Aftermarket accessories for cars are a huge business in India. While we often hear about add-ons like a more premium infotainment system with better speakers, alloy wheels, rear parking cameras and sensors, or even performance enhancing parts, we rarely talk about vehicle safety.
Central locking or remote locking system might still be a hot accessory but a passive security setup is just as crucial – which is where dashcams come into play. By recording real-time GPS coordinates and exact vehicle speed, a dashcam is a must for those who want to protect themselves against any unfortunate incidents. Let's have a look at one of the newest dashcams on the market: the Transcend DrivePro 230.
Transcend – known for making pen drives, hard disks and memory card readers – has recently introduced the new DrivePro 230. At first feel, the dashcam feels rather solid, almost like it is carved out of a solid block of plastic; and that is a good thing. In fact, the DrivePro 230 feels almost military-spec in terms of weight, touch and feel. In case of a crash, this feels like something that will most definitely survive.
Everything you do get in the box seems like it is made out of high-quality materials. You get a clip-on clamp with a suction mount that goes up on your windscreen or dashboard, and a charging cable that is a generous 4m long, in case you need to route it through the roof or side panels. You also get a 16GB memory card from Transcend’s ‘high endurance’ series which is designed to record data, even under extreme conditions.
The Transcend DrivePro 230 has a typical wide-angle lens in front and a large and fairly clear screen behind it. Unlike every gadget in 2019, this isn’t a touchscreen. However, the four-button setup on the bottom makes it easy to cycle through the options – and there are quite a fair few of these to go through, too. The dashcam offers a plethora of services like the headlamp reminder, a parking mode where the cam can get activated sensing movement, and even a speed alert system.
But, this is a dashcam after all, so let's talk about how it actually records. In the daytime, the video quality on the DrivePro 230 is crisp, clear and the lens makes sure it captures a good wide-angle shot. You can shoot either in 720p or in full-HD 1080 resolution; although the latter, of course, will mean larger files. The camera also automatically watermarks GPS location in longitude and latitude and a GPS-sourced speed on the bottom right of the frame.
While most cameras record video well in daytime, the Transcend DrivePro 230 really starts to show its edge over others while recording in low-light conditions, or at night. The quality of the video at night is very good – even better than your average smartphone – and the built-in sensors really do adapt well to glare and changing degrees of brightness. All in all, this dashcam does its primary duties really well.
At Rs 19,999, this Transcend dashcam is certainly priced at a premium. But considering that it gives you an additional level of security (in the form of video proof) both when your car is unattended and when you're on the move, it's an accessory that every cautious motorist must have. [...]
Ford will unveil the third-generation Kuga SUV on April 2, 2019, ahead of its launch later this year. The Kuga, which is sold in European markets, is badged as the Ford Escape in North America and sits above the EcoSport in the brand’s global line-up.
Teased in a video on Ford's Facebook page ahead of the official unveiling, the new Kuga will adopt styling influenced by the recently launched Focus.Spy shots seen earlier revealed the new Kuga will have a curvier shape and wider stance. Inside, we can expect the familiar dashtop-mounted touchscreen infotainment system seen on the brand's latest models. Other similarities will include equipment list, additional driver assistance technology and increased passenger space.
The big news, however, is that Ford will offer the new Kuga with two seating configurations. Apart from the five-seat variant, there will also be a seven-seat version that is expected to join the line-up later and is likely to be called the ‘Grand Kuga’.
Engine options for the Kuga are likely to include Ford's entry-level 1.0-litre Ecoboost, a 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre diesel unit. The brand also plans to introduce electrification in some form across all models with more than one hybrid variant expected. A plug-in hybrid is all but officially confirmed, while a conventional petrol-electric system is likely to be offered in certain markets.
Along with the Kuga, Ford is expected to unveil another all-new SUV, likely to be called Ford Puma which will be positioned below the Ecosport and the Kuga.
Ford sold 1,51,000 Kugas in 2017 across Europe and slightly fewer in 2018 –that's more than double the volume shifted in 2013 when the second-generation model was launched.
In India, Ford has started co-developing an all-new SUV with Mahindra. The model will share its underpinnings with the next-gen XUV500 and will be built on the same line at Mahindra’s Chakan plant.
Click here for Ford models, prices, reviews, images, videos and more [...]
Mercedes-Benz has just revealed the AMG A35 sedan, which, in essence, is a sporty version of the regular A-class sedan. The A35 is the German carmaker’s newest entry-level performance sedan and is positioned below the AMG’s C43 sedan in the international market.
It is powered by the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine seen in the A35 hatchback that produces 306hp and 400Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4-Matic all-wheel-drive system. According to AMG, the A35 sedan can do 0-100kph in 4.8sec, just 0.1sec slower than the hatchback, while top speed is electronically limited to 250kph.
On the design front, the A35 sedan features a front end similar to the A35 hatchback and comes with enlarged air intakes, front splitter and gets 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. It also features a liftback look at the rear, with an aggressive rear diffuser and twin-exhaust system. An optional AMG aerodynamics package tweaks the front splitter and adds a rear lip spoiler.
The interior is equipped with Mercedes’ MBUX multimedia system, along with a fully digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen under one piece of glass. The instrument cluster can be customised with different modes, including Supersport mode that adds AMG-specific data such as G-Force readings and track telemetry. The car also gets AMG sports seats in the front. An AMG performance steering wheel (same as the one seen on the AMG C63) is available as an optional extra.
Mercedes has made no announcement regarding an India launch for the sporty AMG A-class sedan, though the standard A-class sedan is being considered for a 2020-21 launch. The German carmaker has also recently launched the C43 Coupe in India at Rs 75 lakh (ex-showroom, India). The C43 Coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engine.
2019 Mercedes-Benz A-class sedan image gallery
Mercedes-AMG to give all models a plug-in hybrid option
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe refreshed for 2019
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In the last Passat report, Hormazd mentioned I was planning a quick trip to Goa in it, and he was right. Thanks to all the praise about the car’s long-distance touring abilities, I knew this had to be my next ride to Goa. And, this time around, my mother-in-law was to accompany us; so a car with comfy seats, a decent ride and a safe and secure feeling would trump a powerful engine and sharp handling.
And then, when handing over the key, Hormazd also laid down a small challenge – “Try and do 1,000km on one tank. I managed 900.” If I pull this off, it would mean getting five people to Goa in absolute comfort would be far cheaper than us eating out; I was sold. It would be a challenge though; we would be five people plus luggage but at the same time quite doable especially with the route I always take – Pune Expressway and NH48.
