What makes a truck?

Image from Topspeed.com

 

 

Unless you are an auto enthusiast, you might not know how bizarre and convoluted the classifications of vehicles truly are.

I knew about this weird world of government vehicle classifications from various resources, but quickly set it aside to maintain my sanity.

Take for instance the question posted above:  What makes a truck?

Define it.

I bet you could rattle off the names of trucks without trying.

F-150, Silverado, Ram, Sierra, Tundra, Titan, Ranger, Colorado, Tacoma, B-2000, Frontier, Dakota… It’s as easy as looking down the street or in your parking lot. (For those outside the U.S. let me throw in HiLux, Amarok, and G-Ute trayback.)

image: Fourwheeler.com

But what about vans?  Do they count?  They do if you ask plumbers, florists, electrical workers and water technicians.  These people own vans to help earn their living and usually treat them as such.

image: Ford.com

How about SUVs?  Are they a truck or are they an amped up station wagon? A Cadillac SRX argues the case for station wagon, but what about a Nissan Xterra or Jeep Wrangler? Some would argue that their body on frame construction earns their membership into the truck club.

Image: Cadillac.com

The truth is that the “truck” classification by CAFÉ and the EPA is very broad and diverse group.  Did you know that the Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser are listed as SUVs and thus in the truck club?

Image: motortrend.com

How about Subaru’s medium sized wagon? In 2006 this vehicle was listed as a wagon and an SUV depending on model.  If you picked the Legacy, it was listed as a station wagon.  If you chose the Outback version (Basically the same thing with an inch or two more ground clearance, different fog lights and plastic cladding on the bottom of the sides) according to the EPA and CAFÉ, you bought an SUV.  The Baja is also classified as a SUV, but I was half expecting it to be classified a small pickup given that Subaru cut the back of the roof off to make an open bed for it.

image: Carbl.com

image: Jasononcars.com

image: Norcalcars.com

See, I told you it was bizarre and convoluted.  (Ok. The Baja is an earlier design, but you get the point.)

One of the reasons it is so are the lobbyists and the EPA itself.  The government mandates that vehicles get a certain amount of gas mileage per class.  The problem is that for some companies their best-selling vehicle in that class is also the one that has the worst fuel mileage.  You might see a lot of SIlverados running around hauling nothing heavier that their owner and maybe their dog, but there are also a lot of them running around packed to the gills with heavy, bulky equipment or pulling trailers around.  These vehicles are designed to carry heavy loads and the strength and power needed to do it safely comes at the cost of mileage.  These trucks also have one of the highest owner loyalty groups ever.  That’s something these companies will almost kill for.  (Not including my wife and I.  Together we have own both the small and large versions of pickups from every member of the big three.)

The problem comes with trying to balance out the poor mileage truck sales with good mileage truck sales.

“Just sell more small trucks like the Tacoma and Colorado.” You say.  It’s not so simple.  See, because of all the safety regulations put into these trucks, their weight has gotten so high they are almost comparable to full sized trucks.

“Make them lighter.”  Easier said than done.  Ford is the first company to risk building a pickup with an all-aluminum body to save weight.  The metal costs more that standard steel, the build process had to be completely rethought.  (Welded aluminum will actually cause electrons from one atom “shift” to another until the entire weld breaks.), and every single Ford dealership that deal with bodywork had to learn how to properly fix damage to these panels when accidents happen and buy special equipment to fix them.  Guess where all that extra expense is going.  Yep.  Right into the sticker price.

“Well, offer engines that run on things other than gas.”  They do now.  It’s just not cheap.  You can get flex-fuel, hybrid, diesel, and even compressed natural gas engine for trucks… at  cost.

Hybrids usual cost about $1,000 to $1,500 more than a standard gas engine.

Diesels used to cost $2,000 more but with the new smog regulations the price has raised upward to $4,000 over the price of a gas engine.  (Plus diesel fuel costs roughly 50 cents more per gallon than 87 octane gasoline and you can’t use veggie oils anymore since it will clog up all the new technology.)

