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  • Audi R8 e-tron – electric sports car with 450 km range?

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    First generation Audi R8 e-tron shown

    The Audi R8 e-tron will continue with the second generation R8, set to be available for order this year upon customer request for those who are into zero emissions motoring.

    Audi has made a number of improvements with the new R8 e-tron, most notably a significantly longer range of 450 km compared to the previous 215 km number thanks to an energy density that has been increased from 84 Wh/kg to 154 Wh/kg. The large T-shaped battery is structurally integrated into the center tunnel and behind the occupant cell.

    Audi produces the lithium ion high-voltage battery itself. The R8 has a Combined Charging System (CCS) on board, which allows charging with direct and alternating current. Using this system, it is possible to fully charge the battery in significantly less than two hours.

    The battery powers two electric motors – each produce 228 hp and 460 Nm for a combined 456 hp and 920 Nm, taking it to the 100 km/h mark on the speedo in just 3.9 seconds.

    GALLERY: Second generation Audi R8 V10

     
  • First images of Lexus LF-SA supermini leaks out

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    The first official images of the new Lexus LF-SA concept have made their way onto the internet. Set to debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, it appears to be a B-segment premium hatchback that will slot in below the C-segment Lexus CT 200h hatchback. Will it be hybrid-only like the CT though?

    There are not many premium brands that have ventured into the B-segment. There’s of course the Polo-based Audi A1, and BMW has the 3-door and 5-door MINI but has so far not fielded such a car under the BMW brand itself. If you consider Citroen DS a premium brand, then there’s the DS3 as well.

     
  • RON 95 up 25 sen to RM1.95, RON 97 up 25 sen to RM2.25, diesel up 25 sen to RM1.95, per litre

    RON_95_vs_RON_97_Fuel_Test_Malaysia_ 017

    The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism ministry (KPDNKK) has announced that come tomorrow (March 1, 2015), RON 95 petrol will be priced at RM1.95 a litre (+25 sen), RON 97 petrol at RM2.25 a litre (+25 sen) and diesel at RM1.95 a litre (+25 sen).

    As in February, RON 95 and diesel are similarly priced. The price jumps follow the sharp uptrend in global crude oil prices, with Brent currently in the US$60 (RM217) per barrel ballpark, from a US$50 (RM181) low in January. This is the first monthly gain for Brent since June 2014, and the greatest monthly percentage rise since May 2009.

    Subsidies for RON 95 petrol and diesel were discontinued exactly three months ago, and according to KPDNKK, their prices are, like RON 97 petrol, derived based on a managed float system, and will be reviewed monthly.

     
  • Carmen Jorda joins Lotus F1 as development driver

    Carmen Jorda Lotus F1-10

    The Formula 1 fraternity is set to welcome a new female member in the beautiful form of Carmen Jorda. The 26-year old Spaniard has joined Lotus F1 Team as a development driver. Carmen comes from the GP3 series, where she finished 29th last year, and has experience in Formula 3 and Indy Lights.

    Daughter of ex-driver Jose Miguel Jorda, Carmen has been racing professionally since 2001 and her goal has always been F1. “It feels like a dream come true to join Lotus F1 Team. I’ve been racing since I was ten years old so it was my dream to drive a Formula 1 car since I was very young.

    “Joining Lotus is a big step towards my goal. I know this is just the beginning and the biggest challenge is yet to come but already being part of a team with such a history is a real honour. This is a great achievement, but an even greater opportunity which will lead to bigger and better things,” she added.

    As development driver, Carmen will work closely with the team on an intensive simulator programme in Enstone, while being put through a comprehensive fitness regime to prepare for the opportunity to drive this year’s E23, now powered by Mercedes-Benz after Lotus made the jump from Renault.

    Combined with attending Grands Prix and tests for the team, her role will focus on assessing the latest developments of the team’s 2015 challenger. With racing experience in both Europe and America, Carmen’s distinctive perspective will serve to further enhance the E23’s evolvement curve, the team says.

    “Carmen will bring a fresh perspective to the team. She is a unique addition to the team and we are looking forward to helping her progress her goals as well as receiving the benefit of her insights and contributions to the development of the E23 Hybrid,” said Lotus F1 Team CEO Matthew Carter.

    Carmen is going down the same path as that taken by Susie Wolff at Williams last year. The 32-year old Scot has been promoted to the role of test driver this year.

     
  • General Motors to close Indonesian plant in June, stop Chevrolet Sonic production in Thailand

    GM Thailand SUV production 1

    As part of a move to restructure its global operations, General Motors has announced its decision to shut its Bekasi, Indonesia plant by end-June, cutting about 500 jobs in the process, and transition to a national sales company in the republic.

    GM will also cease making the Chevrolet Sonic in Thailand by mid-year, and reposition the bowtie brand in some South East Asian markets as an SUV and truck maker. The news comes two years after the company decided to stop its Australian operations – production is slated to cease there in 2017.

