Monday, October 31, 2011

Renault Unveils Small Car Pulse in India

renault pulse
Renault SA Saturday unveiled a new small car, Pulse, in India that it plans to start selling from January to boost sales and compete with bigger rivals such as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., Hyundai Motor Co. and Tata Motors Ltd. in Asia's third-biggest automobile market.

The Pulse, Renault's third vehicle in India, will mark the French auto maker's entry into the high volume small-car market which makes up nearly two-thirds of passenger vehicle sales in India.

It is also a part of the company's plans to introduce five car models by the end of next year.

"India is one of the key markets for us along with Brazil and Russia. This Pulse is designed and produced for Indian drivers," Carlos Tavares, chief operating officer of Renault, told reporters. He said the company plans to sell 100,000 vehicles in India by 2013.

The Pulse shares its platform with Renault's Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co.'s V-platform. Nissan already sells its Micra small car based on the same platform.

The car will be manufactured at a factory near the port town of Chennai in southern Tamil Nadu state which the company jointly owns with Nissan. The factory opened in March last year with an initial annual capacity of 200,000 cars.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

2012 Fiat 500c Review: Cute but Underpowered and Overpriced

Fiat 500c
Lest one think this is an automatic bashing of small cars – it is not. They are actually a particular favorite. The problem comes from the Fiat 500c's powertrain. This is a small – and I do mean small – car with no zip to it nor good fuel economy for its size.

Let's address the latter point first. It's one of the big knocks against the Smart car. It's little and cute like the Fiat 500 and only gets 33 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. The Fiat 500c, based on EPA figures, does even worse at 27 city and 32 mpg. A Hyundai Accent, which is bigger by all measurements, gets 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

That's the unsettling thing about truly small cars in the U.S. They get relatively poor fuel economy for their size and typically run on premium fuel. Who wants to pay more just to get less fuel economy?

No Power in the Fiat 500c

What's also unsettling is how under powered this little car is – even for a little car. Americans don't mind small if it has a little zip to it. The Fiat 500c has a 1.4-liter MultiAir in-line four-cylinder engine that provides 101 horsepower and 98 lb. ft. of torque. As I said last summer when I reviewed the Mazda2, torque figures in the double digits are never a good thing.

The new Fiat 500c features the world’s first Fully Variable Valve Actuation (FVVA) system on a production engine. Also known as MultiAir, this intake-valve system replaces a traditional overhead cam with hydraulic actuation controlled by four, fast-responding, electronic solenoids – delivering instantaneous air-fuel adjustment at any time in the engine cycle for maximum efficiency and power or so Fiat claims. Maybe it does deliver maximum power but it's power that is lacking.

No Safety Concerns

One thing I can't knock about small cars is their safety. Sure, you can't overcome the laws of physics. A semi tractor-trailer crashing into a Fiat 500c is never going to end well for the Fiat passengers but there's a lot more protection inside than people may realize. Don't overlook a Fiat for safety reasons. It would be a mistake.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

The new Dodge Viper will not debut next month

Dodge viper
Mania over the new 2013 Dodge Viper has given way to pure insanity, with outlets reporting that the next generation super Mopar's going to appear at a regional press event in Florida next month. Yeah, we don't think that's happening — and you should believe us, because at least two of us here are crazy enough to think even Sports Night's coming back one day so we'll believe anything if there's a shred of hope it'll happen.

This rumor has its genesis at Top Speed, who seems to have pulled it directly out of their asses. Here's what they say

Debuting an extremely important car at a an event for a bunch of local automotive journalists who, despite their charitable intentions, have little national reach? Not going to happen.

Dodge PR confirmed to us that, as much fun as that would be, it ain't happening. In a phone call that lasted all of 56 seconds.

I just think some journalists are angling to get a trip to South Florida in the winter and thus are unwilling to pick up a phone to deny the most easily deniable rumor ever.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wounded Gaddafi Shown No Mercy

Wounded Gaddafi
Dragged from hiding in a drainage pipe, a wounded Muammar Gaddafi raised his hands and begged revolutionary fighters: "Don't kill me, my sons." Within an hour, he was dead, but not before jubilant Libyans had vented decades of hatred by pulling the eccentric dictator's hair and parading his bloodied body on the hood of a truck.

