Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Even as fuel prices creep back up, trucks are still a hot item among new-vehicle shoppers. To see how popular pickup trucks still are, you don't have to look any further than how much effort automakers put into the continual one-upmanship of their trucks. Backing this fact up, USA Today is reporting that the segment could top two million sales this year - a total not matched since 2007, though still far from the pre-recession, three-million-unit levels.
Through August, the Ford F-Series continues to be the segment leader with almost 500,000 units sold, but the Chevy Silverado (328,269), Ram 1500 (234,642), GMC Sierra (122,232) and Toyota Tacoma (110,293) are all seeing at least 20-percent sales increases, helping to account for around 1.44 million truck sales so far this year - not including possible outliers like the Suzuki Equator and Chevy Avalanche.
This year alone, General Motors has completely redesigned its fullsize trucks, Ram and Toyota have significantly updated their offerings, the next-gen Ford F-150 will be out next year and Nissan is promising an all-new Titan around the same time with an eventual Cummins diesel under the hood. It would seem, then, that truck sales are poised to continue their upward trend.
Moving is not fun. On the scale of adult activities, it ranks somewhere between taxes and jury duty. Boxes need to be loaded, furniture needs to be lifted and the entire affair is typically fueled by a combination of pizza, beer and pain killers (a combo my friends affectionately refer to as "moving fuel"). It's not fun, and it's rarely easy.
While it doesn't make the activity any more enjoyable, having the right vehicle for the job is the difference between loading and unloading half a dozen times and doing it once or twice. When taken as a whole, a proper moving van can shave hours off a day of labor, not to mention untold years of physical and mental stress for those who must take to their wheels every day.
That truism was borne out once again when I borrowed a loaded Nissan NV200 SV to help my girlfriend move into her new house. The little Nissan was a comfortable and able companion throughout the day, managing everything from a mattress and box springs to countless boxes of clothes, dishes and other necessities. Throughout the day, the NV impressed not just with the amount of stuff it could fit in its cavernous back end, but with the features it had to make moving anything easier.
With Porsche joining Audi and Toyota at the front of the LMP1 grid at Le Mans next year, Nissan is the next to be throwing its hat (and considerable R&D budget) into the proverbial ring. But only if it's allowed to do something radically different, according to the latest report in Car magazine.
Just what that means remains to be seen, but Nissan is reportedly in active discussions with the ACO (the body that governs the race) to see how far it can stretch the regulations. The ACO has taken an intriguingly different approach to equalizing performance, mandating the maximum amount of energy that can be used per lap instead of telling teams what kind of engines they can use. That's how Porsche is entering with a four-cylinder engine, Toyota with a V8 and Audi with a diesel six. But when it comes to the shape of the car itself, the rules are considerably more restrictive.
Unfortunately the rules would prohibit Nissan fielding the ZEOD RC (with its narrow front track) in the LMP1 class, relegating it instead to the Garage 56 slot for experimental racers (which the DeltaWing filled before). And the realities of endurance racing would effectively prohibit anyone from fielding an all-electric racer. Within those confines, though, Nissan is eager to find enough wiggle room to make something both visually and technically different from other LMPs. And if the ACO won't let it do so at Le Mans, it could turn to another race or series (like the Nürburgring 24) that would.