Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mercedes-Benz India 132 percent growth in October sales

Mercedes-Benz India achieves 132 per cent growth in sales in October'09

Mercedes-Benz India announced a sale of 325 units of passenger vehicles in October 2009. This is an increase of 132 per cent as compared to their October 2008 performance (140 units in Oct 2008) and takes their cumulative numbers to 2,640 units of passenger cars for the period January – October 2009.

“In tune with the rest of the market, 2009 was a slow start for us. However we have witnessed increased demand since the second half of this year and October 2009 is the continuation of this growth story.The new E-Class which made its debut end of September 2009 and has won hearts of customers with its bold looks and aggressive stance and has sold 127 units in October 2009,” commented Dr. Wilfried Aulbur, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.

The S-Class, the leading luxury vehicle from the Mercedes-Benz stable also registered very strong sales performance with 30 units sold in October 2009 (as compared to 6 units in October 2008). The C-Class has also added to the volumes netting 153 units in October 2009 (100 units in Oct 2008).

Debashis Mitra, director- Sales and Marketing, “Mercedes-Benz India offers the widest and deepest portfolio for customers; our network penetration is the deepest across the Indian luxury car segment. We have worked very closely with our customers to ensure that our products, service and the value proposition match their needs. October sales numbers are encouraging for us.”

Mercedes-Benz India sees lower sales in 2009

Mercedes-Benz India expects 2009 sales to be lower than the previous year largely because of lower availability of credit and also due to the effect of the global economic crisis.

The company sold 2,650 cars between January and October, said Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India. In 2008, the company had sold 3625 cars. However, there has been a recovery in the sales of cars in the luxury segment, he added.

“In the first half of the year, there was a certain amount of cooling down because of the unavailability of credit,” said Aulbur. He said there has been a change in attitude and confidence is back, and the company should be seeing some good numbers. However, he declined to give a sales projection.

The car-maker has about 300 people in R&D centres in Bangalore and Pune. Aulbur said there would be expansion in this space next year that would lead to some employment generation. But he declined to share further details.

Aulbur was speaking at the launch of the E350 CDI BlueEfficiency model in India, which is powered by a diesel engine. The petrol variant of the same car that had been launched some time ago and the company has sold 130 cars in 45 days.

December price hike for Ford cars

Despite prices rising 4% in the summer, the car giant said devaluation of the pound was higher than 30% since 2007, and increasing customer costs was the only way to cover the shortfall.

Ford said the weakness of the pound was a "fundamental concern" for any UK business which incurred costs in Euros, and it had taken "strenuous" action to reduce costs before affecting customers directly.

From December motorists will have to spend between £250 and £500 extra on a Ford Ka, Fiesta, Focus, C-Max, Kuga or Mondeo, while an S-Max or Galaxy will cost £600 more.

Prices for Ford Fiesta vans will jump up £400, Transit Connect and Ranger models by £500, and it will be £600 extra for a Transit 1T. Focus RS and Transit 2T models will stay the same price.

Ford of Britain managing director, Nigel Sharp, said: "To combat the continuing weakness of the pound against the euro, Ford has reduced costs across its entire UK business, including personnel reductions in its central operation and across its dealer network."

Small is beautiful for Ford India

Ford Motor Co will launch a new car model in India every 12-15 months over the next five years, with its new Figo small car is set to drive a tripling of sales in 2010, its India head said on Tuesday.

The No.2 US automaker by sales plans to use India as a global manufacturing hub for compact cars, eyeing the country's low-cost facilities to grow in a segment that it expects will make up 60 percent of all global car sales in 10 years.

The small-car segment makes up nearly 70 percent of the 1.5 million cars sold annually in India, a growing market which is one of the few bright spots around the globe for the auto sector.

"If you want to be in the game here in India, you have got to be in that segment. If not, you'll be an interesting niche player, not a mainstream player," Michael Boneham, Ford Motor India's president and managing director, told the Reuters India Investment Summit.

"And Ford wants to be a mainstream player here."

Half of the small cars on Indian roads are sold by Maruti Suzuki Ltd, which is 54.2 percent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp.

Apart from Ford, Toyota and General Motors have also lined up compact cars for the Indian market, and Volkswagen plans to launch a small car next year.

Ford has just 2 percent of the Indian market, selling larger cars like the Fiesta, Ikon, Fusion sedans and utility vehicle Endeavour, but sees that increasing with its run of new launches.

Boneham said he expected to sell 31,000 cars in 2009, and it would be "a reasonable expectation" for this number to triple in 2010 when the Figo will hit Indian roads.

Figo and other cars will be produced at Ford's plant in the southern Indian city of Chennai, which is set to double capacity to 200,000 units annually at a cost of USD500 million.

Early next year capacity at the plant will be expanded to make 250,000 diesel engines annually.

"Within a five-year period, we should be expecting to fill up the capacity that we are installing," Boneham said at the Reuters office in the Indian capital.

Ford will not further expand capacity for the next three to four years, and would instead invest in developing products and upgrading technology, he added.

Vehicles and engines made in India would be exported to markets in Africa and Asia Pacific, and Ford would decide next year how much they would export, Boneham said.

"It's not going to be a story about the growth in India, it's a story about the growth in India combined with using India as an export base," Boneham said.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chevy Volt Powered With New Technology

The new Chevy Volt is due to hit the market around 2010. The Volt is going to run on electric. General Motors takes a huge leap as they allow the future owner of the Chevy Volt to charge their batteries any time and anywhere.

The new Chevy Volt is going to be empowered with the OnStar technology. Though it is going to be used for the first time in a Chevy, the technology itself is about ten years old. The technology will be helping future Chevy owners a lot as they would be able to charge their vehicles at different times for different utilities. This would also enable them to enjoy the benefits of charging their vehicles at off-peak hours, which would mean that they will have to pay a far lower rate for the services.

The implementation of the OnStar technology is described by the spokespersons of General Motors as a regular check up by the doctor. OnStar takes care of the battery and the temperature. It also takes the cooling system into consideration. Apart from using the OnStar technology for the battery, General Motors is also looking into several other matters. For instance, it is trying to figure out which would be the places from where the owners would prefer to charge their vehicles while they are on the move.

The OnStar technology is still in the testing stage. Important information is constantly being fed to the engineers all the time. Several Volt vehicles are being prepared to take the test against a crash wall, in which a number of them might be destroyed.

Mercedes open to CNG E-Class imports

Mercedes Benz India is ready to deliver the CNG variant of its E-Class sedan to customers who need them, said Dr Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Director.

“We have a CNG variant and will import it based on demand,” he told Business Line on the sidelines of the launch of the new E-Class here on Sunday.

The downside is that the imported car will attract 104 per cent duty, which will mean that it will be twice as much the latest edition of the E-Class (petrol) that costs Rs 45.89 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai). The fact that CNG is largely retailed in Delhi and Mumbai also means that the market will be confined to these two cities.

Dr Aulbur said the company would consider assembly of the CNG version if there was adequate demand. The petrol Merc models are E-25 (25 per cent mix of ethanol) compliant while the diesel options can operate on bio-diesel.

Mercedes had earlier conducted a trial run of the CNG-E Class in India. The mileage of the car is estimated to be 18 km a kg. As for the bus business, Dr Aulbur said private operators were not too enthusiastic about buying intercity luxury coaches due to the swine flu outbreak which hit occupancy rates. The company has sold 25 buses so far this year. Incidentally, Mercedes-Benz India opened a new dealership in Jalandhar on Monday.

BMW rolls out sports car Z4 at Rs 59 lakh

German luxury car maker BMW launched sports car Z4 in India, priced at Rs 59 lakh (ex-showroom), that the company aims to sell about 30-40 units in the next three months of the year. For the current year, across all its models, BMW aims to sell over 3,000 units. Till September, the company has sold 2,738 units, BMW India president Peter Kronschnabl told at a media conference. In 2008, the German luxury car maker had sold 2,908 units in India.

Kronschnabl added that BMW was trying to strengthen its position in the Indian luxury car segment. He was talking to the media at the launch of Z4, its two-seater sports-car powered by a 2,979 cc petrol engine. The launch is part of the company's move to strengthen its position in the Indian luxury car segment.

