) Moto Buzz cars: October 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Raikkonen commits to WRC

Kimi Raikkonen’s team management has reportedly confirmed that he does not want to return to Formula 1 next year and wishes to stay with the World Rally Championship in 2011.
"We're no longer looking at opportunities in F1. Kimi seems to be focused on rallying at the moment," said Steve Robertson speaking to Finnish television station MTV3 as quoted on Autosport.
Robertson also clarified that currently the former Ferrari driver is focussed on rally and refused to rule out a return to F1 in the future. "Never say never, but right now our eye is not on F1.
"Nothing's been decided yet [for the WRC]. We'll let you know when there is something to say. At the moment nothing has been signed. We're talking to several teams," added Robertson.
Meanwhile, Citroen appears to be keen on finding a solution to keep the Finn in its Junior team with the former F1 champion agreeing to a personal sponsorship deal from Red Bull, which seems to be worth a lot less than the £5 million that he supposedly received from the Austrian outfit.
Besides Citroen, Mini could also be an option for the 31-year-old but with the limitations for the 2011 events and the extensive car development programme this could not be viable.
Another opportunity could be with the American outfit Monster Ford to race alongside Ken Block, however the teams seems to be struggling with finances.
The best choice for Raikkonen would be to take a break for a season from the rigours of the racing world and return with a bang in 2012 with some more manufacturers taking interest in all likelihood.

Friday, October 29, 2010

BMW to launch bikes in India priced Rs 18 lakh onwards

After 13 years of its first attempt to enter the Indian two-wheeler market through a joint venture with the Hero Group, BMW revealed plans to launch BMW Motorrad.

The German luxury carmaker will start selling the flagship S 1000 RR as well as the R and K series models in December with prices expected to start from 18 lakh.

Toyota Etios launch nears; Will it blow the Swift away?

The most definitive car launch for the Japanese Major Toyota is just weeks away and boy are they rolling their sleeves up!
Right from the getting the music maestro, A R Rahman on board to increasing its dealership network from 82 to 150 in just 2 years, they have got it all figured out. And why not, after all a 3200 crore investment is at stake.
Yukitoshi Funo, Executive VP and member of the board for Toyota Motor said,
The success of the Etios is very critical for Toyota’s success. We have never developed a car as small as this and we will not do anything smaller than this. It is absolutely important that we succeed with the Etios
Funo san forgot about the Toyota iQ? That’s the smallest hatch on Toyota’s global portfolio. If there’s a hatch smaller than Etios, will that be Daihatsu’s job of bringing it here considering Toyota is open to idea of setting up a multi-brand strategy in our country?
The company has even managed to localize 70% of the car and further localization will follow suit. Just to give it a yardstick, Skoda Fabia, a hatch present in the market for more than 2 years has only managed 40% localization of its parts. Clearly, Toyota knows that it has to shed its ‘high price’ image very soon to be appeal to the masses.
Being developed as an India-specific product, the company also plans to introduce the Etios in places like Brazil.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

James Bond's 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is auctioned for Rs. 20.5 crore!!

James Bond's 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is auctioned for Rs. 20.5 crore!! It was used in Goldfinger and Thunderball by Sean Connery.

The road worthy car comes with dual machine guns behind the driving lights, revolving license plates,
ejector seat, rear blast shield, slicer wheel caps and console-activated
oil slicks!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hyosung enters India with the GT650R and ST7

Korea’s Hyosung has tied-up with India’s Garware group to establish an assembly plant for its bikes at Wai in Maharashtra.
The company has also launched the Hyosung GT650R sports bike and the ST7 cruiser in India. While bookings open shortly, deliveries will commence in the first quarter of 2011. The 650cc GT650R will be available in two variants; faired and naked and will be priced around Rs. 5 lakh. The 680cc ST7 will set buyers back by a whopping Rs. 6.5 lakh.
We are assuming that these prices are for the imported bikes and locally assembled ones should be cheaper because of lower duties and tariffs.

Second Drive: 2011 Nissan Leaf - Some things you probably didn't know

These days, Nissan's overall marketing strategy is called "Innovation for All," and this applies not just to the company's high-profile Leaf electric vehicle, but to things like the company's direct injection gasoline engines, two-clutch, one-motor hybrid system and more. Still, nothing in the portfolio is as impressive as what's in the Leaf, which was on hand for journalists this week in Nashville, TN. That's where we got to learn a little more – okay, a lot more – about the world's first mass-market EV.

First, a bit of history. Nissan has been considering using lithium-ion batteries in vehicles since they showed up in cell phones in the early 1990s. Nissan's R&D in this field started in 1992 and, in the mid-1990's, Nissan was already testing the Prairie and Altra EVs, followed by the Hyper Mini in 2000. About 100 of those drove around in the U.S. – one even appeared in the movie Sleepover. That car was a stepping stone, because with just 50 miles of range and a top speed of 50 miles per hour, it wasn't ready for prime time. In 2003, Nissan had what Nissan's director of product planning, Mark Perry, called a "battery breakthrough" with the shift from cylinders to prismatic cells. It was at this point that Nissan really got serious about EVs, showing off battery-powered concept vehicles like the Mixim and the EV-02.

This long development lead time means is helping Nissan beat its major OEM competitors to market with a pure EV. Still, the competition is right behind the Leaf. In fact, if all press releases and other announcements are to be believed (we know they can't), we should see 30 plug-in vehicles on the market by 2015. That's a big change from today and, while everyone has their own predictions for how long it will take for plug-in vehicle market to take home, it appears that the technology is here to stay. What's it all about and how does it work in the Leaf? We answer those questions and more after the jump.

Let's start with a few over-the-road impressions. If you're looking for a detailed First Drive review, read this, as this is just a refresher. Actually, 'refreshing' is a good way to describe driving in the Leaf. Cruising through the hills and highways south of Nashville was an entirely pleasant affair. The car – and, just to get this out of the way in case anyone has any lingering doubts, the Leaf is a 'real car' in every sense of the word – will zip between trucks on the highway and provide you with near-silent city driving, all without a drop of gasoline. Just like General Motors can be proud of what the Chevrolet Volt engineering team has done to make that car an entrancing experience, Nissan's Leaf team deserves accolades for making what can only be called the best possible EV available in 2010 that doesn't cost over $100,000.

