(Super Using Vehicles)

A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century -
This February 2001 NRDC report details a U.S. energy policy that would meet the nation's energy needs and save consumers billions of dollars annually -- without destroying pristine wilderness areas or rolling back environmental safeguards. The report also offers a solution for California's electricity crisis that would not suspend state or federal air quality standards. ... Full Report in PDF Format

(From the Daily Grist):

DaimlerChrysler plans to start selling a four-wheel-drive vehicle that will make the largest family vehicles now on the road seem tiny -- nay, minute -- in comparison. The vehicle, dubbed the Unimog, will be 20 feet long and 9 feet 7 inches tall; the front seat is reached by a three-step ladder. It is almost three feet taller than the tallest SUV, and a foot longer then the Ford Excursion. It weighs over six tons, more than the weight of two Chevrolet Suburbans. The Unimog gets about 10 miles to the gallon on diesel fuel, worse than any SUV. In contrast, the Honda Insight, a gas-electric hybrid car, is 12 feet 11 inches long and 4 feet 5 inches tall; it gets about 65 miles to the gallon on gasoline.
straight to the source: New York Times, Keith Bradsher, 21 Feb 2001


Daimler to Offer a Monster S.U.V.

DETROIT, Feb. 20 * With sport utility vehicles becoming bigger and bigger, perhaps it was inevitable: Freightliner, the nation's biggest maker of 18-wheelers, plans to start selling a four-wheel-drive vehicle that dwarfs even the largest family vehicles on the road.

Based on a German military transport, the vehicle, called the Unimog, makes even the Hummer look petite. It is 9 feet 7 inches tall, nearly the height of a basketball net and almost three feet taller than the tallest
sport utility. Its front seat, mounted six feet high, is reached by a three-step ladder.

The Unimog is 20 feet long, more than a foot longer than the Ford Excursion, the longest sport utility on the market now. And it is nearly two feet wider than a typical car and 3.5 inches wider than even a Hummer, a
General Motors vehicle based on an American military transport. The Unimog is so wide that, by federal regulation, it must carry truck marker lights across the top of the front and back.

Most remarkable is the Unimog's weight: 12,500 pounds. That is more than two Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicles or four Toyota Camry sedans. The company says the vehicle gets about 10 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel, less even than the most fuel-hungry sport utility vehicles and pickups.

"You don't need roads," says the cover of the Unimog sales brochure,
"when you can make your own."

The vehicle will sell for a base price of $84,000. Freightliner will start taking orders for the Unimog in October, with manufacturing to begin in January, said Bruce Barnes, the Unimog marketing manager at Freightliner, which is owned by DaimlerChrysler A.G. Freightliner will sell the Unimog mainly in suburban markets, regardless of region.

The company's initial sales goals are modest. Freightliner hopes to sell 1,000 a year at first, with just 250 going to individuals * affluent off-road enthusiasts and people who simply like to drive noticeable vehicles. "Even in Scottsdale, Ariz.," Mr. Barnes said, "moms will want to take it to the grocery store. It's a head-turning vehicle."

The rest will go to fire departments and businesses that plan to adapt them for civic and commercial use. But if the vehicle is a success, production can be increased, Mr. Barnes said.

Ford tried to allay initial public concerns about the Excursion's size three years ago by saying that it was mainly for businesses. But it has since built mostly luxury versions, selling them to prosperous families.

The introduction of the German- built Unimog marks an international escalation of the American highway arms race. A year ago, General Motors acquired the rights to the Hummer, a civilian version of the military's Humvee. G.M. said last summer that it would set up its first new division since Saturn to design and market Hummers of various dimensions and prices, with the goal of increasing sales to as many as 150,000 a year from 1,000 then.

Mr. Barnes said Freightliner did not plan to sell anywhere near that many Unimogs, because the company wants to establish a reputation for off-road performance that might suffer if smaller, less expensive models were introduced.

Freightliner describes the Unimog as an off-road vehicle, but it is not a true sport utility. The $84,000 base version of the vehicle will somewhat resemble a pickup truck with enormous front and side windows to help drivers see the traffic below.

Excerpted from an article by Keith Bradsher on the front page of the 8/6/00 New York Times:

The Hummer, a type of super-Jeep that was originally a military transport vehicle called the Humvee, is now being manufactured and marketed by General Motors. GM is trying to appeal to customers looking for larger and more aggressive-looking sports utility vehicles.
Although GM plans to introduce at least two smaller models of the Hummer, its current Hummer is taller, much wider and a full ton heavier than even GM's largest sport utility vehicle, the Suburban. The Hummer, which seats only four, weighs as much as three small cars. Retailing at $93,000, the Hummer gets gas mileage of 13 miles per gallon in the city and 15 on the highway.
Hummers emit far more air pollutants than cars. Current federal rules allow large sport utility vehicles to emit 5.5 times the smog-causing nitrogen oxides that cars do. While Ford has improved its sport utilities and pickups so they pollute no more than cars, GM does not plan to reduce air pollution from its Hummers and its other large sport utility vehicles until required to do so by federal regulations in 2004.


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