Thursday, July 19, 2012

“4 Highly Awaited Vehicles Of 2012” plus 4 more Motorbeam

“4 Highly Awaited Vehicles Of 2012” plus 4 more Motorbeam

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4 Highly Awaited Vehicles Of 2012

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 06:44 AM PDT

The Auto Expo has long served as a platform to launch new vehicles in India. However the trend has changed this year. Instead of launching new vehicles, automakers chose to showcase them to grab attention from prospective buyers. Some vehicles were declared as launched in the press release but prices weren’t declared and a soft launch took place later. Most of the vehicles which were expected to hit showrooms have already done so but there is no clarity about others. Ford has clarified that the EcoSport will hit showrooms in 2013 and had shown a prototype of the vehicle. However other manufactures showed production ready models, which are yet to be launched. Four such highly awaited vehicles with no clear date of launch are -


Tata Safari Storme – The much awaited update to the Safari was all over Pune with heavy camouflage. After the Expo unveil, many expected Tata Motors to bring in the Safari Storme by March but that did not happen. Tata Motors missed a gear opportunity to cash in when bookings for the Mahindra XUV500 was closed. The reason for the delay is still unknown and the probable launch date is now in the festive season. However the new Safari won’t have it easy as it has another rival to fend off, the Renault Duster.


Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 – The Chennai based automaker pulled out a surprise at the Expo by unveiling the Thunderbird 500. The cruiser is already a huge hit in India and with the engine of the Classic 500, it could become a very sought after motorcycle. However RE hasn’t hurried up the launch, which was expected to happen in May. The Thunderbird 500 produces 27.2 BHP of power and 41.3 Nm of torque. The launch is set to happen next month.


Toyota Camry – The 2012 Camry looks quite promising but with only a petrol engine on offer, the Japanese automaker seems to have internationally delayed the launch. The fuel price hike has led to a decline in demand of petrol vehicles and this seems to have delayed the new Camry’s arrival here. The 2.4-litre petrol engine produces 165 BHP and 224 Nm. The car is big on space with a comfort oriented suspension.


Nissan Evalia – The much awaited New York taxi would be the first launch of Nissan India this year. Called the Evalia, the MUV has the goods to challenge the Toyota Innova and will be launched in the second half of August. It is powered by a 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine which also powers a range of Renault-Nissan cars in the country. The Evalia can do to Nissan what the Duster has done to Renault, put their sales chart on fire.

Mercedes B-Class Initial Impressions

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 05:07 AM PDT

Mercedes B-Class On Track

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 2012 B-Class in India today. The German automaker is betting big on the B-Class, which it is positioning as a sports tourer. Its not just in India, but even globally, the new B-Class has been positioned as a sports tourer. However, such a category does not exist in India and the company will focus its attention on enlightening people about what a sports tourer is. Thus, the new B-Class will be launched in September but the cars have already arrived at the dealer. We drove the Mercedes B-Class at the Buddh International Circuit earlier today and below is our initial impressions of the car.

Mercedes B-Class Track Test

Mercedes-Benz has bought in the B-Class from Germany for this event. The particular model is the European spec version with a slightly stiffer suspension and low profile rubber. The automaker is yet to start local assembly at its Chakan facility. Thus the made in Germany model offered to drive was a left hand drive with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Mercedes-Benz will offer the B-Class in India in B180 and B180 CDI variants which will be mated to a 7-speed DCT automatic gearbox (no manual gearbox will be offered). We drove 3 laps around the Buddh Circuit in the B200, which is a more powerful version of the car.

Mercedes B-Class Test Drive

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is codenamed W246. It is essentially an enlarged A-Class and shares most of the parts with it. Mercedes chooses to call the B-Class as a Compact Sports Tourer internationally, while the R-Class is a Grand Sports Tourer. Essentially, the B-Class looks like an mini MPV with a length of 4359 mm, width of 1786 mm and height of 1557 mm. Even with such a height, the B-Class has a very low CD of just 0.26. It gets the latest design language of Mercedes-Benz which gives it a youthful appearance. The European model gets bigger 18-inch wheels but keeping in mind the roads in India, Mercedes will slap on 17-inch rubber for better ride quality. The super smooth tarmac on the circuit did not let us gauge the ride quality of the car.

