Friday, July 20, 2012

“Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS Video Review” plus 7 more Motorbeam

“Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS Video Review” plus 7 more Motorbeam

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Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS Video Review

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 07:39 AM PDT

Mercedes Bets Big On Local Assembly

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 07:35 AM PDT

Mercedes B-Class Unveiling

With the unveiling of the B-class, Mercedes-Benz has lined up a series of vehicles to complete its portfolio. The offerings can give a potential advantage over its rivals, Audi and BMW. Over the last few years, Mercedes-Benz has been losing out on market share. Perhaps, the company is taking a slow route to gain back its share of the pie but looks like it could be the fate turning route. These new products would include the A-Class, B-Class, GLA-Class (crossover positioned against the BMW X1 and Audi Q3) and CLA-Class (compact sedan which will rival the Audi A3).

"We are not in the numbers game now because the luxury market at 25,000 units isn’t big enough to fight for and our portfolio isn’t complete yet. We will take on the market in 2014-15 when our portfolio is complete and the luxury market size increases to 1,25,000 or more per annum,” Debashis Mitra, Director (Sales and Marketing), Mercedes-Benz, said.

In order to save on the cost due to high import duties, Mercedes-Benz is looking towards aggressive localization. Currently, the company assembles C-Class, E-Class and the S-Class in India. To the existing CKD line-up, six more products are to be added up. The B-Class along with three others from Mercedes front-wheel Architecture (MFA) platform will be launched within the next couple of years. Thus, the company has to ramp up its production capacity from 10,000 units per annum to 25,000-30,000 per annum by 2014-15.

The capacity expansion by three to four times would need an investment of around Rs. 400 crores. Recently, the company had increased the capacity at Pune plant from 10,000 units to 20,000 per annum with an investment of Rs. 200 crore. Plans are to invest some more and increase the output to 40,000 units per annum. The company expects to increase its plant capacity to 90,000 units per year by 2020-21. Talks are on to create new assembly lines.

BMW To Launch 7-Series Facelift In 2012

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 06:45 AM PDT

2012 BMW 7-Series

The competition is just getting tougher day by day with a series of launches by the Auto Giants, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Products have been lined up and the next few months will witness the players competing with one another aggressively, trying to take hold of every segment they are into. BMW is all set to launch a range of products in the second half of this year. Starting with the new 3-Series (on the 27th of July), followed by the facelifted versions of the X1 and 7-Series around the festive season later this year.

The new BMW 7-Series gets upgraded features like the new LED headlights, interiors with upgraded optimised sound proofing, improved ride comfort and improvements in safety technology. New design features have been added at the front and the rear. Though dimensions have been changed only marginally, a drop in the height by 8 mm provides a better balance of car's dynamic proportions.

The engine variants include BMW TwinPower Turbo technology featuring twin-scroll turbocharging, High Precision Direct Petrol Injection, Double-Vanos variable camshaft timing and VALVETRONIC fully variable valve timing. All the 7-Series engines team up with an 8-speed automatic transmission and offer reduced fuel consumption. Features like auto start-stop, brake energy regeneration and the second-generation Driving Experience Control switch with ECO PRO mode aid further fuel saving. Likewise the BMW TwinPower Turbo diesel powerplants too showcase the very latest in BMW drive technology.

The new BMW 7-Series carries a multifunctional instrument cluster display which is different from the traditional classic instrument cluster. The basic layout with four circular dials is retained, while a virtually invisible 10.25-inch integrated screen provides an entirely novel and engaging display experience. There is an infrared thermal imaging camera integrated into the BMW kidney grille located at the heart of the Night vision system. This advanced system provides a live video image which highlights any object giving off heat, despite being far.

A number of new mechanisms are housed in the facelift of the BMW 7-Series. Anti-dazzle LED High-Beam Assistant with intelligent control, driving assistant, parking assistant, speed limit info using road sign symbols, the mobile office, split screen display, new generation professional navigation system, BMW ConnectDrive, the PIE menu and a range of safety features makes the new BMW 7-Series a benchmark for the luxury sedan segment. Will it be able to uproot the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8? Only time will tell.

