Indian Autos blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Picture of the Day: How to advertise your new car in Europe

Brands go head to head when marketing their new products in Europe. Literally.

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Fantastic video showing how air can replace gasoline

If you were wondering how air could be used to run an engine, this video will clear all the cobwebs. The later part of the video shows how air can change the engineering aspect behind the conventional engine and make it tip the scales at an unbelievable 12 kilograms! It's one that will make the eco-friendly group jump with joy. Take a look

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

A look at the Tata Xover

Tata's Crossover concept, the Xover, is what the talk is all about. When launched, the Xover will compete with the likes of Innova and the upcoming Mahindra Ingenio. This vehicle was displayed at the Geneva auto show back in 2005, and proved to be a crowd puller. The distinctly shaped headlamps and the not-so-tata looking interiors are a welcomed change in the existing setup which would make a polymer engineer blush.

The design elements are unique and classy. Any concept car's would be, but that takes nothing away from the effort that has gone into making the Xover. Glance at it's side profile and you would be instantly reminded of the Indigo Marina. The mirror mounted indicators and the Sumo Grande like grille up front add flavor to this stylish crossover which stands on 17 inch wheels.

On the inside, Tata claim they will offer state of the art safety features like airbags, traction control, ABS. On the comforts list appear navigation system and climate control, two features that have been forsaken by the company on its existing models for the sake of cost. Ample interior space is a characteristic of any Tata Motors car and this one is no exception. The Xover can ingest 7 passengers with all their luggage easily.

This car was unveiled in 2005 and things have changed a lot for Tata since then. With the deal inked with Fiat, the 1.6 and 1.9 liter Multijet engines could find their way under this Xover's bonnet.

India is witnessing an abrupt increase in the outsourcing and call centre industry. Cab operators ferry employees in Crossovers which are convenient and comfortable. 132,045 units of the Toyota Innova have been sold so far, a market segment which hasn't seen a candidate from Tata Motors yet. If Tata could get the pricing right, they have a sure winner in their kitty.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Classics:Tata Safari Ad

It's been a long time since this Ad was taken off air. Indigenously developed in India, the Tata Safari was the only logical option for ones who wanted to indulge in serious mud-plugging those days. Enjoy!

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CNG and LPG variants of the Renault Logan coming your way!

Its Official. CNG and LPG variants of Mahindra's flagship sedan Logan, will be out on sale in the next 3-4 months. The Logan seems to have worked for Mahindra and the statistics describe it's runaway success; 12% of the C segment market share.

The alternate fuels will power the 1.6 litre petrol variant, which will approximately become dearer by 50,000 rupees. The inflation has taken no prisoners, and as a result, a price hike of Rs, 4000 to 5000 was also announced on both the petrol and diesel versions of the Logan.

The company plans to up the number of existing dealers from 94 to 144 by the end of 2008. With this announcement, four launches are awaited from Mahindra. The Scorpio A/T, Bolero Micro-hybrid and the CNG/LPG Logans will be out by the end of this year.

Err...did anyone say Ingenio??

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Today's rant- Are car makers going the wrong way?

As gasoline prices soar, car manufacturers are pushing hard to make fuel efficient cars. The different methods of getting there by these manufacturers are

  1. More fuel efficient engine
  2. Variable valve timing (VVTi, Vtec etc), direct injection technology (Dicor, CRDe etc)
  3. More efficient transmissions by adding gears, modifying gear ratios and torque converters to yield maximum benefits.
  4. Hybrid cars. Mahindra's Scorpio Hybrid is around the corner, while Honda's Civic Hybrid is waiting for it's wraps to be removed. Type your summary here
There are several ways to address this problem and one way that's slowly being adopted is by reducing the load on the engine- By making lighter cars

That by far is the easiest way you can reduce fuel consumption. Sounds simple doesn't it? A 1000 kg car consumes far less fuel than a 2500 kg car just like an elephant consumes less food than a dog.

By reducing the weight, the benefits can be reaped on the long run. A lighter car is faster, stops quicker and handles better.

It is a lot harder to make lighter cars than the conventional we discussed in the beginning. If you are trying to make a vehicle more fuel efficient from a transmission's stand point, you add new technology to the it. Or even an engine for that matter, you take an existing engine and put in variable valve timing or a variable geometry turbocharger.

