Auto Notes - August 2015

Chevrolet medium duty.

Chevrolet has announced that it will re-enter the medium-duty market with a low cab-forward truck in 2016 to meet growing demands of fleet and commercial customers.

The six new models that will be available are the Chevrolet 3500, 3500HD, 4500, 4500HD, 5500, and 5500HD.

They are based on the Isuzu N-series, which GM will procure from Isuzu and distribute through Chevrolet dealers. The new trucks will be offered in regular-cab and crew-cab body styles and will offer a GM-sourced 6.0-L V-8 gas engine and six-speed automatic transmission, or Isuzu-sourced 3.0-L and 5.2-L turbo diesel engines. Gas-powered models will be assembled in Charlotte, Mich.

“Bringing low cab-forward trucks back to our portfolio strengthens Chevrolet’s commitment to providing customers with more choices, and provides customers with a versatile lineup of trucks, vans, and crossovers,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of GM commercial and fleet sales.

Hot Ford sales. The Ford Transit completed its first full year of production June 30, and celebrated with record-setting June sales of 12,134 units. That led Ford to have the best first half year van sales since 1988 (just under 110,000 units; 26 percent up from 2014), and it marked the eighth straight month the Transit has been the best selling van in the U.S.

The Transit went on sale in June 2014 replacing the longtime E-series van that began as the Ford Econoline in 1961 and was the best-selling van in the U.S. for 35 years.

“It has been a ‘van-tastic’ year for Transit,” said Yaroslav Hetman, brand manager for Transit. “The fact that Transit sales have grown every month since January 2015 demonstrates that customers have embraced Transit’s flexibility. We make Transit available with a best-in-class 58 configurations from the factory. Moreover, 11 of the top upfitters in the country have established facilities with 20 miles of our Kansas City Assembly Plant where Transit is manufactured. This makes it easy and convenient for customers to add racks, bins, service bodies, and other necessary equipment.”

New truck rules. On June 15, the EPA and the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced their joint proposal for a second phase of greenhouse gas fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines. The EPA and NHTSA standards will build on those established in 2011 for 2014-2018 models that are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by one billion metric tons and save some $170 billion in fuel costs.

The proposed new standards apply to vehicle and engine standards for model years 2021-2027 for large pickups, vans, semi-trucks, work trucks, and all sizes and styles of buses. EPA and NHTSA said new rules can be met in large part by current technologies that include improved transmissions, turbo-charging, fuel-injection, improved aerodynamics, and low-rolling-resistance tires. The agencies project that the net benefits of some $230 billion will outweigh the costs 10 to 1.

Shelby Snake. Shelby American returns with the Shelby Super Snake for the 2015 model year. The newest Shelby Mustang to wear the legendary Super Snake badge, it is the first to have an available automatic transmission and only 300 of the 2015 model year Super Snakes will be built.

Shelby specifically tuned and modified the 2015 Super Snake for improved handling and power delivery. The model begins as a 5.0-L V-8 Ford Mustang GT with a Ford Performance supercharger connected to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Shelby adds Ford Performance suspension components, Borla exhaust, WELD Racing Super Snake 20-inch wheels that boast Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and six-piston Wildwood brakes.

Options include a more powerful supercharger, as well as a top performing intercooler and heat exchange system, with all upgrades designed to produce more than 750 HP.

“The latest evolution of the Shelby Super Snake is based on developing the most road-and-track-capable Mustang we’ve ever built,” said Akos J. Feher, Shelby American vice president of operations. “We saw this as a great opportunity to create the type of car that appeals to both the traditional Shelby Super Snake owner, as well as the driver who demands world-class handling with stellar braking and higher horsepower capabilities. It’s a refined car with a premium, quality feel.”

Quick notes: The 2016 Buick Cascada convertible will be available early next year and features a reinforced body structure, refined appearance, pyrotechnically activated roll bars, and added cargo space … The M838T engine from McLaren Automotive retained the “3-litre to 4-litre” title at the recent 2015 Engine of the Year awards. It’s the third successive win for the highly efficient twin-turbo. The 17th annual International Engine of the Year Awards are voted on by an independent panel of automotive journalists from around the globe … Bentley has been winning lots of auto races, but has also developed seven handcrafted Continental GT Speeds inspired by famed jets. The series debuted at the Boeing Seafair Airshow on July 31 in Seattle.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.