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2005 Los Angeles Auto Show, Part II Page 2

Dodge Hits a Double With Two New SRTs

Viper SRT-10 and Magnum SRT-8

Viper SRT-10 and Magnum SRT-8

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The “passionate car freaks” at Chrysler Group rolled out two new additions to their growing line-up of SRT performance cars. The Dodge Viper SRT-10 is the long-awaited coupe version of the automaker’s high-testosterone roadster. “The newest snake in the pit” boasts a 505 cubic inch V-10 making 500 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque, according to SRT chief Eric Ridenour. Expect 0-60 times of “under” four seconds. Viper fans have been eagerly waiting for the new hardtop edition ever since the first-generation coupe vanished from the market. What may take gearheads by surprise is the performance promised from the second SRT model coming out of the Dodge division. Think of the SRT-8 as a “Magnum on steroids,” suggested Ridenour. With the new version of the high-demand Hemi engine bored out to 6.1 liters, the Magnum SRT-8 will make a tire-spinning 425-hp and leap from 0-60 in the “low” five second range. Dodge also added a functional spoiler and oversized Brembo brakes to complete the package.


VW Has “Compelling Vision” For Green Machines

Bernd Pischetsrieder

Bernd Pischetsrieder

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If automakers and regulators really want to clean up emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, they should forget about hydrogen and sky the hybrid, declared Volkswagen Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder during his keynote speech opening the 2005 Los Angeles Auto  Show. “The most compelling vision,” the German executive asserted is one that shifts to diesel technology and biomass and synthetic diesel fuels. The diesel, said Pischetsrieder, is much more effective in a broader range of driving conditions, though he confirmed prior reports in TheCarConnection that VW is developing a hybrid-electric diesel powertrain. Biomass fuels, which are derived from feedstocks, like soy, are “CO2 neutral,” the VW CEO pointed out, while most forms of hydrogen would actually require significant amounts of energy to produce. In his closing comments, Pischetsrieder did admit there’s a potential wrinkle to his plan: new U.S. emissions standards going into effect in 2007. While he stressed that diesel engines could meet the tougher rules, he conceded consumers might balk at the added cost of the necessary pollution control systems.


What About Diesel and Gas Hybrids?

In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Volkswagen CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder hinted that his company is working on a novel alternative engine designed to blend the best of gasoline and diesel technology. Though the VW Chairman wouldn’t provide any significant details, the internal combustion hybrid operates like a diesel until it reaches 3500 rpm — that is, it uses high compression to ignite its air/fuel mix. At higher revs, up to 8500 rpm, it relies on a spark plug, much like a conventional gasoline engine. The prototype “combines very low emissions and (delivers) very high performance,” said Pischetsrieder, while also reducing fuel consumption markedly. But the prototype is anything but ready for prime time. For one thing, it requires a special blend of synthetic fuels to operate.

BMW’s Hydrogen Redux

While VW may be ready to write off hydrogen power, the lightweight gas is becoming the option of choice for its German rival, BMW. The Bavarian automaker staged the U.S.debut of its record-setting, 300-mph H2R prototype, which uses a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine. The streamlined racer has already set nine world records. And it is serving as the prototype for BMW’s first production car. A modified version of the 7-Series will be able to run on either hydrogen or gasoline, BMW’s U.S. CEO, Tom Purves, told his L.A.audience. It will go into production “during the life of the current (7-) Series.”

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