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Kia Soluto sedan revealed
Kia Motors has taken the wraps off of its Soluto sedan. Introduced in the Philippines, the Kia Soluto is available in two variants – LX and EX. The Kia Soluto is based on the Hyundai Reina sedan that’s sold in the Chinese market which, incidentally, is based on the last-generation Hyundai Verna that was sold in India. In terms of dimensions, the Soluto measures 4,300mm in length, has a 2,570mm long wheelbase and 475 litres of luggage space. Feature-wise, the top-spec Soluto gets leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering and gear lever, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice commands, rear parking sensors, a parking camera with guidelines and a digital MID. Safety kit on offer includes dual airbags, ABS with EBD, child seat anchors and rear door child locks.   Powering the Kia midsize sedan is a 1.4-litre petrol engine that puts out 95hp and 132Nm of peak torque. Transmission options include a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed torque converter automatic. Kia is also offering a massive 5 year/160,000km general warranty with the Soluto. As of now, the Soluto is only being offered in left-hand drive markets so it’s unlikely that Kia will launch it in India. The Kia Soluto rivals the Toyota Vios and the Honda City in the Philippines. Closer to home, Kia is readying the launch of its first product in our country, the SP2i SUV. The Hyundai Creta-rival is will be built at the brand’s plant in Penukonda, Andhra Pradesh where it is currently undergoing trial production. Following the SP2i, Kia’s second launch in the country is likely to be a compact SUV that will be showcased at Auto Expo 2020. The Korean brand’s third made-for-India model, a cross-hatchback, is scheduled for launch in 2021. Also see: Top-spec Kia SP2i SUV likely to get 18-inch alloy wheels Kia Grand Carnival: 5 things to know Kia SP SUV to get sporty turbo-petrol variant [...]
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Review: Maruti Suzuki Ciaz facelift long term review, first report
It’s probably for the best that the man who came to collect my previous long-term car – a Maruti Dzire I used for 18 months – arrived with what would become my next long-term car; the blue Maruti Ciaz you see here. For no other reason than it made the exchange a whole lot easier. I grabbed all my stuff from one car, chucked it into the other and carried on with my life; it was great. Oh, who am I kidding? There was a lot more to it than that. Not only because I’d grown quite attached to the Dzire and felt odd giving it up after so long, but also because I’d left so much stuff lying around it that took time to collect. In fact, not all my leftovers were physical; some were digital. Always delete your phone data from a car’s infotainment system before you give it away, folks. And before you knew it, that oddly wide-looking boot could be seen hooking the right turn out of the gates of One Autocar Plaza, and it was gone for good. The procedures didn’t stop there, however, as welcoming a new set of wheels also takes time. First step was a quick round inspecting the bodywork; and since this car had been a press test drive car before making its way to our fleet, it came with a few dings and scratches around the bodywork. Understandable, of course, but photographed and promptly sent to the good folks at Maruti, nonetheless. Then there was the matter of noting down the odometer readings and fluid levels, checking that all the papers were in order, putting in a fresh fuel-record card and pairing my phone with the SmartPlay infotainment – dumping all the data I’d just deleted from one car, into another. And then onward to me being a bit unnecessary – deciding whether or not I like the rear sunblind (a cool new feature for me) deployed or not, whether to keep the rear headrests raised for passengers or lowered for visibility, and picking which of the many informative screens in the colour multi-info display (MID) I’d like the best. All these choices are likely to change in the first week of use. A few quick first thoughts on the car, before even turning a wheel – and there are quite a few, as I’ve just jumped out of Maruti’s smaller sedan, the Dzire. This is bigger, of course, but even the seating position, the view out and the dashboard layout remind you you’re in a segment above. Personally, I prefer the shape of the Dzire’s dash, but this one does have a regal air about it and I like the new, lighter shade of faux wood. This one also has leather upholstery, which is nice. It’s still trimmed in a light cream colour, unfortunately; I can already see the carpets turning brown. There’s a lot that’s familiar too – switches, stalks, levers and the Smartplay touchscreen. The bigger size is bound to impact my driving style. As is the fact that it’s a mild hybrid with stop-start technology; but we’ll just have to wait and see. All will be revealed in the next report. [...]
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McLaren unveils its F1 2019 contender
Formula 1’s launch season is well underway, with just over a month to go before the 2019 season kicks off in Australia, and McLaren is the latest team to pull the covers off its 2019 car. McLaren’s iconic papaya orange colour continues to dominate the Renault-powered MCL34’s livery, with the car now featuring new blue elements, which McLaren states are a nod to the team’s broader racing heritage. The car will make its on-track debut at the first pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain next week. This year, McLaren will field an all-new driver line-up for the first time in 12 years. Carlos Sainz has joined the team, after previously driving for Renault, with F1 rookie Lando Norris partnering him. “The MCL34 is the result of an immense amount of hard work and dedication throughout our team. We’re all committed, motivated and united in our ambition to return McLaren to competitiveness, and the MCL34 is only the start of this process,” said McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown. “We have a fresh driver pairing, who together represent the new generation of Formula 1 talent, and are an integral part of the team and our collective effort to advance McLaren forward.” In an effort to re-establish itself as a contender for race wins, McLaren has made some key new signings – former Toro Rosso technical director James Key will now serve as McLaren’s new technical chief, while former Porsche World Endurance Championship boss Andreas Seidl has been appointed as the team’s new managing director. [...]
