Saturday, July 21, 2012

“Guess This Silver Sedan” plus 6 more Motorbeam

“Guess This Silver Sedan” plus 6 more Motorbeam

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Guess This Silver Sedan

Posted: 21 Jul 2012 07:42 AM PDT

The above picture might not give you a big glimpse of the vehicle but is enough to help you identify the car. The above car has very distinct mirrors and is a very sought after machine globally. Which sedan could it be?

Why Do Retro Cars Have A Similar Rear

Posted: 21 Jul 2012 07:37 AM PDT


Three cars are a total icon today – the Volkswagen Beetle, MINI Cooper and the Fiat 500. These three vehicles were made for the common man, to give them a means of cheap transport which was easy to drive and park. These vehicles were also high on efficiency and their design was simple, in order to remove complications from production. Today, its quite the opposite. Automaker are leveraging the retro car status to offer unique and overpriced vehicles to a select section of the society.

Yes, the three cars which were the most affordable in their early days are out of reach of most today. The Fiat 500 was priced upwards of Rs. 15 lakhs, the Volkswagen Beetle is priced around Rs. 25 lakhs and the MINI Cooper range starts at Rs. 30 lakhs. Yes, that is for a car, which was essentially a small city round about. However no one is complaining. People have memories associated with these cars as they buy them, while others find these cars as the cheapest way to arrive in style.

I have been looking through some of these retro cars. While the VW Beetle has very distinct styling, the MINI Cooper and Fiat 500 seem to share quite a few design elements. Just look at the rear of both these cars and they look very similar indeed. The similarities lie in the similar way the boot door is designed and how chrome is plastered on the tail gate. The lights too look very similar and so does the position of the logo. What do you think? Do retro cars have similarities because they hail from the same era?


GM Continues Testing The Chevrolet Sail Sedan

Posted: 21 Jul 2012 07:14 AM PDT

Chevrolet Sail Sedan Spied

General Motors has been extensively testing the Sail Sedan in India. The American automaker wants to leave no stone unturned with the Chinese vehicles, as it looks to increase market share in the B and C-segment. GM has performed poorly in these segments with the Aveo twins not selling in good numbers. The company will pull the plug on the Aveo twins later this year and has already stopped production of this car. The Aveo twins will be replaced by the Sail twins, with the Sail U-VA being launched in the next 4 weeks, while the Sail sedan seeing a launch later this year.

The Chevrolet Sail is not really a modern vehicle but GM is hoping to cash in by pricing it very aggressively. The Sail twins are also armed with India’s national diesel engine, the 1.3-litre Multijet motor which powers all the top selling diesel cars in the country. MotorBeam reader Harshad Vyawahare spotted the Sail sedan on test in Pune recently. The spy picture shows the heavy camouflage the company has used to prevent on-goers from identifying the car. GM is yet to unveil the Sail sedan in India and had showcased the Sail hatchback at the 2012 Auto Expo.

Recently we reported on GM’s plans to power the Sail hatchback with the 1.4-litre petrol engine. This could mean that the Sail sedan might get the 1.6-litre petrol engine, resulting in slightly higher prices. GM will be discontinuing the Optra later this year, resulting in a big void being created between the Sail sedan and Cruze. This void gap can be filled by bringing in the Sonic sedan next year. It remains to be seen how GM completes its portfolio, which currently has three hatchbacks (including the Aveo U-VA). The company will also launch an mild facelift on the Spark and Beat in the coming months.

Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Launch Postponed

Posted: 21 Jul 2012 06:57 AM PDT

2013 Maruti Alto Replacement

Maruti Suzuki was all set to bring in the Alto 800 this festive season but the company’s plans have been ruined due to the labour unrest at its Manesar facility. The company has no option but to postpone the launch of the car, rescheduling it to early 2013. However Maruti Suzuki might still be able to launch the Alto 800 in Diwali if they are able to recover quickly from the violence at their Manesar plant. The stoppage in production has caused huge loss for both Maruti Suzuki and its suppliers and will lead to dis-satisfied prospective customers who have booked vehicles months ago.

The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 is the replacement of the 800 and Alto F8. It is not an all new car but based on the existing Alto platform. The engine is the same 800cc, 3-cylinder unit, which is expected to get tweaks to improve upon fuel economy. The Alto 800 is expected to sit above the current 800cc Alto in Maruti Suzuki portfolio. Maruti Suzuki was expected to start trial production of the Alto 800 at its Gurgaon facility next week but that will be put on hold till the production re-starts at Manesar.

The current strike at Manesar is not the first time to happen for India’s largest automaker. Something similar had happened last year, pushing huge losses for the company. The current strike has caused damage to humans and property and should not have happened. However Maruti Suzuki is not planning to leave Manesar and will still put up a third plant there next year. The company has currently reduced production of petrol-powered cars to prevent inventory from building up. It is also in talks with Gujarat CM for a new manufacturing facility in the state.