My mother-in-law, however, dropped out, but we were still four plus all our luggage. So the first challenge was fitting it all in and the Passat managed it quite easily. At 586 litres, the boot is large, wide and free of intrusions. Next was getting everyone comfy, and no problem here too – there’s ample space and the seats are really a standout; they’re nicely contoured and have excellent cushioning.
Settled in, it was time now for the big challenge – 1,000km on one tank. We were leaving at 9:30am, so while it wouldn’t be a traffic-free run, being a Sunday, traffic would be light. And to make things more interesting, I decide not to use the Eco drive mode and stick with Normal; if I average 17kpl, the 66-litre tank should get me a little over 1,100km.
The drive is pretty easy and traffic is light, however my plan of sticking with Normal mode is soon in trouble – trucks on the Lonavala ghat meant I had to move to Sport to get past them. The benefit here is a little less body roll thanks to the adjustable dampers that alter firmness along with the drive modes. So this remains the plan of action for most of the drive – ‘Normal’ in all cases and Sport only to quickly get past slow traffic.
I’m not really light-footing it but using lift and coast effectively, and at the halfway mark, things are looking pretty good. 300km done and only about a quarter of a tank of fuel used – at this rate I would be at home in Goa on just half a tank of gas. However, when we do reach, we’ve used just a little over the halfway mark; Belgaum city and Chorla ghat do take a slight toll. Still we’ve covered 637km with the range still showing another 460km! The 1,000km challenge should be met thanks to Goa’s light traffic and, a few days later, on our way back to Bombay, we are on target to do about 1,050km! However, I calculate the reserve section would be somewhere in the ghats, and so I have fill up early.
The Passat has pulled off an amazing feat – an average of 17.7kpl for four people plus luggage, and without using Eco mode even once. For a car this size, it’s simply superb. And as for the nickname, I’m thinking ‘Dreamliner’, because like Boeing’s aircraft, the Passat is efficient, has a great range, and is very comfortable inside – the perfect long-haul craft.
2018 Volkswagen Passat long term review, first report [...]
Barely a month before the March 31 expiry of the first phase of the government’s FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) scheme, which aims to boost the adoption of electric vehicles in the country, the Cabinet gave a green light to its second phase. The first phase, which was approved to go on steam from April 1, 2015, for an initial period of two years, saw multiple extensions.
Now, proposed to be implemented over three years, the phase two of FAME scheme sees an almost 11-fold increase in total allocation to Rs 10,000 crore (FAME I - Rs 895 crore). It also seeks to offer incentives to 15,62,090 vehicles, around five times more than the 2,70,000 vehicles it has supported under the first phase.
A large focus of the scheme clearly is on electric two-wheelers, given that they account for 97 percent of India's EV sales (electric two-wheeler volumes doubled to 54,800 units in 2017-18). Of the total, the government aims to support 10,00,000 electric two-wheelers followed by 5,00,000 electric three-wheelers, 55,000 electric four-wheelers and 7,090 electric buses.
However, on the face of it, the scheme intends to benefit a higher number of vehicles and is armed with more firepower, but looking at the specifics, the scheme doesn’t seem to be as well-rounded as it might originally sound. As things stand, it is likely to fall short of having the intended impact and consequently, the money could even go underutilised. And there are multiple reasons for the same.
Not much for electric car buyers
What's a real downer to FAME II is how it ignores the electric-car buyer. If it's implemented in the way it is proposed, there's no incentive for a car buyer to move to a hybrid or an EV.
In order to get subsidies, electric vehicles sold in India will need to have a minimum range of 140km, a minimum max speed of 70kph and a max battery capacity of 30kWh. The intention behind keeping these criteria quite stringent is to induce EV carmakers to develop models that could be viable alternatives to combustion engine cars. To meet these requirements, the cars will require a higher battery capacity. The catch 22 situation here is that the higher cost of large battery packs could drive ex-factory prices above the Rs 15 lakh threshold to be eligible for benefits under FAME II. Given their specification requirements and price limitations, it seems very difficult for manufacturers to bring electric cars with that travel range, costing below Rs 15 lakh, within three years i.e. the scheme's duration.
The Rs 15 lakh eligibility criterion itself has its own flaws. While the price restriction is to avoid benefits being extended to high-end vehicles, the fact is, most new technologies debut on pricier models. The tech is fine-tuned and eventually, after its cost comes down, make its way onto budget cars. The stipulations under FAME II could, in effect, end up restricting this flow of technology to cheaper cars. It's not just about technology. Without sufficient benefits, carmakers might shy away from launching large electric vehicles, including SUVs. Carmakers just might not see a strong enough business case for a medium to large-sized EV.
Another factor that will discourage car buyers from switching to EVs is keeping private buyers out of the ambit (this wasn't the case with FAME I). Only those cars and three-wheelers used for public transport or commercial transport will be eligible for subsidies. However, privately owned electric two-wheelers are eligible to avail benefits. This doesn't bode too well for buyers, especially when relatively affordable EVs such as the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R EV and the Tata Altroz EV are on the horizon. True, shared electric mobility is expected to have a wider environmental impact by virtue of a public transport vehicle typically covering a larger distance, but in a country like ours in which EV/hybrid adoption is at such as nascent stage, discouraging private buyers will do nothing to hasten the pace of clean vehicle adoption.
All's not smooth-sailing for electric two-wheelers
According to the FAME II notification, "the benefits of incentives will be extended to only those vehicles that are fitted with advance battery, like a Lithium-Ion battery, and other new technology batteries". This is done in an effort to encourage advance technologies. However, electric two-wheelers with a lithium-ion battery only account for a miniscule portion of the total e2Ws sold in India. According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), just 2,163 two-wheelers sold last year were fitted with a lithium-ion battery, translating into just 4 percent of the total.
Furthermore, the criterion for having 50 percent of localisation also poses a challenge for automakers, especially since battery manufacturing is currently not done i [...]
BMW has released images that show the upcoming i4 electric sedan undergoing cold-weather testing alongside the upcoming iNext and iX3 electric SUVs. The iX3, based on the latest X3, is due to launch in 2020, followed by the standalone iNext, a year later, and the 4 Series-based new i4 a year later.
BMW has said that the tests taking place at its cold-weather testing facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, are set to determine the durability of the models' batteries, electric motors and suspension systems. The carmaker's rival to the Tesla Model 3 has a claimed range of over 600km and a 0-100kph time of 4sec with a 200kph top speed.
There is a direct visual link between the i4 and the latest 3 Series; and it will share much of its design with the upcoming second-gen 4 Series sedan. A side-on view of the electric sedan reveals that it seems to be higher off the ground that the current-gen 4 Series, both in terms of roof height and ground clearance. This suggests a raised floor to accommodate a sizeable long-range battery. Other tell-tale signs that this is the i4 include a blanked-off front grille, fake 'exhausts' in the disguise and legally mandated 'electric test vehicle' stickers.