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Audi Q4 E-tron concept previewed
Audi has revealed the first official sketches of its Q4 E-tron concept ahead of the car’s unveiling, which is due in March at the Geneva motor show. It has not yet been made clear if this concept directly previews the same Q4 (expected to launch later this year) which has already been spotted in camouflage undergoing winter testing. It does, however, provide some insight into the next generation of Audi's electric models following the E-tron SUV and E-tron GT sports sedan. The sketches show a compact SUV with coupé-like styling, an expansive front grille and illuminated E-tron branding on the front bumper and side sills. The car seems to have traditional door mirrors instead of the system of digital cameras and interior touchscreens which were offered on the E-tron SUV. Audi’s Matrix LED headlights seem to be featured as well. A sketch of the car's interior shows a driver-focused dashboard that borrows elements from the new and recently launched Q3, with buttons largely removed in favour of touch-sensitive screens and panels. The production of the Q4 E-tron is expected to begin in early 2021 – a year after the standard Q4 model is due to go on sale. Also see: Audi e-tron SUV video review Audi e-tron review, test drive Audi India sales decline 18 percent in 2018 [...]
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Attractive discounts on 2018 Tata cars, SUVs
Even with the launch of the much-anticipated Harrier, Tata Motors has seen sales figures take a dip in the month of January. In a bid to attract more customers and to clear unsold stocks of the previous year, Tata dealers are currently offering discounts on select models from their range.  Tata Tiago Save up to Rs 54,000 The Tata Tiago has been on sale since 2016 and competes with rivals like the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R and the Hyundai Santro. The hatchback, which is due for a facelift later this year, is powered by an 85hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 70hp, 1.05-litre diesel mill. Both engines come coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the petrol gets the option of a convenient 5-speed AMT gearbox as well. Dealers are currently offering benefits of up to Rs 54,000 on the 2018 stock of the Tiago. This comes in the form of Rs 15,000 exchange bonus and Rs 39,000 cash discount on purchasing the hatchback. Tata Tigor Save up to Rs 69,000 Tata’s stylish compact sedan, the Tigor, is sold in nine variants and is priced from Rs 5.42-7.51 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The Tigor is based on the Tiago and is mechanically identical to its hatchback sibling. Buyers of the Tigor can avail discounts of up to Rs 69,000 on 2018 models of the sedan. Dealers are offering an exchange offer of Rs 25,000, along with Rs 44,000 as a cash discount. The Tata Tigor competes with the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Hyundai Xcent and Honda Amaze in the compact sedan segment. Tata Nexon Save up to Rs 79,000 The Tata Nexon is one of the safest cars on sale in our market. The compact SUV secured an impressive five-star crash test rating from Global NCAP, making it the first made-in-India model to do so. Powering the Nexon is a 110hp, 1.2-litre petrol and a 110hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine – both of which can be had with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed AMT gearbox. The Nexon is currently being offered with benefits of up to Rs 79,000 on the 2018 stock. Buyers can avail an exchange bonus of Rs 25,000, along with Rs 54,000 as cash discount with the sub-four-metre SUV.   Tata Hexa  Save up to Rs 1.14 lakh The Hexa is currently Tata’s most premium offering. The SUV is sold in seven variants and is powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine that can be had with either manual or automatic transmissions. There’s also a four-wheel-drive version on offer. Dealers are offering a massive Rs 1.14 lakh discount with 2018 models of the Hexa. This comes in form of a Rs 30,000 exchange bonus on top of a Rs 84,000 cash discount. Disclaimer: Discounts vary from city to city. Please check with your local dealer for exact discounts, which may not match figures quoted here. Also see: 2019 Tata Tiago facelift in the works Tata Motors to debut four models at Geneva Tata Motors lines up four big launches for 2019 Tata Harrier online configurator goes live In conversation with Mayank Pareek, President, Tata Motors video [...]
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TVS Star City Plus Kargil edition launched at Rs 54,399
TVS has launched a new graphic scheme on its Star City Plus called the Kargil edition. The bike is based on the SBT (Synchronised Braking Technology) variant of the Star City Plus. At Rs 54,399, the bike costs Rs 1,035 over the Rs 53,364 price of the dual-tone SBT variant of the Star City Plus. TVS has said the bike’s design has been influenced by the environment defence personnel serve in. Last year, it conducted a ‘Kargil Calling - Ride for the Real Stars’ ride across 3,500 touch points in the country. The ride took place on the anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas (July 26) to celebrate the contribution of the Indian Defence Forces and was lead by similarly styled, Kargil-inspired Star City Plus bikes in five cities. The Star City Plus is powered by a 109.7cc engine that makes 8.4hp and 8.7Nm of torque, and the Kargil edition will be available in select dealerships across the country. Also see: TVS Apache RTR 160 4V ABS priced from Rs 92,645 [...]
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Renault F1 2019 car unveiled
Renault is the latest Formula 1 team to reveal its challenger for the upcoming 2019 F1 season. The new RS19 continues to carry the team’s now signature yellow and black livery, and also sports the more simplified front and rear wings that are now mandated by the new aerodynamic regulations. Last year, Renault achieved its strongest result yet since returning to F1 as a works team in 2016, with a fourth place standing in the constructors’ championship. The team will be looking to keep that momentum going for the 2019 season; a newly refurbished dyno at Viry has been commissioned and will be used throughout the season to develop the power unit. Outlining the team’s aim for 2019, Renault F1 Team managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, said: We go into this season aiming to keep this strong and measured momentum. We do not target x or y position or a number of points: what I want to see is that the team continues its trajectory of progression towards the top teams. Engine excellence will be our priority in Viry while the structure now in place in Enstone strives to improve the competitiveness of the chassis, season after season.” This year will also see former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo join Renault alongside Nico Hulkenberg. Explaining how the new driver line-up serves as an additional motivational factor for the team, Abiteboul said:  “The added momentum of the Daniel-Nico partnership brings confidence to the team this season. I believe we have one of the strongest – if not the strongest – driver line-up on the grid.”  “Individually, they are very strong and I feel the two will complement each other extremely perfectly. The energy they have brought to the team is very tangible and I hope we can give them a car to show their considerable talent.” [...]