2012 BMW 7-Series Interiors

2012 BMW 7-Series Facelift

2013 BMW 7-Series Facelift

Mercedes-Benz To Launch Diesel SLS AMG

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 03:50 AM PDT

2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster side

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG on paper is a two-door coupe which has a weirdly long bonnet. But take a practical look and what you will get is a car which has got looks to die for, a beast to power the machine and performance which is ground breaking. This legendary car has been the heart throb of many since its launch and now the SLS is under the spotlight again, reason being Mercedes-Benz is planning to give the car a diesel engine. A few months ago, Mercedes had said there will be no diesel engined AMG but not they seem have re-thought the idea!

Earlier this year, BMW also powered its M line-up with diesel engines. And now rumors have it that the Mercedes Benz will showcase the new diesel powered SLS AMG. The car will be showcased by the German automobile giant in the highly awaited Paris motor show. The new engine will be called AMG SLS CDI. The engine will be a six cylinder with triple turbochargers and capable of producing 400 HP and 1000 Nm. Now, that's something called 'devastating'. Performance will be breathe taking like the petrol-engined SLS.

We have also heard that Mercedes-Benz will only introduce a showcase version at the Paris motor show and its production will depend on the kind of response the AMG SLS CDI will get. But one thing is for sure that the diesel powered engines are surely making their way to high performance cars. We would only say that it's not only the gul wings which make style statement in the SLS AMG but this whole package is a statement itself. Will Mercedes move towards more diesel-engined AMGs in the future? Your guess is as good as mine!

- Kanishk Arora

Audi City Opens At London

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 03:01 AM PDT

Audi City London

Audi has taken to the next level of marketing with the launch of the "Audi City". This is a newer way of seeing the dealer network and perhaps the initial impressions of the future retailing in automobile industry. Audi launched its first Audi City in London, a few days back and has plans to open more than 20 stores across the world by 2015. Each of these outlets would be located at the heart of the urban locality. It will be a major marketing and customer relations tool for the company as it would showcase its new mobility services and electric-drive Audi models.

Audi city would be two birds with one stone solution. It will offer both the digital product presentation and the direct interaction with the dealer. The company will be able to not just showcase its line of products but will also be able to help the customers to experience the range in detail. Visitors to the store can choose from the wide range of configurations available and experience the final one on a 1:1 screen. Also, the technologies like drivetrain, body shell or LED light technology can be explained to the customers in depth with complete detailing.

Customers today need a personal touch to everything and a personal interaction with the dealers is a must. The employees need to be well-versed with this thought and thus Audi AG is offering employee training targeted specifically for these urban outlets. The company also helps the dealers to recruit the right kind of workforce at these outlets. The qualification of the workforce would matter the most as they must be able to explain the technical detailing to the customers. This indeed is a giant leap towards the retailing opportunities that lie in the automobile sector and the rivals might just inculcate this into their business any time soon.

Bajaj Auto Has Big Plans For Overseas Markets

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 12:54 AM PDT

kawasaki ninja 650 naked

What has Bajaj Auto done in the past few years? It has brought in KTM and Kawasaki in a market where they had absolutely no presence. Now its payback time and Bajaj Auto is looking to tap into KTM and Kawasaki’s vast expertise overseas to double sales volumes and achieve 10 million sales a year by 2016. This in turn will also help Bajaj Auto in doubling its turnover and achieve 50% of its sales through exports. The company’s focus continues to remain on motorcycles, where it is investing high amount in R&D, rather than on production. Bajaj claims their fixed costs are less than 10% of sales.

“We are working on global motorcycles alliance with KTM and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to partner them in markets where we are not present like Brazil, Vietnam and Malaysia. It is not easy to do this, ourselves. Discussions are underway and we hope to conclude this soon,” Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto, said.

This partnership with KTM and Kawasaki in overseas markets could play a vital role for Bajaj Auto to become a global player. The Pulsar 200 NS could do very well in other Asian markets. KTM and Kawasaki could handle the imports of Bajaj bikes along with the distribution. Bajaj Auto has focused all its attention on the Discover and Pulsar lately. The company does not plan to get into the scooter market again and feels the reason for the lower profitability of its competitors is that they make too many scooters. Bajaj has been trying to move 100cc motorcycle buyers to 125cc segment, by offering more frugal bikes.