The death Thursday of Gaddafi, two months after he was driven from power and into hiding, decisively buries the nearly 42-year regime that had turned the oil-rich country into an international pariah and his own personal fiefdom.

It also thrusts Libya into a new age in which its transitional leaders must overcome deep divisions and rebuild nearly all its institutions from scratch to achieve dreams of democracy.

"We have been waiting for this historic moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed," Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said in the capital of Tripoli. "I would like to call on Libyans to put aside the grudges and only say one word, which is Libya, Libya, Libya."

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BMW 6-series coupe dressed to thrill

While it's easy to spec-up BMW's 6-series coupe to well beyond the quarter of a million dollar mark if you tick enough boxes like the M-sport option and lists of remarkable sound-systems, wheel choices and lighting alternatives, I hope I don't sound trite when I say it's still good value.

That's because, despite being very much a day-to-day turn-key sports coupe, it has sufficient performance to challenge competitors with another $100,000 to $200,000 on their sticker cards. As well as its obvious segment- mates, like the 'Benz CL ($285,000), Jaguar's XKR-S ($260,000) and the Maserati GranTurismo ($285,000), the 6-series has sufficient style and performance to be seen next to or to be driven with Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins costing so much more.

There'll be but a single model of the 6-series Coupe for New Zealand - the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged 650i - rather than the range of sixes and diesels and two and four-wheel-drive drivetrain options enjoyed in its native Europe. Standard gear includes sumptuous Dakota leather, chassis settings you can change with the prod of a console button and a standard sat-nav system that uses a huge fixed screen in the upper dash. The device threatens to dominate the otherwise well-organised and nicely designed cabin. There's an M Sport model which gets some subtle external body styling, special sill-plates and a chromed, Martini-striped M-badge for the bootlid as well as more sporting seats.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rolls Royce speeds up for first 100

Rolls Royce
One of the world's premier luxury car manufacturers, Rolls-Royce has decided to strengthen its operations in India, owing to the rapid growth of the Indian automobile industry. The British car maker has its presence in India for the past 75 years. When it entered the domestic market, back in 1932, the company primarily built aero engines that were first used in Tata Airlines.

Recently, Rolls-Royce Operations India Private Limited was established in Bangalore, amid celebrations of its 50-year-long partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in 2006. Since its establishment, Rolls-Royce has been inclined towards introducing its luxury cars in India. Rolls-Royce has now decided to expand its operations as well as its product range in India. Currently, the car maker has two dealerships located in Mumbai and Delhi. The company aims to achieve the desired level of expansion by the end of 2011 or early 2012.

For expanding the dealership network, the company has appointed Herfried Hasenoehrl as the Head of Business Development for Rolls-Royce India. He is expected to give new highs to the Rolls-Royce dealership network in the country. In addition, he will be responsible for identifying potential cities for sales of Rolls-Royce products.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ford Focus Traveller: Fesche Ladezone

Ford Focus
Ob more work now belongs to the traveler was once an open question. And if so, he will bear with equanimity - he has the skills necessary to yes. Ford reduced the Focus body styles on the two (apart from the coupé-cabriolet) and after it is no longer three-door and the sedan is not offered for us to stay just 5-door and Travellers. Traveller is traditionally the address for the cluster .

Traveller (ie friends) is a perfectly fitting name, since you like the Focus is taking longer trips. Space for luggage or other leisure utensil's enough (490 and 1516 liters with rear seats folded down). At least as gratifying to the, fact that the sill is pleasantly deep down, board life of the trunk and the hatch opens before without disturbing excesses of one. The 1.6-liter Ecoboost with 182 hp ensures that there is fault with the performance anything even if one exploits the full load. Even in the lower rpm range, there are a lot of lard, to 182 hp, the engine feels but only at higher speeds.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Yamaha FZ6R: Zero Gravity Windscreens

yamaha FZ6R
Made in the USA, Zero Gravity's new line of 2009-2012 Yamaha FZ6R windscreens is now available in three distinctive styles, SR Series, Double Bubble and Sport Touring.