If you have to make a car lighter, the entire car has to be redesigned. A switch in materials used means it needs to be different all together. Aluminium or Carbon fiber, which is adopted by most car manufacturers are lighter and stronger than conventional Steel. On the other hand, the cost factor plays a big role, both of those materials cost several times that of Steel.

But if you do go ahead and make the car with those materials, what you gain is substantial. You will end up with a car that is 20 to 30 % lighter, and 20 to 30 % more fuel efficient. The trend of using lighter materials in everyday cars is setting in, and maybe 10 to 15 years from now, the Indica or the Alto will be dressed in these materials.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Brand new Tata Nanos roll out of Uttarakhand

The first few Nanos were born at the Tata Motors plant in Uttarakhand yesterday. The production line was undergoing trial runs as it saw the birth of the first few cars which are rearing to change the way India travels. The Uttarakhand plant is where the Tata Ace and Magic commercial vehicles are being produced, and soon the CNG variant of the Magic will also join that list.

These cars are samples of the actual ones which will be available in the market, the ones which were displayed at the Delhi Autoexpo were test mules, which were built separately for test purposes. Around 70 more test vehicles will be produced from the Uttarakhand production line, as it gears up for the real action in September, later this year.

The first few thousand Nanos will be from this plant, as the Singur plant will begin operations only in October. It is also confirmed that the Nano will roll out from multiple locations- satellite plants as one Tata Motors official refers to it.

300 crores have gone into this production line which as of now is 80% complete. We'll keep a close track on the Nano's development, so come back for more updates.

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Skoda Fabia- 2 million and going strong!

It's nice to see a car reaching stratospheric production figures once in a while. On the other hand, this news bit makes me wonder where the Fabia was for all this while and why Skoda didn't bring this to the India a long time back. But 2 million is quite a lot, and that's one fact you can't take away from them. That's right, this premium hatch from the Czech manufacturer has 2 million examples on planet Earth.

You can buy this hatch in India in both diesel and petrol variants. The Fabia sold in India was introduced in early 2007 in International markets. The Fabia hatch and estate versions, which isn't available here, have been delivered to over 63,000 happy customers this year alone all over the globe. Now, that quite a lot and there are vital reasons behind this staggering sales number.

One reason is the brand. Skoda has been in this industry for over a hundred years and they know how to make cars mighty well. Secondly, the engines they plunk under the bonnets of these hot cakes are frugal and eco-friendly. The latter holds the upper hand when in contrast with the former lately although the difference is wafer-thin. Global warming and climate change won't be on your car's 'fiddle with today' list when it is a Skoda.

With all that said, the response in India for this car has also been superb. No points for guessing which car occupies the premium hatch's pole position for now.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Breaking News: Nissan coming out with small car in 2 years

Japanese car manufacturer Nissan will introduce a car based its best seller Micra, in India in 2 years time. The hatchback turned 25 last year, and has sold across the globe for its reliability, build quality and user friendliness. Nissan plans to upgrade the Micra sometime in 2009, which will eventually be their debut car for India. The small car segment makes up 75% of the sales numbers and this move by Nissan indicates that it wants to make hay while the sun shines.

Nissan plans to introduce 8 models within 2012, out of which a few will be imported. The cars will roll out of the Chennai plant which Nissan along with partner Renault are setting up at a whopping 4500 crores. One high-end and another low-end small car will be the first candidates to be produced in this plant. Two engines are also going to be manufactured alongside the cars in this facility, claim vendors.

Nissan also plans to manufacture cars for export markets, similar to what Hyundai is doing with the i10 and Santro. 1,80,000 cars are planned for the first year from the plant, which has a maximum capacity of 4,00,000. Nissan entered India in 2005 and currently sells its X-Trail SUV and Teana luxury sedan.

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Fiat Linea caught testing in Hosur

One of the team-bhp members has photographed the forthcoming Fiat Linea, when it was clocking test miles in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. The stylish sedan from Fiat, will be up for sale possibly in a month or two with in both petrol and diesel variants. Unveiled earlier in the Delhi Autoexpo, both the Grande Punto and Linea are Fiat's comeback models, which are an attempt by the company to pounce back into the sales charts with big numbers.

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Scoop: 2009 BMW 3 Series

Looks like the ever-energetic spy shooters have done it once again. The 2009 BMW 3 Series was photographed testing. The facelifted 3, sports LED tail lights, a bigger mirror and a new i-drive system. The front-end looks to have been tweaked, but other than that, Chris Bangle's art work has been left alone. It is only a matter of time before the updated 3 arrives in India.