"With the new BMW Z4 car we want to reach out to new target groups in India who appreciate a pure driving experience, high standard of elegance and value, and suitability for everyday driving and comfort," Kronschnabl said.

BMW is currently competing neck-to-neck with rival German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz for the top slot in the Indian luxury-car market. During the first eight months of 2009, BMW had sold 2,305 units as against 2,026 units sold by Mercedes. The company's bulk of sales come from its two luxury sedans- the 3-series and 5-series, both currently being assembled at its Chennai plant.

Mercedes-Benz India to launch three-axle trucks

Mercedes-Benz India is slated to launch three-axle trucks in the next six months to a year. That will will be followed by launching of city buses. Talking to reporters at the launch of New Actros 4841K in Kolkata on Friday, Mr Wilfried Aulbur, managing director & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India said: "We’ve just launched two-axle trucks in India. Trial tests for three-axle trucks are already on and we hope to launch it in the next six months to a year."

Nevertheless, the company hopes to sell about 240 trucks in India during 2009, which is tipped to translate in Rs 145 crore revenue for the company's trucks business. During 2008, the company sold the same number of trucks. It now feels the market will improve only in 2010 when a growth a likely to be witnessed in the truck segment.

Mercedes-Benz is banking on growth in the coal mining segment, where its trucks are being used mainly for over-burden removal – the soil that needs to be removed for extracting coal. Talking about the buses segment, Mr Aulber said: "The economic recession and swine-flu has hit the city buses sector very hard -- the one in which we operate. The private market is very dull. This has forced us to shift focus to state transport agencies and we have started talks with various state governments."

Interestingly, Merc is also looking at a sizeable opportunity across the fire departments of various states and the defence sector. "We have already sold a few trucks to a fire department in Mumbai and are looking at opportunities in the defence sector. The Merc stable offers vehicles that are suited for the defence sector and are in use by some governments. These could be a possibility in India," said Mr Aulbur. In India, the commercial vehicle segment offers about 15% of the total revenue to Mercedes-Benz India while it is 40% globally.

Test Driving the Electric Ford Focus

At a press event in San Francisco, Ford showed off a prototype of what might be called the Model T of the automaker’s electric car strategy: the battery-powered Focus sedan.

“This is about affordable transportation for the masses — this is not about a small niche,” said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s director of global electrification.

To keep costs down, the Ford Focus and plug-in electric hybrids will be built — in small numbers at first — on what the company calls its global “C” platform, which produces two million cars a year.

“The assembly line in Michigan will produce the battery-electric Focus and also, with minor modifications, the gas Focus,” Ms. Gioia said. “We can change production as the market shifts.”

The Ford Focus will hit the market in 2011 followed the next year by a plug-in electric Escape sport-utility vehicle, which Ford also showed off in San Francisco. Ms. Gioia said she expects electric and plug-in hybrids will account for 10 to 25 percent of the market by 2020.

But the cars seemed almost beside the point as Ford executives focused on their strategy to work with utilities and other groups to create open standards for electric cars and ensure that a charging infrastructure is in place when buyers hit showrooms.

“The worst thing in the world is if a customer buys one of these things and they run into barrier after barrier,” Ms. Gioia said. “If you go to a dealer and get one of these cars and then it takes 45 days to get a charger installed at your house, you’re not going to be a happy camper.”

She noted the there are some 3,000 utilities in the United States in contrast to just a couple in China, where she recently returned from a visit to the country’s five largest cities. Even though China is moving fast to build an electric car industry, she said each city was developing a different electric charging infrastructure.

In laying out their plans, the Ford executives brought a dose of Midwestern realism to California, home to exotic electric carmakers like Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive.

“We have to create customer demand based on realistic expectations,” Ms. Gioia said. “We don’t want to hype this.”

In fact, Ford has engineered the battery-powered Focus to mimic the driving experience of the gasoline version.

As I drove a blue prototype around the streets of San Francisco, I was hard-pressed to distinguish the car from one I recently rented at an airport. It was quiet, of course, but that burst of acceleration you get from punching the accelerator of an electric car has been moderated.

The Ford executive sitting shotgun told me that software limits the amount of power instantaneously transferred to the wheels so that the car will perform more like its gasoline-powered cousin.

The production electric Ford Focus, which will be powered by lithium ion battery packs, will be based on the more stylish European version of the car. The Focus will have a range of about 100 miles and a top speed of around 90 miles an hour.

Ford has not announced a price for the car.

Higher sales, margins to boost auto earnings

Higher passenger car sales in the quarter ended September is likely to boost Maruti Suzuki India earnings, while Tata Motors will benefit from a recovery in truck sales, say analysts.

India's top carmaker Maruti Suzuki is likely to report an 86 percent rise in quarterly profit to 5.5 billion rupees from a year earlier driven by higher compact car sales, especially exports of its A-Star hatchback.

The automaker, 54.2 percent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, also benefited from the scrappage incentives in Europe.

"Domestic volumes continue to be driven by A2 segment (Ritz, A-Star, Alto, Swift)...", brokerage firm Motilal Oswal Securities noted in a report.

During the second quarter, Maruti's domestic sales rose 22.5 percent to 209,083 units, while exports more than doubled to 37,105 units, data from the company showed.

As the company is operating close to its peak production capacity, analysts say its growth prospects are limited. The automaker's installed capacity is about 1 million cars a month, of which it currently produces 85,000-90,000.

"Key concerns arise from (Maruti's) lack of capacity to meet the rising demand," Emkay Global Financial Services noted in a pre-earnings report.

In the July-September quarter, Tata Motors' passenger vehicles sales rose 27 percent, while it saw around 22 percent jump in truck sales, company data showed. Turnover of its light commercial vehicles powered ahead, unlike its high-margin heavy trucks.

Passenger car sales of Tata Motors, India's largest truck maker, were boosted by the launch of its Indica Vista and deliveries of Nano, the world's cheapest car, from July, even though its higher-end Indigo sedan sales declined.

According to Motilal Oswal, a pick up in heavy truck sales as the Indian economic conditions improve would bolster the company's future performance.

Tata Motors' net profit is seen rising by nearly a fourth in the September quarter to 4.3 billion rupees.

Brokerage Edelweiss said higher interest and depreciation costs are a cause of concern and could negate the benefits of better operating margins.

While the overall outlook was favourable, higher interest rates and commodity prices and a likely rise in excise duty could negatively impact the firm's profit margins, Edelweiss noted.

Tata's second-quarter earnings would not include that of Jaguar and Land Rover, acquired from Ford Motor last year.

Analysts said interest costs from its huge debt burden would also weigh on the company.

Earlier this month, the company raised $750 million through a combined issue of Global Depositary Receipts and convertible bonds, to repay its debt which stood at 240 billion rupees ($5.2 billion) at the end of June.

In the first quarter ended June, Tata Motors' net profit rose 58 percent to 5.14 billion rupees, while Maruti reported a better-than-expected 25 percent jump in net profit to 5.84 billion rupees.

Shares in Maruti, worth $9.4 billion, have risen 59.5 percent during the September quarter, outperforming the main index which has risen 19.4 percent.

Tata Motors' shares, valued at $6.1 billion, have more than doubled during the second quarter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Onward to a hybrid future at Toyota

Three in 10 cars sold by Toyota Motor a decade from now will be low-emission, petrol-electric hybrids, a top executive at the Japanese carmaker said yesterday.

Toyota, the leader in hybrids with its trendsetting Prius, has vowed to build petrol-electric versions of all its vehicles by 2020, but it had not previously said how many of the vehicles it expected to sell.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice-president in charge of product development, disclosed the estimate at the start of the Tokyo Motor Show.

Toyota and others are showing off a range of low-emission vehicles intended to appeal beyond their familiar niche of environmentally conscious mid-range buyers.

In contrast to his bullish view on hybrids, Mr Uchiyamada said he did not expect pure electric cars - which are being heavily promoted at the Tokyo show by rival Nissan Motor - to catch on in the next few years.

