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Auto blogMon, 10 Feb 2014 18:29:00 EST
Car buyers have a responsibility to be well-informed consumers. That's not always a very simple task, but some guidelines are self-evident. If you live in a very snowy climate, you generally know a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro might not be as viable a vehicle choice as an all-wheel drive Explorer or Traverse, for example. If you want a fuel-efficient car, it's generally a good idea to know the difference between a diesel and a hybrid. But what if it's kind of tough to be an informed consumer? What if the information you need is more difficult to come by, or worse, based on different standards for each vehicle? Well, in that case, you might be a truck shopper.
For years, customers of light-duty pickups have had to suffer through different ratings of towing capacities for each brand. For 2015 model year trucks, though, that will no longer be a problem. According to Automotive News, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler Group have announced that starting with next year's models, a common standard will be used to measure towing capacity. The Detroit Three will join Toyota, which adopted the Society of Automotive Engineers' so-called SAE J2807 standards way back in 2011.
The standard was originally supposed to be in place for MY2013, but concerns that it would lower the overall stated capacity for trucks led Detroit automakers to pass. Ford originally passed, claiming it'd wait until its new F-150 was launched to adopt the new standards, leading GM and Ram to follow suit. Nissan, meanwhile, has said it will adopt the new standards as its vehicles are updated, meaning the company's next-generation Titan should adhere to the same tow ratings as its competitors.
Ram may be preparing a new sort of tailgate that could rethink the way we access the bed of the company's pickup trucks. Rather than the typical fold-down tailgate that we know so well, patent drawings show a tailgate that combines the functionality of a traditional fold-down design with a 50/50 split that can, individually, be opened like a barn-door design or dropped flat like a standard tailgate.
Now, Ram is far from the first to toy around with something like this. The most obvious example is the Honda Ridgeline, which features a single-piece tailgate that is double-hinged so that it can open traditionally or be swung out to the side. The big news here is the split and the fact that each half can be used independently of the other. Unlike the Honda, the individual halves would be operated via touchpads.
The implications of this new design aren't entirely clear right now. It seems possible that the rendering could just be for a concept vehicle, but production is certainly possible as well - Ram has shown a real willingness to innovate in the pickup segment as of late, with features like coil-spring rear suspensions, light-duty diesels and the Ram Box bedside storage system.
Every pickup truck commercial has the brand trying to convince us that its model is the biggest, brawniest vehicle on the block. But Ford and Ram appear ready to really throw down the gauntlet and scrap over the towing figures for their heavy-duty models, and it could potentially end up in court.
The issue revolves around what it means to be best in class. Ford claims that its 2015 F-450 (pictured above) has a max tow rating of 31,200 pounds, compared to 30,000 pounds for the Ram 3500 (right). However, both companies market these heavy haulers as having the top towing in their class. According to Automotive News, Ford is threatening legal action if Ram doesn't back down.
The situation isn't as simple as just comparing the numbers, though. First, the two companies calculate their towing capacities differently. Ram adheres to the SAE J2807 rating, while Ford uses its own internal system. Although, as the company introduces new models, they are certified using the SAE standard. "When an all-new F-Series Super Duty is introduced, it also will use SAE J2807," said Ford to Autoblog in an emailed statement.