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2019 BMW S1000RR to launch in India soon
BMW Motorrad unveiled the next-generation of its flagship superbike, the S1000RR at EICMA 2018. The update comes a decade after the first generation of the RR was launched and BMW claims that it has revised almost every component of the bike resulting in less weight and noticeably higher performance. The new S1000RR was teased on BMW Motorrad India’s social media pages and we believe it could make its way here in June 2018. While engine capacity remains unchanged at 999cc, the in-line-four engine sports an all-new design and produces 207hp at 13,500rpm and 113Nm of torque at 11,000rpm – an 8hp increase over the older bike, with unchanged torque figures. The biggest change to the powertrain is the addition of BMW ShiftCam Technology, which allows variable valve timing and valve stroke on the intake valves. As a result, the rider will have access to more performance throughout the rev band. The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox equipped with an up/down quickshifter. The S1000RR also receives updates to its electronics. A six-axis IMU helps power the cornering ABS and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC). The bike also gets four riding modes – Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race. All of this can be toggled via a new 6.5-inch full-TFT display. Other upgrades come in the form of a redesigned chassis comprising lighter components and a WSBK-inspired swingarm. As a result of the new, lighter engine and frame, the bike has a 197kg kerb weight – a whole 11kg lesser than the outgoing model. The 2019 BMW S1000RR will most likely be priced higher than the outgoing model, which starts at Rs 18.05 lakh (ex-showroom, India). Also see: 2019 BMW R 1250 GS, R 1250 GS Adventure launched Triumph Tiger 800 XCX Vs BMW F 850 GS Pro comparison BMW G 310 among brand’s top 5 models [...]
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Honda CB300R booked for three months
At the launch of the CB300R, Honda announced that it had already received three months’ worth of booking for the street-naked motorcycle. Honda has priced it at Rs 2.41 lakh (ex-showroom, India), which puts it in the competitive entry-level sports bike segment. Yadvinder Singh Guleria, senior vice president – sales and marketing, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, said, “Honda has put the spotlight on the growing middleweight category and motor enthusiasts across India have responded. In just 25 days since the start of bookings, the CB300R is already booked for over three months, based on our current production plan”. While this is impressive, the company hasn’t given out an exact figure. This means, there could have been a limited-production plan to begin with. The CB300R is being sold in India as a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) offering and is available across Honda’s 22 Wing World dealerships in the country for a booking amount of Rs 5,000. The company has also said that deliveries are set to begin from March 2019 onwards. The CB300R has been tweaked slightly for the Indian market. While the bike uses the same 286cc, four-valve, single-cylinder, DOHC liquid-cooled motor that is paired to a 6-speed gearbox, the India-spec engine makes 30.4hp at 8,000rpm and 27.4Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. These figures are slightly lower than the UK-spec bike and the spec sheet of the India-spec CB mentions that it makes 1hp less at 8,000rpm (instead of 8,500rpm) and 0.1Nm of torque less at 6,500rpm (instead of 7,500rpm). The Indian model also uses Michelin Pilot Street tyres instead of the Dunlops found on the international-spec model. Its kerb weight of 147kg also makes the CB300R one of the lightest motorcycles in the segment. In terms of competition, the CB300R goes up against the BMW G 310 R (Rs 2.99 lakh), KTM 390 Duke (Rs 2.44 lakh) and the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 (which start at Rs 2.50 lakh)(all prices, ex-showroom, India). Also see: 2019 Honda CB300R image gallery 2019 Honda CB300R: 5 things to know 2019 Honda CB300R vs rivals: Specifications comparison [...]
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Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition showcased
The Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition has been revealed before its debut at the Chicago motor show. The Japanese brand has had the Land Cruiser in its line-up for a long time now; to be specific they will be celebrating 60 years of the full-size SUV (not including its initial years as the BJ in 1951) with the new Heritage Edition. The Land Cruiser has a massive following due to its great off-road capability and reliability. The main change on the Heritage Edition is that all the chrome-finished bits – like the grille, rear-view mirrors, tailgate, etc. – have been instead finished in darkened chrome. The SUV gets 18-inch BBS wheels that are finished in bronze and are exclusive to the Heritage Edition. Toyota has also removed the side steps from the SUV to hark back to its purpose-built off-roader look. The limited-run Land Cruiser SUV is offered in only Midnight Black Metallic and Blizzard Pearl colours options. On the inside, the SUV is trimmed in all-black leather upholstery, with bronze contrast stitching. Special all-weather floor mats and floor lining are also part of the package. The Heritage Edition will be sold only as a five-seater with no option to spec a third row of seating. On the mechanical front, it continues to use the 5.7-litre V8, which produces 386hp and 544Nm of torque, from the top-end Land Cruiser on sale in the US. The engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel-drive system. Only 1,200 units of the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition will be sold, with sales beginning later this year in international markets. There is no word from Toyota regarding which markets it will be offered in. Also see: Toyota RAV4 TRD SUV revealed Next-gen Toyota Hiace leaked online Next-gen Toyota Land Cruiser LC 200, Lexus LX to go hybrid Toyota-badged Vitara Brezza to launch in 2020-21   IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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Mahindra Electric sees an increased demand for EVs