Electric Vehicle Batteries To Become Cheaper

Posted: 21 Jul 2012 06:39 AM PDT

2012 Toyota Prius side

The electric vehicle industry has been in news for a quite a while now ever since the fuel hikes and fluctuations started. The industry that aids low carbon emission has been trying out various possibilities to give a competition to the traditional carmakers. But the major hurdle, they have faced till now is the battery cost. These electric vehicles do not see much demand as their battery comes at a premium price and affordability becomes an issue. Also lack of the required charging stations is yet another problem.

If you want to play in the automotive markets around the world, you actually need vehicles that are emitting less carbon.

But, the time is indeed ripe for the electric vehicle industry to make its foothold strong. Due to the rising fuel prices, automakers will be pushed to manufacture the electric variant. The economies of scale will play its part here as increased production will surely bring down the cost and thus the offering will be available to the customer at lower price. According to the McKinsey & Co. study released recently, the cost of the lithium-ion batteries could fall by almost 70 percent by 2025 with economies of scale.

Not just the scaling up but also the number of companies entering the segment and the newer technologies will aid in cost reduction. Companies like Apple are making rapid breakthroughs in increasing the life and power of the lithium-ion batteries. Prices can also drop if the processes are further streamlined and refined. Currently, the prices range from $500 to $600 per kilowatt hour. The expected price cut can reduce the prices to about $200 by 2020 and to $160 by 2025. Cheaper batteries are indeed a potential threat to the petroleum industry in future.

Volvo Scouts For Land For Local Assembly

Posted: 21 Jul 2012 12:45 AM PDT


It was recently in news that the hibernating Swedish company is planning for a comeback with fresh and newer strategies. One new offering every year for the next five years seems to be the mantra of this company. Volvo Auto India, which lost its market share to giants like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi almost five years back in the luxury car market, is indeed having some secretive plans as it is aggressively strategizing its options to grab 15 percent share in the market by 2020.

Now, the company has again made news as it is looking for land to set up its semi-knocked down assembly plant. The company with its new owners, Geely Automobile, is set to meet the Gujarat Chief Minister to discuss the possible deals in the month of August. The location, till now in consideration, is by no doubt the hotspot, Sanand. The location is also ideal for easy export and import. But no confirmation has yet arrived on the final location as the team is still analyzing the various options.

“The company has identified two locations, one in Sanand and other near Chennai. But with the company’s major holding in Chinese hands and given growing ties between Gujarat and China, we hope it will be Sanand,” one of the company officials said.

The company has been importing cars till now as completely build units. Setting up of a local assembly plant is sure to help them reduce the cost of production. The competition is stiff and price becomes one of the points for consideration. Volvo will be able to save on the high import costs once the local assembly unit is set up. If the company zeros down to setting up a plant in Sanand, it would be the first of a kind in the luxury car segment as no other player from this segment have a plant there.

Source – Times of India

The Share Of Natural Gas Vehicles Increasing

Posted: 20 Jul 2012 07:25 AM PDT

Natural gas vehicles are still sometimes associated with the shoddy DIY conversions of the 1980s. In the age of hybrids and advanced electric cars you could hardly imagine gas vehicles to be something worth talking about. It couldn't be further from truth. According to the recent study carried out by Pike Research, a global consulting company, the appeal of natural gas vehicles is still high and, in fact, increasing year in year out.

If we are to trust the report, the NGVs will enjoy a rapid growth of more than 6% during the next 7 years with as many as 3.2 million gas vehicles sold in 2019. This figure doesn't include the private conversions, we're only looking at factory models or factory-approved conversions.

The natural gas hot spots are located in North America as well as in Argentina and Brazil. These regions will expand mostly thanks to a growing demand in vans and other commercial vehicles. Privately owned NGVs are still not very popular in the Americas despite the large number of companies converting their fleets to natural gas. It's a rather different picture in Europe. Many private motorists would gladly buy dual fuel vehicles but they're not confident enough to do so because of the sporadic nature of the re-fuelling infrastructure. You simply don't know where your next top-up will come from.

Two countries – Italy and Ukraine – stand out from the crowd. Although both are largely dependant on the gas coming from Russia, they have hundreds of thousands natural gas cars and vans on the roads – mostly conversions. From the perspective of Italy and Ukraine, they'd welcome more factory-grade NVGs being offered. As far as the rest of the Europe is concerned, they'd have to start by improving the infrastructure.

For natural gas to establish itself as a real alternative to petrol and diesel, more bi-fuel vehicles need to be offered by the manufacturers. The current supply looks rather scarce. Last year Mercedes Benz unveiled the E200 NGT BlueEFFICIENCY featuring a well-optimised bi-fuel engine, some of the Mercedes Benz commercial vans, like the Sprinter, are available with gas engines. Another possible choice could be a Volvo V70. Several other manufacturers offer limited edition bi-fuel vehicles or a list of approved conversions but the supply is clearly not versatile enough to attract a mainstream car buyer.

The experts believe that natural gas vehicles are going to stick around for at least a couple of decades, mainly because of the energy security that they represent. While the reserves of oil quickly deplete, there is plenty of natural gas left and it's pricing model is less volatile. The latest report discovers a great opportunity for investors worldwide and it is expected that more passenger and commercial vehicles will be designed to work with natural gas.

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