Nissan doesn't have an official 0-60 mph time, but the impressive low-end torque in the electric motor does provide very impressive 0-40 times. Perry notes that he's happy to let the media run its own 0-60 tests, and early results show this taking around seven seconds.

As AutoblogGreen contributor Chelsea Sexton described so well, the Leaf provides the driver with a ton of information about the battery pack, range and more. Perry said this was totally intentional. "We believe 'range anxiety' is a falsehood, because anxieties only show up when you don't have information," he said. "We're telling you everything that's going on in the car so you shouldn't be surprised." He's not kidding. The dashboard can tell the driver his average distance per kWh (something the Volt can only do through GM's OnStar website) and also has a constantly updated "distance to empty" number, which is a point-in-time reading based on how you're driving right then. This means that when you drive more efficiently, the car takes this into consideration and shows more relative range. If you want to see the number jump up, shift into eco drive mode, which gives you up to 10 percent more range by limiting acceleration and increasing brake regen. A conscious driver should be able to get at least five miles per kWh, but the car's scale goes up to eight miles/kWh.

The central display screen can also display a more detailed range/energy usage screen that shows where the battery's power is going: to the motor, the climate control or other systems. This "hypermiler screen" also tells you how much energy is being regenerated and how many miles you can add by turning off the air conditioner or heater. If all this detail is too much for you, you can just watch the 'trees' grow. On the left of the upper part of the dash is a tree meter and the more efficiently you drive, the more trees you "grow." It takes a little bit of careful driving to make them appear, which is how it should.

Sometimes, though, you'll be maxing out the battery. If you do, the navigation system can tell you where public vehicle chargers are. But how do we know how much energy we're actually using? Nissan has not announced how much of the battery pack's 24 kWh capacity the Leaf will use, but it's almost all of it. It has to be, to offer as much range as it does. The car has a "low fuel" light that comes on at 4 kWh, and Perry said this is not four kWh of the useable capacity, that's four kWh left in the whole pack. A second warning comes on at two kWh, and there's not much more to go below that. This is a much lower level than GM is willing to go with the Volt, but Nissan remains confident in its battery technology and Perry said Nissan is very happy with the Leaf battery's 100,000, eight-year warranty, which matches what the standard Volt will have. Perry also admits that Nissan has no plans to compete with the 150,000, 10-year warranty that the enhAT-PZEV version of the Volt will have in early 2012.

Nissan knows that the Leaf's batteries will degrade over time, which is why the warranty says that, after the eight years, drivers should expect about a 70 percent performance level compared to the original pack. Perry also said that, while unlikely, anyone who fast charges (at 440V) two or three times a day, something the Leaf manual will warn against, will see a quicker degradation.
The warranty is not related to battery capacity. The warranty is related to motor output. So if the battery has degraded to a point where the motor can't get enough power from the battery, then it's a warrantable event. But if someone abuses the battery – parks it outside in 140 degrees and all that - and they have 60 percent capacity after eight years, that's on them. They abused it.

The Leaf – many more small details

Here are a few more tidbits we learned in Tennessee:
  • The Leaf's exterior sound operates until the car reaches 18 miles per hour. You can't really hear it from inside the vehicle, and above that speed, pedestrians should be able to hear the car because its tire noise.
  • The headlights, maybe the Leaf's most controversial design choice, are designed to split the air flow and send it around the side mirrors to curb wind noise around the A-Pillar and mirror assemblies.
  • There are no rare earth metals in the car.
  • As some people know, many household electronics that are plugged into the wall draw "phantom power," even if they are not turned on. Perry says the Leaf is smart enough to not draw power once the battery is full. He does admit, however that if a Leaf is stored unplugged for a long time, it will lose one- to two-percent of its charge every 30 days. This also means that if the car is kept plugged in and not driven for this amount of time, a small amount of energy will be drawn from the grid. This isn't the smartest thing to do, though. Perry notes that a Leaf that sits for a long time should be parked at around 80 percent state of charge, as that's best for the battery.
  • Nissan says the Leaf can be someone's "primary" car, if you define that as the one you use the most. You can define "primary" as one that can do everything, but the Leaf is not that car.
  • There are a lot of recycled materials in the Leaf, some that originate from other cars, some from home appliances. Old plastic bottles are used in the production of the fabric, for example. All told, the Leaf is 99 percent (by weight) recyclable in Japan because of the country's robust recycling infrastructure. In the U.S., only about 94-95 percent of the car is recyclable.
  • The electric motor offers 80 kW sustained power (no peak number is quoted).
  • Some parts, like suspension components, are shared with Nissan's other B-segment vehicles (e.g. Versa).
  • If you order your AeroVironment vehicle charger through Nissan for $2,200 and have a lease for the Leaf, it will add roughly $30-40 a month to the monthly payment.
  • Nissan is partnering with an unnamed roadside assistance company (AAA?) that is looking at how to provide roadside recharging to get stranded drivers to a charge point.
  • Nissan's marketing team has reached out to insurance companies to see what those costs might be for consumers. The initial response is that they will probably charge about the same rates as a compact car – at least at first. After a year or so, once accident and repair cost data is in, the rates will probably change.

Even with all of this revealed this week, we're sure there's more to come. One slide Nissan showed said that there would be 12,000 public Level 2 chargers in the U.S. by 2012. But that slide, made just five days before the presentation, was already out of date – the new target is 13,000.