Mahindra Electric is set to witness robust demand for its electric vehicle (EV) product portfolio. The EV manufacturer has been in advanced talks with many stakeholders who wish to be part of the green mobility scenario. Recently, it revealed that its electric three- and four-wheelers will soon be supplied to around five cities in India for last-mile connectivity operations. "In three or four cities, there is very serious talk about setting up a fleet of vehicles. We will also, hopefully, very soon announce the project with Uber following up the commitment made last year," said Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra, at the announcement in Mumbai. "It took much longer than what we thought because the policy didn't get announced and then there was this whole business of registration being free, which was supposed to happen but has not happened yet. That makes a huge difference between commercial viability. Now that we have gotten all that sorted out, we will probably announce our first pilot certainly within this month." Goenka has revealed some information about the upcoming EV demand, saying that the company will be supplying around 40-50 units of its e-Treo three-wheeler and e-Verito sedan to this pilot project(s) each, which may later be ramped up to "any number". Mahindra Electric has currently ramped up e-Verito sales to around 400-500 units including the EESL order; the electric carmaker says that it has seen huge demand for the green sedan from several fleet companies across India. The brand says that it has sold 15-20 e-Veritos each to several fleet operators in Delhi, of which "some will succeed, some will not". The one's that do succeed "will obviously buy more vehicles". "There are some companies who are demanding up to 2,000-3,000 vehicles in the next three months," pointed out Dr Goenka. Apparently, there are fleet operators in Delhi-NCR who are betting big on operating a fleet of 3,000 to 4,000 e-Veritos in Delhi alone; the scenario is quite similar in other cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. FAME II: THE NEXT STEP Pawan Goenka is also optimistic about the announcement of the anticipated FAME II scheme. He says that it will "definitely be announced before March 31, 2019" and "will lay out a roadmap for EVs." He says, "If there is no change done to it [policy] and [it] is similar to what was to be announced on September 7, 2018, it would be a very good scheme for EVs." The MD of Mahindra further acknowledged his support of the revision on import rules for EVs and their components, which he said is "quite prudent and is balanced between promoting Make in India and ensuring that EVs do come in to India. Because you can go overboard either side – if you put heavy duties you slow down EVs and if you put no duty, you discourage domestic manufacturing. It is a fine balance and very nicely done." "The only concern that has come in which I hope will be corrected is imposing duty of five percent on EV battery cells (lithium-ion cells), which was duty-free up until now," he goes on to say. "The EV battery and battery cells were duty-free for importing in India for using in EVs. At present, they have put a duty on both cells and the battery. In a way, it is right to put duties on the batteries because many companies who are making them in India from cells, but these cells are not being manufactured in India. Therefore, it will have an adverse impact immediately on the price of the vehicle, as it is we are struggling to get the price right. And 5 percent on cells will mean a lot of money – for instance, the e-Verito will get costlier by around Rs 16,000-17,000 and that will not be good for the domestic market. We will write to the government; my take is that the government can put a sunset clause for making it duty-free for up until a particular period or when the battery cells are available in the country." Referring to the demand for electric three-wheelers, Dr Goenka said, "The sky is the limit". He says the company is waiting for the FAME II scheme to be announced, which will have similar benefits as proposed (if not higher) for the three-wheeler category. Mahindra has at least half-a-dozen potential customers in talks with the company for ordering 2,000-3,000 electric three-wheelers each, bringing the potential total demand for EVs to around 10,000-12,000 units. Mahindra is ramping up production for the e-Treo at its Bangalore plant on the back of huge demand. In January 2019, the company sold 143 units of the electric three-wheeler. The company has already been selling 800-1,000 units of e-Alfa Mini EV each month. PRODUCTION HIKE Considering the considerable demand for its EVs in hand, Mahindra is planning to ramp up production at its plant, which has a capacity to produce around 1,000 electric three-wheelers and 500- [...]
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2019 Parx-WIAA auto show underway in Mumbai
Every edition of the Parx Supercar Show brings a four-wheeled surprise that puts a big grin on every showgoer’s face. This year’s edition – the first since 2015 – is no different. For the first time ever, the Parx Supercar Show 2019 is also playing host to 100 vintage cars, 100 vintage bikes and 100 superbikes as part of the Western India Automobile Association’s (WIAA) centenary year celebrations. So not only are there some truly special cars in attendance, there are more than a mere handful of them! The Parx-WIAA Centenary Year Auto Show 2019 began today and is being held in Mumbai over the weekend. Showstoppers in the supercars category include the McLaren Senna and the LaFerrari. This is the first time a Senna has been brought to Mumbai and it sure is attracting a ton of attention at the Parx supercar show 2019. Parked next to it is the brutal-yet-beautiful LaFerrari hypercar and sharing floor space with these hypercars at the Parx auto show is the achingly gorgeous Lamborghini Countach. Also part of Gautam Singhania’s display of cars is a vintage Rolls-Royce, a Lamborghini tractor and a crazy Sandrail beach buggy, with a Chevrolet-sourced V8 putting out 1,300hp! Among attractions in the vintage car section are the Benz Patent Motorwagen replica, along with an 1896 Ford and a 1903 Humber Humberette. Included among the vintage bikes display are a number of BSAs, Nortons and Triumphs; whereas the superbike class is packed with powerful entries such as the Kawasaki ZX-14R, Suzuki Hayabusa and more. The cars will be on display at the MMRDA Grounds, BKC until Saturday, February 9, from 9am-6pm. After this, they will set off for the parade on Sunday, February 10, at 11:30am. The rally will take the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, pass Worli Sea face and Haji Ali, and then move to Marine Drive, finally ending at Ballard Estate at around 1pm. Want to know where can you get passes to the Parx Auto Show 2019? You can buy them online on BookMyShow, or at the venue, itself. Also see: 2019 Parx-WIAA auto show image gallery [...]