The stock replacement Yamaha FZ6R SR Series (20-523 shown in light smoke) approximates the size, shape and function of the OEM windscreen.

The Double Bubble (16-523 shown in light smoke), features a stepped profile design with an overall height somewhere between the SR Series and Sport Touring.

Performance is geared for sports riding, canyon carving and "tucked in" aerodynamics. Both the SR Series and Double Bubble are available in a variety of colors as well as clear, light smoke and dark smoke.

The Sport Touring Series screen (23-523 shown in light smoke), is 3 1/4" (82.55mm) taller than stock and provides enhanced wind protection while riding in the upright position aboard the Yamaha FZ6R. Mounting holes are pre-drilled. Installs using OEM fasteners. Included with each screen is a photo-detailed instruction sheet for quick installation.

Zero Gravity screens are made with cutting edge technology and feature a precise fit, hand polished visible edges and distortion free optical clarity.

Available in a variety of colors, Zero Gravity's new Yamaha FZ6R windscreens start at $89.95 and are protected with a limited factory warranty.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

GM Looking To Test Futuristic EV In Megacities Worldwide

EN-V electric
General Motors' ambitious EN-V electric concept vehicle may be coming to a city near you, as the automotive giant is looking into developing pilot projects around the world to determine just how practical the concept is.

GM has already signed a memorandum that will see the car — now dubbed the Chevrolet EN-V, short for Electric Networked Vehicle — potentially integrated into the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city in China. Other locations are being investigated for pilot programs, including the United States. Since the EN-V is designed specifically for urban dwellers, GM is looking at "selected megacities," though no specific locations were announced.

"By 2030, more than 60 percent of the world's eight billion people will live in urban areas," said Chris Perry, vice president, global Chevrolet marketing and strategy, at an event celebrating Chevrolet's 100th anniversary.

"The Chevrolet EN-V represents a possible solution for global customers living in markets where alternative transportation solutions are needed."

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ashok Leyland has plans for an Innova-like vehicle

Ashok Leyland
Company working on common platform derived from Nissan van; planning to launch 7-8 seater vehicle in 2 years.

Burgeoning demand for spacious people movers in India has led Ashok Leyland, a medium and heavy truck builder, to plan on developing a utility vehicle to take on the likes of Toyota Innova, India’s largest selling multi-seater personal vehicle.

The Chennai-based company is targeting a medium-powered, seven to eight-seater vehicle. This segment is majorly catered to by Toyota, General Motors, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.

V Sumantran, executive vice chairman, Hinduja Automotive, said, “The demand for the Innova has defined the overall demand for such vehicles in India. The way people travel has completely changed in India in the past few years. There used to be a Tata Sumo, which got replaced by Toyota’s top-selling Qualis, which eventually made way for the Innova. Today, there is a waiting period for the Innova, which sells close to 5,000 units every month.”

Launched in 2005, the Toyota Innova (price starts at Rs 8.64 lakh, ex-showroom, Mumbai) has consistently maintained superior demand compared to the competition, despite carrying a premium price tag.

Handicapped by production constraints, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, the Indian subsidiary of Toyota Motors, sold 4,765 units of the Innova last month, a growth of 126 per cent over 2,108 units sold in the same month last year.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fairs ... Or Farm Shows

Farm Machines
When I was growing up, country life revolved around county and state fairs.

Not only were there 4-H and open class exhibits of livestock, crops and hobbies, but also the fair was where you went to see the latest farm equipment and products.

You could walk from one exhibit to another, comparing tractors, chain saws, lawn mowers and countless other tools of the good life.

Increasingly fairs, county and stateFarm Machines, are more about entertainment than agriculture.

The Minnesota State Fair maintains the livestock show where I exhibited my Ayrshire heifer 40 years ago. However, the major agricultural suppliers have long since pulled out of Machinery Hill, not that there aren’t still many interesting exhibits to visit.