    Opened in 1995 outside Jakarta, the Bekasi plant produces the Chevrolet Spin for Indonesia and other ASEAN markets, but the seven-seater failed to garner enough sales to justify GM’s continued operation of the plant, which was idle from 2005 to 2013. GM also cites higher material costs and limited access to local parts suppliers.

    GM Thailand SUV production 2

    GM Indonesia president Michael Dunne is leaving the company end-February, and CFO Pranav Bhatt will serve as interim president until a permanent replacement is named.

    As a national sales company, GM Indonesia will continue selling the South Korea-imported Chevrolet Orlando and Thai-imported Captiva and Trailblazer, through its dealer network.

    “GM Indonesia is undergoing a market-driven transformation,” said GM international chief Stefan Jacoby. “We know this decision is disappointing for our hardworking employees in Indonesia. We will work with our teams and the local community, along with the Indonesian government, to support our people.”

    sonic-1.6

    GM has been in Indonesia for eight decades, but its market share is under 1%. It sold fewer than 11,000 vehicles in the republic last year, with Jacoby telling Reuters that the company was going up against the Japanese in their “backyard” and that the Spin was too expensive to make to be profitable in Indonesia.

    “We could not ramp up Spin production to boost the volume as we had expected… although the product was really good,” Jacoby told Reuters. “The logistics chain of the Spin was too complex; we had low volume so we could not localize the car accordingly, and from the cost point of view we were just not competitive.”

    GM is planning to collaborate with Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp to manufacture and sell low-cost MPVs in Indonesia. A new, smaller plant near Jakarta will be built for this purpose. This plant will also make vehicles for other selected Asian markets.

    chevrolet spin 15

    Operations in Thailand will also see a restructuring – the Chevrolet Sonic will stop production at the Rayong, Thailand plant, while the brand seeks to reposition itself as an SUV and truck maker. As such, the company has pulled out from Phase 2 of the Eco Car programme.

    The Spin and Sonic will be phased out in the Land of Smiles by June. GM shifted close to 26,000 vehicles last year in Thailand, giving it 3% market share.

    “Around the globe, GM is focused on becoming a more customer-focused and operationally efficient company,” said GM South East Asia Operations president Tim Zimmerman. “We must accelerate the transformation of our operations in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand given the sluggish domestic market demand, by implementing changes to increase customer satisfaction and our competitiveness, speed up all processes, and put us in a better position to achieve future growth.”

     
  • Mitsubishi Motors to build next-gen Pajero Sport in Indonesia – brand-new small MPV set to debut in 2017

    mitsubishi-pajero-sport-extra 009

    Mitsubishi Motors – together with Mitsubishi Corporation – has announced the establishment of a new joint manufacturing company in Indonesia. Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia (MMKI), a partnership between the two Mitsubishi companies and long-time local partner PT Krama Yudha, will build passenger vehicles, primarily for the domestic market.

    The new company will build a new vehicle assembly plant at GIIC Industrial Estate in Bekasi, West Java, about 37 km east of Jakarta. Construction begins this year, and the new plant – with a production capacity of 160,000 units per year – is slated to start operations in April 2017.

    It was reported last year that the plant will build two commercial vehicles as well as a new eight-seater MPV – the latest announcement states in addition to already locally-produced vehicles such as the Colt L300 truck/van, a brand-new small MPV model and an all-new Pajero Sport will also be assembled there.

    Again, no mention was made as to the model that will be developed, but the mention of it being a small MPV likely indicates it will be a lower-segment offering competing against the likes of the Toyota Avanza and Honda Mobilio in that market.

    The company says a portion of production is set to be exported to other ASEAN countries, and the plant is expected to play a very important role as the second largest production site for MMC vehicles in the ASEAN region, following the Laem Chabang Plant in Thailand. The automaker recently restructured its Philippines assembly operations, relocating to a new manufacturing plant in Santa Rosa.

     
  • Hyundai i20 Active teased in sketches, March debut

    Yesterday, we saw spyshots of the rugged India-bound Hyundai i20 Active, captured without any camouflage at all. Now, Hyundai Motor India has released official sketches showing the toughened and jacked-up B-segment hatch, ahead of its expected debut next month.

    The off-roader styling addenda seen here are as we’ve seen in the earlier images. There’s a more aggressive i20 Coupe-style downturned six-point grille, matching large round front fog lights and rear reflectors, silver skid plates front and rear, as well as projector headlights as seen on the European-spec i20. Also fitted are black plastic body cladding all-round as well as a pair of obligatory roof rails for that 4×4 look.

    Engine and transmission choices for the Hyundai i20 Active will reportedly mirror those offered on the Indian-market Elite i20 – an 83 PS/115 Nm 1.2 litre Kappa petrol mill mated to a five-speed manual, and a 90 PS/220 Nm 1.4 litre U2 turbodiesel paired to a six-speed manual. The suspension is also said to have been revised to account for the taller ride height.