Mercedes B-Class Dashboard

The dashboard has borrowed heavy cues from the concept version of the A-Class. The steering wheel feels good to hold and there are 5 AC vents present on the dash, which are styled in a very unique manner. The 3-spoke steering wheel has many buttons and a medium-sized display is present right in the center. Many of the interior and exterior parts are typical MERC, including the audio system, mirrors, etc. The front seats are supportive, while the rear seats offer very good space to the passengers. Undoubtedly, the B-Class is the most spacious hatchback in the country.

Mercedes B-Class Boot

The boot is huge and can swallow in 488-litres of luggage. A system called EASY-VARIO-PLUS will boost boot space to 666-litres by adjusting the rear seats by up to 140 mm.

Mercedes B-Class Engine

The B200 CGI variant of the B-Class (not to be offered initially) produces 156 BHP of peak power and 250 Nm of peak torque. This turbocharged motor is decently powerful and hits 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds with a top speed of 220 km/h.

B-Class Speed

We were able to hit a top speed of around 160 km/h on the long straight between turn 3 and turn 4. The engines to be offered in India will be a 1.6-litre petrol (B180) which produces 122 HP of power and 200 Nm of torque. The B180 CDI uses a 1.8-litre diesel motor to produce 109 BHP of power and 250 Nm of torque from as low as 1400 RPM. These engine might not burn the road but will offer decent performance and very good mileage. The petrol engined B-Class will be launched this year, while the diesel variant will be launched next year.

Mercedes B200 Drive

The B-Class uses Mercedes-Benz’ new drive architecture called MFA (Modular Front Architecture) which is front-wheel drive. This helps in cost and weight saving and results in the B-Class having very good handling. Even with such big dimensions (the B-Class is bigger than the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and wider than the Toyota Innova), the handling seemed to be as good as bigger Mercedes cars, which have a rear-wheel drive layout. Brakes are sharp too and there are a plethora of systems working to ensure that the B-Class is as safe as any other three-pointed star.

Mercedes B-Class Handling

Some of the equipment on the Mercedes B-Class includes hill hold function, attention assist, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, adaptive headlamp assist, active parking assist, brake hold function, reversing camera, Eco start stop, Bi-xenon headlights, 7 airbags, tire pressure monitor, acceleration skid control, panoramic sunroof, paddle shifts, LINGUATRONIC, PRE-SAFE and DISTRONIC PLUS. It is still unknown as to what Mercedes-Benz will offer as standard in India.

2012 Mercedes B200 CGI

During our short drive of the B-Class, we found it quite promising. The vehicle offers very good space and luggage carrying capacity along with excellent dynamics for a car of this size. Mercedes-Benz will locally assemble the B-Class and plans to locally manufacture it within the next five years. Prices are expected to start at around Rs. 22 lakhs, which makes the new B-Class a great alternative to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

Kawasaki Gives 2013 Ninja 650R Optional ABS

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 03:25 AM PDT

2013 Ninja 650R ABS

While Bajaj Auto is still working out the launch of the 2012 Ninja 650R in India, Kawasaki has gone ahead and unveiled the 2013 version of the middle weight motorcycle. The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R is same as the 2012 version except that its available in new colors and with ABS as an option. The Japanese automaker is offering ABS for an additional $500 (roughly Rs. 28,000/), which is worth the money considering the power and performance of the Ninja 650R. ABS has huge benefits and prevents the wheels from locking up, thereby instilling more confidence in the rider.

The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R gets one of the grippiest tyres, which perform very well in both dry and wet weather conditions. Known as the Dunlop RoadSmart II, it is uncertain if these tyres are limited to the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R offered in the North American market. The Anti-lock braking system is light and helps the dual 300 mm, petal disc brakes (front) and 220 mm petal disc at the rear in offering excellent braking performance. The front brake master cylinder features a 14 mm piston which helps in smooth braking operation. The 649cc engine remains the same, producing 72 BHP of and 64 Nm of torque.