He cited high production costs and a lack of infrastructure for recharging the relatively short-range vehicles.

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan chief executive, has said pure electrics such as his company's recently developed Leaf five-door are likely to make up 10 per cent of industry-wide sales by 2020.

Mr Uchiyamada said: "We don't think electric vehicles will spread that fast."

For Toyota, the Prius and other hybrids represent about 8 per cent of sales, by far the largest proportion in the industry.

The carmaker has sold 2m hybrids since it launched the Prius in 1997, a number that would be easily eclipsed each year if sales reached 30 per cent of its overall turnover.

At the Tokyo car show, Toyota is highlighting a larger, more upmarket version of the Prius, called the Sai, which it plans to begin selling in Japan in December, as well as its sporty Lexus LF-Ch hybrid five-door.

Honda, Japan's largest producer after Toyota, is also stretching the hybrid genre with a version of its CR-Z hybrid sports coupé, which it plans to begin selling in the US next year.

The Tokyo show is an almost all-Japanese affair this year after US and European carmakers pulled out to save money amid the downturn.

Foreign carmakers control less than a tenth of the Japanese market, making the show an easy target for cost-cutting managers.

Observers said that even the Japanese contingent seemed to have toned down the usual line-up of abstract, futuristic offerings that have made the event a showcase for designers' whims.

Ray Wert, editor of Jalopnik, the US-based motor blog, said: "I miss concepts for concepts' sake, but no one can afford to do that any more."

The show nonetheless highlighted the sharp differences that exist between carmakers over the expected pace of the adoption of technologies, particularly those for reducing output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

While big carmakers are researching a range of low-emission drives, from "plug-in" hybrids to pure electrics to hydrogen fuel cells, they have varied in the investments they have put into commercialising those systems in the next few years. Toyota, for example, is showing a tiny pure electric urban commuter, the FT-EV II, which it plans to start selling in 2012.

But Mr Uchiyamada said that probably only "a few thousand" would be made annually at first.

Nissan, by contrast, hopes to be producing 200,000 Leafs a year by then.

Not all the offerings in Tokyo were defined by pragmatism and ecological virtue. Lexus unveiled the LF-A, a two-seat supercar priced at $375,000 whose 4.8-litre engine can blast-fire it to speeds of up to 325kph. Toyota began taking orders yesterday for the 500 units it says it will produce between December next year and 2012.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Audi car sales set to overtake Mercedes

German carmaker Audi is set to sell more vehicles worldwide than luxury rival Mercedes for the first time ever next year.

The University of Duisburg's Centre of Automotive Research forecast mighty Mercedes will fall to third place after BMW and Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, amid surging demand for fancy German cars in China.

Ferdinand Dudenhoffer, the director of the university's centre, said Audi’s better market share in the fast-growing Asian country would allow it to overtake Daimler’s Mercedes brand for sales in 2010.

"While Mercedes will remain the German market leader in the premium segment with slightly fewer than 260,000 sold vehicles, Mercedes lead will melt by nearly 20,000 cars," the study said, pointing to Audi's increasing advantages in pricing and productivity.

The biggest factor weighing on Mercedes car sales appears to be that its cars are more expensive than Audi's.

Audi is able to keep its costs lower through its ties to Volkswagen, which means it can use components and car platforms made for several VW models. The study also calculated that Mercedes could eliminate around 17,000 positions if its car workers had the same level of productivity found at Audi plants.

"Mercedes has far too many workers and does too much on its own," said Dudenhoffer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tata Motors set to launch Rs5.5-lakh 'Manza'

Tata Motors Ltd, the maker of the world's cheapest car, ' Nano', is all set to launch the cheapest luxury car - the Tata Manza. A re-designed version of the company's Indica Vista, it's been launched on 14 October, just ahead of the Diwali buying season.

The Tata Manza carries a price tag of Rs5.5 lakh to Rs7.5 lakh, depending on the model and trimmings. In order to ensure an exciting launch, the company has initiated a contest, which would give the participants an opportunity to own a Manza for a day - not self-driven, of course, but with a company provided 'chauffeur'. Lesser winners will be given gift vouchers.

The Tata Manza is touted as a 'luxurious, comfortable car' with a spacious cabin, alloy wheels and steering-mounted audio controls similar to the Vista. The dickey or 'boot' is merged in the overall shape, rather than as a standout space as in the Vista model. The car will also feature alloy wheels, adding to rider comfort.

The engine is sourced from Italy's Fiat, and will come in two options -1.4L petrol engine capable of delivering 95PS and a 1.3L multi-jet engine that pumps out 90PS, according to a company release. Projector headlamps will help differentiate it from the Vista.

The car is expected to compete with Maruti Suzuki's Swift Dzire, Ford's Ikon and Fiesta, and Mahindra Renault's Logan.

Hummer Sale Finalized

General Motors has signed a "definitive agreement" with Sichuan-based Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company to buy GM's Hummer brand, as the deal first announced last June finally moves toward a conclusion. While financial terms were not disclosed, widespread media reports said Tengzhong will pay about $150 million.

GM's carefully worded statement said the agreement "will allow Tengzhong to acquire" Hummer, including ownership of the brand, trademark and "specific IP (intellectual property) license rights necessary for the manufacture of Hummer vehicles." The new owner would also assume Hummer's existing dealer franchise agreements.

In fact, it appears that Hummer eventually may be controlled by a young Chinese mining and chemical tycoon known as Li Yan on the mainland and Suo Lang Duo Ji in Hong Kong.

GM said Tengzhong, a privately owned manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, has set up a separate investment group to purchase Hummer. Tengzhong will hold an 80-percent stake in the group and Mr. Suo will hold 20 percent. GM described Suo Lang Duo Ji as a "private entrepreneur from Sichuan Province."

The Wall Street Journal described the 46-year-old Li, as he is better known in China, as a "local tycoon" who owns Lumena Resources, a company based in Sichuan and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Lumena is the world's second largest producer of thenardite, a form of sodium sulfate that is used in laundry detergent and glass, as well as Chinese medicines.

The Standard newspaper in Hong Kong earlier this year said Li is "a key shareholder" of Tengzhong through his flagship company Huatong Investment. The Associated Press said Li maintains a luxury apartment in Hong Kong.

Tengzhong, which was formed in 2005, makes heavy industrial vehicles, such as fuel tankers, dump trucks, tow trucks, fire trucks and cement mixers, as well as oil-field and construction equipment.

GM said the deal with Tengzhong calls for contract assembly of the Hummer H2 and H3 to remain in the U.S. through June 2011, with a one-year option through June 2012. The existing Hummer management team at GM, including CEO James Taylor, will continue to manage the organization through the transition.

GM said it is certifying a new diesel version of the H3 for markets outside North America, and that future product development is focusing on six-speed transmissions, more efficient engines and alternative fuels.

Car Sales in India Rise

In India the onslaught of several festivals and mitigation cost of a loan that led customers to purchase cars from Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Hyundai Motor and General Motors Co. caused car sales to rise 21%.

It was shown that car sales in the past month increased up to 129,683 cars. It is considered to be the eight month that indicates a straight growth in car sales.

Because of high interest rates many banks are not happy to provide loans in order to buy a car in a slow economy. But such options as packages, including tax cuts lowering of loan rates by banks are advantages for those who intend to buy a new car.

Hindu festivals also influenced favorable on sales in September.

According to Vaishali Jajoo, analyst at Angel Broking Ltd, a sustained improvement in demand influenced on the overall upturn in the Indian auto sector. He also added that the economy recovery would be able to help in registering valuable growth in the domestic market.

Maruti, India’s biggest carmaker and local unit of Suzuki Motor Corp admitted that their sales rose 12% in comparison with September to 63,071 cars.

13 well-known carmakers such as BMW AG, Audi AG, Fiat SpA, Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co stated about high India sales in September.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ford India Cuts Price For Endeavour

This new pricing of the Ford Endeavour is a direct result of the announcement made in the Union Budget 2009-10. It has been proposed that the excise duty applicable on cars of engine capacity 2000 cc and above will be reduced from Rs. 20,000/- per vehicle to Rs. 15, 000 per vehicle.