Man hits 1M miles in Ford F-250... in four years

All those miles must make for a pretty big maintenance bill, as trucks typically need an oil change in fewer than 10,000 miles, and tires and brakes usually don't last for more than 60,000 to 70,000 miles, though obviously with that much highway mileage, the binders should hold on a bit longer than that. That's two or three oil changes a year and a brake or tire job every few years for most of us, but Maresella hits those milestones in no time flat. The career driver claims his four-year maintenance bill is a cool $67,000. If Marsella continues at this pace, and his beloved truck remains road-worthy, in the next six years he could challenge the all-time record of 2.8 million miles in a single vehicle; a record that required 40 years of driving.

[Source: NBC Miami]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 is the crème de la Chrysler

Chrysler made waves earlier today when it announced the company would have an armada of 35 vehicles on display at this year's SEMA show, but the star of the shindig is likely to be the new 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392.

While no one has ever accused the Challenger SRT8 of being light on grunt, Chrysler engineers have taken things up a notch or two with a new 6.4-liter V8 that produces 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, all while delivering 15-20 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing 6.1-liter V8 in the 2010 Challenger SRT8. The big V8 uses variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation to help keep consumption low.

The Challenger SRT8 392 also employs a reworked suspension with even firmer shocks, a quicker steering ratio and more negative camber than before, all of which are supposed to help the hefty muscle bruiser tackle the corners with a little more finesse.

Up front, there's a unique chin spoiler that helps channel air to the vehicle's radiator and provide additional downforce at higher speeds. It also just looks pretty dang sharp.

Chrysler says it will build just 1,492 inaugural editions of the Challenger SRT8 392

BMW to launch new 2 Series model range


BMW is working on a new 2 Series model range which will be pegged between the 1 Series and the 3 Series.
The 2 Series will become BMW’s entry-level rear-wheel drive model when the 1-Series moves to a front-wheel drive platform in 2015.BMW has already filed trademark applications for the nameplates 228, 230 and 235 which hints at the possible engine choices for the new 2 Series as well. Even the M2 moniker has been registered by BMW, pointing towards a hot performance version of the 2 Series.

Apart from the 2 Series, BMW will also launch a premium all-electric hatchback based on the ‘Megacity’ concept by 2012.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jaguar Land Rover bringing armoured cars to India

Tata owned Jaguar Land Rover has disclosed plans to launch its armoured vehicle range in India.
Aimed at wealthy buyers who need protection against possible assault, the company will launch armoured versions of the Range Rover and Discovery SUVs. The indicative and astronomical prices are Rs. 4.75 crore for the Range Rover and Rs. 3.75 crore for the Discovery. In comparison, a stock Range Rover costs just Rs. 1.06 crore.
Later Jaguar would also bring in an armoured version of the XJ sedan called XJ Sentinel priced at Rs. 5.5 crore! All models would be imported as CBUs from Jaguar Land Rovers plant in England where they would be fitted with a host of safety features for protection against automatic weapon fire, grenade attack and even a TNT blast.
While the market for such armoured vehicles is very limited in India, the company will find takers amongst our loaded politicians, industrialists and movie stars. Other luxury carmakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz also have similar products but they have not yet launched in India.


First Drive: 2011 BMW X3

Refined, Not Redefined

Long before the segment-bending X6, BMW's crossover strategy was simple: offer the utility of a traditional SUV but in a package that's not only luxurious, but fun to drive. The original X5 Sport Utility Activity Vehicle kicked things off in 1999, and only a few years later, the smaller X3 arrived.

Now, luxury crossovers are a dime a dozen, and automakers are clamoring to be a part of the small CUV segment. In just the past few years, we've been introduced to the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Volvo XC60 and Infiniti EX35, among others. But as the X3 aged, its unusually harsh suspension and not-so-great interior plagued sales. In 2004, BMW moved roughly 35,000 X3s off dealer lots, and just last year, that number dropped to less than 10,000. Things aren't looking good for 2010, either.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai Aims To Lead The Mid-size Hybrid Pack

At some point, the minds at Hyundai got serious about the company's mid-sized sedan game. Seemingly in a heartbeat, the Korean manufacturer went from being completely under the radar of the average American family sedan buyer to a viable alternative to default buys like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. That jump fell solely on the shoulders of the all-new 2011 Sonata, a sedan that has so far delivered the kind of styling, efficiency and low MSRP that sends consumers scrambling for their checkbook. But if you want to go the full distance in this segment, you had better come to the fight packing more than just a competent base model.

That's something you don't need to tell Hyundai. The company has shored up its Sonata line with a potent turbocharged 2.0-liter model designed to tango with V6-equipped competitors as well as the car you see above – a hybrid model that comes loaded with nearly all of the latest and greatest tech to keep fuel consumption at a minimum. Is it enough to put the Sonata Hybrid ahead of the electrified versions of the heavy hitters already prowling the scene?
The mid-size hybrid segment is a funny little corner of the automotive world. Most of the players at this table are little more than standard sedans that have had their mechanical innards gutted and replaced with mutant internal combustion/electric motor mashups. From their exteriors, there's generally been little to distinguish hybrid from V6 models other than wheel options and maybe a badge or two. But Hyundai has waded into somewhat uncharted waters by offering the hybrid version of the Sonata with bodywork that goes a long way toward separating the car from its siblings.

The keen-eyed out there are likely to pick up on a handful of small details that both add a bit of funky, slightly futuristic styling to the mix and help slim the vehicle's shape as it cuts through the air. Up front, Hyundai's designers and engineers worked together to come up with that slightly agape front fascia. There's more than a little catfish in that hexagonal opening, but it serves the purpose of setting the Sonata Hybrid apart from the rest of the family. (Note, too, that the 'bumper' bar has been subtly altered from the model that debuted at the New York Auto Show). Additionally, LED daytime running lights grace the front headlights and the low-set fog lights now boast a stylish upkick that wraps around the front fascia.
The profile of the 2011 Sonata Hybrid reverts to more well-established tricks of the mid-size hybrid trade, including re-sculpted side skirts and small but effective badges on the front fenders. Hyundai has also graced its hybrid with two unique wheel selections, a smaller 16-inch roller that shouts, "I'll see you at Mac World," and an optional, more attractive 17-inch five-spoke design like the one on our tester.