The i4 has been scheduled to be built on the same line as the standard 3 Series models at BMW's factory in Munich, Germany. To ensure a smooth production process alongside existing petrol, diesel and hybrid models, the German car manufacturer is already running assembly tests with pre-production versions of the model.
Talking about the i4, BMW AG chairman and CEO Harald Krüger said, “The leading factors that will set it apart are fantastic design, which is very different to anything else on the road, and the fact that it is lighter and therefore more dynamic than anything we see on the market today, thanks to the materials we will use. Couple that with the connectivity technology we are constantly developing and we are confident it will lead the market.”
Sources suggest that BMW i4 is being considered for two drivetrain options for the i4. The first is one that uses a front-mounted electric motor in combination with a fixed-ratio gearbox and an electric propeller shaft to channel drive to the rear wheels. This layout would give the i4 traditional BMW traits and, according to one source, the best possible weight distribution. The second, and more costly option, uses two electric motors – one driving the front wheels and a second within the rear-axle assembly that drives the rear wheels.
Similar to the system set to appear on the iX3, the i4 offers the choice between front and four-wheel drive, depending on the drive mode that is selected. To achieve performance targets similar to those of the current 335d, BMW is banking on a total output for the electric motor set-up of the i4, whether as a single unit or dual units (front and rear) of approximately 355hp.
At a board meeting held earlier this year, BMW’s top management initiated an accelerated development of both long-range plug-in hybrids and electric models in anticipation of stricter emissions norms in the EU by 2030. At the 2018 Paris motor show, in conversation with our sister publication, Autocar UK, Krüger confirmed the altered i-division plan. The new plan now plans to offer more electric cars than any rival premium brand in the short term, and calls for the introduction of up to five dedicated i models by the end of 2021. After this, tentative steps will be taken to expand to 12 electric models within the whole BMW Group – including Mini and Rolls-Royce – by 2025. Krüger has also green-lit 25 new plug-in hybrid models to be introduced by 2025.
Among the models at the centre of BMW’s electrification strategy lies a further-developed version of the constantly evolving i3, the Mini SE, the iX3 and the i4. BMW will follow that with a more advanced range of premium electric cars employing solid-state batteries and autonomous driving features – as previewed on the recently shown iNext concept car. [...]
According to dealer sources, the 2019 Bajaj Dominar will be priced at Rs 1.74 lakh. This makes the new model cost around Rs 11,000 more than the current bike that’s priced at Rs 1.63 lakh (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi). The flagship offering from Bajaj has received quite a substantial update for 2019, with changes to the engine, suspension and more.
To begin with, it now gets a DOHC motor, replacing the SOHC unit. Along with this there is also a power bump – peak power has gone up from 35hp at 8,000rpm to 40hp at 8,650rpm. Peak torque, meanwhile, remains unchanged at 35Nm but comes in at 7,000rpm – 500rpm higher than on the older bike. The second biggest change is the updated suspension, where the conventional telescopic fork has been replaced with an upside-down unit, improving the ride quality significantly. Another contributor to the nicer ride is the revised monoshock.
Bajaj’s flagship also features an updated instrument cluster. While, at first glance, the layout and appearance of the instrumentation may look just like that of the older model, it now has a secondary display on the tank, in place of the warning lights. It is a more advanced unit that displays gear position, trip meters and more, while the primary display now conveys information (like mileage per litre) and warnings (like side-stand down) in text form.
The exhaust has also been updated and now sports a twin-exit end can, which produces a slightly louder note. Lastly, for 2019, the Bajaj Dominar also gets a bright new colour scheme called Auroral Green.
At this price point, the 2019 Bajaj Dominar 400 continues to be a strong value proposition and it still handsomely undercuts the rest of its rivals – like the BMW G310R, TVS Apache RR 310, the newly launched Honda CB300R and its own cousins, the KTM 250 Duke and 390 Duke.
2019 Bajaj Dominar video review
2019 Bajaj Dominar 400 image gallery
2019 Bajaj Dominar 400 review, test ride [...]
In a survey conducted by Veygo, Toyota has emerged as the most searched for car brand in the world, topping the charts in 57 of the 171 countries that participated in the survey. Next was German automaker BMW, which topped the list in 25 countries, with Mercedes-Benz (23 countries) rounding up the top three. In India, Maruti Suzuki topped the list of most searched for car brands. The survey was conducted by Veygo and was based on data from the Google search engine.
Maruti Suzuki has long been a major player in the Indian car market, holding onto a major portion of the market share with multiple models from the brand being listed in the ten bestselling cars every month.
As per data collected, Toyota topped the search charts in Australia, the US, Canada, the Middle-East and a large portion of East, Central and Southern Africa. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz was quite popular in West Africa and beat out its rival, BMW, to be the most searched brand in its home market of Germany.
However, Maruti Suzuki and Mercedes-Benz were not the only brands to be popular in their home markets. French carmaker, Renault dominated searches in France, while Volvo held the top spot in Sweden. Peruoda was the most popular in its home market of Malaysia.
Korean brand Hyundai topped the list of most searched for car brand in Russia, while Tesla held the top spot in markets like China, Norway and Holland. Honda was popular in many Southeast Asian countries. [...]
The 2019 Honda CB150R ‘Streetster’ has gone on sale in Thailand. This bike is essentially a visually revised version of the CB150R street-naked, and has been priced from 99,800 baht (Rs 2.16 lakh). What’s new on the Streetster is a new paint scheme and red detailing on the brake calipers. If you thought this bike looks similar, that’s because it shares its neo-retro styling with the CB300R that was recently launched in India; it even shares components and tech with it.
The CB150R began life as the 150SS Racer concept that the company first showcased in April 2017 at the Bangkok International Motor Show. Mind you, this was even before the reveal of the ‘Neo Sports Café’ concept in October 2017 at the Tokyo Motor Show. The production-ready version of the Neo Sports Café, which is the current CB1000R, only went on to make its debut in November 2017 at EICMA. All of these bikes have modern lines complemented by retro elements like the round LED headlight.
Propulsion on this bike comes from a 149cc DOHC single-cylinder engine. This motor is fuel-injected, liquid-cooled and is shared with the CBR150R. Thailand’s Honda website doesn’t quote power figures, but one can expect it to produce somewhere around 18-20hp. The gearbox, meanwhile, is a 6-speed unit.
Like the Honda CB300R, the 150 uses a diamond frame that is sprung up by a 41mm USD fork and a monoshock. The CB150R also appears to have identical brakes that measure 296mm at the front and 220mm at the rear, which come equipped with dual-channel ABS.
