Trucks galore at the Chicago Auto Show

March 1, 2012
CHICAGO — The Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 10-19, was an impressive event, showcasing many trucks and vans available to consumers and also to the contractor community.      

CHICAGO — The Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 10-19, was an impressive event, showcasing many trucks and vans available to consumers and also to the contractor community.   

During the Auto Show media event, held before the official opening, Nissan introduced the all-new Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo Van, making its North American debut. It is the latest addition to the Nissan Commercial Vehicle Lineup and is set to join the growing lineup of Nissan Commercial Vehicles in early 2013. The Nissan NV200 provides a new entry point for current cargo van and small pickup buyers looking for a compact alternative to their larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. The vehicle features an efficient 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder engine, matched with an Xtronic CVT transmission.

“There is an increasing need for a ‘right-sized’ van that optimizes cargo space while offering the best possible fuel economy and an affordable price, the exact sweet spots of the innovative new Nissan NV200,” said Joe Castelli, vice president, Nissan Commercial Vehicles and Fleet.  “Businesses today, both large and small, are also looking for vehicles that represent their brands in the best light — smart, innovative, and professional.  NV200 does that and much more.”

The NV200 offers a large cargo capacity of 123 cubic feet (estimated using SAE J1100 rev 2009) with a small exterior footprint. Unique for North America, the NV200 body has been extended 7.9-in. (200 mm) versus the models sold in other global markets. This longer body length offers additional cargo carrying capability for North American customers. The cargo van measures 186.2-in. in overall length, on a 115.2-in. wheelbase. It allows for a 1,500-pound (estimated) maximum payload.  Added utility is provided by the standard integrated mounting points, which allow installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls, and six available floor mounted cargo hooks in the cargo area.  

NV200’s exterior design features a Nissan signature front grille, aerodynamic front-end design, and functional cabin design. The large body side includes low-effort dual sliding side doors and large areas for business signage and graphics. In the rear, NV200 features tall 40/60 split opening doors with dual opening positions.

NV200 offers “Mobile Office” functionality with a center console featuring laptop/hanging file folder storage, pen/pencil tray, CD holder, and dual cupholders.  Recessed storage areas are provided on the upper instrument panel for folders and documents. In addition, the passenger seat folds down to serve as a worktop or extends the cargo space for hauling longer items. Available technology includes a Nissan Navigation System, Bluetooth wireless communications, XM Satellite Radio (XM subscription required, sold separately), RearView Monitor, and telematics pre-wiring (Nissan Fleet Tracker).

Truck of the Year

At the Ford exhibit the F-150, which is Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year, and a variety of Transit Connects were showcased.

According to the Detroit Free Press article, “Motor Trend picks 2012 Ford F-150 as its Truck of the Year,” Motor Trend tested different versions of the F-150 pickup with a 5.0-liter V8 engine, but Ford's 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine, which uses the precise fuel delivery of direct injection at each cylinder and the capability of Twin Turbocharging, helped the truck win the award.

Direct injection produces a cooler, denser charge, generating more power while the two small air-to-air intercooled turbochargers spool up quickly, according to the Ford website, and drivers experience a low-end torque responsiveness with virtually no turbo lag, plus, EcoBoost generates 90% of its 420 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm.

To read more about the Ford F-150 and its features, go to:

A Ford Transit Connect Electric was also showcased at Ford’s exhibit along with Transit Connects, one of them having a Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning vehicle wrap.

The Transit Connect Electric uses a Force Drive electric powertrain manufactured and integrated by specialty upfitter Azure Dynamics, based in Oak Park, Mich., and Johnson Controls-Saft supplies the lithium-ion battery cells and battery packs for the vehicle.

The Transit Connect Electric is a zero-emission vehicle that can be recharged using either an available 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlet.

“Transit Connect Electric is just one piece of our electrification strategy, but a very important one,” said Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s Electrification Programs and Engineering. “It gives eco-friendly options to more than just passenger-vehicle customers. It’s an excellent solution for fleet owners who need the extra space, but want the benefits of the electric battery.”

Although there are significant differences between the Transit Connect Electric and its gas-powered twin, the Transit Connect, there are many things in common. Both models offer 135 cubic feet of cargo volume with 59.1-in. of floor-to-ceiling load height and 47.8-in. of load width between the wheel arches; load length is 72.6-in., or more than 6-ft. of cargo floor space; split rear cargo doors that open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 255 degrees; lift-over height less than 2-ft. when the vehicle is unloaded; power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, allows a 39-ft. curb-to-curb turning circle for maneuverability in tight urban spaces; and bulkheads, racks, bins and other upfits can be mixed, matched and configured to suit many specific commercial applications and needs.

To read more about the Ford Transit Connect and its features, go to:

And more trucks

At General Motor’s exhibit there were a variety of trucks and vans for the contractor, including the Express 2500 work van, which is available as a CNG (compressed natural gas) van. Compressed natural gas is produced domestically and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The elements of the CNG integrated solution include a gaseous fuel ready 6.0 L Vortec engine, CNG fuel storage and fuel delivery system and installation, and engine controller calibration. To read more about the Express 2500 work van and its features, go to:

The GMC Sierra 1500 was also showcased, featuring several trim packages, including Work Truck, SL (crew cab and extended cab), SLE and SLT, along with 2WD and 4WD configurations (except the XFE trim package). The range of body styles and configurations includes: three cab styles —regular, extended and crew cab; three cargo box lengths —5-ft. 8-in. (short), 6-ft. 6-in. (standard) and 8-ft. (long). The Sierra XFE incorporates aerodynamic enhancements, a 5.3L/six-speed automatic powertrain and other details to deliver its EPA-rated 22 mpg on the highway. To read more about the Sierra 1500 and its features, go to:

The RAM 1500 was displayed at the RAM exhibit, featuring up to 390 horsepower and 10,450 pounds maximum towing capacity. It is offered in regular cab, Quad Cab and Crew Cab models, with three box lengths. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 produces 390 horsepower, 407 lb. ft. of torque and up to 20 mpg highway. The Ram 1500 is also offered as a flex-fuel capable 4.7L SOHC V8, that can run on conventional unleaded gasoline or E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) or any blend of the two. To read more about RAM trucks, go to:

The 2012 Toyota Tundra, offered in Tundra and Limited and three cab styles, was showcased at Toyota’s exhibit. The 4.0-liter Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) V6 engine is standard in Tundra Regular and Double Cab models, producing 270 horsepower and 278 lb. ft. torque, and is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission with uphill/downhill shift logic. Also available is the 4.6L DOHC i-Force V8, offering 310hp and 327 lb. ft. of torque, and the 5.7-liter DOHC i-Force V8, offering 381hp and 401 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The i-Force V8 engines are teamed with a six-speed automatic gearbox.  To read more about the Toyota Tundra, go to:

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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