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Ram announces new blacked out 1500 and HD trucks at Texas State Fair

Ram has introduced new blacked out editions of their popular trucks.

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Yes, I'm back. Well, I'm back in black. Ram unveiled new 1500 Limited Black Edition and Heady Duty Big Horn and Laramie Night Editions at the State Fair of Texas. The fresh models combine the award-winning design and engineering of Ram trucks with blacked out design elements and equipment.

"Along with increasing capability, technology and efficiency, Ram is always looking for ways to create more comfort and refinement for our customers. The new Limited Black Edition is another example of how we deliver the most luxurious pickups in the industry," said Reid Bigland, head of Ram brand. "Additionally, the new Heavy Duty Big Horn and Laramie Night Editions now offer an even wider selection of personalized content."

2020 Ram 1500 Limited Black Edition

On the 2020 Ram 1500 Limited Black Edition the following parts are uniquely black: grille with R-A-M letters, badging, tow hooks, exhaust, premium LED headlamps, grille surround, bumpers, door handles and side-view mirrors. Each model also has Limited trim features including 22-inch black wheels, tonneau cover, and sport performance hood.

2020 Ram 1500 Limited Black Edition The Ram 1500 Limited Black Edition is new for the 2020 model year.Photo courtesy of Ram

It comes in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and is powered by the buyer's choice of a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, 5.7-liter HEMI V8, or 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with eTorque.

The Ram 1500 Limited Black Edition has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $53.690. It will arrive at dealerships in the late third quarter of 2019.

2020 Ram HD Big Horn and Laramie Night Editions

The big boys are getting a makeover as well. Ram HDs in Big Horn and Laramie trim levels will be available with blacked out exterior elements including a black grille with body-colored surround, black badging, black headlight and taillight bezels, and black 20-inch wheels. Duallies get 17-inch black wheels with machined pockets.

2002 Ram 3500 HD Night Edition The black accents give the truck a commanding presence.Photo courtesy of Ram

It comes in Ram 2500 and 3500 crew cab models with 4x2 or 4x4. Buyers can choose from either the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 or 6.7-liter Cummins six-cylinder under the hood. The Cummins has 1,000 pound-feet of torque.

The 2020 Ram Heavy Duty Night Editions has a starting MSRP of $37,995. Ram Heavy Duty Night Editions go on sale later fourth quarter.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Chevrolet Suburban is just one of the models caught up in the recall.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

No automaker wants to have to recall its vehicles. But, they do so willingly (most of the time) in order to prevent a larger problem from presenting itself. Sometimes the repairs are immediately needed, like when there's an imminent fire risk, while other times they seem like they can be put off a bit, like when a sticker needs to be replaced on a door jamb. No matter the recall, buyers should act as soon as they receive notice of a recall on their vehicle.

Today, it was announced that approximately 7 million SUVs and trucks would be part of a recall regarding Takata airbag inflators. GM has been fighting the recall for four years.

In a statement, General Motors said:

"The safety and trust of those who drive our vehicles is at the forefront of everything we do at General Motors. Although we believe a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record, NHTSA has directed that we replace the airbag inflators in the vehicles in question. Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA's position. However, we will abide by NHTSA's decision and begin taking the necessary steps."

The recall is part of a larger Takata airbag recall that has affected over 60 million Takata air bag inflators in tens of millions of vehicles in the United States alone.

To date, 18 people have been killed by rupturing Takata inflators in the U.S. The inflators have also caused hundreds of injuries, including lacerations and other serious injuries to occupants' face, neck, and chest areas.

The Takata airbag recall was initiated in 2015 when the company entered into a Consent Order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizing there was an issue with inflators installed in vehicles across 12 different automakers. A Coordinated Remedy was initiated that prioritized and phased the Takata recalls by vehicles most at risk to least at risk.

The automaker has been fighting the recall since shortly after the defect information report (DIR) was submitted, in May 2016. At that time, GM asked that the NHTSA defer its decision on the inconsequentiality of the inflators used by the company until GM was able to complete its testing and engineering analysis in August 2017. That request was granted due to the extraordinary circumstances of the recall.

GM and the NHTSA went back and forth with testing results and clarifications through 2018. A second DIR was filed by Takata in 2017, which triggered another filing by GM, this time a petition for exemption. The process repeated in 2018 and 2019, with GM looking to exempt all but a few of their models from the recall.

Those vehicles are "GMT900" models that contain "SPI YP" and "PSPI-L YD" inflator variants. The GMT900 is a General Motors-specific platform that underpins a number of light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks and SUVs including: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Cadillac Escalade EXT. The petition involves approximately 5.9 million model year 2007–2014 vehicles.

GM undertook a number of weathering, aging, and safety tests as part of its research into the recall. Those results were then submitted to the NHTSA.

According to the filing released this week regarding the petitions, a manufacturer does not have a "statutory obligation to conduct a recall for a defect unless and until it 'learns the vehicle or equipment contains a defect and decides in good faith that the defect is related to motor vehicle safety,' or NHTSA orders a recall by making a 'final decision that a motor vehicle or replacement equipment contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety.'"

