U-M Conference participants had a chance to take a ride on what DaimlerChrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are battling over: the Army's new Light Tactical Wheeled Vehicle (LTWV).

Both COMBATT (Commercially BAsed Tactical Truck) vehicles roll off the same line as their civilian brothers, the Ford F-350 and Dodge Ram 2500, but each get military treatment upon enlistment.

The payoff is less cost for taxpayers. The pair cost about $50,000 each with all the modifications, compared to $65,000 for the standard issue HMMWV (Hummer). Other savings would come from using DC or Ford's existing parts distribution network and logistics to reduce inventories during peacetime.

The COMBATT contract winner would begin active duty in 2004, serving primarily as an Army troop mover.