Move around back, and if you're paying close attention, you'll notice that the rear fascia is slightly squared-off on both sides. Those sharp edges help the Sonata Hybrid achieve its dizzyingly low .25 coefficient of drag. The standard Sonata makes do with a still enviable .28 cD. To complete the futuristic picture, Hyundai has also thrown in reworked taillights that are designed to evoke the image of an atom when lit.

But as different as the exterior of the Sonata Hybrid is from its standard internal-combustion brethren, things have been left largely untouched inside. Buyers will still find the comfortable thrones, attractive dash and heaps of soft-touch goodies layered over almost every surface just like in the base Sonata. One difference between the base Sonata and the hybrid comes in the form of decreased trunk space. While the standard Sonata yields an EPA-rated cargo volume of 16.4 cubic feet, the compact battery pack soaks up a full 5.7 cubes all by itself. But the largest change comes at the instrument cluster, where a helpful full-color LCD screen delivers pertinent information on the vehicle's battery state of charge, fuel economy and an "Eco Score." Likewise, the left instrument bezel has forsaken the standard tachometer in favor of a helpful guide that lets drivers know when the vehicle can be driven in all-electric mode.

And when is that, exactly? Officially, Hyundai says that the Sonata Hybrid can cruise on all-electric go-go at speeds of up to 62 mph, though in our testing we saw electric-only driving at 65 mph under light acceleration downhill. and there was some indication from the company's engineers that the car may be capable of doing even better. How do they do it? Under the hood, Hyundai has converted its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to the Atkinson Cycle and added a 40-horsepower electric motor. The duo is good for a combined 206 horsepower and 193 pound-feet of torque, but the real star of the show is the car's battery pack.
In addition, the sedan makes use of an engine clutch that can separate the gasoline engine from the electric motor, helping the hybrid to clip along on electric power even at highway speeds, all without using an ounce of fuel. Hyundai has also made the interesting step of shutting off the gasoline engine entirely when the vehicle decelerates, further conserving fuel and allowing the regenerative brakes to recharge the batteries.

And what does all of that translate into once on the road? During our time behind the wheel, we saw just over 36 mpg in intermittent stop and go driving, though if you're ginger with the accelerator, numbers closer to 40 in combined driving weren't unheard of among the gaggle of writers the company had out to sample the Sonata Hybrid. Just out of morbid curiosity, we spent the last 30 miles of our drive hypermiling the hybrid. When all was said and done, we walked away with a sweaty 60 mpg, further proving that by and large, fuel economy falls on the shoulders of the nut behind the wheel.

When you're not treating the throttle like a hair trigger, the Sonata Hybrid rewards with a surprisingly normal driving experience. The run to 60 mph takes around 9.2 seconds, and thanks to the clutch separating the engine from the electric motor, transitions between internal combustion power and electric go-go are some of the most seamless in the industry. Part of the sensation that you're driving a real vehicle and not some slot-car track escapee comes from the fact that Hyundai opted for the company's proprietary six-speed automatic gearbox instead of a continuously variable transmission. Engineers may have been able to eek out a bit of additional fuel savings had it gone with a CVT, but selecting a conventional cogbox has gone a long way toward making this hybrid a more satisfying craft to pilot.
Impressively, despite the fact that this is Hyundai's first shot at a production hybrid, the electrified Sonata successfully avoids one of the biggest pitfalls of throwing an electric motor into an otherwise solid chassis. The regenerative brakes are progressive and feel just like what we expect stoppers to feel like. There's no danger of having your dental work ripped from your mouth thanks to an overly sensitive second pedal.

But that's not to say that Hyundai hasn't left room to grow in the Sonata Hybrid. Interestingly enough, the company chose to forsake forced-induction in favor of an updated version of its 2.4-liter mill. A little bit less displacement paired with a small turbo would probably help squeeze a few more mpgs out of this equation, but it undoubtedly would have swelled the per-unit cost on a model that's unlikely to make any money to begin with.

Even with that shortcut under its belt, the 2011 Sonata Hybrid is an impressive first showing from Hyundai in the hybrid game. As it sits, the car is eligible for a $1,300 federal tax credit, at least for the first month it's on sale. Hyundai says that buyers can snap up their own Sonata Hybrid starting this December, but unfortunately, the federal tax incentive program for hybrid vehicles is scheduled to dry up at the end of 2010, so interested parties would do well not to dawdle.

Hyundai hasn't yet said how much we can expect to pay for its new hybrid four-door, nor what kind of warranty the model will carry when it does hit dealer lots. Given the company's long history of providing copious content and an industry-beating warranty for reasonable money, we're guessing that neither will be a point of contention when the car goes on sale. Even with those questions left blank, the 2011 Sonata Hybrid has proven itself more than capable of running with the rest of the mid-size hybrids. Is it the best of the breed? We'll need some back-to-back time to know for sure.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Toyota to launch Etios on 1st December

Toyota will finally have a volume player in the Indian market with the launch of the compact Etios on 1st December 2010.
The Japanese carmaker will first launch the sedan version of the Etios on December 1 followed by the hatchback three months down the line. Last week, Toyota had appointed Oscar winning A.R Rahman as its new brand ambassador who succeeds ace actor Aamir Khan.
Toyota is aiming at selling 70,000 Etios sedans and hatchbacks in the first year and eyeing a 10% market share by 2015.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Massa counts on Ferrari

