When life becomes stranger than fiction
By By Lou Ann Hammond
Imagine the tailgate party on this puppy
"World's Biggest Production Pick-up Truck" is how Navistar is billing its new dump truck with a bed on it. According to John Barrett of Navistar there have been over 100 International Commercial Extreme Trucks (CXT) sold since it went on sale in September. "We'll have three of them at the Superbowl, just sitting outside the exits as people go in and out of the ballgame." No tailgate parties have been planned.
According to International Truck and Engine Corporation, the International CXT hauls six tons, can seat a football team's offensive line and, for kids over 20 who miss playing with trucks in the sandbox, is the ultimate toy for extreme work and play? In otherwords, the CXT makes the Hummer H2 look like a girly-man. This pickup is so high you could put a train whistle on the cab and a hat on your head and pretend it was your very own train.
The CXT is built in Garland, Texas and like the Mayor of Garland, Bob Day, says, "this brings a new meaning to everything is big in Texas". Born out of a 20-ton dump truck/snow plower platform the CXT is starting to catch the eye of the "Pimp my ride" and other bigger toys for bigger boys type shows. I guess there really are men that watch the garbage man come by and pick up the trash and say to themselves, "Man, I wish I could own one of those."
Five super-sized adults
With oil dependency and capacity becoming an issue it is surprising that Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) and large pickup sales have not decreased. In fact, according to Tom Libby, senior analyst for J.D. Power's Power of Information Network (PIN), "sales for full-size pickups have increased 6.5 percent from 2003 to 2004 calendar year. The market share has increased as well from 14.2 percent for 2003 to 14.9 for 2004. It makes one wonder, if there were more hybrids made, would there still be a shortage? While we don't know the true market demand for hybrids, we do for full-size pickups and CXTs.
The biggest gas guzzling obvious consumption vehicle on the road was the Hummer H2. The International CXT is twice the H2s size in weight. As though the Hummer weren't getting enough flack, International has made a commercial truck, for personal use. International even points out on their website that "you get all the attributes of a commercial truck, butyou don't need a commercial driver's license to drive it." How could that be? The 7033 CXT weighs 25,999 pounds, one pound short of the weight requirement for a commercial license.
When will they come out with the 11-seater SUV version with a 42" plasma television and supersize cupholders? The big question is; If these keep selling like hotcakes, where are the Hummers going to park? Maybe it was a little disingenious of me to call John Millet of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ask about miles per gallons (MPG), but we both got a good laugh. "It's not in our green vehicle guide, Lou Ann", say Millet, "but it does have to meet current emissions regulations." International has a joint venture with Ford Motor Co. and Ford and the EPA are working on a prototype diesel engine that will meet the stringent new emissions standards that are being set by the EPA.
From the internationaldelivers.com website:As a result, it is a vehicle unrivaled in capability, size and appearance. It hauls three times the payload of consumer pick-up trucks, is all-wheel drive, uses air brakes for unmatched stopping ability and offers towing, dumping and tilt bed capability. Additionally, it features a spacious interior with crew cab design that seats five and can be customized to meet owners' specific needs, from paint color to air seats to flat screen TVs. For example, for people who want to make a statement while driving in luxury, try a customized black International CXT with ghosted green flames that has a leather interior with wood grain trim, reclining captain chairs, a fold-down bench that can be used as a bed, an overhead compartment with drop-down DVD, an XM satellite premium radio system and a rear-mounted camera for increased visibility behind the vehicle.
"The International CXT is a truck for businesses that want to promote themselves as much as perform," said Rob Swim, director, vehicle center marketing strategy, International Truck and Engine Corporation. "While there is nothing tougher or more extreme on the market than the International CXT, it is as much a statement of success as it is performance."
In terms of performance, the International CXT features the International DT 466 diesel engine with a horsepower rating of 220 hp and 540 lb.-ft. of torque capable of hauling or towing pretty much anything you can put into or behind it. Other horsepower ratings are also available. With an electronically controlled turbocharger and four valves per cylinder, the engine delivers responsiveness, acceleration, outstanding fuel efficiency, extended serviceability and long-term durability.
A niche market
Additionally, despite the tough appearance and powerful engine, there is a smooth side to the International CXT. A smooth-shifting Allison 2000 Series automatic transmission and standard cab air-suspension (with standard front air seats) provide an exceptionally comfortable ride.
"International built the CXT to make a bold statement," said Swim. "While we have been building trucks for more than 100 years, International is a company focused on bold growth. The International CXT tangibly demonstrates our brand's evolution by bringing customers an unmatched innovation that can drive success, on the road and in their business."
Among businesses for whom the International CXT is ideal: construction, lawn care businesses, lawn and garden stores, brick or stone contractors, home builders, carpenters, landscape designers, roofers, home improvement companies, auto body repair or custom paint shops, commercial boating businesses and boat racers.