Compressed Natural Gas in the latest offering to help the EPA ratings.  Not being gasoline at all, it really boosts the numbers up and at roughly $1.50 per gallon to fill-up, the compressed natural gas option looks really good.  Until you see the price tag of $9,500 for this choice.  And that’s down a thousand from last year’s price!  CNG also has the wonderful challenge of dealing with safety in crashes.  Remember the press GM got over its Volt electric car?  People were shocked that the batteries ripped open when the vehicles were crashed so hard into walls that the frames ripped apart.  (Something that happens to all the cars tested when doing the offset crash into a giant, sharp block of concrete.)  Imagine the sheer terror when one of these trucks is hit so hard that the compressed gas tank ruptures.  The reports will have you think a nuke went off!

Because people want real good mileage in a class of vehicle that is designed to do heavy work, we have odd things like station wagons and minivans listed as trucks.

So I ask, what is a truck?

Let me know in the response section.

Ramblings of: The Big Boy (and Girl) Expo

“Ladies and Gentlemen!  Fort Myers is proud to introduce to you the annual Big Boy Expo!  See thousands of products from numerous vendors.  Witness amazing…”

SCREETCH!

Ok.  Enough of the melodramatically speech here.  Today I am reviewing for you another fun and exciting thing to do in Southwest Florida.  The annual Ft. Myers Big Boy Expo.

The first thing I need to say about it is that it’s completely misnamed.  When I first heard of the expo, I convinced my wife to come with me and she had such a good time that now she insists that we go every year.  I don’t think we’ve missed a year yet.

This year was surprisingly smaller than expected.  I thought that with the slight bump in the economy that there would be more vendors than last year.  It seemed to me to be the opposite.  But the vendors that were there were based mainly in Southwest Florida and were showcasing products and businesses that are available locally.  It’s something I would expect many states would encourage to boost the local economy.

So without further ado, here are a few items that I found interesting.  I hope you enjoy them and if you ever find your way down to the Ft. Myers area and want to see what the locals are up to, check out the Big Boy Expo.  Who knows, you might end up leaving with a bigger souvenir than you expected.

First is the “Laid Back” apparel company.  T-Shirts, hats, towels all expressing the relaxing lifestyle.  It’s quite the display.  What I really liked was the Woodie station wagon.

For just selling T-Shirts and hats, Laid Back went all out!

What you see above is the native Florida swamp-buggy.  A specialty vehicle built exclusively for the for the brackish waterways of South Florida.  If you look at the silver-haired gentleman at the front of the vehicle, you will notice his head is in line with the height of the engine.  There is roughly five feet of clearance between the engine and the ground giving it ample clearance when in the water.  I can also safely assure you that this buggy has probably never seen the swamp except in a picture.  True swamp buggys get pretty dirty churning up the mud bottoms of the swamp and would never be layers  in chrome.  This one was built to promote the business.

Speaking of water, check out this motorized kayak by Surfango.  It’s a sit on top style kayak with a small jet ski motor in the back.  There isn’t a propeller so its manatee safe.

Here you can see the joystick control and LCD display.  Perfect if you’re a Battlestar fan and always wanted to fly your own Viper fighter.  Now you can do it on the water!

Into gardening?  This gardener’s shed is the perfect place to store your tools as well a putting in a potting table.  It would also make a great play house for the kids if you’re so inclined.

Just to show you how invested Ft. Myers is with small businesses, Judy had a small display of her pottery right next to the garden shed.  I wish I knew if she had a website or physical store, but if you’re in Ft. Myers next Saturday, she’s going to be at the art fair.  You might want to look her up.

High quality Tech School Wyo-Tech was there showing off the labor of its students and showing prospective students what they could learn if they enrolled.  I thought the truck was a beautiful and took multiple pictures.  Great job to all that worked on it!

Maybe you’re looking for something totally different.  Are you a Tolkien fan?  Here’s some wall art for you.

All this is fine and dandy,but where is the Big Girl stuff you ask?  Well here you go!

 

These are available at “Proud to be” by Rosa Rojas.

Coral Square Mall    9469 W. Atlantic Blvd. Coral Springs, FL 33071

954-345-8449

When you get tired of walking around indoors, you can go out side for a rest and a bite to eat.

I just want to know who’s bright idea it was to put the “Jerky Girlz” across from the motorcycle customizer booth?  (Keep all bad jokes to yourself.  😉 )

Kids of all ages would love the tricked out mowers for the lawn mower races.

 

Hank Hill would be so jealous!

The Big Boy Expo has things for all people and all ages; so if you find yourself down this way next year, come on down and check them out.  You’ll have a great time.

Oh, and don’t worry about the high gas prices. You can always counter them by riding this.