     
  • Perodua donates Axia to National Kidney Foundation – win the car through the Spot & Ride contest

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    Perodua has contributed an Axia to the National Kidney Foundation in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the ‘World Kidney Day’ celebrations. The public can win the car through Spot & Ride, a contest aimed at creating awareness for kidney care and causes of kidney failure.

    Part of the ‘World Kidney Day’ celebrations at Sunway Pyramid (February 28 to March 1), Spot & Ride will see participants contributing a RM10 entry fee for the chance to win an Axia.

    Each entry gives a participant a 30-second window to search and find a winning ticket in an Axia. The ticket can be redeemed for attractive prizes such as goodie bags and discount vouchers, or it can be submitted as an entry ticket to win the car through a lucky draw contest on March 29.

    As of November 2014, the National Kidney Foundation needs to raise RM12 million annually to subsidise the dialysis treatments costs for 1,509 patients who seek treatment at its 28 dialysis centres nationwide.

    “This collaboration with the National Kidney Foundation is our way to create awareness about the cause of kidney problems and to encourage people to live a healthier life,” said Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh.

    “Therefore, all funds raised from the contest and road show will be channelled to the NKF which will be used by the kidney patients who are registered under the foundation.”

     
  • Mazda CX-3 on sale in Japan – 1.5 SkyActiv-D diesel

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    Sales of the Mazda CX-3 B-segment crossover has commenced in its home nation of Japan. The fifth model in the company’s range to feature the entire arsenal of SkyActiv technology will be available exclusively with a diesel engine. Yes, you read that right.

    The Japan-spec Mazda CX-3 will be powered solely by a 1.5 litre SkyActiv-D diesel engine producing a total of 105 PS at 4,000 rpm and 270 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm. In its cleanest state of tune, the Japanese Mazda CX-3 achieves a fuel economy figure of 25 km/l under the domestic JC08 test.

    On this particular mill, Mazda has developed what it calls a Natural Sound Smoother system, which works to reduce the typical clatter associated with diesel engines. The Mazda CX-3 is the first production car to vehicle such an option and a Japan-only option it remains.

    A total of three trim lines are made available to Japanese customers and all three can be ordered with either a front- or all-wheel drive configuration. Additionally, each variant can be had with a choice of either Mazda’s SkyActiv-Drive automatic or Skyactiv-MT manual transmission. All in all, a total of 12 combinations are available to potential Japanese clients.

    P1J09568s

    Looks wise, you already know what to expect. The Mazda CX-3 sports the latest interpretation of the firm’s ‘Kodo – Soul of Motion‘ design language. Among the eight available colours is a newly-developed hue called Ceramic Metallic, which changes its appearances depending on the amount of light available.

    Inside, and depending on the trim one opts for, the seats feature a black and white combination accent to go along with the various red highlights scattered along the door armrests, knee pads and seat piping. Elsewhere, the latest version of the MZD Connect infotainment system provides Internet-based radio services and navigation as well as a host of information including average fuel consumption.

    As for safety kit, the Japan-spec CX-3 comes equipped with a host of i-ActivSense features. Notable safety systems found under this umbrella include Mazda’s Radar Cruise Control system, Forward Obstruction Warning, Adaptive Front-lighting System and many more. The inclusion of Mazda’s lightweight SkyActiv-Body in the CX-3’s construction further reinforces its emphasis on safety.

    On sale at all Mazda, Autozam and Mazda Anfini dealerships nationwide, pricing for the Mazda CX-3 begins at 2,376,000 yen (RM72,055) for the base XD trim with front-wheel drive and tops out at 3,024,000 yen (RM91,706.30) for the flagship XD Touring L Package with all-wheel drive.

     
  • Rolls-Royce SUV rendered – an all-terrain Ghost?

    rolls-royce-suv-rendered

    Earlier this month, an open letter signed by Rolls-Royce chairman, Peter Schwarzenbauer, and CEO, Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, revealed what is, arguably, the most significant piece of news to have hit the 111-year old brand in recent memory – the confirmation of a Rolls-Royce SUV.

    With a lack of substantial official information to be found regarding the car, expert auto manipulator Theophilus Chin has gone and created his own take on what an all-terrain Rolls Royce could look like. By utilising stylistic cues from the Rolls-Royce Ghost and employing it onto a Range Rover LWB, the renderings do provide us with a hint or two on how the SUV could look like, keeping in mind the current design language.

    rolls-royce-suv-rendered-3

    Further details confirmed by the company include news that the Rolls-Royce SUV will be constructed with an all-new aluminium architecture to keep weight down. The firm cites heavy demand from customers around the world as one of the key reasons for such a move.

    Opening the history books would prove that Rolls-Royce was more than just pure opulence. The firm’s founding fathers, Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce, were known for their overland adventures which included tackling the Scottish Reliability Trails, the Alpine Trials, the Prince Henry Tour and the London to Edinburgh trial.

    GALLERY: Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II launched in Malaysia

     
 

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