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa says that he is confident that he can rely on the team to show their full support despite his poor outings in the last couple of races and is ready to put that behind him starting with next weekend’s Korean Grand Prix.
“Even though I am going through a particularly difficult time right now with a lack of results in the last couple of races, I know I can count on the support of the team, who have always been behind me one hundred percent, especially in the difficult times,” said the Brazilian on the team’s website.
“I was very pleased to read what our President [Luca di] Montezemolo said after the Japanese Grand Prix.
"Knowing he has faith in me is something I truly appreciate: he has an excellent understanding of the sport and he knows that you can sometimes go through tough times. The fact his support is always there is very important,” added the 29-year-old.
“My desire to do as well as possible for me and for the team is the same as ever and that has been my approach to the sport ever since I started in Formula 1.
"You have to maintain a positive approach, especially as the team is locked into a very tough fight with two goals in mind, even if the situation in the Constructors’ championship has become very difficult. Everyone must put in 110 per cent effort in order to succeed and that is definitely what I’ll be doing for the remaining weeks of the season," Massa explained.
The Brazilian is sixth in the overall standings, 92 points behind leader Mark Webber and with three races and 75 points on offer is out of the title battle. On the other hand his teammate Fernando Alonso is second in the standings with 206 points and would require adequate support from the Brazilian to secure his third driver’s title.
In the Constrcutors’ challenge Ferrari are third in the overall standings, 92 points behind leaders Red Bull. They are mathematically still in contention but it would take a brave man to bet on the Prancing Horse to clinch the title and it looks like the Milton-Keynes based outfit have this one in the bag.

Audi launches petrol Q7 at Rs 59.29 lakh

NEW DELHI: German luxury carmaker Audi today said it has launched a petrol variant of its sports utility vehicle Q7 in India, priced at Rs 59.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
"The Audi Q7 -- the high performance luxury SUV, has been one of the main contributors to our success in the Indian market... We are confident that it will further help us consolidate our leadership position in the luxury SUV space," Audi India Head Michael Perschke said in a statement. The deliveries of this new 3.0 litre variant of the SUV will start in January, 2011, the company said.Audi India claimed that the new Q7 with 8-speed automatic transmission will reach a speed of 100 km per hour in just 6.9 seconds and can attain a top speed of 245 km per hour.The company currently offers two diesel variants of Q7 with 4.2 litre and 3.0 litre engine options.Besides, Audi India had said that it was considering to introduce the luxury sedan A7 and would initiate a market study for the same.The company had said it would ramp up its output by 50 per cent at its Aurangabad facility to about 3,000 units next year. It currently assembles luxury sedans A4, A6 and sports utility vehicle Q5 in India and is expecting to produce about 2,000 units this year.Audi India is expecting to sell about 2,700 units this year compared to 1,658 units in 2009.        

Friday, October 15, 2010

Volvo to launch XC60 SUV in India on November 24

Volvo has revealed that it will launch the XC60 compact SUV in the Indian market on 24th November’ 2010.The XC60 is one of the modern offerings from Volvo and made its international debut at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Volvo has been late to launch this model in India but finally the XC60 will be imported as a completely built unit (CBU) from November onwards.The XC60 will feature a twin-turbo 2.4-litre diesel engine with a power output of 202bhp and 420Nm of torque. A 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine may also be launched. Volvo has as yet not disclosed the XC60s pricing but it is expected to cost about Rs. 40 lakh. The compact SUV will compete with BMW’s next-generation X3 and Audi’s Q5.

Google testing driverless cars

After conquering the web Google engineers have set their sights on making our streets a safer place and making driving hassle free.Their solution is to free humans from mundane driving duty by developing driverless cars. Google has already developed technology which enables cars to navigate on their own and has so far clocked up over 2,30,000 km in California with seven such driverless cars.The driverless car uses video cameras, radar sensors and laser range finders to avoid other vehicles and continue on a pre-defined route via satellite navigation. There is a driver on standby mode to takeover in case of any system failure or emergency. With this innovation Google aims to reduce the number of lives which are lost to road accidents by half and also encourage fatigue free commuting and car-sharing.The technology however is still many years away from production stage so we would still need to drive our own cars for some time to come.

Bugatti Veyron to enter India this month, Rs 12 crore price tag

Bugatti Veyron is all set to enter India at a whopping price tag of 12 crores Rupees through its sole dealer Exclusive Motors, New Delhi. We had already brought this news to you months ago and broke the news that Exclusive Motors would be the official dealer.
The Bugatti Veyron is expected to be launched on the 28th of October and sources say there are already four confirmed orders for the supercar. The Veyron would come only as a Left Hand Drive and the car maker has specially made a request to Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to exempt the Veyron and permit it to ply on Indian roads as a LHD.
Satya Bagla, MD, Exclusive Motors
The car is slated for launch soon but we cannot disclose its price. There are a few customers for Bugatti, but again their identities cannot be revealed now.
We hope Bugatti’s entry into India prompts other supercar manufacturers like Pagani, Spyker, SSC and Koenigsegg to enter the Indian market soon.
Source: ET

Hyundai RB sedan testing in India

The Hyundai RB sedan has been spotted testing near  Kodaikkanal, Tamil Nadu. The RB sedan on which we have been bringing you regular updates since the day it was shown as a concept would be Hyundai’s global compact sedan specifically designed for growing markets like Russia, India and China. The Hyundai RB is essentially the Korean automaker’s answer to the Volkswagen Vento sedan in developing markets.
The Hyundai RB which is based on the i20 platform sports the ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language and looks very smart. The Hyundai RB which has been christened the Solaris in Russia would roll off Hyundai’s Russian plant in January 2011 and the car is expected to launched in the India market by the end of 2011.
It unclear how Hyundai India would position the car as the facelifted Verna Transform has only been launched recently. We believe positioning the RB both above and below the Verna Transform would be catastrophic. Our  guess is that the Hyundai RB could be priced above the Verna and to compete with the likes of the VW Vento, Fiat Linea T-Jet and the Honda City and under the next generation Elantra/Avante.
The Hyundai RB is likely to come with a choice of two Gamma petrol engines,  a 1.4 l producing 107 bhp and 135 Nm and a bigger 1.6 l producing 124 bhp and 156 Nm. Both these engines come with Hyundai latest CVVT (Continuously Variable Valve Timing) technology. Diesel engines would also be offered.

Breaking – Ford unveils 2011 Ranger; means next-gen Endeavour for India!