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BMW wants to be No.1 by 2010

BMW eyes the No.1 spot in the list of premium car makers in India. It plans to get there by 2010 beating rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

The company plans on selling 2000 units in India this year, after a successful 1,387 units in 2007. BMW outsources 10 percent of its components from India and is currently screening a large number of Indian component makers to increase that figure. BMW is also considering to manufacture the 3 and 5 series cars over here, which will lower the price tags considerably. Both those cars arrive in the form of CKD's presently and are put together in the Chennai plant. Until now, 110 crores has been invested by the company which provides direct employment to 200 people and has 10 dealers operating across the country.

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Volvo seeking to set up R&D base in India

Cars from Volvo are one of the safest and most stylish ones you can possibly step into. Their entry into India was quite recent, and the Swedish car giant is already having plans of setting up a research and development base, much like its competitors GM and Suzuki have done. The brand Volvo has got a big reputation, much of it was built by its array of fascinating buses and trucks it has offered India for a long time. Their cars are known for state of the art safety features and technology. Earlier this month, Volvo announced that it will launch 6 new models including the XC 70 SUV within this year.

Impressed with India's design and engineering capability, Volvo wants to set up a R&D base in India. It is also trying to add 7-9 new dealers to its list, who will all try to achieve selling 500 cars this year and give Mercedes, BMW and Audi some issues to think about.

You may have a look at the different models Volvo has in store for India here

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mitsubishi joins the small-car bandwagon

If it is India, then it's definitely small car news. After Hyundai, GM, Tata blah blah..and a dozen other manufacturers are busy developing their own 'nano' versions, Mitsubishi don't want to be left behind and has recently announced that its forthcoming global car will be released in markets like China and India. Expect this subcompact car to share its territory with the Pajero's and Montero's anytime in 2010. Similar to the Tata Nano, this car will be rear engined too but will come with a 1.0 litre engine. Looks wise, it will be very similar to its brother, the 'i' car.

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GM has exciting prospects for India

General Motors forayed into India way back in 2003 with their Tavera MUV. Five years on and several milestones later, GM's new plans are optimistic and exciting. The Tavera MUV has appealed to the cab market as well as families. Their Aveo sedan has seen steady sales numbers. Their small car Spark, is attracting a large volume number of customers, which has left the production section gasping for breath.

GM has set itself a target of 90,000 cars for 2008, which is 30,000 more than the target they achieved in 2007. This naturally means that they have to step on the gas, and increase their service outlets accordingly. GM plans on increasing the number from 145 to 160 service stations which will take care of fulfilling the 'Chevrolet Promise.'

GM has a lot to offer in the future. Their Innova-like MPV scheduled for International markets was caught testing recently (You can read more on that here). Their small cars Aveo and Spark will be introduced in LPG formats later this year. Another small car is also on the cards, this one being smaller than the Spark in terms of size and price. GM is simultaneously working on engines displacing 1 to 1.4 litres which will find its place in its models in the near future. Low cost pickup vans and similar vehicles are also in pipeline, which indicates GM's desire to invade into commercial vehicles segment of the market as well.

One big advantage of GM's cars are that they are tried, tested and accepted in International markets. If you are planning to buy any of their cars, you can do so without a second thought.

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India's Detroit shaping up

From Mahindra to Mercedes, Chakan, which lies 30 km from the city of Pune, is rapidly developing into India's Detroit. Foreign auto manufacturers including the mighty Germans, want to put their money setting up their facilities in this place.

Whats happening in Chakan in a few years time. Mercedes, VW, Mahindra, Renault, GM and JCB will produce their vehicles, which will total to 1.8 million vehicles annually (Tip : That's more than what the country Britain churns out annually).

The VW plant, which commences production next year will produce 110,000 cars every year. Renault, which will partner Bajaj in making the low cost car, will produce the hot-selling type of cars later next year (Tata plans 2.5 lakh cars a year, Bajaj would be looking at similar numbers if things work out). Diamler Chrysler and Mahindra and Mahindra, have big plans of setting up high-capacity plants very soon.

