The following challenge is set in an alternate history that is not intended for any political statement past or present, but simply as a thematic backdrop for this particular challenge.
These rules are now final as of 12:50am UTC on Sunday 15 March (8:50pm EDT on Saturday 14 March). The submission deadline is 11:59pm UTC (7:59pm EDT) on Saturday 21 March. Countdown.
United States, 2002
The full background
Rarely has a State of the Union address been as anticipated as in 2002. A year after being controversially inaugurated following a protracted recount that ultimately overturned the initial, election-deciding result in Florida, President Gore has already faced the challenge of the most devastating terrorist attack in history. Calls for vengeance are high, including within his own administration; Vice President Lieberman has been particularly vocal. A military invasion of Afghanistan is already under way.
Inevitably, this was a State of the Union address unusually focused on foreign affairs; it could hardly not be. But partway through, a less anticipated pivot, of sorts. “The United States can condemn international terrorists all it wants. It can condemn human rights abuses across the Middle East all it wants. But ultimately, our national dependence on oil imports mean that some of the most undemocratic governments on the planet have us quite literally over a barrel. It is therefore imperative that we take steps to reduce that dependency on these governments, by reducing our energy consumption to the greatest extent possible whilst maintaining the economic stability that is the foundation of the American dream. We have rightly talked of national security in these trying months; let it be clear that our national security is threatened both in the immediate future by terrorism and in the more distant future by climate change, and both of these threats must be tackled with equal expediency.”
The traditional opposition response to the address, whilst magnaminous on national security issues, made pointed jabs at the emphasis on energy efficiency. “In a time of recession, with far larger priorities to the ordinary American people, we cannot afford a so-called “green” distraction…” This would remain the GOP attack line on the Gore administration right through 2002 as midterms drew near, but it was when the House of Representatives proposed a bill to mandate improved fuel economy standards that the most memorable line of this political battle would emerge. A Congressional Democrat pointed to how light truck economy had essentially remained static since the early 1980s in proposing the New Century American Vehicles Act (NCAVA), and a Fox News commentator picked up on this and declared “Democrats think America needs to give up the pickup. We can’t give up the pickup!”
NCAVA has now gone to a House Committee, with genuine uncertainty over how, when, and whether it will pass; with Republicans still owning a small House majority and the Senate 50-50, bipartisan support is needed, but some Democrats are wary of compromising in this Congress with their party expected to make gains in the midterms. The moderates in the House have hinted that they support NCAVA specifically if it reflects “what is possible with current technology,” and it is expected that the Energy Committee meetings will see this tack taken.
Your task: produce a blueprint for a pickup truck fit for a new era of tightened regulations… and for the drivers who are scared of having to give up the pickup.
REQUIREMENTS (to avoid the ):
- Trim variant year is 2003 (as these would be 2003 models, and 2003 is also the unlock year for multiple pickup bodies)
- Model year is 1994-2003
- Pickup truck body (as defined in Automation) with a ladder or light truck monocoque chassis
- Regular unleaded gas (86 AKI/91 RON)
- Minimum 17 MPG (US: 20.5 UK MPG, 7.3 km/L, 13.8 L/100km)
- No race parts or per-cylinder fuel systems
- 6-10 cylinder engine that delivers at least 275 lb-ft (373Nm) torque
- Catalytic converter and muffler - can be any type
- Minimum 2 full seats
- CD player
- Minimum standard 90s safety
- Hard longlife or chunky offroad tires
- $30,000 maximum price as listed in-game
- PU/ET caps: 55/135 for engine, 120/120 for body (note that going below this is rewarded)
- Tech sliders all -1 to +3
- Model and engine family name to be PDC7: username
- Fuel economy
- Torque @ 2k/3k rpm (as proxy for towing ability given the shakiness of that in Automation)
- Cost of ownership (service costs weighted by reliability)
- Heavy Utility category score in Automation (as a proxy for utility value and marketability)
- Standing 1km time (because drivers of these trucks might need to make a getaway from a tornado warning…)
- Environmental resistance
- “Spare” PU/ET (this is in addition to the impact on price from PU/ET, based on the assumption of American manufacturers being particularly vulnerable to labor costs)
- Direct injection is allowed; it’s already in (Mitsubishi) mass production cars at this point, and “innovative solutions” are by no means unwelcome in this context. However, an adjustment will be applied to service costs and reliability, to reflect the cost/difficulty of maintaining the intake system more realistically than Automation does.
- Turbos are also allowed, but will be firmly placed on watch, and the importance of low-end torque will influence the nature of turbo use as well.
- There are no specific rules on engine years (besides being no later than 2003).
- While I will use a degree of spreadsheet-based scoring, I reserve the right to go more subjective. Note that I haven’t specified category weighting, which is essentially to leave me some wiggle room partly in that regard.