The First Dog-Friendly Car

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 10:15 PM PDT

2012 Opel Combo

Good news for all the dog-lovers. Opel have recently honoured their tradition of producing cars aimed towards the everyday needs and comforts of the family by releasing the Combo Pet Lovers Edition, a variant on the Opel Combo which is specially designed for groups with dogs. The heart-warming intent belies a slightly complicated background story – the Pet Lovers Edition is, in itself, only a small tweak of the original Opel Combo Tour model. The idea has less to do with new modelling or engineering than it does with raising awareness and marketing: their new logo is almost more important than the car itself, because it will overlap with the Opel Tour and Van models, and these in turn will be employed by the ENPA ("Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali," the Italian national body for animal care).

The initiative starts in Italy, but if it is successful, we may well see it expanding past those borders and towards the rest of Europe. After all, the original intention was precisely that of accommodating the four million Italians who go on holiday with their dog every year (we are not mentioning cats because, of course, a Siamese is generally easier to take around than a Great Dane!). And Italians are certainly not the only ones who go on holiday with their pets. In general, the Opel Combo is of help to anyone who needs to take a large dog around and has no access to commercial vans or the like – or simply would rather not make a mess his car.

The new Opel may not be of a size with a proper camper, but it comes with a number of functional accessories for pet owners. There is, of course, the inevitable protection net that keeps the posterior part of the vehicle isolated from the rest, in such a way as to contain the liveliest animals. The compartment is designed to be easy to wash, removing fur, paw-prints and other marks. And there is a special accessory called FlexFloor that is used to split the space at the back, in such a way as to ensure space for the dog as well as the luggage. At 13,900 euros, this is still very much a family car.

The greatest merit of this idea lies in its focus on a very real problem, that of abandoned dogs. This sorry business is as real in the UK as it is in Italy. In both countries, more than 100,000 dogs are abandoned every year. The president of the ENPA, Carla Rocchi, expressed satisfaction with the Opel Combo, but she did not hide the fact that very much still needs to be done. Opel deserves to be commended for taking a step in the right direction. Whether the edition will spread elsewhere in Europe depends on its success, so we can only wish them well.

Hyundai – Cops Love It!

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 05:30 AM PDT

Only two years ago, Hyundai seemed to have something of a strangle-hold on the UK's police department. The sentence is not intended to be dubious – all that is meant is that they sold them more cars than any other company! In September of 2010, the South-Korean manufacturers won themselves a contract that made them the 'preferred supplier' of land vehicles for the UK police force, including the (enormous) London Metropolitan Force.

The company is slightly less dominant today – the incident response vehicles, for instance, are covered by the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Astra and the Skoda Octavia. But they still have numerous models among the so-called 'panda cars,' which are the standard vehicles for the police. It is worth reconsidering briefly why they were so successful, and what other manufacturers can learn from them.

Though we have no hard evidence to prove this, we might speculate that Hyundai's appointment was not enthusiastically received by the public. Despite being a colossal manufacturer, second in size only to GM, Volkswagen and Toyota, their most popular cars are not famed for beauty or speed. Hyundai might not have vans for sale in Europe but their compact cars have become very popular. The utility segment is something which the company might look into in the near future.

You can easily imagine a BMW coupe (the type of car that is both speedy and pretty) gaining more favorable responses among British car-lovers. But despite the popular iconographic history which sees policemen speeding after bank-robbers across the countryside, the question of how fast a car can go is not at the top of the list, for the police. More important are its strength and its efficiency. Public service cars like these are driven for long hours daily and must not break down for constant use. And the question of how good-looking they are is of far lesser relevance than that of how well-spaced. They must have a good boot for equipment, and the possibility of inserting a confinement barrier at the back in case someone has to be arrested and put in the car.

Hyundai addressed all of these issues, and they did so while keeping the price-range very low. Their most popular model for the panda cars was the i30 (perhaps for its superior design), but the i20 provided pretty much the same service. Both were super minis that provided cheap transport and a great deal of space, and they lasted for years. The ix35 was used in the countryside, and to this day it stands as one of Hyundai's best SUVs (more so than the Santa Fe, also popular with the British Police, but perhaps with less justification in the context of this article – the car was good-looking and cheap, but not as great off-road as it could have been).

Few of these models have ever been considered classics. But they offered great value and excellent dependability, and they proved Hyundai's business awareness, landing them a contract worth millions of pounds. They may not be the standard for the fanciest city cars, but there is a lot to learn from this company.

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