Tim Tucker, vice president, sales, Ford India, said, ”The additional duty reduction has been a welcome step taken by the Government though the reduction is limited only to large cars. We are pleased to pass the benefit of the reduction on the Endeavour to the consumer in entirety.”

The price reduction of Rs. 6,000 will be applicable to all three variants of the Ford Endeavour. The base model (2.5 Litre) of the Endeavour will now be available at Rs. 15, 01,000 (Ex-showroom, New Delhi). The Ford Endeavour is available in two other variants – the 2.5L XLT and the 3.0L Thunder Plus.

Ford Endeavour was rated the No. 1 in vehicle dependability in the SUV segment. Ford continues to maintain its undisputed leadership position in the premium SUV segment. Ford has sold more than 1118 units of SUV through January to June, registering a 29% market share.

Ford Endeavour Automatic

Endeavour is the hardcore SUV from Ford’s product portfolio. The company now plans to launch its automatic version in India. The model currently comes with 2.5L and 3.0L engine option (Thunder+). The new models will sport Ford’s five speed automatic remission system that features an innovative Transmission Control Module (TCM) that can automatically detect and quickly adjust to the changing engine speed and driving condition. The new Endeavour with automatic transmission is also expected to come equipped with Borg Warner’s Shift-on-the-Fly system. The active-Shift-on-the-Fly mechanism will enable you to switch between 2wd and 4wd up to 100kmph. There may be a price hike of up to Rs. 50000 for both the models – Ford Endeavour and Endeavour Thunder+.

Currently, Mahindra offers Scorpio Automatic which falls at the lower end of the segment. Toyota is now ready to launch Fortuner is India built on IMV platform. The new automatic model of Endeavour is likely to fall between these two models.

2009 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai has built a good reputation for manufacturing well-made and economical automobiles, and the 2009 Hyundai Sonata GLS should take it up a notch or two. A roomy and comfortable sedan, the 2009 Hyundai Sonata holds it's own well against the stiff competition of Honda and Toyota, and is a little more wallet friendly in terms of MSRP. With a starting price of $18,700, the 2009 Hyundai Sonata gets great fuel mileage - 19 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway, and is an absolute joy to drive.

The performance package of the 2009 Hyundai Sonata is spectacular, mainly because of the 3.3 Liter, V-6 engine, that has a 249 Horsepower output. With the manual 5 speed transmission, power rack-and-pinion steering and front wheel drive, the 2009 Hyundai Sonata can get through most bad weather easily. The front double wishbone suspension and rear multi-link suspension with a stabilizer bar gives a better than average ride in terms of smoothness. A 17.7 gallon fuel tank means that combined with the excellent gas mileage, you won't have to stop very often for fuel.

On the interior of the 2009 Hyundai Sonata a few very nice surprises await a potential owner. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel that is leather wrapped has audio controls at your fingertips. Power windows and door locks, cruise control, and a very good air conditioning system make for an operational dream. The audio system on the 2009 Hyundai Sonata consists of an AM/FM stereo with a CD player with MP3 capabilities and 6 quality speakers. This adventure of sound is enhanced by a 3 month XM radio service included.

The 2009 Hyundai Sonata has quite a unique appearance, with a sculpted front end, chrome grille, and larger headlights. The 16 inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, solar control glass and fog lights give a classy yet stylish look of a winner. The exterior package is completed by power heated outside mirrors that have a sleek design.

Small is not beautiful

In the last two years, sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have been falling worldwide. According to media reports, the share of full-size trucks and SUVs, which used to stand at more than 18 percent of total auto sales, in US, the largest automobile market in the world, has come down to 11 percent.

The main reason behind this fall is the skyrocketing price of oil, which at point reached an all time high of $146 per barrel, last year. Later, the global economic slowdown, which put a dent on incomes of many households, also prevented potential buyers from investing on these vehicles.

Needless to say, SUVs are known as gas guzzlers. And at times when incomes fall or fossil fuel prices rise, every sensible person tends to cut down on everything that are unnecessary and luxury.

Lately, many responsible citizens worldwide are also reducing SUV consumption for another reason: the pressing green issue. These vehicles generally consume 1.5 times more fuel than normal cars, meaning they also emit more carbon dioxide, which is partly responsible for gradual destruction of our environment and ecology.

Recently, the US government itself tried to control Americans’ appetite for big SUVs by introducing a car scrappage scheme. Under this, the US government started giving car owners vouchers of $4,500 for trading in a car giving 18 miles per gallon (mpg) or less in exchange for a model that gives at least 28 mpg.

This shows the US government is encouraging Americans to embrace the concept of “small is better” -- in a way setting a precedent for other countries.

But the trend seems just the opposite in Nepal. Many nouveau riches of the country, who were earlier driving small cars like Hyundai’s Santro or Maruti’s Alto, now want to sit behind the steering wheels of Hyundai’s Tucson or KIA’s Sportage. Then there are the ultra riches who have never gotten out of the hangover of Toyota’s Prado, Mitsubishi’s Pajero and lately Land Rover’s Freelander and Range Rover series.

The irony is at a time when sales of SUVs are declining worldwide, Nepal’s SUV market grew by around 10 percent in the last fiscal year. According to auto dealers, around 1,000 units of SUVs are sold in Nepal every year.

"This is mainly because of the boom in the real estate business," Sachin Aryal, deputy general manager of Continental Trading, the authorized distributors of KIA Motors in Nepal, told myrepublica.

"If you sell a piece of land in Kathmandu or other urban areas nowadays, you become a millionaire instantly. This gives one enough money to buy a relatively expensive type of vehicle like SUVs."

Another reason, according to Aryal, is the condition of roads, which are filled with pot holes. But this seems to be just an excuse, as one definitely needs to invest some extra amount to be able to drive off comfortably on those adverse street conditions. But where is the money coming from? "It’s the real estate business once again," Aryal said.
And with the introduction of cheap but powerful SUVs like Hyundai’s Tucson, this appetite is only expected to grow.

Looks like the American dream of owning an SUV -- which has received many criticisms like “wasteful excesses” -- is soon becoming a dream of Nepali car owners.

Ford India to launch small car in 2010

US-based carmaker Ford on Friday said it will launch its new small car during the first half of next year and was planning to start exporting the product by the end of 2010.

The company said the sub-B segment car would be made to meet the statutory requirements of having an engine capacity of 1.2 litre petrol engine and 1.5 litre diesel engine.

"Our planned small car will be launched in India in by early 2010. We also plan to export it to markets in Asia Pacific and Africa by the end of next year," Ford India President and Managing Director Michael Boneham said on the sidelines of the Annual Siam Convention in New Delhi.

He said the company was looking at exploring the overseas market for the new car, but did not give details about the number of units planned.

Ford India is also going to launch a new advanced version of its SUV Endeavour within the next two weeks.

Boneham, meanwhile, said that the company has no plans to phase out its existing small car Fusion from India at present.

The company is also planning to start exporting diesel and petrol engines from its Chennai plant by early 2010. The company hopes to maintain a sales figure of 30,000 units this year, similar to last year's figure.

Proton Satria Neo
The Campro CPS engine is finally in the Proton Satria Neo, something that many have been eagerly waiting for. The CPS is essentially a Campro engine with a few updates and a variable valve lift system called CPS as well as a variable intake manifold (VIM) system. These additions help push up power to 125 PS at 6,500rpm and 150Nm of torque at 4,500rpm, figures which are up from the standard Campro’s 110hp and 148Nm.

The car’s front and rear track has also been updated. While the Proton Satria Neo had a front and rear track of 1,470mm for both, the Satria Neo CPS H-Line has a narrower front track at 1,467mm and a wider rear track 1,483mm.

Proton Satria Neo Interior

We didn’t managed to get hold of a Proton engineer to ask this question but we did manage to ask a member of Proton’s Race Rally Research (R3) team who said the change was made because Proton found the standard Neo suffered from slight oversteer, so this change was made to induce a slight understeer to improve handling. Anyway either way as a result of the large wheel arches, the wheels looks kind of lost inside them at certain angles.

