Dodge Trucks has added 1,000 pounds to the gross vehicle weight rating of its Ram 3500 Chassis Cab model, which also gets a bigger-displacement diesel and a six-speed automatic transmission when it becomes available as a 2007 model. The heavier 3500 comes standard with the cab and bare rear chassis, while the current 3500 Chassis Cab must be ordered with a "box-off" option instead of with a pickup bed.

The new Ram 3500 Chassis Cab's GVW rating is as much as 12,500 pounds in "dually" form (with dual wheels on each end of the rear axle), putting it about in the center of the industry's Class 3 range of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds. Its GVW rating of 10,200 pounds is the highest for a truck with a "single-wheel" rear axle (two wheels total), Dodge claims. Front and rear suspensions get stronger springs, new shock absorbers, jounce bumpers and track- and anti-sway bars to handle the extra weight.

The upgraded Ram will also use Cummins' upcoming 6.7-liter diesel instead of the current 5.9-liter diesel, as an option. As the Dodge-Cummins Turbodiesel, the new engine's output will be 305 horsepower and 610 pounds-feet. The new diesel will be available with an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission, replacing the current four-speed automatic, or a standard six-speed manual, both with power take-off capability.

The 3500's standard engine is the Dodge Magnum Hemi gasoline V-8, with 330 horsepower and 375 pounds-feet. It comes with the six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. As now, the heavier Ram 3500 will be available in two- and four-wheel drive and with a two-door Regular Cab or four-door Quad Cab.


A Texas firm has "re-engineered" International's DT 466 diesel to burn natural gas, and the clean-burning engine is available to repower existing International medium-duty trucks, as well as installation in other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Natural gas produced in North America is largely immune to the price spikes affecting diesel fuel and gasoline made mostly from imported petroleum, the company asserted.

Emission Solutions Inc. (ESI), of McKinney, Texas, said its Phoenix NG 7.6L engine's ultra-low emissions of oxides of nitrogen, non-methane hydrocarbons and particulate matter has earned certification from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and California's Air Resources Board.

Thus the Phoenix qualifies for tax credits and other government incentives that encourage fleet operators to use clean-burning alternative fuels.

The 7.6-liter (466-cubic-inch) Phoenix operates as a stoichiometric, spark-ignited internal combustion engine burning compressed or liquified natural gas. The stoichiometric system produces ideal air-fuel ratios throughout the operating range, allowing very low NOx emissions and high power and torque, ESI says. Its standard rating is 265 horsepower at 1,917 rpm and 820 pounds-feet of torque at 1,347 rpm, and can be reset for other outputs. It weighs 1,190 pounds.

ESI obtains worn DT 466s and essentially remanufactures them by having blocks and cylinder heads renewed, and machines heads to take new valves and spark ignition equipment, including plugs. Aluminum alloy pistons and iron alloy valves and valve seats are hardened against high heat by cryogenic freezing. Electronic control modules come from Alternate Fuel Systems in Calgary, Alberta.

Three International Truck dealers – one in Texas and two in California – have signed up to repower trucks and buses with the Phoenix, ESI says. The engine is suitable for municipal, trash, and beverage and food delivery trucks, as well as school and transit buses.