There are a host of reasons why Chakan and its surrounding have attracted millions of dollars of investment. Chakan is well connected by rail, road and air. The six lane Mumbai-Pune motorway gives easy access to the port. Pune is loaded with engineering colleges, which means recruiting is easier and cheaper labor is readily available.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Video: Tata Nano launch from Delhi AutoExpo

The Tata Nano is truly a special vehicle that puts India on the global forefront of engineering potential and strength. What was once termed 'impossible' or 'foolish' is now a 'challenge'. Bajaj and Hyundai will take up the fight along with VW and a bunch of other electric car manufacturers who seem to have quite a few interesting prospects on the table. The Tata Nano launch video doesn't seem to bore me how many ever time I watch it.I'm not implying to say that Ratan Tata should feature in the next Dhoom, but the Nano is truly the superstars amidst others. You can relive the moments that made history and did India proud after the jump.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spied: GM's future MPV

GM's next MPV was photographed testing in the United States. The 7-seater Toyota Innova look alike might well be GM's answer to the forthcoming Tata Indiva and Mahindra Ingenio. According to the photographers, the car's development was done entirely in GM's South Korean facility.

Built on GM's delta chassis, this car is slated for production in mid 2009. Due to the absence of any sort of protection up front, the shooters noticed an intercooler under the bonnet, which confirms its turbocharged-diesel heart. They also say that this car will be rebadged as Daewoos and Opels and sold in different markets. With that said, it is only a matter of time before it arrives in India.

Source- Winding Road

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Porsche's plan for India

NDTV recently Interviewed Porsche's Managing Director for Middle East and Africa, Deesch Papke and asked him everything from the idea behind the new GTS to the company's future plans in India.

NDTV: What do you hope to achieve with Porsche Cayenne GTS?

Deesch Papke: Porsche Cayenne GTS is the result of an opportunity that we saw within our product range, which is to fit a new product nicely between Porsche Cayenne S and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. We took the standard V8 engine in the Porsche Cayenne S and changed the dynamics of car to make it similar to turbo. The engine in Cayenne GTS is slightly more powerful with different suspension setting, making it a more sporty and dynamic car.

NDTV: Cayenne is already popular among customers witnessing great growth in terms of sales. So did you really need a new variant from sales point of view?

Deesch Papke: We have always got to be looking for opportunities where we can give our customers something even more enjoyable and something more dynamic. Yes, we are blessed with the fact that we have strong demand at the moment especially in the middle eastern region but that won’t stop up for always looking for something that gives our customers more unique and sporty cars.

NDTV: Do you expect a good demand for Porsche Cayenne GTS in India too?

Deesch Papke: We have had very interesting introduction into the Indian market. We started our operations in India three years ago and we now understand the challenges in the Indian market. As the infrastructure grows we’ll see the sport cars starting to increase their market but for the time being Cayenne will have the lion’s share in the Indian market.

NDTV: What percentage of your sales of Cayenne does the Indian market account for?

Deesch Papke: At the moment it is 85 per cent and within the product range itself you have a very unique split. By offering the Cayenne GTS we are providing the discerning customer something sportier. I think it will be very good for the market.

NDTV: In India do you see a change in image for the brand setting in? Do you think people will recognize the capability of the Cayenne range beyond a status symbol?

Deesch Papke: You need to afford people the opportunity to enter the brand. Our brand is a very aspirational brand and we’re very lucky in that regard. But you can’t only opt for the top of the range always so you give customer the opportunity to enter. If you do it well and deliver the services on demand then you can win their confidence.

NDTV: Give us a sense of the markets (especially Middle East) that you actually operate in?

Deesch Papke: It is a diverse and energetic region and I would be arrogant to say that I know the region well. We have South Africa, Kenya, Angola, Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, GCC Dubai and India. Ten years from now I think India will be a huge market. Between today and then we have a large amount of work to do and we are very positive about India in a long term.

NDTV: Do you still see a big potential in the Indian market knowing that large segment of Indian population is not going to afford such luxury cars?

Deesch Papke: If you look at the statistics then the number of dollar millionaires that are being generated every month is still high in India.

NDTV: For years we have seen the constant comparison between India and China. Do you see that moving away from that where each one is separate entity?

Deesch Papke: Unfairly I think not, because due to similar population size and unknown quantities there will always be parallels between China and India for term of reference.

NDTV: Within Porsche Middle East which are the vehicles that do well and what kind of customer profiles that you are looking for?