As for aesthetics, as you can see there’s a new bodykit and more prominent flared wheel arches that are inspired from the old Satria GTI’s design. The alloy wheels are of the same 16 inch size as the M-Line but feature a different design that looks like a carbon copy of Advanti Racing’s MEDUSA design but without the two-tone design - perhaps it’s licensed or “inspired”. On the interior, the dashboard is now of a darker shade with red lighting on the various air conditioning controls and auto gear position indicators, has a different door trim design, some new trim around the gear shifter area, and leather seats in a black and red combination similiar to the GEN2 CPS.

The following are the prices for the new Proton Satria Neo CPS, available in only two colours which are unique to the CPS - solid white and tranquility black.
CPS is only available for the high line model, so the lite and M-line models retain the regular Campro. Unfortunately this is the old original Campro engine, without the new IAFM systems in the Saga, Persona and GEN2. The CPS system has also been tweaked with this version of the Campro engine, so the high lift cam profile activation point has been revised. However I’m not sure what is the purpose of activating it later.

VIM switches between a long intake manifold at low RPMs and a short intake manifold at higher RPMs. According to Proton, a longer intake manifold is used at low RPMs to achieve slower air flow; this promotes better mixing with fuel. The short intake manifold allows more air in faster. This is beneficial at high RPMs. The CPS system uses a switching tappet and a trilobe camshaft to switch between two different cam profiles, one with low valve lift and another with high valve lift.

Proton Satria Neo
Proton Satria Neo Interior

Proton Satria Neo ReviewProton Satria Neo InteriorProton Satria Neo CarProton Satria Neo InteriorProton Satria Neo Interior


New Honda Civic launched in three variants

Auto manufacturer Honda Siel Cars launched a refurbished Honda Civic sedan with alternations in its design, such as a five-point metallic front grille and a new bumper.

The new Civic is available in three variants that will come in two models - Elegance and Inspire. The car is priced in the range of Rs.11.8 lakh to Rs.14.13 lakh at showrooms in Delhi.

New Honda Civic

The company has also introduced dark smokey headlights and crystalline octagonal tail lights in the car to give it a "contemporary look".

"The new Honda Civic carries forward the legacy of the Civic which is already the most refined and advanced car in the segment," said Honda Siel president and chief executive Masahiro Takedagawa.

New Honda Civic

The car will have an additional colour option of polished metal besides the regular available colours.

"With the new look, we are confident we can revive the sales that suffered a setback due to global meltdown. However, the market will decide how many units we manage to sell," Takedagawa said.

Honda Siel is also offering an additional two-year warranty in addition to the existing two years, and will also offer a 24-hour roadside assistance.

The company plans to expand its dealership from 106 to 112 by the end of current financial year, said Takedagawa.

New Honda Civic

New Honda Civic

New Honda Civic headlight

New Honda Civic Interior

New Honda Civic

Thursday, September 3, 2009

2010 Dodge Caliber interior upgrades

For 2010, Chrysler is improving the Caliber’s worst feature, its interior. After we originally tested our first Caliber, one of our engineers likened it to sitting in an Igloo cooler.

2010 Dodge Caliber Interior

The revised cabin has a new blue backlit instrument cluster, a center stack with a full-color music screen and brushed aluminum surround, and a new, less-angular console with lighted cupholders. While it is difficult to judge the extent of improvements by pictures, the much-improved interior in our tested 2009 Dodge Ram gives us hope.

Last year, Chrysler modestly upgraded the interior of the Caliber’s near-twin, the Jeep Patriot. They also made other improvements that collectively boosted the test score of our 2009 Patriot by 10 points. Even with that considerable increase in score, it falls short of our criteria for recommendation.

As with the Patriot, a new interior won’t solve many of the Caliber’s fundamental problems, such as a noisy engine, annoying continuously variable transmission, and poor visibility. But Chrysler will build Calibers anyway (it just announced it would double production), and some consumers will buy them. At least those customers will ride in a more inviting cabin.

2011 Hyundai Tucson Preview

2011 Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai pulled the covers off its redesigned Tucson small SUV in Korea this week, previewing the second-generation model scheduled to make its Stateside introduction this fall at the Los Angeles auto show. The new Tucson production will begin at the Ulsan, South Korea, manufacturing complex in late 2009.

Expected to again slot just a notch below the Hyundai Santa Fe in size and price, the new Tucson has radically different styling than the outgoing model, with cleaner, more dynamic lines akin to other recent Hyundai vehicles. (The updated 2010 Santa Fe will be available with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Production begins late 2009.) The hood slopes down, the fender flares are flattened, and the triangular rear quarter windows taper to a point facing aft.

Interior space is about the same as before, and we expect reasonably high levels of fit and finish. The engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder like that in the current Sonata sedan, where it makes 175 hp, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. (An all-new Sonata begins production in winter 2010.) That engine replaces the outgoing Tucson’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder as well as its fuel-thirsty 2.7-liter V6. Both front- and all-wheel-drive versions will be available. True to Hyundai’s lots-for-the-money marketing strategy, uplevel Tucsons will offer leather upholstery, a navigation system, keyless ignition with push-button start, and other premium touches.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Toyota goes hybrid mad

While some car makers are putting all their efforts into extracting more efficiency from the turbodiesel engine, the Toyota empire is clearly devoted to the petrol-hybrid, as a host of new hybrid vehicles are set to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Show later this month.

On Toyota's stand, pride of place will be given to a full hybrid version of the Auris hatchback, the first mainstream model to be fitted with the Hybrid Synergy Drive for Europe. Although the show car is tagged a 'concept', a production model won't be far behind, as Toyota has committed to deploying its hybrid technology across the range.

Toyota HybridAlso on hand will be a plug-in concept version of the Prius hybrid. Although the new Prius can already operate on electricity alone, this variant will be optimised for running on battery power. It will suit drivers commuting short distances each day, as its batteries can be charged overnight by plugging it into the mains - or into an on-street charging point when they exist.

Next year, 150 prototype examples of the plug-in Prius will be leased to select fleet drivers in a bid to assess the car's real-world usefulness.

Over on the Lexus stand (the luxury arm of Toyota), a compact concept will be unveiled, previewing Lexus's answer to the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. In show car guise at least it will be a full hybrid, complementing the revised Lexus GS 450h and LS 600h luxury hybrids also on display.
Toyota Hybrid

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Volkswagen Polo to compete with Swift, i10

Volkswagen India (VW) will launch its first small car, the Polo, in the domestic market in the early part of 2010. The car will be priced and positioned in line with the A2 compact car category, which includes models such as Maruti’s Swift & Ritz, and be built on a new platform. The Polo will be made at the company’s new manufacturing facility at Chakan, Pune, with locally sourced auto components being about 50 per cent.

“The all-new platform for the Polo has been designed keeping Indian road conditions in mind. The Polo will be benchmarked against the market leader in this segment, which is Maruti Suzuki’s Swift. The broad positioning for the Polo would revolve around communicating Polo’s German engineering pedigree, adapted for the domestic market,” says Neeraj Garg, Director, Passenger Cars Division, of the VW Group. Garg says the wait to launch the Polo is well-timed, since by next year, car manufacturers like Nissan, Toyota and Ford would unveil their compact cars in the premium A2 segment. The Polo would be available in the petrol and the diesel engine variant.

Volkswagen’s strategy in the compact segment, according to Garg, would be launching variants of the Polo initially. “Later, we would consider launching other Volkswagen brands, as long as there’s demand in the market. We hope to sell around 30,000 units in 2010. Then, by 2014, we hope to cross the 100,000 mark, by which time the car market in India would have crossed two million units.” Garg added the VW Golf, another compact car brand, will not be launched in the country until 2010. VW sold around 1,500 units of passenger vehicles in calendar 2008, and hopes to double the amount in 2009.

Till date, Volkswagen India has invested Rs 3,800 crore in setting up its operations in India. The facility at Chakan has an annual capacity of up to 110,000 cars on a single shift. Till this production capacity is reached, said garg, there would be no more fresh investments.