The Honda CB150R also shares its wheels with the CB300R and features the same spoke design and identical tyre specifications – 110/70-17 at the front and 150/60-17 at the rear. It also comes equipped with LED lighting all around and a fully digital instrument cluster.
There is a chance this bike could make it to India, as it would make a good rival to the recently launched Yamaha MT-15 and even the KTM Duke 125. Further, supposed India patent images of the CB150R were leaked last year.
Coming to the pricing, if Honda does intend to launch this bike in India, we can expect them to significantly lower the cost for our market. We have seen them do this in India with the CB300R, which is priced at Rs 2.41 lakh compared to 1,49,800 baht (Rs 3.25 lakh) in Thailand. Do you think the Honda CB150R should come to India, and do you believe they can price it competitively? Let us know in the comments below
All prices, ex-showroom, India. [...]
The Volkswagen T-Cross has scored a 5-star rating in a crash test that was recently conducted by the Latin NCAP or New Car Assessment Program. The front offset crash test was conducted at 64 kph while a side mobile barrier test was conducted at 50 kph. For adult occupant safety, the T-Cross scored 14.62 out of 16 points for front offset crash and a full 16 out of 16 points for the side crash test. In terms of child occupant safety, the Volkswagen T-Cross scored 21.77 out of 24 points. The model tested by NCAP had 6 airbags as standard.
The Latin NCAP also stated that the body shell of the new Volkswagen T-Cross was certified to be stable post all the crash scenarios. The NCAP also stated that the footwell area was rated as stable and showed insignificant deformation. The reports also elaborated on how the car offered good protection to the driver and passenger head and neck while the driver chest received adequate protection from the restraint systems.
The Volkswagen T-Cross is based on the MQB A0 platform and an Indianised version of the T-Cross will soon make it to India in 2020 based on the MQB A0 IN platform. The T-Cross in India will get a 1.5-litre petrol engine under the bonnet from the TSI EVO family and will make 130hp of peak power. The engine will also feature cylinder de-activation technology that will help enhance fuel economy on the T-Cross by up to 10 percent. There will be no diesel engine option on the T-Cross when it launches in India next year.
The Volkswagen T-Cross will take on the likes of the Hyundai Creta and the upcoming Kia SUV.
Click here for all Volkswagen models, prices, reviews, images, videos and more.
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Driving a Formula One car on a Sunday afternoon is no different from pulling out your Renault Duster for a weekend afternoon grocery run, right? Wrong. It couldn’t be more different. Because when Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg line up on the starting grid for 21 Sundays of this year, they will need more than just raw skill.
Natural talent is just a tiny part of the equation. If Ricciardo and Hülkenberg are to tame their pair of 1,000hp, Renault R.S.19 race cars and be able to push them to the limit for two hours on a Sunday afternoon, they will need to match this other-worldly ability behind the wheel with superhuman levels of fitness.
“It just looks very simple from the outside,” says Martin Poole, Hülkenberg’s physiotherapist. “It’s very violent under the crash helmet. Imagine driving your car the whole time, really accurately, every inch and someone’s just constantly, without any break, always pushing you in this direction, that direction. That’s what it feels like from all those lateral-Gs coming in, all the forces on his neck, the vibrations, all the bumps, the braking. There’s a lot going on…”. The cockpit of a Formula One car could be portrayed as an inhospitable environment.
As tightly ensconced as they are in their cars – in their all-enveloping fireproof overalls and crash helmets – the punishment a driver’s body takes isn’t as apparent as the physicality of a sport like, say, tennis. But, as effortless as they make it look, driving a Grand Prix car on the limit is no Sunday afternoon cruise. The speeds they corner at and the short braking distances regularly impose forces equivalent to as many as five times — and occasionally, six times — that of gravity on their bodies.
We’re all familiar with the sensation of being flung forward when we’ve had to brake hard in our road cars. Now, imagine being flung forward with six times that amount of force. That’s what Formula One drivers feel when they hit the brake pedal. Under that kind of stress, most of us would struggle to hold our heads up. That’s not all. The stresses of driving the cars mean drivers’ heart-rates hover around the 160-180 beats-per-minute mark for the duration of the race.
To slow their thoroughbred racing machines enough to make the tightest of corners, they have to hit the brake pedal with around 180kg of force. That’s like lifting 180kg of weight on leg day at the gym – with just one leg. And they have to go through all this while they sit, clad head to toe in multiple layers, in a cockpit environment where temperatures can soar to a scorching 60deg Cand humidity can touch 80 oreven 90 percent.
At the hotter races like the Singapore Grand Prix, it’s not uncommon for drivers to have lost as much as 4kg weight after just 2hr of racing. Yet when they step out of their cars after most races, they look like they’ve barely broken a sweat.
Of course, to reach such a heightened level of physical conditioning, drivers have to train all year round. The James Hunt stereotype of a Formula One driver as a hard-drinking party animal hasn’t held true for some time now. Instead, the modern-day Grand Prix driver lives a strictly regimented life.
When Ricciardo won the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix for Red Bull – a race that used to be one of the most physical ones on the calendar – he intended to celebrate by having a few drinks on his flight out. In an interview a few days later, ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, he said he had passed on the drinks and settled for some plain old water instead. “I was like, okay, I need water, so I was happy to drink water.”
A Formula One driver’s preparation for the season ahead begins over the winter. A few days (or a week, perhaps) off after the last race of the previous campaign and they’re back at the grind. The gruelling 21-race schedule means there’s little time to train once the season begins. That makes it all the more crucial for drivers to maximise the quiet winter months to work themselves into a state of ‘overfitness’, basically building a margin that they can use over the course of the season when they don’t have time to train as rigorously.
“Most of our work is done pre-season,” Poole explains. "Naturally, we can’t train as hard during the season as we do in the off-season. It becomes much more car-fit during the season, which is very hard to replicate in the gym. We do have gaps between races which we use to train. At certain races we train specifically for that race. So for example, before Singapore we did a little bit of extra training to try and get ready for the challenges that’s going to give us. (But) during the season, it’s largely staying injury-free, illness-free and just maintaining his [...]
Royal Enfield has just launched its newest model – the Bullet Trials. Priced at Rs 1.62 lakh for the Trials 350 and Rs 2.07 lakh for the Trials 500, the bikes pay homage to Royal Enfield’s Trials bikes of yesteryear. The brand has called the journey of the Royal Enfield Bullet “the most enduring tale in motorcycling” and this new model adds to the long list of motorcycles that have worn the Bullet badge in the past.