Kawasaki has also given the 2013 Ninja 650R new colors, which is now offered in blue, white and black colors. Surprisingly there is no green color on offer. Bajaj Auto assembles the Ninja 650R via the CKD route, with the kits being brought in from Kawasaki Thailand. The delay in the launch of the 2012 Ninja 650R has been due to the difficultly in incorporating the saree guard, which is a compulsory fitment required by ARAI. Bajaj Auto could pull off a surprise by bringing in the 2013 Ninja 650R instead of the 2012 one as most prospective Ninja buyers in India would love to have ABS on their bikes.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R ABS

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R Blue

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R White

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

Mercedes Unveils B-Class In India – Live From Event

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 12:03 AM PDT

2012 B-Class India

Mercedes-Benz is unveiling the B-Class in India today and we are at the event at the Buddh International Circuit. The German automaker is positioning the new B-Class as a sports tourer and is conducting an adventure trail called the Ultimate Touring Trail (UTT) across India. Genelia D’Souza, Ritesh Deshmukh, Kalki Koechin and Gaurav Kapoor will be part of the above adventure trip, which will visit exotic locations to explore the B side of life. Mercedes-Benz claims that the B-Class offers the versatility of a MUV, ride quality of a sedan and performance of an SUV.

Mercedes-Benz wants to draw the youth to buy the B-Class, something which they haven’t been able to do as well as BMW and Audi. Thus, the B-Class is positioned as a vehicle for the young at heart and prototype vehicles will arrive at dealerships soon. The company is offering the media a small drive in left hand drive models, which have been imported from Germany for this very purpose. Mercedes-Benz will be actively promoting the Sports Tourer segment, before they launch the new B-Class in September. Bookings of the car will start by the last week of August.

Mercedes-Benz is expected to offer the B-Class in both petrol (initially) and diesel (launch sometime later) engined versions. The car will be mated to a 7G DCT gearbox and will feature a lot of equipment. The B-Class is Mercedes’ temporary answer to the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, till the MFA platform crossover (GLA-Class) arrives in 2015. The B-Class will be the entry level Mercedes in India, with prices expected to be around Rs. 25 lakhs. The company will locally assemble the model at its Chakan facility, the assembly line for which is being installed currently. Mercedes-Benz could locally manufacturer the B-Class in the future to make it a volume product for the company.

Violent Clash At Manesar Plant, Maruti Stalls Production

Posted: 18 Jul 2012 11:57 PM PDT

Maruti Plant Strike 2012

It was only last year when Maruti Suzuki incurred huge losses due to a strike at its Manesar plant. The 59 day strike by the workers aimed at establishing an independent union lead to a production loss of 80,000 cars and revenue loss of more than Rs. 2,500 crores. This time situation took a much gruesome state. A tussle between a worker and one of the managerial staff here led to a clash between the two classes, taking life of one of the workers and leaving 40 others injured.

As per the statement given by the workers, the fight started after a supervisor made some derogatory remarks against the worker. The worker in return misbehaved and was suspended. Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union demanded an immediate revocation of the suspension order and prevented the management from leaving the premises. Work was stalled and both the permanent and on-contract workers started a sit-in protest. The management informed the police of the impending violence and by evening the protest turned violent. The workers burnt down the administrative wing of the plant along with few cars parked outside.

“After suspending the worker who had misbehaved with his supervisor on the shop-floor today, the MSWU functionaries insisted that company officials should not leave the premises unless the issue was resolved. When management executives tried to negotiate, the workers turned violent and many managerial staff were injured.” a senior executive said.

Till the issue was resolved, the union wanted the management to stay back in the premises. But as the managerial staff started to negotiate, the situation turned violent and both the workers and half a dozen managerial staff were injured. One person died of the burn injuries during the clash. The police arrived and cane charged to bring the situation under control. More than 3,000 workers were evicted from the site. The incident led to considerable damage of both human and material resources. The plant would be shut today as well. Any halt in production would be a huge trouble for the company as the previous year too the company incurred $500 million worth of production loss due to the long strike. Right after the news came in yesterday, the shares in Maruti Suzuki dropped by more than 5 percent.

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