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Aluminum Bodies, CVTs For Ford, GM Crossover SUVs.

Lightweight body construction and innovative drivetrains will be key brand-builders for the new breed of "crossover" sport-utility vehicles now in development at Ford and GM. Both automakers will launch their compact crossovers (so-called because they blend elements of unibody passenger cars and light trucks) in 2002, according to informed sources at each company.

GM recently approved production of Saturn's crossover SUV, to be built at the division's Spring Hill, Tenn., complex. Part of the GMT315 program, the plastic-bodied CR-V fighter is based on the automaker's front-wheel-drive Delta small car platform. The underbody pan has been configured for an all-wheel-drive layout. It was designed for GM's upcoming CVT-2 continuously variable transmission, powered by the new L850 2.2L dohc 4-cylinder engine now debuting in Saturn's midsized L-series.

Ford's D219 project is developing a sportwagon crossover to replace the current Mercury Mountaineer when it debuts in late 2002. Company sources tell AI it is being developed from the 2002 Mercury Sable wagon platform.

According to recent reports in AI's sister publication, American Metal Market, the five-seat D219 vehicles will feature all-aluminum body architecture, and aluminum-intensive suspension and Duratec 4-cylinder and V-6 drivetrains. The publication reports that D219 may enter production with well over 17000 pounds of aluminum sheet, castings and extrusions. Ford sources say program volume should "start at" 100,000 units annually.

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Comment:Aluminum Bodies, CVTs For Ford, GM Crossover SUVs.
Author:Brooke, Lindsay
Publication:Automotive Industries
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Words:221
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