Ford has unveiled the all new 2011 Ranger pickup truck for the Asia Pacific. Essentially this is the next generation Ford Endeavour SUV for India (Everest for other markets) in a pickup truck avatar. The all new Ranger is probably the most technologically advanced small pick up truck and not to mention is one hell of a good looking vehicle.
So when can we see the next gen Endeavour? We can expect the Everest/Endeavour, based on the Ranger to be unveiled by the first quarter of 2011 and the butch looking SUV could be launched in India by early 2012.
The new 2012 Ford Endeavour is likely to come with two DuraTorq engines, a base 2.2 l inline 4 producing 150 hp and 375 NM of torque and a behemoth 3.2 l inline 5 producing 200 hp 470 Nm of torque (a 5 cylinder for the first time).  The Endeavour would come with either a 6 speed manual or a 6 speed automatic transmission.

The interiors of the car are extremely well designed and exude European flair to some extent. The design of the dash is very modern and can easily match a Honda CR-V (and that’s a very goo thing). I can safely say when this car comes to India, it would have one of the best looking interiors in its segment.
The new Endeavour would finally come with a car-like parking brake unlike the current car’s truck like push-pull parking brake. The interiors have been stretched to generate more space and there are a number of storage spaces all over the cabin.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hyundai Santa Fe starts at 20.95 lakh Rupees

Click through for the full press release
Hyundai India has (finally) launched the much awaited Santa Fe SUV in India yesterday. Only two variants of the svelte SUV would be offered, a 4×2 variant which has been priced at Rs. 20.95 lakhs and a 4×4 variant at Rs.22.95 lakhs (prices ex-showroom New-Delhi).
The Hyundai Santa Fe comes with a 2.2 liter CRDi diesel engine which produces 197 bhp and is equipped with a six speed manual transmission. Even the 4×2 variant has been equipped well and comes with ESP,  Cruise control and six airbags. The car comes in four colours- Phantom Black, Sleek Silver, Vanilla White and  Steel Blue.
Indian Autos Blog covered the event yesterday and would be driving the Hyundai Santa Fe through the grueling deserts and hot Rajasthan roads later today. Stay tuned for a detailed report on the launch and detailed test drive report later today.

Press Release

Hyundai launches luxury SUV Santa Fe
-Globally acclaimed for Performance, Luxury and Class leading features-
New Delhi, October 14, 2010: Hyundai Motor India Limited, the country’s largest exporter and the second largest car manufacturer, today added one more product to its portfolio with the unveiling of its highly successful luxurious SUV – Santa Fe in India. With the introduction of the internationally acclaimed Santa Fe, which offers an unmatched combination of power and luxury supported by cutting-edge technology, Hyundai aims to grab a bigger share of the highly competitive SUV segment in the country.
In India, Santa Fe will be available with 2.2L CRDi engine – the most powerful and efficient engine in its class – that delivers a maximum power of 197PS/4000 rpm and an impressive torque of 42.9 kgm/1800~2500rpm – both highest in class. Available in six speed manual transmission, with an option of 2WD and 4WD, the high-tech engine incorporates a host of advanced technologies aimed at delivering an optimal balance of performance, excellent drivability on all terrains and a segment best fuel mileage of 14.66 kmpl (ARAI certified).
Speaking at the launch of the much awaited SUV, H W Park, MD & CEO, HMIL, said, “We are very proud to bring the Santa Fe to India. Globally, Santa Fe has already sold over 20 lakh units since its launch in June 2000 and we are confident that in India, Santa Fe will give us a competitive edge in the SUV segment and offer our customers the best in terms of luxury and performance. The launch today further reinstates our commitment to provide best in class quality and technology to our customers in India.”
In India Santa Fe will be imported as CBU (Completely Built Units) from South Korea.
Santa Fe underscores Hyundai’s leadership in standardizing the industry’s most effective safety technologies. It has been awarded a Five Star safety rating by NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) making it one of the safest SUVs to drive in. Santa Fe comes with a premium safety feature – ESP (Electronic Stability Program) which is one of the industry’s most effective life-saving technologies, that integrates the functions of EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) system, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and TCS (Traction Control System) to ensure greater driving stability.
Another feature not seen in most of the other SUV in this segment is the six standard airbags including side and curtain Airbags for all three rows of available seating. The combination of side and curtain airbags help protect the head and body during side impacts, and keeps the passengers inside in the event of a rollover. The unique roll-over sensor monitor vehicular angle and can predict a rollover. The front-seat active head restraints help prevent whiplash by automatically reducing the space between a front occupant’s head and the head restraint during a rear collision. The silica tyres feature a silica-based rubber compound that provides outstanding grip on wet surfaces and reduced rolling resistance for improved fuel- efficiency.
With dramatic styling that is assertive, yet graceful, the Santa Fe’s exterior showcases the evolving face of the Hyundai brand. Its wide track provides a strong stance, sure footed handling and large interior room.
The Santa Fe has an assertive body-coloured front grille, rugged bumper design, confident sculptured lines and finely detailed head lamps. For a more aggressive appearance and impressive ground clearance, Santa Fe comes with 18-inch alloy wheels – the largest in class. Sleek styling makes the Santa Fe aerodynamic and standard roof rails help define its clean side profile, while adding to SUV functionality. The dynamic SUV image is further accentuated by aggressive features like twin exhausts, rear spoiler with high mounted stop lamp, high contrast rear combination lamps, heated outside mirrors with side repeaters and chrome accent door handles.
The Santa Fe is one of the most package-efficient SUVs in the market. The interiors feature an array of luxurious features and textures including leather upholstery to give the car an elegant feel and look. Designers have worked hard to make the Santa Fe ergonomically sound. The modern blue instrument lighting soothes the eye and provides vital vehicle information while the neat layout of the front fascia flows into the driver and passenger doors creating a dual-cockpit look.
With its spacious third row seat, the Santa Fe offers seven-passenger seating. The third row seat is split 50/50 and can be folded flat. The second row is 60/40-split. Total cargo space is generous with plenty of storage for items of different sizes. The flexible seating configuration is an added advantage on holiday trips and this feature significantly broadens Santa Fe’s appeal.
Much attention has been given to the air conditioning to create a relaxing and refreshed ambience of Santa Fe. The dual-zone climate controls for the driver and front seat passenger bring a touch of luxury to the Santa Fe. Second and third row passengers will enjoy a new level of comfort, thanks to B-pillar-mounted adjustable vents, dual rear heating ducts and third row independent blower controls.
Other thoughtful convenience features for the driver include driver’s side power window with anti-pinch system, steering wheel mounted audio control, leather wrapped gear knob, 10-way power adjust driver’s seat with lumbar support , electrically foldable outside mirrors and cruise control for ensuring fatigue free driving and organ type accelerator pedal that minimizes driver’s effort and prevents possible mishaps.
The In-Dash 6 CD changer Audio system is built into the dashboard adding convenience to the audio entertainment. Passengers will enjoy their audio experience all the more thanks to improved acoustic engineering resulting in reduced road, wind and engine noise. Other premium features include USB/ipod/AUX connectivity for unlimited music access, In-car cooler – a unit to keep beverages cool and make driving in summer a pleasure, cluster ionizer –an in-built system to improve air quality, multifunction sunvisors etc.
Demonstrating Hyundai’s attention to detail, the Santa Fe boasts of ingeniously created storage spaces highlighting the vehicle’s modern, integrated interior design. Front cup-holders with grip, utility tray in front central armrest, front door map pocket with bottle holder, dual sunglass holder, storage box with lid for third row, front seat back pockets, central arm rest with adjustable cup holders in the second row etc are all designed with soft-touch, high-quality materials and zero-tolerance fits are used throughout the interior to add more design harmony to the inside cabin.
Santa Fe will be available in an array of 4 exciting colours.
About Santa Fe
Named after the city of Santa Fe in New Mexico, Santa Fe made it global debut in the year 1999 at the Detroit Auto Show as the debut concept car “HCD – 4” (SM), thereafter the 1st generation Santa Fe was launched in the year 2000. Further in the year 2005 the 2nd generation Santa Fe was launched and it also picked up the ‘Best Recommended Car’ award in the same year. Other than this Santa Fe has won many accolades including the ‘Top Safety Pick’ award, ‘2008 Best Car’ award and the ‘Best Quality Car’ award for its uncompromising power and luxury. In the year 2009 the face-lift version of the 2nd generation Santa Fe was introduced to cater to the increasing demands across the world.