The real action for agricultural window-shopping has become the regional and national farm shows.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

China Bullet Trains Trip on Technology

Bullet Train
China celebrated its bullet trains as the home-grown pride of a nation: a rail system faster and more advanced than any other, showcasing superior Chinese technology.

However, China's high-speed rail network was in fact built with imported components—including signaling-system parts designed to prevent train collisions—that local engineers couldn't fully understand, according to a review of corporate documents and interviews with more than a dozen rail executives inside and outside China.

During a late July lightning storm, two of China's bullet trains collided in the eastern city of Wenzhou, killing 40 people and injuring nearly 200 in one of the world's worst high-speed passenger-rail accidents. China's government initially blamed flawed signaling and human error. It recently postponed public release of its crash findings.

The precise cause of the disaster remains uncertain, so there is no way to know what role, if any, the signaling assembly may have played.

An examination of China's use of foreign technology in its bullet-train signal systems highlights deep international distrust over China's industrial model, including weak intellectual-property protections, which can complicate efforts to acquire state-of-the-art technology.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Government’s budget-cut slows purchase of new cars

Toyota, the largest supplier of new cars in Uganda, is feeling the pinch of government’s resolve to cut-back it’s expenditure on items like motor vehicles, advertising and newspapers.

Mr Dino Bianchi, the managing director of Toyota Uganda, told Daily Monitor the budget cuts on the purchase of vehicles has affected sales because the government is the biggest buyer of new cars. “The decision is already hurting us. Of course, government is among our top buyers and a reduction in purchase affects us.”

In her 2011/2012 budget speech, the Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka said there was need to cut government expenditure on some sectors in order to improve government service delivery. Ms Kiwanuka proposed that the government would freeze the purchase of vehicles except for critical areas; including hospitals, police and security.

Other industries that were affected include hospitality and media. To cope with the freeze, Toyota has introduced initiatives to boost its sales by easing the cost of acquiring and servicing new cars. “We are however, making our cars more affordable to potential clients,” Mr Bianchi said.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Electric Cars Face Challenging Market In Brazil

Electric Cars
Brazil market not as ready as U.S, Japan, Europe for electric-vehicle push, Nissan CEO Ghosn says

Ghosn: No clear initiative to support adoption of electrics by Brazil government

Brazil's oil fields, high use of ethanol also seen as key factors

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- The future of the automotive industry is likely in electric vehicles, but the technology faces a challenging market in Brazil, the chief executive of Japan's Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (7201.TO) said Thursday.

Carlos Ghosn, who also serves as chairman and chief executive of France's Renault SA (RNO.FR), cited Brazil's recently discovered oil fields, heavy use of biofuels and a lack of government support.

"We are pioneers in electric cars," Ghosn said during an announcement of Nissan's first factory in Brazil. "When the Brazilian government wants, when the Brazilian government is ready, we will instantly bring this technology to Brazil."

Nissan, which produces the popular Leaf electric car, doesn't view Brazil as a good candidate for early market tests of electric vehicles. The pressure to adopt the new technology isn't as strong in Brazil, which is currently rushing to develop offshore oil fields that could transform the country into one of the leading crude producers and exporters. In addition, the country is the world's largest producer of sugar-cane ethanol, with more than 80% of new cars able to run on the clean-burning biofuel.

"The attractiveness of Brazil as a market for electric cars will depend on the will of the Brazilian government to support the consumer in order to buy electric cars," Ghosn told Dow Jones Newswires in an exclusive interview earlier this week. "As long as there is no clear initiative by the government to support development of electric cars in the country, I don't think it's going to happen."