Deesch Papke: Before the introduction of Cayenne we had moderate performances in the region with only 400 cars. But the introduction of Cayenne proved to be of immense success across the region. The only market where we sell more sports car than Cayenne in the entire region is South Africa. We started off selling 85 per cent of Cayenne across the region and last year it was 65 per cent, which is very good for us because the brand has been institutionalize with the sports car growth. Our forecast for future is that we’ll continue to have very strong demand for Cayenne.

NDTV: Infrastructure is the key problem in India and we’ve seen things happening but is that growth just too slow?

Deesch Papke: One’s initial reaction is that it’s too slow. In a densely populated city like Mumbai you can’t have freeways maybe there got be fliers. We were in Bangalore at the end of last year and there you can see a lot of things are happening.

NDTV: A lot of critics will always argue that there is always been a big pent-up demand for these cars in India and it starts getting met, it is going slowly start to fizzle out. Do you agree with that?

Deesch Papke: No I think what will happen is, as the economy produces more and more distribution of wealth, the pent-up demand will continue.

NDTV: You have limited number of cars that gets produced out of Germany every year. Within your region what are the number and do you see it changing?

Deesch Papke: We have a system where the importer calls for cars, which is called demand and then we manage that in a way as close as possible to meeting that actual demand. Last year we sold 85 cars and this year we believe it is going to double. Our target in this region this year is 6,000 cars and out of those cars we can manage to meet the demand of cars.

NDTV: Do you also see the demand growing from India?

Deesch Papke: At the moment the base is relatively low. When we moved in, the demand was around 200 cars, but now it is growing. We are overcoming the barriers to enter the market by amalgamating our cars, which is a costly and timely process.

NDTV: Do you expect the government to deliver on taxation and duty structure as promised in the Union Budget?

Deesch Papke: You must know that these are very strong income generators for the government and it will take time.

NDTV: Can you throw more light on the Volkswagon front?

Deesch Papke: As you know Porsche’s current holdings in Volkswagen is 31 per cent. Porsche wants to bring it up over 50 per cent and the board has approved that it could be done. It will benefit us at the central level while protecting Volkswagon from hostile takeovers and providing us economies of scale.

NDTV: In the future do you see more products being jointly developed by Volkswagon?

Deesch Papke: The introduction of Porsche hybrid system was jointly developed with Volkswagen. Wherever it is possible and wherever it makes sense, we’ll continue to find engineering and development synergies that is good for all brands while ensuring that brands stay completely autonomous.

NDTV: What is your expectation of Porsche Panamera?

Deesch Papke: We are entering a completely new segment and we have enormous expectations out of it. The Porsche Panamera, which is a four-door, four-seat sedan, still in concept stages, will meet the demand of Indian customers perfectly. It will be powered by a modified version of the 4.5 L V-8 found in the Cayenne, equipped with the FSI system as used by Volkswagen.

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Motorcycle prices shoot up

Motorcycle prices have gone up. And some of them by even Rs, 1000. The culprits being rubber, steel, aluminium and other raw materials, which have become costlier. The manufacturers couldn't absorb the full pricing pressure any longer and had to pass on part of the burden to its customers. Prices were brought down after the budget by some margin, but after this announcement, those numbers have been dragged down to little or nothing.

Bajaj's Pulsar and Discover models cost more while the other bikes in the Bajaj line-up bear the same price tag. The TVS Apache RTR 160 will set you back by an extra 700 bucks, while the other bikes under the TVS roof will cost you 200 to 1000 bucks more. Hero Honda Passion and Splendor models will cost anywhere between 500-1000 Rs more.

When Inflation hits, it hits hard.

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Bajaj troubled with cheap Chinese look alikes

China is in the news again. And this time it's Bajaj with whom they are messing with. Cheap Chinese look alikes of Bajaj's popular models are being sold in Latin America and the Middle East. The Chinese cleverly use Bajaj's attractive design on their cheap bikes, and sell them at discounted price, some manage to sell even at 25% lesser than the original.

Bajaj has a very possessive nature about its belongings which was seen earlier this year when TVS tried mimicking Bajaj's Dts-i technology on their 125 cc bike, Flame, which now comes sans the technology after a case was lodged against them.

Chinese manufacturers of fake bikes operate under different names. Furthermore, the bikes arrive into the markets from China in the form of kits. The fakes share nothing in common with the Bajaj's other than maybe the shape and styling. The quality, performance and durability of these fakes are far below Bajaj's.