Skoda brings a knife to a gun fight – New Fabia launched

The new Skoda Fabia is a result of the new BS IV norms kicking in 13 major metros during April this year. It took them such a long time to come out with the BS4-ready car. The most happening and important segment today for any player is the compact car segment and that’s where Skoda wasn’t fully present all this while.
The new car is not that far from the outgoing one. The one major difference in the new proposition is that (and this one I didn’t expect) they have given an option of 1.6L MPI engine for enthusiastic drivers. This is the same engine that its sister car Polo uses. The rest of the 2 engine are also lifted directly from the Polo. So the 3 engines that are available are:
* I.2L MPI (petrol): 75 bhp @5400 rpm and 110 nm of max torque @ 3750 rpm
* 1.6L MPI (petrol): 105 @ 5250 rpm and 153 of max torque @ 3800 rpm
* 1.2 TDI (diesel): 75 bhp @ 4200 rpm and 180 nm of max torque @ 2000 rpm
Other new features include a new front end, a new steering wheel (lifted from the Laura) and a new stereo (also lifted from the Polo). Yes, someone was very busy in VW’s spare parts section. It is available in 3 variants Classic, Ambiente and Elegance and can be brought in 5 different colors.
The only reason I could find for someone to actually buy this car is the price. The car starts 4.35L (for the entry level) and goes right to 5.99L (for the 1.6L engine) ex showroom Delhi. If you are in Maharashtra, the car starts at 4.19L and goes right to 5.81L.
The hatch market is the fastest growing market in India. All the major auto manufacturers are aggressively hitting this market with very competitive offerings. And this situation is only going to get more aggressive with the entry of Toyota and Honda. In such a competitive scenario, the Fabia can’t put the frighteners on the competition. If anything, it’ll be easily overshadowed by the competition.

PARIS MOTOR SHOW 2010: Lamborghini & Callaway Collaborate

Lamborghini and Callaway, the American maker of high-end golf clubs, jointly develop a new form of carbon fiber--"forged composite"--that will be used first on a new Callaway driver and later in a future Lamborghini automobile.
Today at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini not only unveiled its wild Sesto Elemento concept car but also announced its new partnership with Callaway, the American golf-club manufacturer, to produce a new form of carbon fiber. Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann and George Fellows, President and CEO, Callaway Golf, inked the deal right on the Lamborghini stage in front of the assembled media.

Afterward, we spoke with Tim Buckman, senior director of global communications for California-based Callaway as well as Alan Hocknell, an expatriate Brit who is Callaway's senior vice president of R&D, about their collaboration with Lamborghini. Why Lamborghini? I asked. Was this just because you wanted an excuse to drive hot Italian exotics? Hocknell chuckled and then explained:

"Our goal in developing forged composite was to be able to retain the strength, lightness, and low density of traditional carbon fiber, enhance that, but also have a more precise forming process so we can form shapes that the precise amount of strength and weight in the areas that we need it, and not the areas where we don't.

"When you start with a laminate carbon fiber material, it starts out as a flat sheet, and it doesn't really like to bend into a three-dimensional form, so forming complex shapes is actually quite difficult; and this is actually the same issue that the folks at Lamborghini have in making the structural elements of a car: they are complex three-dimensional shapes, and they want to form those very precisely for the same reasons of having strength and weight where they need it and not where they don't. The opportunity is compatible.

"We had to learn about the material before we could apply it to any product. It was our efforts to characterize the material; to understand how it behaves in the forging process; to understand what its strengths were. If the fibers were all randomly arranged, could we rely on that random arrangement to be strong in all directions all the time? Questions like that. We used some lab facilities at the University of Washington in Seattle and the folks from Lamborghini were interested in using the same lab facilities to do some similar work. It was at that point that our paths crossed.