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PhotoGallery: 2019 Parx-WIAA auto show image gallery
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Helmet makers call for stricter helmet-law enforcement
The Two-Wheelers Helmet Manufacturers Association has requested more strict enforcement towards making helmet usage mandatory. The Association says that it has been proactive in taking up the issue of helmet safety on Indian roads. “Urbanisation has led to doubling in traffic fatalities in the past few years with the number of deaths around 3,00,000 per year as per WHO report. Most people affected are pedestrians and two wheeler users,” said Rajeev Kapur, president, Two Wheelers Helmet Manufacturers Association and MD, Steelbird Hi-Tech India while sharing his thoughts on National Road Safety Week on the sidelines of SIAM's seminar. The Association has said that it welcomes the move made by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) of issuing the draft notification for bringing the two-wheeler helmet into the BIS mandatory certification list and implementing the new standard IS4151:2015 – the India-specific helmet standard. However, the body feels that there is need to further take corrective measures to reduce fatalities. "Notification issued by MoRTH on bringing two-wheeler helmets in mandatory BIS list needs to be gazetted immediately. Awareness alone will not work. Strict enforcement is required. The government should make helmets mandatory across India,” said the manufacturers' association. The association further requested MoRTH to bring in the rule for all OEMs to provide helmets with a two-wheeler as per the motor vehicle act; the same is done by few companies at the moment. In addition to this, the Association says that two-wheeler manufacturers should supply a protective headgear at the time of purchase which conforms to the specifications prescribed by the Bureau of India standard under act 1986. The industry body estimates that the minimum investment to meet the demand of all the two-wheeler users in India will be around Rs 6,000 crore. This amount is inclusive of working capital; and the time frame required would be minimum two-three years. The organisation urges manufacturers and other companies to come forward and invest in this segment. [...]
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2019 Honda CBR400R revealed
Honda has just stepped into the 400cc space with the new CBR400R. The faired sportsbike is designed to rival the Kawasaki Ninja 400, which until now was the only motorcycle in the space. The new bike is based on the CBR500R, with the biggest change being the lowered engine capacity. The CBR400R is styled just like the updated CBR500R that was unveiled at EICMA late last year. It is not just the bodywork that's similar to the 500R, but also the colour schemes. The new CBR400R features the same sleek and sporty styling elements the CBR500R got in 2018. By the looks of it, the 400R also offers the newer riding position of the 500R that is racier. According to Honda, the CBR400R has “styling that is full of speed”. The sportsbike also features all-LED lighting. Powering the new model is a 399cc, liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder engine that makes 46hp at 9,000rpm and 38Nm of torque at 7,500rpm. Honda has also said that it has reviewed the intake system and optimised the valve timing. The company also added that the slipper clutch which the 6-speed gearbox uses is newly adopted and ‘fun to manipulate’. The bike is also equipped with a fully digital instrument cluster. Suspension duties are taken care of by a conventional, telescopic fork and a monoshock. The bike also uses a single disc brake at the front and the rear. As for the tyres, the 400R uses 120/70-17 at the front and a 160/60-17 at the rear. While the Japanese Honda website has given a 192kg weight figure, it hasn’t mentioned if it is the dry or kerb weight, but we believe it to be the latter. Interestingly, the website also has a claimed fuel efficiency figure of 41kpl,  achieved while the bike was running constantly at 60kph, with a rider and pillion. The fuel tank capacity of the CBR400R is 17 litres, just like on the 500R. The CBR400R is available in three colours in Japan – Grand Prix Red, Matte Axis Gray Metallic and Pearl Glare White. It is priced at 7,93,800 Yen (Rs 5.16 lakh) in Japan. For reference, its direct rival, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is priced at 6,63,000 Yen (Rs 4.31 lakh). While there is no news whether Honda will bring this motorcycle to India, we believe it would sit nicely above the CB300R in the company’s line-up. Also see: Honda discontinues CBR650F [...]
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Pininfarina Battista EV hypercar to have a unique sound
EXCLUSIVE! Automobili Pininfarina wants its very own electric hypercar, the Battista, to have a 'natural' sound, as opposed to an artificial engine noise piped through a speaker, according to Michael Perschke, CEO Automobili Pininfarina. A thrilling soundtrack is an intrinsic part of the hypercar experience but electric cars are lacking in this department. But although the 1,900hp Battista may not emanate a sound similar to a thunderous V12, customers will hear a unique sound which Perschke says will be 'loud' and 'interesting'. Pininfarina engineers plan to amplify the 'natural sound' or the high-pitched whine of the electric motor to provide a unique aural experience. "And of course, the sound picks up over speed because the faster you drive, the more opportunities you have to channel the sound through a 'pipe' and then amplify it," Perschke added. Along with the electric motor sound, Pininfarina engineers could tune the bodywork as well and use a combination of wind noise and airflow to create an exciting sound. "We want it to be genuine, sexy and interesting as we don't believe in an artificial sound system," he said, adding that the company is still finalising the method to achieve that sound.  The intention is also that the Battista should be recognised by its sound when it drives by. Late last year, the electric hypercar, earlier codenamed ‘PF0’, was named after Battista Farina, who founded the Italian design house Pininfarina in 1930. The name recognises Battista’s dream to see a range of exclusively Pininfarina-branded cars on the roads. A near-production spec model is set to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show next month. Handmade at the company facility in Italy, the production version is expected to go on sale in 2020 at a price of $2-2.5 million. Also see: Pininfarina, Karma join hands for product development Pininfarina’s PF1 super-SUV to use Rivian tech [...]
