuing on to his home to Reno.  He then returned to Loon Lake by horse with parts to repair the plane.

Miraculously, he managed to find enough of a runway to take off again, presumably on the granite slabs at the shallow end of Loon Lake when the water level was below today's level.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jeep's Next-Gen JL Wrangler's Diesel and Hybrid Powertrains

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) just released its business plan update and confirmed the rumors about which we’ve been speculating.  The diagram above shows Fiat-Chrysler's Jeep, pickup, and minivan plans.

In addition to adopting aluminum and other weight-saving materials and design, Jeep has big plans to improve the next-generation Wrangler JL's fuel economy.  Even though gasoline is cheap and fuel economy is near the bottom of the list of priorities for most buyers, government mandates regarding fuel consumption and exhaust emissions mean that Fiat-Chrysler's engineers are forced to design around these regulations.  Note the statement below the diagram, which reads:
Next generation architectures become compliant with adaptation of advanced powertrain systems and reduced vehicle energy demand through:

- Significant weight reduction with extensive use of high strength steel and alternative materials
- Active aero systems to reduce drag
- Advanced electronic systems such as axle disconnect and electric steering systems

The buying public's ever-increasing purchases of larger crossovers, SUVs, and trucks are coming at the expense of more fuel-efficient cars.  To meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements, Fiat-Chrysler plans to add diesel, mild-hybrid, and full-hybrid powertrains to the new Wrangler in addition to the standard gasoline engine.

Undoubtedly, the alternative powertrains will add cost and complexity due to the additional electronics, batteries, and diesel aftertreatment hardware, but each powertrain will expand the vehicle's appeal and offset the fuel economy and emissions penalties garnered by the bulk sales of the standard gas model.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Jeep Officially Confirms Pickup

Rumors of a Jeep pickup have been circulating for years, but both Mike Manley (Jeep's global chief) and Sergio Marchionne (Fiat Chrysler's CEO) have now confirmed to The Detroit News that a Wrangler-based pickup will be introduced late in 2017.  This has set the enthusiast press on fire.

To make room for the new pickup to be built alongside the Wrangler at the Toledo, Ohio factory, production of the Cherokee will be moved to another facility (likely the Belvidere Assembly Plant where its platform-mate Dodge Dart is assembled).  This likely means that the pickup will share the majority of its components with the Wrangler, which is a very good thing.  From Quadratec's announcement:
Marchionne added that the pickup should launch late-2017 after the next generation Wrangler rolls out which, he said, is 'phenomenal'.

“The car [Wrangler] is done, the car [Wrangler] is designed and it’s been engineered, so we just need to get off our butts to start producing,” he said. "It's the best thing we've ever made. The design won’t see a drastic change, in order to keep the SUV [Wrangler] true to its historical DNA and instantly recognizable."

“It’s a phenomenal vehicle. It cures all the ills, whatever few ills the old Wrangler had. And I think we’ve updated design without hurting its history which is really, really important to us.”
With the incredible sales and profitability of the JK Wrangler, both Manley and Marchionne have the winning formula and want to continue offering what buyers clearly want - an unabashedly off-road-oriented platform that is proudly the opposite of the ever-more-street-oriented influx of emmasculated pickups and SUVs.

If the new Jeep pickup (not to mention the Wrangler) is equipped with a proper pair of solid axles, I am certain that many pickup owners will be trading in their IFS Toyota Tacomas, Nissan Frontiers, Chevrolet Colorados, and GMC Canyons for a new Jeep pickup truck - especially if rumors of a diesel engine prove to be true.  I will gladly trade-in my JK Rubicon for a Jeep pickup; I'll order mine with 4 doors, the heaviest-duty axles, the lowest available gearing, diff locks, a disconnecting sway bar, 4:1 transfer case gears, and of course the EcoDiesel!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Jeeping and Snowboarding in NYC

While most people complain every winter about the annual snowstorms, and the sensationalist news media fills up air time by inflating run-of-the-mill snowstorms into horrific once-in-a-lifetime Snowpocalypse events, there are others who realize a little snow is a good thing.  Jeep owners, especially.

And while many Jeep owners live in rural areas and in mountains where a 4-foot blizzard is nothing to write home about since it happens a dozen or more times a year, you'll also find Jeep owners stuck in metropolitan cesspools of whiners where a few inches of snow is all it takes to shut down an entire city.  When Mother Nature does her thing, rather than complain about it a popular New York City YouTuber named Casey Neistat gathers his friends to go out and do a little Urban Snowboarding:

It seems that most people enjoy watching his harmless recreation while the city is "shut down" but as always, a few do-gooders have to call the cops to complain.  Watch to the end of the video to see the NYPD's coolest officer pull them over to say "Someone complained about you so we're just gonna act like we're talking to you . . ."