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What to Expect on the Jeep Trailhawk Production Model

Car fans across the world, especially those who are interested and starving for a new off-road vehicle are waiting for the production model of Chrysler Group’s latest on- and off-road concept, the Jeep Trailhawk.

Unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) early in January, the Jeep Trailhawk concept “merges the spectrum of the Jeep brand by combining the core off-road features of the new body-on-frame four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with the refined sophistication of an all-new on-road open-air concept vehicle, providing a unique and fresh expression for Jeep”, according to the Auburn Hills-based automaker.

Chrysler Group released the full details of the Jeep Trailhawk concept at NAIAS. Customers should expect the technical specs and features describe at the show to be installed on the production model of the vehicle. Chrysler Group did not release the exact time frame for the production version though.

The overall appearance of the Jeep Trailhawk concept embodies the traditional Jeep classic style along with new design cues like the open top roof resembling roof styling found on convertible coupe models. The Trailhawk concept features a bold and aggressive exterior body and has a long 116-inch wheelbase. Other exterior features include, stretched fender flares, tall trapezoidal vent, HID projector beam quad lamps, cross-car instrument panel, signature seven-slot Jeep grille, LED park and turn signals, four cup holders, sliding Jeep Load ‘N Go cargo tray drop-down tailgate, and large 22-inch five-spoke wheels. The left and right lamps show the eyes of a bird of prey, that is why the designers called the vehicle Trailhawk.

The Jeep Trailhawk comes with interior space for four passengers with premium leather seats. The two-tone leather-wrapped aluminum steering wheel offers an exciting driving feel wheter it is on- or off-road. Other interior features of the Jeep Trailhawk concept include steering wheel mounted switches and controls, remote control fold-away flat screen navigation unit, two front and rear armrest, storage bin modules, and a premium audio system with MP3 capability.

On the technical side, customers should expect a 3.0-liter BLUETEC CRD engine under the hood of the Jeep Trailhawk. The engine pumps out 215 hp at 4,000 rpm produces 376 lb.-ft. amount of peak torque at 1,600-2,800 rpm. To cool off the engine, a radiator with Jeep fan shroud will be included. The engine is coupled with a 5-speed automatic gearbox to power the four-wheel-drive (4WD) drivetrain configuration of the Trailhawk concept. Suspension parts come with a front axle with 4 bar links, and rear axle with 5-bar links.

You should expect these specs and features on the production model of Jeep Trailhawk when it rolls out anytime soon.

Autos Online – Safely

You can ask just about any person on the street, and he or she will tell you that this title is an oxymoron.

Well, it is not an unwarranted assumption, for there are many who in good faith have paid for online autos and who have then been defrauded one way or another; and they will not only agree, but also underscore, that indeed, yes, it is an oxymoron.

Online Auto Purchase – Nightmare Scenario No. 1

The 1968 Ford Mustang that a private seller in Michigan had offered to sell for a little more than Sanderson had planned to spend was the precise car he was looking for. Precisely: color, options, wheels, the lot.

So, his planned spending rose the 20% needed to meet the seller’s price, and he answered, yes, yes, I want to buy this car.

The Michigan seller emailed back, nice to know you, and delighted to do business. Just to make sure you know this is on the up and up, we will snail mail you a Certificate of Inspection, as well as our routing number and bank account; into which you should deposit 50% (plus $1,200 delivery charge) before we’ll ship the car. We trust you to pay us the remaining 50% upon acceptance of the vehicle.

Sanderson was convinced this was all on the level-the seller even had his photograph on the site that sold the car; and once he received the Certificate of Inspection, he wired the 50% plus shipping.

And that was the last he saw of his money, or the car, or the seller. The Certificate of Inspection turned out to be a forgery. The bank account he had wired the money to, by the time the police inquired, had been closed. There was no address for the seller, and Sanderson out a considerable amount of money.

Online Auto Purchase – Nightmare Scenario No. 2

Wilson, in his fifties and a prudent man by all accounts, and a lot more business savvy than Sanderson found the very thing he was looking for in Florida: a 1976 Jensen Interceptor series III saloon, hand-built in England. Wilson had been looking for one for years.

It was not the color he liked, but he could always have it repainted. And it was not cheap–well, he didn’t expect it to be. Eight emails later, and they had agreed upon a price.

And the seller, bless his heart, a man as cautious as Wilson himself, suggested they use an online escrow service to make sure the deal would go through smoothly, to everyone’s satisfaction. He even recommended a great looking company called reliable-escrow.com to handle the transaction. Wilson visited the site, and was impressed by the professional approach to the deal it presented. He felt reassured.

Everything was in place. As agreed, he deposited 50% of the purchase price (a small fortune) in the escrow account-the balance to be paid upon acceptance. Then he waited, and waited, and waited.

By the time investigators got around to it, reliable-escrow.com no longer existed (it had been registered in Russia), and Wilson had lost his small fortune.

Online Auto Purchase – Nightmare Scenario No. 3

Money exchanges hands. Shipping arrangements are made. The car arrives. Yes, it is the same year, model and color as stated in the ad, but some of the other statements stretched the truth a little. New tires, for one-these had hardly any thread left. The left headlight did not work, neither did the air conditioning, nor the rear seatbelts. This list did go on.

When challenged the seller referred to the contract which did-darn it, there it was-have an as is clause, and the agreement, not the ad, was the legally binding document here.

The buyer ended up spending an additional $2,350 on a $4,000 car to make it drivable, with no recourse to collect.