The two new models use the same engine and gearbox as the ones on their standard Bullet range counterparts. On the Bullet Trials 350, the 346cc motor makes 20hp and 28Nm of torque, while on the Bullet Trials 500, the 499cc motor produces 27.5hp and 41.3Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to the same 5-speed gearbox.
The new Trials bikes also borrow the tank- and side-panels from the Bullets. In accordance with its off-road intentions, the front and rear fenders are shorter and narrower than on the standard Bullet. This off-road-friendly appearance is further accentuated by a taller handlebar that features a cross-brace similar to those seen on a lot of enduro motorcycles. A distinguishing factor between the Trials 350 and Trials 500 is the colour scheme. The 350 uses a red frame, while the 500 uses a green one. Both motorcycles come with dual-discs with dual-channel ABS.
The Bullet Trials come with a 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheel, shod with Ceat tyres. Keeping with the overall theme, the bike also features an upswept exhaust muffler. The headlight grille and crossbar padding seen on the bikes above are part of a accessory pack. At the moment, the Trials bikes have no direct competition and sit in between the standard Bullet series and the Royal Enfield Himalayan in terms of intent.
All prices, ex-showroom India.
2019 Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 350 image gallery
2019 Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 500 image gallery [...]
The Sprint de Bengaluru 2019 took place over the weekend, acting as a non-championship, curtain-raiser event for the upcoming 2019 season of the Indian National Rally Championship. It was Kerala’s Younus Ilyas who took top honours at the event, after Bengaluru’s Dean Mascarenhas was handed a penalty.
Ilyas, along with navigator Harish Gowda, set the pace early on and held a 10 second lead at the end of the first day. But on the second day, Mascarenhas, who was driving a stock car in the INRC 3 category, started eating into Ilyas’ advantage. After completing the first two stages of the day just behind Ilyas, he managed to win the next two stages at the LG Champions County track, gaining nine and eight seconds on each stage.
However, Mascarenhas was then handed a six-minute penalty for reaching the starting point late on Saturday. This dropped him down to the bottom of the standings, handing victory to Ilyas.
“It was just bad luck,” lamented Mascarenhas. “My car didn’t start so I got delayed. I am, however, very happy with the way I drove and I am looking forward to a good season.”
“It was a great outing. And I loved being out here! The stages were interesting and were challenging at times. But I am really glad to have come out on top,” said Ilyas.
Dhruva Chandrashekar and navigator Musa Sherif took an understated 2nd place in the overall INRC category, taking victory in the INRC 3 category in the process. Sanjay Agarwal and navigator Smitha N rounded up the top three in the overall standings.
The event also featured a separate ladies class that was won by Shivani Pruthvi.
INRC Overall: 1. Younus Ilyas / Harish KN; 2. Dhruva Chandrashekar / Musa Sherif; 3. Sanjay Agarwal / Smitha N
INRC 1: Suhem Kabeer / J. Jeevarathinam; 2. Lokesh Gowda / D Uday Kumar
INRC 2: 1. Younus Ilyas / Harish KN; 2. Ritesh Guttedar / Lokaranjan; 3. Lanusanen Pongener / Vinay Kmar PM
INRC 3: 1. Dhruva Chandrashekar / Musa Sherif; 2. Chetan Shivram / Dilip Sharan; 3. Aroor Vikram Rao / Somayya AG
FMSCI CUP / 4WD: 1. Sanjay Agarwal / Smitha N; 2. Avin Nanjappa / Darshan Nachappa; 3. Nikhil J / Arjun Dheerendra
FMSCI CUP / 2WD: 1. Vaibhav Marathe / Arjun SSB; 2. Avinash DC / Kenith Harsha; 3. Adith KC / Venu Ramesh Kumar
Ladies Class: 1. Shivani Pruthvi / Deepti Pruthvi; 2. Harshita Gowda / Vidya M [...]
Prior to the launch of the Royal Enfield Trials 350 and 500 – scheduled for tomorrow – select dealers have begun accepting bookings for the new bikes. Inspired by the Bullet motorcycles that brought the brand fame during off-road races in the 1950s, the Trials bikes borrow hardware from existing models in the Royal Enfield line-up.
We believe that the Trials 350 and 500 are powered by the same engines seen on their Bullet counterparts. Output figures for the 346cc motor on the Bullet 350 are 19.8hp and 28Nm of torque, while the Bullet 500 has a 499cc motor that produces 27.5hp and 41.3Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed gearbox.
The only instance where we have seen the Trials in action, is in a recently released teaser. The bike in the video is seen wading through water, through which minor details can be gleaned. The bike is seen with a high-swept exhaust, accentuating the off-road nature of the motorcycle. In the video, the bike also has the frame, swingarm, subframe, fender-stays and even the main stand in a bright red colour. Earlier leaked images also revealed a bike with an olive green colour on the aforementioned parts, and this could be a distinguishing factor between the 350 and 500. We believe that the bike with the red parts is the Trials 350, while the olive green variant is the Trials 500.
Images of the Trials bike show that both have the same tank and side panels as the Bullet/Classic models. On closer inspection, one can also see that the front and rear fenders are shorter and narrower, which is more in-tune with the bike’s off-road intentions. It’s also likely that the bikes will be equipped with 18-inch wheels shod with dual-sport tyres. The brand seems to be targetting solo riders as the Trials bikes will be offered with a single seat. Replacing the rear seat on this Royal Enfield is a luggage rack as standard; there will not be an option for a second seat. This is confirmed by the design of the upswept exhaust, which makes it impossible to mount pillion foot pegs.
We expect Royal Enfield to charge a premium of about Rs 10,000 over the standard Bullet models, owing to the additional kit on offer with the Trials. The Trials 350 is expected to be priced at around Rs 1.55 lakh; a Rs 21,000 increase (Rs 11,000 for the dual-channel ABS and Rs 10,000 for the Trial kit) over the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 ES, which costs close to Rs 1.34 lakh. The Trials 500, meanwhile, is expected to cost around Rs 1.98 lakh as the standard ABS-equipped Bullet 500 is priced at Rs 1.88 lakh.
(All prices are ex-showroom, Delhi) [...]
It was at the Geneva Motor show 2019 that Skoda revealed its latest and smallest SUV – the Kamiq. Underpinned by the VW Group’s MQB A0 platform – the same that underpinned the VW T-Cross – the Kamiq’s design draws from its larger siblings and will be offered with a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines when it goes on sale in international markets in the ensuing months.
Here is what you should know about Skoda’s latest SUV
Larger than the European T-Cross
The Kamiq is Skoda’s first SUV to be underpinned by VW Group’s MQB A0 platform that also underpins the VW T-Cross. Interestingly, the Skoda Kamiq is longer than the European-spec T-Cross, measuring in at 4,241mm in length and having a 2,651mm long wheelbase, though it shares it wheelbase for the T-Cross for South American markets.