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Waraich, Chiripal take top honours at 2019 Ultimate Desert Challenge
The fifth edition of the of the Ultimate Desert Challenge (UDC) concluded in Bikaner after three days, with Kabir Waraich (with co-driver Amber Udasi) and Gaurav Chiripal (with co-driver Karan Arya) winning the Off-road and X-Cross segments respectively. Waraich, competing in a Polaris RZR 1000, completed the off-roading competition with an impressive tally of 1,090 points, out of a maximum total of 1,100. He managed to defeat 35 other teams to defend his title, making this his third Ultimate Desert Challenge victory in four attempts. “It’s a hat-trick of wins at the UDC and I couldn’t have been happier. This particular win did not come easy, as the competition was very tight and scheduling was such that we were continuously running back-to-stages. I was feeling sleep-deprived at times but somehow I kept pushing myself and good results followed. I would like to thank my co-driver Amber without who this win wouldn’t have been possible,” said Waraich. Gurmeet Virdi (with co-driver Kunal Kashyap) bagged second place overall in the Off-road segment with 1,050 points, followed by Gagandeep Gill ( with co-driver Amardeep Godara) in third place with 894 points. This year also saw the introduction of the new X-Cross segment, essentially a closed-circuit rallying contest requiring competitors to run eight back-to-back laps of 21km each over sand and gravel. Ultimately, only six out of the 12 competitors in the segment were able to complete all eight laps successfully. Chiripal clinched victory in the segment, clocking in a time of 2 hours 43 mins and 8secs in his Polaris RZR 1000. He was closely followed by Devendra Singh Rathore (with co-driver Vinay Bhatnagar) and Vikas Tanwar (with co-driver Rajit Kadian). [...]
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Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS facelift priced at Rs 8.76 lakh
Maruti has revealed the prices for the Baleno RS facelift on its Nexa dealer website ahead of the model’s official launch. The facelifted hatchback is priced at Rs 8.76 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). As with the standard Baleno model, the Baleno RS facelift gets a redesigned front fascia with a larger grille and a new bumper with prominent central air dam flanked by large faux-vents housing the fog-lamps and a chin spoiler. Down the sides, the profile remains unchanged, although the alloy wheels as per the single image appear to be new. Under the hood, the 102hp, 998cc, three-cylinder Boosterjet powerplant from the pre-facelift model carries forward unchanged. The unit continues to be paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard with no automatic gearbox option. Stopping power is provided by disc brakes on all four wheels. There are no images of the car’s cabin yet – though as per dealer sources, the cabin for the Baleno RS forgoes the black-and-blue theme from the standard Baleno in favour of an all-black cabin to go with its sportier credentials. The levels of equipment offered are at par with the top Alpha trim of the standard Baleno with kit that includes Maruti’s new SmartPlay Studio infotainment system, auto climate control, tilt- and telescopic-adjust steering, keyless entry and go, LED headlamps and electric fold wing mirrors, to name a few. Safety kit on offer includes dual airbags, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors. The Baleno RS facelift continues to rival the likes of the Fiat Abarth Punto, the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and the Tata Tiago JTP. The new Baleno RS, when officially launched, will continue to be sold from Maruti’s premium Nexa dealership chain. Also see: Toyota-badged Baleno confirmed for launch in 2019 2019 Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS facelift revealed 2019 Maruti Suzuki Baleno facelift price, variants explained 2019 Maruti Suzuki Wagon R: Top 5 things you need to know [...]
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PhotoGallery: Ford Endeavour facelift image gallery
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MG Motor India partners with Adobe for digital media
In preparation for the Hector SUV launch in the second quarter of 2019, MG Motor India has turned to tech major Adobe to bring the industry’s only end-to-end digital solutions platform in India. This partnership will help the brand chart out its entire customer journey – from the buyer's initial expression of interest to final purchase. “This deep access to customer insights will allow us to engage prospective customers with experiences that are personalised, relevant, and compelling, starting with the current pre-launch phase,” said Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director, MG Motor India. The move would give MG Motor India access to a gamut of Adobe Experience Cloud products for the purpose of handling its digital media – making MG among the first automobile brand in India to adopt Adobe's entire suite of digital marketing products. “With the car-buying decisions of customers increasingly being influenced by digital media, it is imperative to provide a seamless, yet not in-the-face customer experience at all instances during digital customer interaction,” Rajeev said during the announcement. The Adobe Experience Cloud platform will be responsible for delivering a differentiated customer experience for the brand. Everything from managing the Adobe Cloud Experience interface with customers via the revamped MG Motor India website to managing the entire step-by-step digital interface with customers around its launch will be handled by the platform. As part of its digital strategy, Adobe will help MG Motor India build and consolidate its experience onto a common platform. This would include the brand's website, dealer websites, and digital screens. With the implementation of Adobe Analytics, MG India will leverage insights derived from digital interactions between the brand and its customers across these channels, to further deliver personalised customer experiences. Additionally, the brand’s recently revamped website has been moved from WordPress to the Adobe Experience Cloud, keeping in mind enhanced customer experience and personalised content as the core. “Technology has transformed the way customers interact with the world around them and has rapidly evolved the expectations of brands. Digital, and the era of experience, are at the core of brands looking to thrive, especially in hyper-competitive sectors like the automobile industry. This industry has an array of objectives including appealing to a wide audience, establishing a deeper customer connection, and truly standing out from the pack. We are excited to partner with an iconic brand like MG and look forward to working with them as they enter the Indian market,” said Kulmeet Bawa, managing director, Adobe South Asia. Also see: 2019 MG Hector SUV to get largest-in-class touchscreen, sunroof MG Hector to be available on subscription through Myles MG Hector spotted on test MG Hector: 5 things to know [...]