The only way to combat this problems is by patenting the original designs in the markets where Bajaj sells its bikes. One of the Bajaj officials said that it would be a difficult and costly process.

Bajaj is exploring overseas markets and especially markets where the Chinese are currently having a ball, ruining the reputation of Bajaj's products. Chinese motorcycles are very different to Indian ones. The various parts in them are designed to be replaced and not serviced.

The Chinese have been successful in copying almost anything from Nokia cellphones to BMW cars and Bajaj bikes is a far too easier task for them. The only way to put an end to the riots is by patenting the designs, which again would involve a lot of money. But until then, there is absolutely nothing to stop these unethical Chinese from doing what they want to.

Here are some of the shocking Chinese versions of the Bajaj Pulsar.

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DC's latest mind boggling creation- Tata Winger Executive Van

Dilip Chhabria a.k.a DC, is known for his wacky designs and unique creations. He takes a mundane and boring Ambassador and transforms it into something that would make a spaceship from Star Wars blush. The Ambirod was displayed in the Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year proving that he's in the league of the Giugiaros.

Now, he's got all the attention by giving new life to a Tata Motors' Commercial Vehicle. The Tata Winger is a rebadged Renault Trafic Van sold here in India, aimed at organizations which believe in stylish transportation. He's refreshed both the interiors and exteriors, and my god, the outcome is phenomenal.

Vehicles from Tata Motors lack excitement on the inside with cheap plastics and poor fit and finish. The interiors sport a look similar to interiors found in Lego toy stores. DC has inturn emptied the interiors and takes the space to an all new level. Interiors are made from moulded highly contoured, complex, composite
panelling which are long lasting and easy to maintain too. An audio/video console, laminated wood accents, plush carpeting and powered curtains on windows, leather seating, and four powered captain seats as per the owner's discretion, are add on features that can be integrated. A combination of LED and fluorescent lamps lights up the interiors giving you an ambiance similar to a dance floor in a 7-star hotel. Furthermore, partition is recessed behind the driver's and co-driver's seat.

The 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel engine that powers the van is borrowed from the Tata Sumo and it's characteristic sound track is dreadful. In order to stop any of it from entering the cabin, anechoic material is used to provide the necessary sound insulation while the air-conditioning consists of a 40,000 BTU proprietary ducted system which will keep you as cool as the vehicle.

Bells and Whistles-
Electronics are a plenty once you step inside this one-off vehicle. Two 26" LCD televisions, DVD player, two component speakers, intercom, 12 V refrigerator, computer system with wireless keyboard, and inverter to run the electricals on board are the goods to keep you relaxed and entertained once you get bored of gazing around and outside.


The exterior pack a punch giving the van an unique stance that will blend in an a multi-storied IT park environment. Fixed glasses are installed replacing the existing sliding windows. Styling also includes the new front and rear fascia. Lastly, satellite television and an increase in roof height for better headroom, adds to the overall luxury, comfort and ease.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Tata Nano-Just 50,000 of them will be made in 2008-09

Only 50,000 units of the Tata Nano will roll out of the Singur factory between the months of September 2008 and March 2009. Tata Motors are plagued with production problems and have resorted to this solution.

What's a little startling to believe is that only 15,000 Nano's will be produced between September and December 2008 and according to an official in Tata Motors, dealers in Gujarat alone got as many as 20,000 inquiries since the time of its launch earlier this year. If only 50,000 of them are produced in the first 6 months or so, the waiting list and waiting time is going to be mighty long.

Sources in Tata Motors say that the bare-bones version which is priced at 1.30 lakh (on road price), surprisingly will account to only 20% of the sales. The major share of its sales will be taken up by the mid-range and top-end models which will cost 1.50 lakh and upwards, models that feature comforts like air-conditioning.

Tata is also working on the diesel sibling of its small car which will sport a 800 cc engine. The diesel would outsell the petrol variant if it was to be priced at 2 lakh rupees given the demand for diesel small cars here, which they are planning on doing.

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Fiat 500 wins best diesel small car

The 500 will be available in the Indian market within a few months and this piece of news is another reason why you must pay a stratospheric price for a small car. The Fiat 500 (read fashion accessory) has grabbed another award which has gone into its ever bulking trophy cabinet. Best Diesel small car award from What Diesel Car? magazine in UK is its latest accolade.