Shares cabin styling with the Skoda Scala
While the exterior styling bits are similar to the brand’s larger SUVs – the Karoq and Kodiaq – the cabin shares many similarities with Skoda’s new hatchback, the Scala. The SUV is offered with the option of a 9.2-inch free-standing infotainment touchscreen that sits above a hand rest 'shelf' atop the centre console. There is also an optional 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit display.
Shares name with a China-specific model
In an interesting move, Skoda first launched the Kamiq name in China in April 2018 as a China-specific entry-level SUV. Unlike the model that debuted at Geneva, the Chinese model is underpinned by the VW Group’s older PQ-series platform and featured a more conventional front end – singular headlamp units as against the split-headlamp design seen on the international model.
Previews Skoda’s new SUV for India
Under Volkswagen’s India 2.0 plan, Skoda is set to launch an all-new SUV in India, with the model set to be previewed by a concept at the 2020 Auto Expo. The India-specific model will be underpinned by a heavily localised iteration of the VW Group’s MQB A0 platform, which, the automaker is calling the MQB A0IN, in a bid to keep costs in check. Styling for the India-spec model is likely to stay in line with the European Kamiq.
Range of turbocharged engines
For international markets, Skoda is offering the Kamiq with two petrol and one diesel engine option. The SUV will be available with a 1.0-litre TSI unit in two states of tune, along with a larger 1.5 TSI unit. The diesel unit is the brand’s 1.6-litre unit.
The India-spec SUV on the other hand is expected to be offered with a range of turbocharged petrol engines, with the brand’s current 1.5-litre diesel set to be axed when the BS-VI emission norms come into force and the larger 2.0-litre diesel adjudged as too big for the SUV.
Skoda Kamiq image gallery
Click here for all Skoda models, prices, reviews, images, videos and more. [...]
Whose idea was it? Who is the numbskull who thought they could replace a set of perfectly machined gears, metal-on-metal contact and instant power transmission with a bunch of glorified rubber bands? Who was it that said: “Stretch, strain, whine, wheeze . . . .Aaahhh, what the heck! They’re fine. Let’s go ahead and use a Continuously Variable Transmission.” It has to be someone who absolutely hated machines; someone who despised them, who saw no beauty in their form, extracted no pleasure from their operation. It has to be, right?
Not really. Turns out, it was good ol’ Leo who first thought-up, and even drew, the first stepless gear system back in 1490. Leonardo da Vinci that is, not DiCaprio; only one of the greatest scientific minds of all time. And then while it languished for a long, long time, the CVT, or a version of it, was later picked up by one KF Benz of Karlsruhe, which he used on one of the first cars, back in 1886. But Benz was smart. He soon ditched the CVT – he drove his own cars after all – and then it lay dormant again for years . . . until it was resurrected by Honda; or so it seemed.
I still remember my first ride on a Kinetic Honda. Yes, I was blown away by the two-stroke Honda engine and I loved the way it revved, but why did it feel like the clutch was always slipping? It was Honda, again, who slotted a CVT into a mainstream car in India, the second-gen City. I absolutely hated it. The transmission slipped and slurred like someone had poured a pint of whiskey down its throat; and what made it worse was that after a bit of hard driving, it groaned and moaned as well. Luckily, it died.
Today, however, CVTs are back, and like an epidemic, they are spreading. Everyone has them, Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda. Yes, most of them now work well at low speeds. And that’s ok. But want happens when you want to have a bit of fun, enjoy that expensive car and rev the engine to extract every last ounce of power? You paid a fair packet for the horses, after all.
I’ll tell you: just when you are metaphorically rubbing your hands in glee, waiting to unleash the car on that open road, the CVT lets you down. Flatten your foot on the throttle and it just can’t keep up. It lets out a wide, long yawn and then asks, “Yes, what is it? You want power and engine speed. Well okay, settle down, be patient, let me see what I can do.” And then, instead of your heart rate, it’s your blood pressure that climbs.
Yes, some of the ‘steps’ or false ratios work well, and even the artificial downshifts are sort of okay, but can you honestly compare these with the real thing? This is why almost no luxury car maker uses CVTs, why you don’t have a sportscar with a CVT, and why I think carmakers, in general, should avoid them like the plague. It’s quite simple, I think – make sure owners enjoy driving their cars; else you’ll just be creating more customers for Uber. Do you really want that? [...]
Royal Enfield has just announced the inception of a wholly-owned subsidiary in Thailand. The brand commenced sales in that market a little over three years ago, and its motorcycles have seen significant success there. Thailand will also host Royal Enfield’s first assembly plant outside of India, which is expected to be operational by June 2019.
The brand entered the country with one store in Bangkok back in 2016 and now plans to expand its reach to 15 dealers and 25 authorised service centers by March 2020. The expansion will allow for better accessibility for customers in Greater Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
Thailand also happened to be one of the first markets in South East Asia where the new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 (otherwise known as the 650 Twins) were launched. The company reports that the bikes have already received over 700 bookings.
Announcing the company’s plans for Thailand, Siddhartha Lal, CEO, Royal Enfield, said, “Thailand has become Royal Enfield’s third home after its origins in UK and success in India. The initial success of the 650 Twins in Thailand has proven that Royal Enfield is well poised to fill the gap in the mid-size segment. With a massive segment of commuters ready to upgrade and a robust long-distance, leisure riding culture in the country, Thailand offers huge headroom for growth for Royal Enfield. We believe that localising our operations in Thailand will allow us to serve our customers at a closer and more intimate level.” [...]
Benelli recently launched both variants of the TRK 502 in India. The standard model has been priced at Rs 5 lakh, while the higher-spec model costs Rs 5.40 lakh (both prices, ex-showroom Delhi). The company has just announced that it has received 150 bookings for the two in just 15 days since their launch.
While both models are mid-capacity adventure motorcycles, the 502X is more off-road focused. Interestingly, the company has received more bookings for the more expensive model (TRK 502X) at 85 units. The standard model, meanwhile, makes up the remaining 65 units booked.
Benelli’s dealership count has also gone from 16 to 18 in India, showing that it is on track to meet its target of setting up 40 dealerships in India by the end of 2019.
Along with the two new ADV bikes, the dealerships continue to sell the company’s other bikes – the TNT 300, TNT 600i and 302R. All five bikes come with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty as standard.
India-spec Benelli Imperiale 400 to be BS-VI-compliant
Benelli evaluating electric scooter, e-bicycles for India in 2020 [...]