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Lotus-Williams to develop a hypercar
Lotus has announced a collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering in order to develop and research ‘advanced propulsion technologies’. This partnership is going to lead to the development of an all-electric hypercar codenamed ‘Omega’, which will reportedly cost GBP 2 million (about Rs 18.6 crore). Complete details of the partnership have not been revealed yet, but we know that Lotus will be leading the development of the car itself to ensure that it meets the brand’s standard of structural lightness. Williams will bring its F1 expertise and focus on the EV powertrain necessary that is necessary to give it an expected four-figure power output in order to compete with current hypercars at this price point. This hypercar will be the first ever all-electric model made by Lotus and is a part of the brand’s plan to reposition itself as the performance-focused leader of the Geely Group, which is Lotus’ parent company. The group also includes Volvo, Polestar and LEVC, three carmakers with significant expertise in electrification. The Omega is expected to have a four-wheel-drive system with at least two electric motors (one to power the front wheels and one for the rear) on the powertrain front, providing quick acceleration figures. Advanced battery technology should allow for a range of more than 400km, with fast charging and some sort of energy recovery system part of the package. The Omega project is at the very least, two years away from being revealed. It remains to be seen whether Lotus and Williams will be working on any other powertrains or models together in the future. The Omega will face stiff competition when it enters the international market as it will go up against other all-electric performance cars like the Rimac C Two, Tesla Roadster as well as more traditional hypercar rivals like the Aston Martin Valkyrie and the Mercedes AMG One. Also see: 2012 Lotus-Renault F1 race car drive experience [...]
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PhotoGallery: New Mahindra XUV300 image gallery
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Mahindra XUV300: What to expect from each variant
With its launch scheduled on February 14, fresh details have emerged revealing the equipment break-up of the much anticipated Mahindra XUV300 compact SUV. Based on the SsangYong Tivoli sold in international markets, the XUV300 will be available in four trim levels ­­- W4, W6, W8 and W8(O) ­– and will be offered with a choice of a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol making 200Nm of peak torque and the 1.5-litre diesel engine from the Marazzo though it’s expected to use a different tune. Here is a look at what you can expect from each variant Mahindra XUV300 W4 Audio system with 4 speakers (diesel only) Electric adjust wing mirrors Electric tailgate release Gear shift indicator Multi-mode steering 16-inch steel wheels Dual airbags ABS with EBD Mahindra XUV300 W6: In addition to the features from the W4, the W6 gets Keyless entry Steering mounted audio controls Wheel caps Roof rails Rear spoiler with high mounted stop lamp Mahindra XUV300 W8: In addition to the W6, the W8 adds in Keyless entry and go 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Two tweeters ESP with hill hold assist Micro hybrid technology Dual zone climate control Cruise control Reverse camera with guide lines 6-way adjust driver seat Auto projector headlamps and wipers Electric folding wing mirrors Ambient lighting (mood lighting) Heated mirrors LED DRLs 17-inch alloy wheels Front and rear faux skid plates Mahindra XUV300 W8(O) Knee and side airbags Leatherette upholstery Auto dimming rear view mirror Tyre pressure monitoring system Front parking sensors 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels Sunroof As we had previously reported the XUV300 features many segment-first and segment leading features in the top trim such as 17-inch alloys, tyre pressure monitoring system, front parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, sunroof and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and navigation. When launched, the XUV300 will rival not only compact SUVs like of the popular Maruti Suzuki ViatarBrezza, the Ford EcoSport and the Tata Nexon but also larger offering such as the Hyundai Creta and Maruti Suzuki S-Cross. Expect prices to be in the range of Rs 8-12 lakh. [...]
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Budget 2019: FM backs EVs but no sops announced
In the union budget announced today, finance minister Piyush Goyal reaffirmed the government's push for electric vehicles and of making India a pollution-free country; but did not announce any sops to boost EV adoption. "This (pollution-free) India will drive on electric vehicles with renewables becoming a major source of energy. India will lead the world in the transport revolution through electric vehicles and energy-storage devices, bringing down import dependence and ensuring energy security for our people," Goyal said while presenting Budget 2019. The auto industry was left wanting for a concrete announcement that would further the government's vision for clean energy and provide impetus to the country's fledgling market for electric vehicles. "The EV industry welcomes our finance minister’s commitment towards making the country pollution-free. We hope the government would soon announce a concrete plan of action with its time-bound implementation in order to fulfil its stated vision," said Sohinder Gill, director general, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV). "SMEV strongly feels that an initial high dose of incentives and actions must be taken in the next year or two years to re-launch the electric mobility mission that has sort of lost steam in the recent years due to flip-flop of policies,” he added. "As per the 2019 budget electric vehicles are a key part of the government's vision for 2030. However considering the environment concerns, we were hoping for something concrete in the budget. Moreover, to meet the target of 2030 the government needs to plan today instead of giving the electric vehicles a push at a later stage," said Ayush Lohia, CEO, Lohia Auto Industries. However, the government recently announced a reduction in customs duty on import of parts and components of electric vehicles in an effort to boost local assembly. The duty on import of EV components have been lowered to 10-15 per cent, from 15-30 percent while the import of battery packs for EVs or hybrids now attracts a duty of 5 percent. "Although the recently announced cut in customs duty on certain electric-vehicle components will augur well for EVs during the longer term, there could have been more done in this regard to make India adopt EVs at a faster rate. We hope these factors, including charging infrastructure, will be addressed in the FAME II policies to be announced soon,” said P Balendran, Executive Director, MG Motor India. The country's apex automotive body – Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) – appreciated the emphasis laid on electric mobility; but called for a rollback in the duty hike on import of lithium-ion battery cells, which was increased from nil to 5 percent. "Since cell manufacturing is at very nascent stage, at present, in India, the current practice of importing cells is expected to continue; and hence the change will only lead to increase in cost of manufacturing electric vehicles' battery packs, which is expected to be dampener in generating demand for electric vehicles," SIAM said in a statement. [...]