It is because of this, that the NHTSA says that, "a manufacturer bears a heavy burden in petitioning NHTSA to determine that a defect related to motor vehicle safety (which necessarily involves an unreasonable risk of an accident, or death or injury in an accident) is nevertheless inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. In accordance with the plain meaning of 'inconsequential,' the manufacturer must show that a risk posed by a defect is not important or capable of being ignored."

GM was up against a steep hill to begin with. Of the three known occasions in which the NHTSA has previously considered petitions contending that a defect is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, the Agency has granted only one of the petitions. That action occurred nearly three decades ago, in what the Agency refers to as "a vastly different set of circumstances".

GM submitted thousands of pages of research and context to the NHTSA in support of their case as well as supporting testimony from an engineer who is an expert in airbag construction and safety.

Despite the efforts, the NHTSA determined that GM has not demonstrated that the defect is inconsequential to safety in the GMT900 vehicles. A number of reasons were given for the determination including that GM was unable to identify how the unique construction of the inflators in their vehicles made them less prone to rupture, how solar-insulating glass in the large cabin of the vehicles was decreasing the environmental impact on the inflators, and the small sample size of the inflators tested (just 0.07 percent of the total GMT900 population). GM also argued that replacing the inflators exposed owners to risk due to the possibility of improper dealership installation of the replacement inflator.

In its final decision, the NHTA said,

"The defect here poses an unsafe condition caused by the degradation of an important component of a safety device that is designed to protect vehicle occupants in crashes. Instead of protecting occupants, this propellant degradation can lead to an uncontrolled explosion of the inflator and propel sharp metal fragments toward occupants in a manner that can cause serious injury, including lacerations to the face, neck and chest, and even death. This unsafe condition—hidden in an air bag module—is not discernible even by a diligent vehicle owner, let alone an average owner.

"Moreover, nineteen manufacturers (including GM for other populations of their vehicles) have conducted similar recalls of other non-desiccated PSAN inflators. NHTSA has been offered no persuasive reason to think that without a recall, even if current owners are aware of the defect and instant petition, subsequent owners of vehicles equipped with GMT900 air bag inflators would be made aware of the issue.226 This is not the type of defect for which notice alone enables an owner to avoid the safety risk. A remedy is required."

Within 30 days of the date of this decision (November 20, 2020), GM shall submit to NHTSA a proposed schedule for the notification of GMT900 vehicle owners and the launch of a remedy required to fulfill those obligations.

To find out if your vehicle is part of a recall, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.

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Rivian is poised to make an earnest go of it in the tough U.S. vehicle market.

Photo courtesy of Rivian

On Tuesday's Daily Drive podcast, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe described how customers will get their Riviann R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV serviced once they take delivery. The R1T is slated to go into full production soon.

Like Tesla, Rivian is eschewing the traditional car dealership model and going to all-online sales for their models, a business plan that has hangups in some states where laws haven't met up with the current technology capabilities thanks in large part to lobbying efforts by dealers associations.

Rivian R1S Pirelli has been busy making specialized Scorpion tires for the Rivian R1T and R1S. Photo courtesy of Rivian

Scaringe says that the company's operational service network will be ready before customers begin taking delivery of their vehicles, and that there will be three options for service. Rivian will offer customers the ability to access over-the-air (OTA) updates for the truck or SUV, book a visit to a brick and mortar repair location, and schedule a mobile service fix for their vehicle.

In the next nine months, Scaringe expects 41 service centers to launch as well as a "robust" network of mobile service providers that are able to come to an owner's home or place of business to perform necessary repairs.

Repairs for an electric vehicle involve far less moving parts than for a traditional gasoline- or diesel-powered model. Service for these vehicles typically involves tire rotation, wheel alignments, and replacing parts that typically wear like brake pads and rotors. EV owners do not have to perform oil changes as there is no internal combustion engine that requires such lubricant.

Infrastructure, including charging stations and repair shops, remains a major pain point when it comes to EV adoption. Tesla, the nation's largest EV seller, also conducts service via OTA updates, mobile repair technicians, and service centers. Tesla.com promotes that 80 percent of the repairs their vehicles need can be done outside of a service center. However, comment threads one the internet are dedicated to numerous instances of service centers having vehicles for months waiting for parts to come in.

In pre-COVID times R1S SUV was slated to be the first off the line at Rivian's plant near Chicago, a former Mitsubishi facility. That place is still in place, but the timeline has been pushed back. In the meantime, the company has been promoting the R1T truck by showcasing it's off-road prowess and ability to conduct a tank turn. The truck successfully competed in the Rebelle Rally this year.

Rivian has signed an agreement with Amazon to produce 100,000 electric delivery vans. This year, Rivian made an agreement with Lincoln to create an all-electric SUV based on the Rivian platform, but that agreement has since been dissolved.

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