On the issue of Porsche becoming a part of the Volkswagen Group, Garg said Porsche will continue to be sold as a premium luxury car. “Porsche will not lose its identity. We are brand sensitive. It ‘s too early to say how the domestic operations of Porsche will be affected by this move.”

Industry executives say the premium A2 car segment (hatchback) comprising models like the Swift and Hyundai’s i10 & i20 has grown by around 20 per cent between January to June this year, while the A1 and the entry A2 models have registered either declining sales (Maruti 800) or slower growth than the premium A2 segment.

Magna wants Chevrolet Russia as part of Opel deal

Magna International Inc.'s offer for German automaker Opel is sputtering over its request that rights to General Motor Co. Chevrolet vehicles in Russia be included in the deal.

The Canadian auto supplier is locked in a bidding duel for Opel with Belgian investment firm RHJ International SA. Magna, bidding together with Russian state lender Sberbank, wants GM's Chevrolet Russia business to be part of the Opel transaction, sources indicated Tuesday. GM is balking because Chevrolet is its high-volume seller in the region and it's highly profitable.

Magna's bid is clearly preferred by several German politicians and labour leaders, but its final offer as presented to GM varied from what the parties had discussed in previous weeks and contained elements around intellectual property and GM's Russian operations that could not be implemented, John Smith, GM's chief negotiator for the Opel sale, wrote on the company's Europe blog Tuesday.

"GM has partners in other parts of the world who have joint ownership of these assets," Mr. Smith said.""We simply could not execute the deal as submitted."

Those partners include Avtotor, which builds GM vehicles in the city of Kaliningrad, and Avtovaz, which operates a joint venture with GM in Togliatti that builds the Chevrolet Niva sports utility vehicle. Avtovaz is 25% owned by French carmaker Renault. GM's Chevrolet vehicles in Russia are based on products from its Korean Daewoo unit. Korea's government-run Development Bank is a major shareholder in GM Daewoo and is keen on seeing it grow.

Talks on reformulating a bid with Magna continue, Mr. Smith said. He said the rival bid from RHJ is completed and "would represent a much simpler structure and be easier to implement."

A deal with Magna could still get done. But GM would have to get something significant in return, people familiar with the matter said.

Magna's offer for Opel centers on a business strategy that would see sales of Opel vehicles expand dramatically in Russia and the post-Soviet states. Russia is backing the bid because it wants to use Opel technology to revive its own auto manufacturing capability, centered on Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's automaker GAZ.

As part of that commercial strategy, sources said Magna and its partner are also seeking control over all or part of GM's Chevrolet business in Russia. The Russian Chevrolet unit is said to be a cash machine for GM because it sources vehicles free of the country's import duty on foreign vehicles, making it a crucial unit as the automaker seeks to reverse nearly US$88-billion in losses accumulated since 2004.

"Not only is Magna having difficulty with this intellectual property issue, they're having difficult understanding that they're not going to get Chevrolet," said Warren Browne, GM's former top executive in Russia. "You're not buying a country. You're buying a brand -- Opel."

Mr. Deripaska has toured the GM-Avtovaz assembly factory and "understands" its value, one source said. Russia's political leaders and Magna executives are also familiar with the operation.

They'd be getting one of the leanest manufacturing facilities in Russia, with an experienced workforce, said the source. "Magna gets to jump in and doesn't have to clean up anybody's mess. They could walk into that plant and get 85,000 to 100,000 units worth of capacity without untangling anything."

Mr. Deripaska's GAZ is still struggling to modernize its car lines and assembly operations. According to Russian media reports, its passenger vehicle business is close to collapse and last week received another state bailout of 5.6 billion roubles ($195-million).

Aurora, Ont.-based Magna and Sberbank are together offering 500 million euros ($766-million) for Opel and its U.K. unit Vauxhall. The partners have offered to pay more cash right away than initially planned. They will each take a 27.5% stake in Opel. GM would retain 35% while Opel workers would be offered 10%.

GM takes more time to negotiate Opel sale

General Motors is taking more time to negotiate with Magna and RHJ International over the planned sale of its European arm Opel, the U.S.-based company said on Tuesday.

Canadian auto parts group Magna and Belgium-based RHJ are locked in a takeover battle for Opel, in which GM is relinquishing control in return for state support.

GM was expected to recommend one of the two bidders to its new board of directors at a meeting on Monday. But it said on Tuesday it merely brought the board up to speed on talks without making a recommendation as negotiations were still dragging on.

German government officials and GM representatives are expected to meet with Magna and RHJ this week to further discuss the sale, sources said earlier this week.

GM, which holds 35% of Opel shares, and Germany, which will provide state aid, must agree on the buyer but so far the two have disagreed. Germany prefers the Magna offer and GM likes RHJ's bid.

German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had said in a weekend newspaper interview both suitors had to improve their bids to win government backing.

Magna, a Canadian auto parts supplier, wants to expand Opel's full-scale car assembly business and forecasts high growth rates, particularly in Russia, home of its bidding partner, state-controlled bank Sberbank.

RHJ aims to shrink production to return Opel to profit and may be open to selling it back to GM at a later date.

Ford remains top carmaker in Canada

Ford Motor Co. says it was the top-selling carmaker in Canada again in July, the second straight month it has stripped the title from perennial volume leader General Motors Co.

Ford said it sold 26,788 cars and trucks last month, a 47% increase over July 2008 and its ninth consecutive month of market share increases. Total sales for the automaker through the end of July are 2.3% higher than last year. The company said sales of its Fusion, Mustang and Escape among models were particularly strong.

Ford is offering a promotion to consumers whereby if a buyer test drives a Ford but ends up purchasing a competing product from a competitor, Ford will offer the consumer $100.

Other automakers also posted strong results last month. Volkswagen boosted sales 14.6% year-over-year. Hyundai saw a 37% sales increase.

Automakers report sales in Canada throughout the day Tuesday.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Toyota Will Make Hybrids in Britain

Toyota Motor Corp. said it will produce hybrid vehicles in Europe for the first time next year, as it pushes ahead with its leading gas-sipping hybrid cars across the globe.

Toyota, the world's largest hybrid maker, aims to gather momentum by enticing cost-conscious customers with its hybrids in the region, where it is struggling with a relatively small 5% share of the overall market.

The world's biggest car maker by sales volume said it will manufacture a hybrid version of the Auris subcompact hatchback in the U.K. from the middle of 2010. It will spend three billion yen ($32 million) to prepare for production.

The U.K. will be the fifth country outside Japan where Toyota makes hybrid cars or plans to do so. The company already builds hybrids in China and the U.S. and will begin production in Thailand later this month and in Australia in early 2010.

The latest decision on U.K. production follows a strategy that the company's newly appointed president, Akio Toyoda, outlined late last month. He aims to promote hybrid car sales in Europe where customers looking for more fuel-economic vehicles tend to buy diesel-powered cars.

Toyota is betting on its leading technology combining combustion engines with electric motors to spur demand in Europe for low-emission cars that are cheaper to run.

The auto giant also aims to offer hybrid versions of all of its vehicles by 2020.

Core components of the system such as the batteries and the motors will be shipped from Japan, a Toyota spokesman said.

Nissan Motor Co. said it is considering expanding its limited offerings of hybrid vehicles by installing its own gasoline-electric system technology in more models to catch up with rivals such as Toyota.

The Japanese car maker, in which Renault SA holds a 44% stake, follows Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. in seeking to beef up its hybrid lineup.

Honda said July 13 that it will launch two new gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles next year, while Mazda is in talks with Toyota over using components of Toyota's system for its hybrid vehicles.

Nissan has lagged behind major hybrid makers including Toyota, Honda and Ford Motor Co. as the company has focused more on developing electric cars. It plans to roll out electric vehicles next year in Japan and the U.S.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

India June Car Sales Rise 7.8%

Car sales in India rose for the fifth straight month in June, driven primarily by lower lending rates and the introduction of new models from auto makers.

Sales climbed 7.8% in June to 107,531 cars from the 99,741 sold a year earlier, showed data issued Wednesday by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers industry group.

