USA: The Unimog, Daimler's New Polluter

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

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

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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