Weak market sentiment continues to impact the auto industry in the country. The Indian automobile industry is doing everything possible to overcome this slowdown, which has hit it hard over the past six months. Right now, the passenger vehicle segment is set to close FY2019 in the low single digits.
A sudden rise in insurance prices with higher interest rates on loans had an impact on customer purchase decisions for the most part of CY2018. The upcoming general elections – slated for May – have also kept consumers from making any discretionary purchases right now.
As the industry still struggles to moderate inventories, February 2019 sales remained subdued with PV sales declining 1.11 percent to 2,72,284 units (February 2018: 2,75,357). Apex industry body SIAM expects the scenario to improve only after the elections.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at the top 10 bestselling PVs in February 2019:
The Maruti Suzuki Alto, the quintessential go-to car in the entry-level hatchback segment has emerged as the top performer once more in February, selling 24,751 units. The car sold 19,760 units in the same month last year, thus marking sizeable gains in recent times.
In second place, the Maruti Suzuki Swift has gained one position over last year's numbers with a sale of 18,224 units (February 2018: 17,291). The Swift, in its latest avatar, has wooed buyers with all its enhanced practicality in an appealing package. It helps that the car also offers the convenience of automated manual gearboxes in both its petrol and diesel variants.
The Swift's premium hatchback sibling, the Maruti Suzuki Baleno, has been retailed through the company's Nexa network. The car also rose one spot to secure the No. 3 position on this list. The car went home to 17,944 buyers (February 2018: 15,807) and after being sprucing-up its aesthetics and feature enhancements in the recent facelift in January, the Baleno is making it difficult for anyone to look away when it comes to having a large dose of style, comfort and safety features at an irresistible price point.
Maruti Suzuki's winning spree continues at the No. 4 spot as well, with the Dzire. However, the popular compact sedan has slumped three positions since last year. Where it had once clocked 20,941 units in February 2018 as the top performer, the Dzire garnered volumes of 15,915 units last month, still averaging better than most of its competitors in the market.
The No. 5 position remains secure with the ever-popular Maruti Suzuki Wagon R. The car sold 15,661 units in the month (February 2018: 14,029). The latest third-generation tall-boy hatchback has grown in dimensions by being built on a completely new platform and thus, offers exceptional space on the inside. The car has also evolved in terms of safety, with dual airbags, ABS with EBD and parking sensors fitted across the range, as standard.
With a vehicle in almost every popular segment, Maruti has its hands full when it comes to the UV space, too. India's bestselling UV, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza jumps one spot to No. 6, selling 11,613 units. Even though sales remained almost flat (February 2018: 11,620), it moved up one spot in the tabulation.
At No. 7, Hyundai's i20 drops one spot, clocking an overall dispatch of 11,547 units (February 2018: 13,378). The car is direct competition to the Baleno; and Maruti's relatively better-grade line-up could be the reason behind this sales slowdown.
The Hyundai Creta continues to be the king of its segment and has risen by one position on this list to total incremental sales of 10,206 units (February 2018: 9,278). A favourite among SUV buyers, the Creta becomes even more popular after Hyundai's new top-of-the-line variant with segment-first updates like ventilated seats. In less than four years since launch in 2015, this past February also marked a milestone for the crossover, after it crossed the 5,00,000-unit mark across domestic sales and exports from India.
The Hyundai Grand i10 – the Korean carmaker’s B-segment hatchback – drops one position on the bestseller list, shifting to No. 9 with a sale of 9,065 units in February 2019 (February 2018: 10,198). The car is expected to receive a generational change this year, in around July.
The Tata Tiago makes a comeback to the Top 10 chart after being off it for 14 months. Taking the spot on the roster occupied by the Maruti Suzuki Celerio last month, the Tiago closes the Top 10 list with statistics that hint at an overall sales figure of 8,286 units in the month. The car has been responsible for Tata's recovery in the PV space, where it now has the feat of achieving 2,00,000 units, which also came up in February.
With just two weeks to go to close the fiscal year, both OEMs and dealers would want to clear the maximum backlog of inventories within FY2019, and start the next assessment year on a fresh (and brighter) note.
Industry exper [...]
MG Motor India has officially announced its association with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as its brand ambassador. The actor will promote MG's upcoming Hector SUV in India.
On the occassion of the official announcement, the actor said “I have grown up seeing and reading about MGB’s and MG Midgets, recognising MG as a classic and iconic brand. I am delighted to be part of the launch of the new MG in India with the MG Hector, which may well be a classic of the future.”
Additionally, Rajeev Chaba, Managing Director and CEO, MG India, said, “As one of the most recognised and beloved cultural icons from the UK, Benedict has a lot in common with Morris Garages. He has, throughout his career, experimented with various types of roles across stage productions, TV shows and movies to push the bar ever higher, something which resonates with MG’s commitment to technological innovation. His social and philanthropic work, as well as his support for inclusivity beyond gender is also in sync with our core brand ideology of nurturing diversity. We are glad to have Benedict Cumberbatch as our brand ambassador to represent MG.”
The Hector SUV will launch in India in the coming months. The model was recently spotted while being filmed for its TV promo with the actor in London. The Hector will be powered by either a 1.5-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel. There will be a six-speed manual along with a developed-in-house MG-SAIC sourced dual clutch auto.
As reported by us months ago, the MG Hector shares its underpinnings and body panels with the Baojun 530 SUV. MG Motor India has tweaked the looks of this SUV subtly by adding a new signature grille with a honeycomb design and a large 'MG' logo at the centre. The Hector also gets additional chrome trim on the front bumpers along with a brushed aluminum faux skid plate at the front and on the rear bumper.
The SUV will come with two sunroof options, a 10.4 inch infotainment touchscreen and a long list of features. Expect more details on the SUV to trickle in as the launch nears.
Triumph Motorcycles USA has issued a massive recall for 12,654 motorcycles that were produced over the last few years, for potential wiring issues. Transport Canada, the governing body for regulations and policies of transportation in Canada, has also reported that north of 1,700 motorcycles in the country have been recalled as well.
The list of affected motorcycles include the Triumph Bonneville T100/T100 Black (2017-2019), Triumph Bonneville T120/T120 Black (2016-2019), Triumph Street Scrambler (2017-2018), Triumph Street Twin/Street Twin A2 (2016-2018) and the Triumph Street Cup (2017-2018). The last bike is a model that is based on the Street Twin and isn’t available in India.
According to information revealed by the brand, Triumph has found that on some of its motorcycles, the wiring harness stands a chance of getting damaged by the clutch cable. A damaged wiring harness could result in an electrical failure, which could result in the failure of all electrical systems and potentially even the cranking of the engine.
