Chrysler is investing $300 million in Kokomo, Indiana's Transmission Plant #1 and Casting Plant for tooling and equipment to produce a new eight-speed automatic under license from ZF. The transmission should go into production in 2013 for 2014 models.
AMG division's ML63 is in line for minor styling updates, with a power-domed hood, dark-framed bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps, clear-lens LED taillamps, and chrome "underguards" at both ends. Important bits like the 518-horsepower, 6.2-liter engine remain unchanged.
Buick is said to be working on a smaller crossover than the Enclave, which wouldn't be hard to do based on the Equinox, Terrain, and Opel Antera that was to have been the next Saturn Vue.
2011 TOYOTA TUNDRA CHANGES
Toyota recently announced some changes to its full-size pickup for the 2011 model year. The biggest mechanical change is that the 4.0-liter V-6 now has dual VVT-i and roller rocker arms; the company also deleted 10 low-volume models, including the rear drive shortbed regular-cab with the 5.7-liter V-8 and the rear drive regular-cab longbed with the 4.6-liter V-8.
IT FIGURES: Truck-Swapping
LeaseTrader.com, which links those wanting out of a lease to those looking to take over one, saw its first spike in pickup truck demand, for short-term lease contracts, indicating builders and do-it-yourselfers were readying for summer. The Tundra was up the most and taking 18.6 percent of lease swaps, with the F-150 (16.7 percent), Dodge Ram (14.2 percent), and Chevy Silverado (13.7 percent). Heavy-duty trucks weren't quite as active, but activity was more than double what it was two months earlier. Make of that what you will in regard to pickup leasing and loyalty habits.
Great Balls of Fire
Ford appears set to kill off the Mercury brand by attrition, even though year-to-May 2010 sales are up from last year by 12 percent. With just three products, all badge-engineered versions of something else, the Mercury lineup hasn't had anything to set it apart since the Marauder. On the plus side, expect all the resources freed up to be used to improve Lincoln's status in the luxury-car ranks. Trucks will be a question mark: Mercury moved more than 4000 Mariners and Mountaineers in early 2010 while Lincoln sold 365 Navigators in the same period.
Did You Pay Too Much?
According to Forbes.com, the most overpriced vehicles this summer were sport/utilities and pickups (only one car made the top 10 list). GM light-duty trucks and Ford Super Duty pickups made the list (the Ram escaped), as did Jeep with the 2010 Grand Cherokee and Commander.
Mark Cieslak, vehicle chief engineer for GM full-size pickups, on the new HD Silverado and Sierra and the ongoing battles for load supremacy, from Flintstone, Maryland: "We walk the talk."