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2005 Detroit Auto Show, Part I Page 2


..And Offers Up A Sequel

2005 GM Sequel concept

2005 GM Sequel concept

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The appropriately-named Sequel is the successor to last year’s Hy-Wire hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. And like that earlier prototype, the Sequel’s body is mounted atop an unusual, 11-inch-thick platform that contains virtually all driving components, from the steering gear to the hydrogen storage and fuel cell systems. “This is the sequel to 100 years of the automobile,” said Wagoner. Today’s fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs, would cost millions if brought to market in current form. But making a case for the technology will require more than just an affordable price tag, cautioned Larry Burns, GM’s advanced technology director. Making a “real,” marketable fuel cell will require “the range, performance, safety and comfort of today’s (gasoline) vehicles.” With its roomy SUV-like body, Sequel has plenty of interior space, and using the fourth-generation GM fuel cell stack, lots of power. It can launch from 0-60 in about nine seconds, a good bit faster than any other current fuel cell prototype. With three compressed hydrogen tanks hidden inside the platform, range should be about 300 miles. As to affordability, that’s still a challenge, company sources acknowledged, but Byron McCormick, head of GM’s fuel cell development efforts, told TheCarConnection that major improvements with the gen-4 “stack” would improve manufacturability, lower costs and significantly increase reliability. GM continues to promise it will introduce a competitive FCV by 2010.

Gladiator Takes On Pickup Segment

2005 Jeep Gladiator concept

2005 Jeep Gladiator concept

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Like many recent Chrysler Group concept vehicles, the new Jeep Gladiator could be a hint of things to come. Borrowing an old name and a long-abandoned body style, the show car suggests what Jeep might do if it were to get back into the pickup business. “It’s built to take along all the toys you want,” said Chrysler styling director Trevor Creed. As with all Jeeps, an emphasis was put on off-roadability, and with a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbo-diesel turning out 163 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, the Gladiator would be a true stump-puller. The two-row pickup features a side-mounted spare tire and a foldaway canvas roof.

Chrysler Delivers Plenty of Firepower

2005 Chrysler Firepower concept

2005 Chrysler Firepower concept

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What would happen if you build a Viper for the Chrysler division? The Firepower is the answer, apparently, though its long-nosed, wide-bodied stance seems to have more in common with a European sports car, such as Aston, than traditional American muscle. Under the hood of the concept vehicle lurks a 6.1-liter, 425-horsepower version of the well-received Chrysler HEMI. It would drive the Viper-derived sports car from 0-60 mph in under 4.5 seconds and hit a top speed estimated at 174 mph. With strong support from senior Chrysler executives, insiders tell TheCarConnection Firepower has a fairly high probability of going into production – especially with the recent decision to scrap development of last year’s Chrysler ME-412 concept vehicle.

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Jeep Spins Hurricane Toward Midwest

Chrysler is known for delivering some big surprises on the first day of the Detroitauto show, and it pulled one out of its corporate hat again this year in the form of the Jeep Hurricane. Perhaps the best way to describe the show vehicle is to call it a blend of hot rod, muscle car and dune buggy. Hurricane’s wild and, well, wacky, design makes room for a pair of HEMI engines, one up front and another in the back of this otherwise minimalist machine. In all, that adds up to a combined 670 hp and 740 lb-ft of torque, though through a unique set of mechanical and electronic controls, the double powertrain can be operated in four, eight or 16-cylinder mode. The Hurricane is full of surprises, including a steering system that allows all four wheels to turn independently. In one position, the buggy can “literally turn on a dime,” and complete a circle on its own axis. Production plans? “Perhaps,” said Chrysler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche, but not all that likely.

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