Triumph USA will directly contact owners of potentially affected motorcycles and will replace the affected parts, free of charge. We have got in touch with Triumph Motorcycles India to check whether bikes in India have been affected by this issue as well, but we are yet to receive information on the same.
Maruti Suzuki has given its venerable Eeco people mover a major safety upgrade. The move comes in the run up to the implementation of new norms that mandate the fitment of certain safety equipment for a car to be eligible for sale. In compliance with the norms, the Eeco has received a driver airbag, ABS and rear parking sensors. All versions of the Maruti Suzuki Eeco will also feature a driver and front passenger seatbelt reminder as well as a speed alert system that alerts the driver by means of a series of beeps when speeds exceed 80kph.
Safety upgrades aside, the Maruti Suzuki Eeco does not get any mechanical or cosmetic changes.
Modern day essentials such as power steering have been given a miss too underlining the Eeco's budget and utilitarian positioning. The people mover is available with Suzuki's long standing G12B 1.2-litre petrol engine that's mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The Maruti Suzuki Eeco is available in five and seven seat forms and can also be had with a factory-fitted CNG kit. Maruti also sells the Eeco as Tour V that is equipped with features like a speed governor etc, tailored for fleet and cab operators.
The addition of the aforementioned safety features has bumped up the price for the budget people mover by around Rs 400 to Rs 23,000 depending on the variant. [...]
German luxury carmaker BMW has announced the launch of the ‘BMW Joy Rewards’ initiative. The special aftersales programme will offer multiple benefits for existing customers of BMW cars and SUVs.
According to BMW, the Joy Rewards initiative has been specially conceptualised to offer greater value, convenience and support to customers who have owned a BMW car for five years or more. The programme offers waivers ranging from 14 to 30 percent on service costs and select parts, which can be availed by customers at authorised BMW dealerships across the nation. Additionally, the benefits will increase over the years of ownership and help reduce maintenance costs.
The BMW Joy Rewards programme can be availed on select parts and labour charges, including services under Condition Based Service (CBS), battery replacement, select suspension parts, front and rear brakes, brake fluid, spark plugs, air and fuel filters, engine oil, etc.
Speaking about the programme, Dr. Hans-Christian Baertels, President (act.), BMW Group India said, “Sheer Driving Pleasure is guaranteed when you own a BMW. We make ownership a rewarding experience throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle. With the introduction of ‘BMW Joy Rewards’, we are setting a new benchmark in the luxury automobile segment. The programme will substantially bring down the cost of maintenance as the car matures. Coupled with the unbeatable quality of BMW aftersales service, it will provide greater value and peace of mind to our customers.”
Click here for all BMW models, prices, reviews, images, videos and more. [...]
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Autocar Professional's third edition of the Two-Wheeler Industry Conclave 2019 on March 15, 2019 saw all roads lead to the event, held at the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi. From 9am, when the event began, industry stakeholders across the automotive value chain began to queue-up to register their presence at the important event. Within an hour, the Regency was a packed house.
The day-long event proved to be full of riveting discussions and debates involving captains of industry, bureaucrats and marketing heads – all of which offered many insights into the present and upcoming trends that are having an impact on India's two-wheeler industry, which is known to be the largest in the world. Given the overall theme of 'Growth in a disruptive era’, it was not surprising to witness electric mobility being discussed and debated in comprehensive detail throughout the day to brainstorm the way forward.
Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, the government's premiere policy think-tank, was the chief guest who inaugurated the Conclave as its chief guest. He set the tone of the event by sharing his perspective on what will drive the growth story for the Indian automotive industry and the sharpened focus on the two-wheeler industry, which is tipped to be the driver of electric mobility in the country.
"India is in the midst of big disruptions. While we are growing at 7.5 percent, the challenge is to grow at 9 percent. Over the next couple of years, you will see new efficiency in the economy. The automotive sector, which contributes 7.2 percent to the GDP, is a massive job creator. India's process of growth has just begun and till 2040, the country's auto sector is going to grow but amid massive disruptions. There will be a shift from IC-engined vehicles to shared mobility, connected vehicles and electric vehicles. It is inevitable with the advent of digital technology. Rather than vehicle ownership, mobility concepts like connected, electric and shared – in the form of pay-as-you-go models – will become prominent going forward.”
Turning to the two-wheeler sector, Kant said, "India's most important vehicle segment is two-wheelers. Of the two vehicle parc, two-wheelers and three-wheelers (which account for 30 percent of CO2 emissions) constitute 80 percent, of which 74 percent are two-wheelers. That is why we should shift to electric mobility." Kant said that the cost of lithium-ion batteries is falling rapidly. From $250 (a little more than Rs 7,000) per Kw, it is estimated to drop to $75 (around Rs 5,100) per Kw."In around four years' time, this should help make electric two-wheelers at par price-wise with petrol-engined two-wheelers."
"We altered the FAME scheme to essentially provide huge thrust to two-wheelers, three-wheelers and buses and increased the outlay to Rs 10,000 crore. The focus clearly is on two-wheelers. Our target is to make 30 percent of the two-wheeler population and 50 percent of the three-wheelers switch over to electric by 2030. Our focus is to increase the size and scale – as we move from 2,000 parts to 20 parts, we must make electric vehicles fully in India. By 2030, almost half the vehicles in India will be EVs. India must get into the sunrise sectors and be the first mover. Growth belongs to the sunrise sector and India has a massive opportunity – we need to be very ambitious and hungry for growth. Those who get left behind will be left out of business. There will be a time when polluters (IC-engined vehicles) will have to pay," said the NITI Aayog CEO, commenting on the recently announced FAME II scheme.
FAME II insufficient and needs tweaking
The FAME II policy saw some counter viewpoints from senior industry professionals. Sohinder Singh Gill, director, corporate affairs, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), and CEO, Hero Electric, said, “The FAME II policy gives more weightage to high-performance electric two-wheelers as compared to their regular counterparts and would need multiple times the subsidy over the currently sanctioned amount.”
According to Gill, "The EV industry which was about to take off now has hurdles. Ideally, the government should have supported the belly of the market. In the zeal to localise, we are putting 20 percent more into cost. In FY2018, 55,000 electric two-wheelers were sold, in FY2019 it will be be less than that and FY2020 will likely see sales of only 35,000 units."
Gill pointed out that the electric mobility cause would greatly benefit from a partnership between the Indian EV industry and the government if EV awareness grew some more under a Swacch Bharat campaign.
Naveen Munjal, MD, Hero Eco Group, said, “Localisation holds high accord in the FAME II policy. It talks about 50 percent localisation from April 1, 2019 to be able to claim the subsidy. It is a chicken-and-egg situation right now [...]