With more than 50% of the cars sold in UK being diesels, this award projects the 500's capability of being a strong performer in spite of the tough competition prevailing in U.K. This award also shows that the Italian small car offers more than looks and style. It protects both the environment and its passengers with an excellent safety rating and a technically advanced eco-friendly engine (Euro 5-ready units), same as the one found presently in the Palio.

Why buy the Fiat 500?

  • Excellent gas mileage of 4.2 L/100 km combined cycle
  • CO2 emissions of just 111 g/km that'll make Pachouri or Sunita Narayan's day
  • Styled to make you a celebrity instantly on the road
  • Compact dimensions that'll make city driving a breeze
  • Top speed of 165 kmph means it's no slow coach on the highway
  • 2 seater car offers exclusivity and room only for you and your girlfriend to have some private time

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Car prices set to increase in the coming days following high input costs

Sheet metal prices, cost of plastic and rubber have all risen, some by upto a whopping 20%. The input costs are climbing leaving automakers with tough calls to make.

As a result of all this chaos, car prices are set to increase 2-3% in the next few days. Premium cars will cost anywhere between Rs 14,000-16,000 more and entry-level cars will cost Rs 4,000-6,000 more. Small car prices were reduced by up to 4%, due to the excise benefits that the budget had to offer. But with this news, expect the prices to climb and reach the level they were a couple of months back.

Even a slight rise in prices results in unrest amongst car buyers. Maruti knows that well and is devising a price strategy to reduce the burden on the customers. Honda said it will study the
commodity prices as well as the currency rate fluctuations in the international market before it announces the increase in price on its models.

If you are seriously planning on buying a car, then you should probably rush up and jump to a conclusion on which car you want to buy. The price increase may come any moment and there wouldn't be a point in paying a minimum of 5 grand extra for the same car next week which you are sure of buying now.

News source: Economic Times

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Fiat's long term plans and models

The theme at the moment and for a long time to come is small cars. And Fiat don't want to be left out of consideration. Here are Fiat's new models that will be available in developing markets like China, South America and India. The new small car is likely to be called Uno and no, it does not look boxy or boring. The second model is a crossover SUV that will pit against the Captiva, CRV and the possibly the next-gen Tata Safari when its out on the market.

The B Compact or Uno is based on the Grande Punto platform and will be marketed as a modern family car with affordable Italian style. Internationally, it will be available in 3 and 5 door versions and will be positioned to be an alternate buy for the Grande Punto. Expect the 5 door version here in India once it is launched.

The Fiat C X-Over is a five-door mid size crossover which will be about 4.5m long and will come with both FWD and 4WD. Based on the Bravo platform, the C X-Over will be Fiat's first candidate to contest in the SUV race in India. It will cost anywhere in the range of 15 to 20 lakh rupees and will attract upmarket SUV buyers.

For a company that's got everything to fight for, a skew of new models helps in a big way. Fiat's bank balance short falls can be replenished by adopting Maruti's strategy of offering World class cars in India which they are attempting to do with the forthcoming 500, Grande Punto and Linea. Fiat's woes seem perennial on this side of the planet, and the Multijet Palio is its latest attempt to pull itself out of the terrible mess it has gotten into. Tata's service network maybe vast but these International models need special care and attention unlike the majority of Tata cars, which are designed to be serviced almost by any mechanic with the basic know-how skills.

The situation seems right, the attitude is fresh and lets hope their future models will take Fiat to the position it occupies elsewhere abroad.

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Toyota may import engines for its small car from Asean countries

It seems like Toyota will import engines from Asean countries Thailand and Indonesia, to avail the benefits of the free trade agreement, which the govt is likely to sign shortly. A free trade agreement between countries allow them to import and export products free of any taxes. Toyota is presently developing a small car for both the Indian and overseas markets which it plans to launch by 2010. Toyota will invest Rs 1,400 crore in building a new plant from which this new car will roll out of.

Both Thailand and Indonesia have plants which produce engines. Though Toyota is looking at localizing majority of the components, the engine and transmission would most likely be imported from the existing plants in those two countries. Moreover the investment on making engines locally is pointless when imported ones are not going to be taxed which again will depend on the fate of the free trade agreement.