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Harley-Davidson issues global recall for Street motorcycles
Harley-Davidson has issued a recall for 43,908 units of its Street motorcycles (the Street 500, the Street 750 and the Street Rod) for a brake related issue. All Street motorcycles sold between May 2015 and December 2018 have been affected. While we don’t have an exact number for the Street models recalled in India, there are 12,800 bikes that have been affected in the United States. Harley-Davidson has found that brake pads on certain models could be dragging due to caliper pistons being prone to corrosion and thus jamming the system. This means that the brakes are being employed while the motorcycle is on the move, causing accelerated wear of the brake pads and possibly even an accident in more extreme cases. Harley-Davidson has mentioned that the problem is more likely to occur in environments where rusting is common to motorcycles, like coastal regions. The company has said that dealers will install new front and rear brake calipers as part of a corrective measure. We get the Street 750 and Street Rod in India and they are priced at Rs 5.33 lakh and 6.53 lakh (ex-showroom), respectively. In other news, Harley-Davidson was selling its Street 750 a few months ago with discounts going up to Rs 89,000. [...]
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2019 Parx supercar, vintage car rally details revealed
Brace yourselves, enthusiasts in Mumbai: the Parx supercar rally is finally making a return this year, with the last edition held in 2015. First held in 2008, the rally has witnessed some of the city’s most delicious supercars turn up in droves. This time around, though, there’s a twist. Mixing it up with the supercars will be a big collection of superbikes, vintage cars and vintage bikes, to mark the Western India Automobile Association’s 100th anniversary. To be held on February 8, 9 and 10, the 2019 Parx supercar and vintage car rally will witness a total of 400 vehicles – 100 supercars, 100 superbikes, 100 vintage cars and 100 vintage bikes. While Gautam Singhania, chairman and managing director, Raymond Ltd, kept his cards close to his chest, we understand that two of the major attractions at this year’s rally will be his McLaren Senna and LaFerrari, which will be leading a range consisting of Lamborghinis, Maseratis and other high-performance cars. Among attractions in the vintage car section will be the Benz Patent Motorwagen replica, along with a 1896 Ford and a 1903 Humber Humberette. On February 8 and 9 (from 9am to 6pm), all the vehicles will be on display at the MMRDA Grounds, BKC, for enthusiasts to come and take a look, while the rally will be flagged off on February 10 at 11:30am. The cars will take the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, pass Worli Sea face and Haji Ali, and then move to Marine Drive and finally ending at Ballard Estate at around 1pm. Also see: Supercars galore in Mumbai on Jan 11, 2015 2014 Parx Super Car show report and gallery [...]
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SIAM welcomes import duty cut on EV components
Country's apex automotive body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers has welcomed the government's move to reduce the customs duty on import of parts and components of electric vehicles. It said the decision will aid local assembly and consequently, EV adoption as well. According to a notification issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the duty on import of EV components have been lowered to 10 - 15 per cent, from 15-30 percent. The import of battery packs for EVs or hybrids is now 5 percent. However, the apex auto body observed that the increase in import duty on battery cell from nil to 5 percent would make the introduction of electric vehicles more difficult as battery cells are not currently manufactured in the country. It recommended that  the import duty be kept at nil with an expiry date announced upfront to enable battery and automobile companies to plan for local assembly. The components that fall under the purview of 10 percent import duty include a knocked down kit containing a battery pack, motor, motor controller, charger, power control unit, energy monitor, contractor, brake system and electric compressor not mounted on chassis and in "disassembled" form. If the same components are in a "pre-assembled" form, they will attract 15 percent import duty, the according to the CBIC notification. SIAM observed that the notification has also removed ambiguity in the definitions of CKD and SKD of electric vehicles for all the vehicle segments. The fully built electric vehicles will still attract 60 percent/100 percent for passenger vehicles and 50 percent for two-wheelers as suggested by SIAM. [...]
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India-spec Yamaha MT-15 details revealed
Yamaha will soon launch the MT-15 in India, and the bike has been spotted testing in near-production form last month. This week, a ‘Type Approval Certificate’ registered with the CMVR (Central Motor Vehicle Rules), surfaced online, revealing a few details of the upcoming bike. The document dated January 17, 2019 confirms that the MT-15 will be powered by the same 155cc, single-cylinder engine on the R15 V3.0 that produces 19.3hp at 10,000rpm and 14.7Nm at 8,500rpm. Also revealed in the document are the bike's dimensions. The India-spec MT-15 measures 2,020mm in length, 800mm in width and 1,070mm in height. In comparison, the Thai-spec bike is just as wide, but measures a slightly lesser 1,965mm in length and 1,065mm in height. However, that being said, the Thai- and India-spec bikes have the same 1,335mm wheelbase. The extra length of the India-spec bike could be the result of a longer tail section or different tyres. What's also seen in the document is the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), which is 288kg. The GVW of a vehicle is essentially the kerb weight in addition to the weight of its passengers (in this case, rider and pillion). Assuming that the average weight of each person in the test is 75kg, this would result in a kerb weight of 138kg for the India-spec MT-15. For reference, the Thai-spec bike weighs 133kg. This assumption makes sense given that the R15 V3.0 gained a similar 5kg when it made its way to India. The India-spec MT-15 receives a few changes compared to the international bike, like a conventional telescopic fork rather than a USD unit, and a basic, box-section swingarm and not the aluminium unit found on the R15 V3.0 and international-spec MT-15. The MT-15 was recently teased at a Yamaha dealer event and we expect the bike to be officially launched in the coming weeks. IMAGE SOURCE [...]
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