Higher borrowing costs and a slowing economy reduced demand for cars and two-wheelers in Asia's third-largest automobile market last year.

But sales began to recover earlier this year after a slew of stimulus packages, including tax cuts, from the federal government and a lowering of borrowing rates by financial institutions.

Compared to a year earlier, car sales grew 22% in February - the first monthly rise since last September - 1% in March, 4.2% in April and 2.5% in May.

"Overall, the auto industry has exhibited a positive trend in volume growth over the last four to five months," Vaishali Jajoo, an analyst at Mumbai-based Angel Broking, said in a recent report.

Ms. Jajoo, however, said the rising trend in vehicle sales will only be confirmed when auto makers report a gradual positive trend in volumes over the next couple of months.

Automakers in India have introduced several new small cars and sedans since January in an effort to lure more customers.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. began selling the Ritz, its seventh small car model, in May as it worked to maintain its leadership in the expanding market.

Sales at Maruti - a unit of Suzuki Motor Corp. - gained 12% to 54,693 cars as the market leader sold more A-Star, Ritz and Swift cars.

Fiat SpA introduced its Grande Punto hatchback last month, with the company lifting car sales to 2,464 units in June from 500 a year earlier.

Second-ranked carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. posted a 5.2% rise to 23,013 cars, while Tata Motors, the country's third-largest auto maker, rose 3.2% to 13,732 cars.

Sales at Honda Motor Co.'s local unit increased 13.5% to 5,039 cars in June, boosted by the introduction of the Jazz hatchback model.

"Our full-year outlook was based on stimulus packages," Dilip Chenoy, SIAM's director general told reporters, referring to the association's annual sales outlook announced in April. "Currently nothing has changed and it is too early to factor in the impact of the monsoon."

Normal monsoon rains are considered key to higher sales of cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles in India's growing rural markets. About half of the country's agriculture depends on monsoons rains.

Monsoon rains are forecast to be below normal this year and auto makers have previously said they are studying for possible impact of this delay on their sales.

SIAM had forecast local car sales to grow 3%-5% in this fiscal year that began April 1. Truck and bus sales may grow 7%-10%, while that of motorcycles and scooters are projected to rise up to 5%.

Local sales of trucks and buses slid 12.5% to 36,193 vehicles in June because of a decline in sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles.

Sales in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle segment declined 31% to 15,659 vehicles as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland - the top two manufacturers - posted lower sales in a slowing economy.

Light commercial vehicle sales, however, increased 10% to 20,534 units in June.

In the motorcycle segment, sales gained 16% in June to 550,833 units as Hero Honda Motors Ltd., Yamaha Motor Co. and Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Ltd. saw an increase in demand.

Motorcycle sales of second-ranked Bajaj Auto Ltd. and third-ranked TVS Motor Co., however, declined.

Scooter sales rose 25% to 111,980 units in June, with Hero Honda, Honda Motorcycle and TVS posting higher sales.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An Electric Car With Chinese Roots

Add one more to the growing list of small private electric-car companies: Coda Automotive, a new brand started by Miles EV, a company that’s been selling low-speed electric vehicles from China for about four years.

The Coda sedan was unveiled last week in Santa Monica, Calif. It is based on the Saibao, a gas-powered car built by the Hafei Automobile Group, a state-owned company in China. The chassis was originally developed by Mitsubishi (which licenses it to Hafei). According to Coda, Hafei sells 200,000 cars a year and has delivered more than a million units since it was established in 2006.

Coda addressed Chinese quality questions by giving the Saibao a big makeover. The electric version had a front and rear redesign by Porsche, a partner, as well as considerable re-engineering to accommodate the battery drive and meet United States safety standards. “We think we have the right combination of existing automotive know-how and a mass-manufacturing partner,” said Kevin Czinger, Coda’s chief executive. Other suppliers include Delphi and EnergyCS.

Mr. Czinger said the core of the Coda is an lithium-ion battery system developed in a joint venture with the Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint-Stock Company, a supplier to Apple, Motorola and Samsung. Mr. Czinger said that the Coda’s 700-pound, 33.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack is purpose-built for auto applications, with 728 cells (compared with more than 6,000 in the Tesla Roadster) in modules of seven. The battery joint venture will be 40 percent owned by Coda and 60 percent by Lishen.

Coda said the new sedan would have a cruising range of 90 to 120 miles and a recharging time of less than six hours from 220-volt service. Zero to 60 will take less than 11 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 80 miles an hour. The purchase price will be $45,000, and buyers could receive a $7,500 federal tax credit and state incentives.

On Monday, Coda said it was applying for an undisclosed amount of Department of Energy stimulus funds to build a battery plant in Enfield, Conn., as part of a joint venture with Connecticut-based Yardney Technical Products, which makes aerospace batteries. According to William Yalen, a program manager, Yardney has conducted research on automotive applications, but has not built auto batteries. He said the Enfield factory was scheduled to be operating next year.

Coda may be a small company, but it has big ambitions. The sedan will be introduced next year in a dealer-free, California-only marketing strategy that will depend on the Internet to get the word out. Test rides will be available. The company said it will have the capacity to build 2,700 cars in 2010 (starting in June) and 20,000 a year starting in 2011. That, of course, would be quite an ambitious number for an electric start-up.
Source: [Electric Cars]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hybrid Cars - Choice Of The New Generation

Its true that everybody uses cars and have very often felt the need to increase the efficiency of your car and at the same time reduce the gas usage to be pocket friendly.

These days of recession where the profit margins are decreasing and oil prices are becoming dearer, driving a car has become very expensive on pockets of every man and not only the common man.

The fuel prices are hiked every alternate day and your expenses for fuel refilling have started reaching astronomical high levels.

These days’ people are opting for public transport or just walking down the lanes to reach their destination. Buying a car is easy but spending money on gas has become so difficult that driving a car would become a luxury in the long run.

Keeping these views in mind the research team has designed a new style of car called as Hybrid cars. These cars are considered to be a future car as they would not necessarily work on gasoline which is so highly priced. They work on dual power that is gas and electric batteries which are fitted inside the car.

While people think of buying used vehicles they give preference to used hybrid vehicles for sale. They are lighter on the wallet and are designed using modern technology also.

These cars are also eco friendly because they have reduced gasoline consumption, and the smoke and greenhouse gas emissions are also significantly reduced.

Buying a Hybrid car is like earning two points from a same transaction, i.e. low cost and environment friendly.

As the hybrid cars are becoming the car of the century there are many giant manufacturers who are plunging them selves into their production as they can sense a huge potential of growth among this segment.

There are big companies like Toyota, Honda, Volvo, and Lamborghini etc. who have entered the market for producing Hybrid cars.

People buy used Volvo cars the used cars fall cheaper then the newer hybrid version. There is an option of buying used Lamborghini cars for sale to fulfill your need, as they are an equally good manufacturer producing hybrid cars.

You can buy these used Volvo cars for sale from various dealers or directly through the internet. Internet is the answer to the modern day’s solution of instant replies. You can instantly get all information about the products that you shortlist at your luxurious time.

You need to search for hybrid cars or go to the advanced search option and check out for hybrid cars manufactured by a particular company and that solves your query. You will get a list of used hybrid cars manufactured by Volvo which are available for sale.

You can select from any of these options and be happy as your pockets are not always light.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Buzz on Electric Cars

General Motors has previously tried to dispel rumors that bankruptcy might affect plans for the hybrid-electric Volt, insisting pre-production and planning will continue.

Now the automaker is getting help tamping down those rumors from Chevy Volt enthusiast Lyle Dennis. The neurosurgeon and author of the Chevy Volt fan site posted a link on his Twitter account this morning to an eight-minute video he filmed during a tour of GM's Advanced Battery Laboratory, complete with shots of the battery pack. (Hint: skip to 2:30 minutes to get to the show-and-tell).

A company spokesperson in the video noted there are 155 unique parts within the sealed battery pack, 147 of which are designed by GM. There are 200 Lithium Ion cells within the LG Chem-designed battery pack, he noted along with a dig at Tesla: "You can't reliably attach 6,000 cells over a large number of batteries."