Toyota has a meager market share of 3.6% in the passenger vehicle market here in India. The have been very successful selling all their models right from the Qualis. With increase in production, Toyota hopes to churn out 600,000 units by 2015 compared to the current statistic of about 55,000 units. 15% share is what they have in mind as far as India is concerned and it is only a matter of time before they accomplish this feat with substantial help from its small car sales figures. Over two-thirds of the cars sold in India are small cars. Every car manufacturer including Renault, Ford, Hyundai and Fiat are developing their own small cars cheaper than anything else in their product range for the Indian market. Some of them are trying to pitch in one from their International lineup to join the party. All of this goes to show that India is maturing into a prime hub for small cars.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tata Nano caught testing in the city

A red colored Tata Nano is caught testing in the city. This car is similar to the one that was photographed by an Overdrive magazine reader last month in Pune. The quality of video is poor. The biker is trying his best to keep pace with the car, signifying that it can definitely reach some decent speeds and has good acceleration. The car spied here is the standard model which does not have any of the items like Air Conditioning or Power steering.

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Flickr Photo of the Day

The Pagani Zonda S. Dressed in carbon fibre. And dressed to kill! Photographed by Stephen Hayes. You can check out his entire work here.

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Maruti won't compete with Nano

We have heard it a million times. But lets hear it one more time. Chaps at Maruti would run with their hair in their hands if someone puts this question up again.

Will Maruti compete with the Nano?

A 660cc engine car priced at $3800 or Rs. 1.5 lakh was rumored to be developed by Maruti which would compete with the Tata Nano. But Maruti had earlier released a press statement, a slightly emotional one as one would call it. It also contains some serious information on its future models.

The press release read “Maruti offered the first People's Car, Maruti 800, about 24 years ago. Since then, India's middle class and Maruti's customers have grown in every facet of their lives. Their incomes have gone up significantly. Their lifestyles have improved in ways that were hard to imagine a decade ago. Within the space of a generation, the "People" who bought "People's Cars" have transformed almost beyond recognition.”

Maruti's approach to India is by launching cars, which is described by the manufacturer as "World Strategic Models." The SX4, Swift, Grand Vitara are all cars that are sold overseas and are overall quite popular and successful. With the arrival of the A-Star and the Splash, Maruti's intention to give its Indian customers world class cars is conveyed.

Furthermore, the manufacturer plans to upgrade its engines too. The new K Series engine would do it service on the A-Star and possibly could be employed in the current models late on. The K Series engine would range from 1000 cc to 1300 cc. The engine was designed keeping in mind the U.S and European markets. This engine would help Maruti equip its cars for both export and local market.

The K Series will first be seen on the A-Star. When launched, it will emit the least CO2 and by doing so, it will also address all the emission norms in the coming decade. High efficiency and low emissions are two desirable characteristics of any engine, and Maruti claim that they have both covered in the K Series.

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Will the Hyundai TB replace the aging Santro?

It all started for Hyundai back in 1997 with a 0.8 litre engine and Shahrukh Khan. Month after month and year after year, the Santro has sold consistently in large numbers. A strong indication of that is the next-gen Santro, i10, sells beside the Santro instead of replacing it. Its hard to think of a reason why the Santro should be replaced.

The TB would offer better space and more engine options much like the current Getz. It would also be styled in a more appealing way. The car would hit Indian shores only after its International launch which is quite some time away.

With that said, one must also be reminded of the diesel-engined Santro, which is set to arrive anytime next month. The Santro will be powered by a 1.1 litre, CRDi engine which would push out a 75 bhp. The Santro diesel would go head-to-head against the diesel formats of the Indica, Palio and Swift.

Maruti sells 5 small car parallely- 800, Alto, Swift, Wagon R and Zen Estilo. If the TB is positioned alongside the Santro, Hyundai are also adopting a similar strategy- flooding it's roll call with small cars. With the release of the Public Car later in 2010, that would be further justified.

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Chrysler and Chery bond closer

American automaker Chrysler inked a pact with Chinese automaker Chery last year for selling its cars China. Part of the understanding was Chery's small car A1, would in turn be sold in the United States re-badged Dodge. The deal has everyone looking now-Chrysler is taking this up seriously and with a solid reason. The demand for small cars in the United States is rising as is fuel costs. The Chery A1 is infact in the final stages of its tests program which is required for it to be sold overseas. The compact sedan A3 will be Chery's next product after the A1.

The Chery A1 looks like a Chevrolet Spark/Matiz clone. As long as it is safe, reliable, cheap to run and exciting to drive, there shouldn't be a problem.

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