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USA: The Unimog, Daimler's New Polluter

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
February 22nd, 2001

NEW YORK -- Residents of the United States, renowned for their love of large cars, will soon have a bigger and better version of the road hog.

DaimlerChrysler announced plans Wednesday to produce a version of the German military vehicle, the Unimog, for sale in the United States, with production planned to begin in January.

The super-sports utility vehicle - to be made by DaimlerChrysler's subsidiary Freightliner, the largest tractor-trailer producer in the United States - is to look more like a freighter than a family car, news reports said.

The vehicle, which will look like an enormous off-road truck, will weigh 27,555 kilograms, almost double the heft of the largest SUVs, and measure 2.9 metres tall. Drivers will use a three-step ladder to climb behind the wheel.

It will stretch 6 metres from stem to stern and will be 60 centimetres wider than the average car. It will even make General Motor's Hummer SUV look puny.

Freightliner plans to produce 1,000 Unimogs annually at 84,000 dollars a pop. About 250 of those will be luxuriously outfitted for personal use while the rest will be sold to fire departments and businesses for commercial use.

The gas mileage of the new Unimogs - which will travel just more than 4 kilometres on a litre of petrol - was criticized by environmentalists.

"With new dire warnings from scientists about the consequences of global warming, we should be looking for ways to reduce emissions from U.S. sources," said Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club. "... Daimler is making the problem worse with their new Daimler- saurus."

The Unimogs have been produced since the 1950s in Europe and are used primarily for heavy hauling.

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