Good Intentions

Good intentions-admirable things that all too often fall short of proper follow-through-even when present in spades at the outset of an online auto deal are no guarantee that it will go through in the same spirit. Something is usually overlooked, and when the proverbial push comes to shove, the seller just does not want to eat the extra $500, sorry.

And at the other end of the spectrum-when the intention all along is to defraud you-take another look at the first two scenarios (the third may or may not have started out in good faith).

Internet Fraud

Now, if these first two scenarios were rare, isolated occurrences, this article would have no business being written.

However, Non-delivery of items purchased online constitute an impressive 24.9% of all fraud complaints filed last year with IC3-The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NWC3)-second only to Internet Auction Fraud, which was the most reported at 35.7%.

Vigilance

Therefore, when it comes to buying anything online from a private party-especially something as costly as an automobile-keep the following in mind:
o Be aware that if a problem does occur, it will be more difficult to resolve if the seller is located outside the United States-laws can differ widely country to country;
o Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address;
o Before you make a payment for any purchase, you should verify the seller’s identity and contact details in case there is a problem with the delivery of the item;
o Ask the seller when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by warranty if you need to exchange it;
o Use registered or certified mail to enable tracing; this will eliminate claims that the parcel was sent but must have been “lost in the mail;”
o Check that the seller information matches email, phone number and any bank account and location information;

And here is the most important advice of all:

o If you have any doubts about the identity and integrity the of seller-and when it comes to high-ticket items such as automobiles, even if you have no doubts whatsoever, and if all intentions appear angel-like: use an escrow agent.

An escrow agent or company is an independent third party that holds payment in trust until the buyer receives and accepts the item from the seller. While this service does incur a fee, it protects the buyer because the third party will hold the money until the goods have been received in good condition, inspected, and accepted; and only then releases the funds to the seller.

Internet Escrow

The principle and process of Internet escrow is the same as with buying and selling real estate-where, of course, the escrow company is deemed indispensable due to the amounts involved.
o The buyer or seller opens an account with the online escrow company;
o The prospective buyer of an item sends payment by wire transfer, check or credit card to the escrow company;
o The escrow company verifies that the funds indeed do exist, or that the buyer is who he represents himself to be and is in possession of the credit card, if used;
o Once this checks out, the escrow company asks the seller to ship the merchandise;
o Merchandise is shipped, and seller submits tracking information;
o Once the shipping site shows the merchandise as delivered the escrow company double checks to ensure the buyer has the goods in hand;
o The buyer now has an agreed-upon amount of time to either accept the goods or return it to the seller;
o Once accepted by the buyer, the escrow company releases the funds to the seller, less any processing fees and commissions.

This is all straightforward enough, if, that is, you are dealing with a legitimate online escrow company.

Fighting the Fighter

But the world, as we know, likes to throw us curves; and in this instance, the curve comes in the guise of escrow fraud.

Handling, as it does, substantial amounts of money, the bona fide escrow company is often itself a target of fraud-where look-alike phishing sites try to con you into providing them your confidential financial information; and where the escrow company concept itself is flagrantly abused by criminals who set up fraudulent escrow sites where money will only travel one-way: you guessed it, away from you.

In fact, the problem of fake on-line escrow sites is now so severe that some reputable and legitimate escrow sites have simply thrown in the towel.

Buyer Guardian, for example, recently shut its doors due to Internet fraud stealing their business, and posted the following note on their site: “We are sad to report that after careful and lengthy consideration we have made the decision to cease operations. This is a very difficult decision, and one that is made primarily due to the rapid growth of online escrow fraud.”

Many of these apparently bona fide escrow companies, established for the sole purpose of enriching the criminal, are set up off-shore-predominantly in Russia or China-where lax cyber crime laws (and sometimes questionable cooperation with U.S. authorities) makes it more difficult to shut the sites down and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Therefore, be sure to use only a bona fide online escrow company, preferably one that comes recommended by auction sites like eBay.

The Famous Bottom Line

If you want to ensure that you are not defrauded by an online transaction, do what house-buyers have done now for pretty much ever, use an online escrow company.

Here’s to peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.

And to successful online auto transactions.

By Ulf Wolf

Car Of The Future Created By Toyota

Toyota sure does have a lot of surprises up its sleeve. But it would not be quite surprising if it does. After all, we do know that the Toyota Motor Corporation can be considered as one of the biggest and strongest companies in the industry right now. And with great power comes great responsibility and perhaps the company believes that it is their responsibility to produce vehicles that would astound and make the public happy. Sure, they do create remarkable stuff from Toyota Sequoia original parts to fine Toyota accessories to exemplary vehicles but now the company would like to show the motoring public a glimpse of what the future holds.

The company would be showing off soon the Toyota Fine-N vehicle which is actually a hydrogen fuel cell concept car. And according to Toyota, this kind of vehicle would soon be filling the roads and streets of our future. This vehicle would be part of the main displays that Toyota South Africa would be sending off at the Auto Africa 2006 exhibit. The event would be held at Johannesburg’s Expo Center and would be starting from the 26th of October up until the 5th of November.

As per the Toyota Fine-N, you would see that this vehicle has for four doors and it comes with a four wheel drive system for a better driving response. The company also boasts of its design and potential performance for all fuel cell vehicles that would be coming in the future. The wheels of the vehicle have got their very own electric motors and these are powered right from the Toyota fuel cell stack and its lithium ion battery. And its power source could be able to produce some 25 kW and 110 Nm of torque. You would find the fuel cell stack, the lithium ion battery, and the rest of the vehicle’s power control unit all beneath the floor. This is primarily because Toyota believes that by doing such, there would be more floor space for the vehicle’s occupants and passengers. Versatile, the Toyota Fine-N would be a vehicle to look out for.