"The guys at Lamborghini realized that we had been working in that area for maybe about four years now, so we had already gathered some experience in how the material behaves in different forming process parameters....that knowledge we brought to them, and

"We have a driver product that launches within the next month. The crown, top surface, this entire top piece of the driver is made of the new forged composite material, which makes it substantially lighter. We can do a number of things: we can take weight out of the overall head, which allows us to make the club longer, so people swing with higher head speed, which translates to more ball speed, more distance. But we only really want to do that if we can retain all the other performance properties of the head, even if we make the head lighter. So we are improving the power-to-weight ratio in the head by using this material.

"The driver is called the Diablo Octane Black and will cost $299 in the U.S. It's quite accessible, bringing multi-material technology into a price that people normally associate with single material, like titanium.

"This is effectively an omnidirectional material. The randomness of the fibers is something we've had to look at statistically to ensure that when they're allowed to flow randomly in the matrix to this location....in the case of the driver, you're looking right through the paint at the material: every one of these drivers is going to be unique; it's going to have a different random arrangement of fibers from the next one; visually they will be subtly different. It's like technology meets art. We've done the homework on understanding the strength distribution; that it can be random, yet strong in all directions.

"It's significantly better than laminate carbon fiber. The investment is slightly different in that the tooling required to form these precise final shapes is more expensive, but the cycle time is lower, so you need fewer replicates of the same tool. So, overall, the economies are there potentially. We're still at the beginning of that journey."

2010 Paris Motor Show: Teaser shots of 2012 Chevrolet Aveo released

General Motors has released images of next-gen Chevrolet Aveo compact car into the autosphere.

Spared a few concept touches, the 2012 Aveo is a dead ringer for the Aveo RS Concept. The front fascia of the production Aveo is, predictably, a toned-down version of the concept's in-your-face styling. The basic, aggressive shape remains, but the production car receives slightly reshaped headlights and loses the exposed projector beams. Fog lights replace the concept's lower side air vents, and the ride height has been raised to that of a normal street car. But even the hidden rear door handles made it to production.

Chevrolet also swapped the concept's 19-inch chrome wheels for aluminum units, and with the exception of the center-exhaust and black taillights, the rear of the Aveo is virtually identical to that of the RS Concept. Overall, the new Aveo is a far sight better than GM's current Korean-built, four-door hatchback.

Full press release below. As with the Aveo RS Concept, GM isn't revealing dimensions quite yet, but simply says the new car is longer and wider than the outgoing Aveo. According to GM, this increases its interior volume to among the largest in its class.

New Chevrolet Aveo brings 'hot-hatch' style to small car segment

There is no shortage of world firsts for Chevrolet at the forthcoming Paris Motor Show, and joining the Orlando MPV and Cruze hatchback show car will be the all-new Chevrolet Aveo 5-door.

The car will go on sale in the United States and Canada in 2011.

The Aveo RS show car was displayed at the Detroit and Geneva motor shows earlier in 2010, and the final production-ready car looks every bit as compelling as the show car.

Entering the highly competitive global small car segment, striking design elements of the new Chevrolet Aveo include the dynamic looking front with its exposed twin-headlamps and Chevrolet’s signature dual port grille, compact taut body panels with a rising shoulder line and short rear overhangs,  rear door handles “hidden’ in the c-pillar and a 'body in, wheels out' profile.

Reminiscent of the recently introduced Spark in Europe, the new Aveo is designed to appeal to younger customers with its sporty hot-hatch look. A four-door sedan variant will launch in Europe alongside the hatch next summer. Both hatch and sedan are practical small cars providing ample interior space.

Final specifications of the new Aveo will be carefully tailored to each market in which it’s offered.

Wayne Brannon, president and managing director of Chevrolet Europe says: "It's just such an exciting time to be at Chevrolet; in Aveo we have a car which is ready to compete against the best in the small-car segment."

The new Aveo is longer and wider than the current model, giving it a spacious interior and cargo volume that is among best in class. The interior design perhaps holds even more surprises than the outside, in particular the motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster which features an analog tachometer combined with a digital speedometer.

Blue backlighting is featured on the center console, while the whole of the front cabin is enveloped in a wraparound fascia. This can be color-coded and flows from the dash into both the driver's and front passenger’s doors. Aveo’s interior provides consumers with high quality materials as well as multiple storage spaces in the center stack and a modern audio system with USB, auxiliary-in and Bluetooth functionality.

Reflecting its sporty personality, Aveo has been engineered to provide communicative handling, a characteristic which stems partly from its tight body frame integral (BFI) structure where highest levels of torsional rigidity have been achieved.

The new Aveo's chassis has been fine tuned to satisfy discerning tastes with a ride and handling ratio that combines comfort with responsiveness. Electronic power steering (EPS), Electronic stability control (ESC) and ABS brakes will be standard.

In Europe, a comprehensive range of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available in the new Chevrolet Aveo, incorporating the latest technologies such as variable valve timing, double continuous variable cam phasing and common rail fuel injection for the diesels.

The gasoline engine range includes two 1.2 liter versions (at 70 hp and at 86hp), a 1.4 liter unit (100 hp) and a 1.6 liter (115hp). For the first time, Aveo will be offered with two versions of a 1.3 liter diesel engine (at 75 hp and at 95 hp) featuring Start/Stop technology.

Chevrolet's first 6-speed automatic transmission on a small car will be featured on the Aveo 1.4 and 1.6 as an option in most European markets; manual transmissions are of 5 or 6 speed depending on engine choice.

About Chevrolet

Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers “gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including the Cruze Eco and Volt, both arriving in late 2010. Cruze Eco will offer up to an estimated 40 mpg highway while the Chevrolet Volt will offer up to 40 miles of electric, gas-free driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range (based on GM testing; official EPA estimates not yet available). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The AwESum Paris Motor Show.......