There are some signs that Brazil's government is waking up to the need for incentives to foster growth of so-called "green vehicles." Local press reports said that President Dilma Rousseff's administration was discussing plans that could allow Brazil to be at the forefront of electric-car adoption, including the end of a 25% industrial production tax on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral also hailed the future of electric vehicles during Thursday's ceremony to unveil Nissan's $1.5 billion plant, which is expected to produce 200,000 vehicles per year. Rio de Janeiro wants to offer incentives to ensure that electric cars are produced in the state, said Cabral.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hyundai holds mini-auto show

Hyundai Auto Show
Engineers from Hyundai Motor Group’s subcontractors study the bottom of a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle with its battery removed at the automaker’s Namyang Technology Research Center in Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. Between Oct. 5 and 8, Hyundai is hosting the 8th R&D motor show with 105 vehicles to help subcontractors learn freely about the latest automobile technology. / Courtesy of Hyundai

By Kim Da-ye

Hyundai Motor Group is hosting its own mini motor show to help subcontractors study more than 100 domestic and imported vehicles at no cost.

The eighth R&D Motor Show is taking place at the automaker’s Namyang Technology Research Center in Gyeonggi Province between Oct. 5 and 8. Some 5,000 executives and employees of 445 subcontractors have been invited to attend.

The displayed fleet includes 25 Hyundai and Kia vehicles including the i40 and the K5 Hybrid as well as 80 from rival automakers.

Prior to the opening ceremony, engineers from Hyundai-Kia and subcontractors disassembled globally popular cars to study the latest automotive technology.

Hwang Chong-ha, a researcher at Yura Corporation, participated in taking apart a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. He said, “Disassembling an imported vehicle is a great opportunity for us. It is usually difficult for a subcontractor to buy a whole imported car to merely study a part.”

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Monday, October 03, 2011

Mahindra XUV 500 launched at a starting price of Rs 10.8 lakh

Mahindra XUV 500
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), India's leading manufacturer of utility vehicles on Thursday launched its new global sport utility vehicle XUV 500 at a starting price of Rs 10.80 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). The company will begin bookings from Saturday. This is the first major utility vehicle launch from Mahindra after its Xylo launch.

Mahindra will position the XUV 500 between the Scorpio and the premium SUV range which comprises of the Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Captiva, Mitubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V and the likes. The XUV 500 will be available in both 4x2 and 4x4 variants.

The vehicle will be launched in South Africa tomorrow. "In the next six months, it will be launched in Australia, South and Central America, Western Europe and SAARC countries," M&M President (Automotive and Farm Equipment) Pawan Goenka told reporters here.

In the domestic market, it will be first available in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune. It will be pitched against the likes of General Motors' Captiva and the Toyota Fortuner, which are priced at around Rs 19-20 lakh.

M&M Chief of Operations (Automotive Sector) Rajesh Jejurikar said the price of the XUV500 could be revised after three months, depending on commodity prices and other input costs.

Stating that the new vehicle is a reflection of the firm's ever-growing global aspirations, M&M Vice-Chairman Anand Mahindra said: "XUV500 is much more than a car. It will be another cult vehicle, as Scorpio was."

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Hyundai Eon Small Car’s specifications and features details emerge!

Hyundai Eon
The second week of October or its thereabouts is when Hyundai India’s new bread and butter entry level model, the Eon Hatchback, will debut. Already, there is plenty of buzz surrounding the latest small car from Hyundai as this car represents a genuine alternate to the Maruti Alto, both in terms of price positioning as well as fuel economy and engine capacity. Now, we’ve just managed to lay our hands on the specifications of the Hyundai Eon, much before its launch.

We bring you these specifications courtesy a Team-Bhpian. Hence, this information isn’t yet official and the final specifications might vary from what we’re carrying on ICB today. The Hyundai Eon will arrive with a 3 cylinder, 814cc petrol engine producing a peak power of 56 PS at 5,500 rpm and a peak torque of 76.5 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The high point of this engine is the high fuel economy that is claimed for the Eon, which at 21.1 KMPL, leads the entry level small car class.

A five speed manual gearbox, which has been borrowed from the Santro Xing does gear shifting duties on the Eon. The Hyundai Eon could be available in no less than six variants and this means that like the Verna Fluidic, Hyundai India could price the Eon too in a very wide price band thus offering car buyers a lot of choice. From the information we have right now, the Eon will be available in D-Lite, D-lite(O), Era, Magna, Magna(O) and Sportz variants.

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