The current design is the fifth iteration of the Volt's battery pack since the the original 18 months ago, the spokesman said. The pack is mounted underneath the vehicle and sealed from dust and water. A poster in the background noted that more than 100 battery packs have been built to date, and the company projects more than 300 will be built by the end of the third quarter.

In a slicker video promotion on GM's website, two test engineers roll the battery pack into a thermal chamber for extreme temperature testing. The company announced the opening of the battery lab in Warren, Mich., on June 8.

"The new global GM battery lab will benefit consumers across America by helping us advance the development of battery technology in the United States and put cleaner, more efficient vehicles on the road more quickly and affordably," said Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO, in a prepared statement at the time.

"Our new lab improves GM's competitiveness by speeding the development of our hybrid, plug-in and extended-range electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt," Henderson continued.

In other electric car news, Electrovaya will roll out its Maya 300 all-electric vehicle in 2011, according to Greentech Media.

The battery maker will use ExxonMobil's battery separator film, which is "an integral part of battery system design and critical to overall performance," according to a press release (PDF) from January 2008.

"The car will run on lithium-ion batteries, charge in about eight to 10 hours, run for 60 miles and plug into regular 110-volt outlets. It will cost around $20,000 to $25,000. An extended-range battery option will run for 120 miles on a charge and cost $30,000 to $35,000," Greentech Media reported.

The company will reportedly make the big announcement Wednesday, but information on both ExxonMobil's and Electrovaya's websites is sparse, while the dedicated site,, is largely under construction.

It is hard to see, however, how Maya 300, a $20,000 low speed (25-35 mph) plug-in vehicle, could gain market share. Other around-town electric cars such as Chrysler's GEM car are cheaper (about half the price) despite the top speed of only 25 mph with a range of about 30 miles. Is it worth two or three times the sticker price to have twice the range? Maybe it depends on how the vehicle is used.

In the meantime, electric and hybrid vehicle fans will continue to wait until more affordable, longer-range, higher-speed options are available.

Will GM Abandon Hydrogen Cars?

As the automaker emerges from bankruptcy, it will have to decide whether it's still worth betting on hydrogen cars. Hydrogen car advocates have little love for electric cars: "EV people are killing our technologies."

Advocates of hydrogen fuel cell cars are a bit miffed about the attention and money the federal government is showering on companies making plug-in hybrid electric or all-electric cars.

It's not hard to understand why. The government is giving out billions of dollars to carmakers for build different types of electric vehicles. Consumers can get rebates for buying them.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steve Chu has planned to cut millions of dollars from the hydrogen car program for the next fiscal year. The reason, Chu said, is because hydrogen cars aren't likely to be ready for the mass market for another 10 to 20 years, and that's just too far down the road.

"I was at a fuel cell meeting last week, and people were lamenting that all those EV people are killing our technologies," said Dave Barthmuss, General Motors' western region manager for environmental and energy communications, during his talk at the Edison Electric Institute's annual convention in San Francisco on Wednesday. EEI represents the country's investor-owned utilities.

Barthmuss was making a point that it will take different kinds of low or zero-emission cars to move the country away from relying on fossil fuel vehicles. Barthmuss noted that GM already has invested billions in developing hydrogen cars.

As General Motors works on restructuring its business and emerging out of bankruptcy in the next few months, the company will have to think hard about what to do with its hydrogen fuel cell car program, he said in an interview after his talk. The new version of GM needs to be lean, so it will have to allocate its resources carefully.

"It's like we have swam halfway across the English Channel only have to turn back," Barthmuss said. "We don't need any more breakthroughs to bring the cars into the commercial market by 2015."

What GM needs is for the federal government to fund the installation of hydrogen fuel stations across the country. Creating that network of pump stations across the country will be crucial to popularizing hydrogen cars.

California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the "Hydrogen Highway" initiative in 2004 to position California as a leader in adopting zero emission technologies.

That program hasn't been successful – there are 25 pump stations that have been built in the state, Barthmuss said. But only a handful could completely fill out GM's hydrogen demo car, the Equinox, because of the varying amount of pressure used to compress the hydrogen gas (10,000 psi for the Equinox versus 5,000 psi being dispensed at many pumping stations).

GM has been running the Project Driveway program to test the marketability of hydrogen cars. It gives a limited number of Equinox vehicles to consumers to tool around for two months and then gets their feedback afterwards.

California regulators, including the head of the state Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols, have written to Chu and other environmental officials in President Obama's administration and argued that the government should fund all sorts of alternative vehicle technologies to achieve its emissions reduction goals.

Critics have said it's far more costly to build a hydrogen car than an electric car, so why bet on hydrogen vehicles when cheaper and still cleaner alternatives exist?

While GM will have to figure out what to do with its hydrogen car program, it's firmly set on introducing its plug-in hybrid electric car, the Chevy Volt, in November next year.

"Part of our restructuring plan is based on the Chevy Volt," Barthmuss said. "That's the key to our reinvention."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Testing Slot Cars for the Real World

Researchers in South Korea demonstrate an electric car that draws power from strips embedded in the road.

While entrepreneurs in the United States continue to pursue an infrastructure for charging electric cars, two research projects –- one in Korea, the other in Israel -– have recently offered intriguing ideas for putting blacktop itself to work in the service of electric cars.

In May, scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology demonstrated how induction strips and inverters embedded in a road can carry a current that recharges specially designed electric vehicles on the fly. The cars in such a system — aimed primarily at urban areas — would be equipped with compact batteries that have a 50-mile range.

The government of South Korea is investing heavily in the project, which was displayed at last month’s C-40 summit meeting in Seoul, a city of 10 million with serious traffic problems.

The Israeli project — a venture of the research and development firm Innowattech, which is linked to the Israel Institute of Technology, takes a slightly different tack. Piezoelectric ceramic tiles are embedded into the asphalt of a road, or the tracks of a rail line, and linked to modules that draw the electricity generated from the pressure exerted by passing vehicles.

Piezoelectric materials are commonly found in microelectronics, like watches and CD-ROMs, which rely on very small quantities of power.

From Green Inc.:

Odds Keep Improving For Electric Cars

If personal cars are to move from gasoline to an alternative — hydrogen, compressed natural gas, batteries or something else — they’ll need new infrastructure to match today’s gas stations. It’s the chicken-and-egg problem of the transportation industry. Without a way to refuel, why would anyone switch away from standard combustion engine vehicles?

The onus is thus put on investors to build or buy infrastructure, in hopes that once they do, the people will come. Now it’s starting to look like some investors are ready to take the risk, including some not known for risky behavior. One example: A small company called Coulomb Technologies is projecting higher-than-expected sales targets for its electric car charging stations, according the the New York Times.

Coulomb says it’ll be profitable by next year, based on the sales of thousands of its slow-charge kiosks. Cities, condo owners and others are looking for a way to get a jump on what looks like a promising market, with the approaching introduction of plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt and the all-electric Coda from Miles Electric.

Such purchases are a risk, because there’s no guarantee that sales of the vehicles will take off — electrics and hybrids tend to be expensive even for affluent places like California’s Bay Area, where many of the first charging stations will go. Building up volume sales of vehicles that are starting in the $40,000 and above range may take years, or not happen at all if prices don’t come down. But the important thing for now is that the infrastructure is being built in, by Coulomb as well as others like Better Place and GreenlightAC.

The good news for electric cars doesn’t stop there. Despite the urging of oil and gas baron T. Boone Pickens, it seems compressed natural gas vehicles aren’t going to take off. And on the hydrogen side, it looks like General Motors might be ready to cut funding for its fuel cell program, says Gas 2.0. Of course, other companies including Toyota are also working on fuel cells, but it takes more than one to make a party.

Consumers, for their part, will be happier making purchases of electrics and hybrids if they feel confident that the rest of the world is moving the same way. Building a new market is always one part business, one part psychology. The sight of gleaming new charging kiosks should help a great deal with the latter.

Tesla Electric Cars - Electric Powered Cars Sale

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