Latest Stories

  • First Look: Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle – a sharp shock to the senses

    There has been much discussion over the internet, from pundits, fans, rider, the know-alls and know-nots alike, about that American motorcycle company and its plans for resurgence in the market. Part of those plans includes a foray into the world of electric motorcycles (e-bikes) and the Milawaukee firm’s offering, the Harley-Davidson LiveWire.

    E-bikes have not had the best of starts, with many commenting on things like range, charging infrastructure, the cost effectiveness and environment friendliness of battery packs and so. The litany of nay-saying goes on and certainly, looking at things from the surface, there would be, for the “traditional motorcycle” rider, lots of things to say against the LiveWire.

    But Harley-Davidson (H-D) needs something. Catering to an aging crowd of adult cosplayers wearing leather vest and looking like pirates has a finite marketing life. If the riders who can afford the motorcycle you’re selling can’t lift it up without the help of a crane, then eventually you’re going to need fresh blood coming in and taking up the reins.

    And this is where H-D’s problem lies. Many young riders have no interest in the H-D lifestyle and the current crop of bikes in the catalogue does not necessarily attract the younger, faster rider with much less spending power.

    So, for H-D, it now looks to the future, teasing upcoming models like the Bronx and embracing new technology like e-bikes. For the LiveWire, it was a surprise sprung on us in Spain, where we were out riding the 2020 Softtails and doing a spot of hill climbing on Street 750s.

    What we thought of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, after the jump.

     
  • Perodua’s journey in Malaysia – 3.7m cars sold, 95% local content, RM6b local parts purchase this year

    At last Friday’s launch of the National Automotive Policy 2020, DreamEdge brought out a prototype of its new national car project, which we’ve already showed you. Next to the boxed NNCP were actual national carmakers occupying the top two spots in the market today – Perodua and Proton.

    Perodua had a Myvi and a mini display of its Advanced Safety Assist (ASA) system in its corner. But what caught our eye was the content on the booth’s background. Basically, it shows Perodua’s journey in Malaysia over the years, the milestones it has achieved, and also the company’s efforts and responsibilities in growing the Malaysian auto industry. What P2 has done for Malaysia, in short.

    Now, the typical headlines involving Perodua usually has some sales or market share record, but the company is also very proud of its role in supporting the local vendor community and the automotive ecosystem as a whole. Because of its volume and high level of localisation, it buys a lot from local suppliers – for 2020, P2 expects to purchase RM6 billion of Malaysian-made parts, up from RM5.4 billion last year.

    Perodua does three main things to play its part in the development of the local industry – the enhancement of R&D capabilities, the promotion of localisation and the development of local human resources. By developing its R&D capabilities and coming up with global levels of quality and cost; it benefits the company, its people and the local auto industry as a whole by raising standards.

    Perodua has a vendor support centre (VSC) which ultimate goal is to improve vendor profitability and expand export opportunities for the suppliers. P2’s partner Daihatsu provides training support, and there’s also the resident support (RS) programme, where Perodua staff are “planted” in the vendors. These RS staff live and work as employees of the vendor, but their salary continues to be paid by P2. The RS programme has been ongoing since 2017.

    Underpinning the big contribution to the local auto landscape is the high local content of Perodua’s cars. In the kei car era of the Kancil, Kenari and Kelisa, the localisation rate was between 60% to 80%. It stepped up a gear with the first-gen Myvi (86%) and has continued to rise ever since. Perodua’s three most recent new models – Bezza, third-gen Myvi and Aruz – have 95% local content.

    Why not 100%? Perodua is part of the wider Toyota group, and when there are parts that can be shared to lower costs, it’s only logical to go for it. The NR family of engines, for instance, are widely used by Toyota and Daihatsu throughout the region. In a globalised market, parts come from all over the world – for instance, Hyundai’s South Korean plants has been facing shortage of parts from China due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak gripping China. Nissan had to temporarily stop production in Japan for the same reason.

    Lastly, scale. Perodua’s contribution to the local automotive industry is so big because well, Perodua is quite big itself. The Sg Choh-based carmaker recorded an all-time sales record of 240,341 units last year, with nearly 40% market share. In fact, since 1994, Perodua has churned out 3.7 million cars. The more you make, the more parts you need, it’s as simple as that.

    And there’s more to come as well – Perodua is preparing a hot new SUV model for this year, underpinned by a plan to almost double its spending in investment for 2020, to a whopping RM1.06 billion (+86.2% from 2019).

    “Half of it, about RM500 million, is related to factory investments, in modernisation, expansion as well as preparation for a future model,” president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad said.

    The company is also aiming to be an R&D hub for ASEAN, developing products with – and for – Daihatsu for the region. While acknowledging that the Japanese compact car expert has a sizeable arm in Indonesia, Zainal Abidin says that Perodua is ahead of Astra Daihatsu Motor in R&D. “In terms of R&D, at this moment Perodua R&D, in terms of testing equipment, investment and facilities, is bigger than Indonesia,” he said.

    It’s clear that as the Malaysian market leader grows, the local automotive ecosystem, and the country itself, benefits along the way. It’s symbiotic.

     
  • W213 Mercedes-Benz E180 Avantgarde launched in the Philippines – 1.6L turbo; 156 hp, 250 Nm; RM322,300

    Mercedes-Benz Philippines has revised the W213 E-Class line-up in the country for the 2020 model year, which includes the launch of a new variant called the E 180 Avantgarde. Priced at 3.89 million Philippine pesos (Php) – or RM322,300 – the entry-level option is meant to counter the G30 BMW 520i Luxury that is being offered in limited units at 3.99 million Php (RM328,500).

    Unlike its BMW counterpart that is imported from Malaysia, the E 180 is sourced from Germany instead, with Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) not involved in its supply to the Philippines. However, it should be noted that MBM does export cars to the country, but only with the W205 C-Class in C 180 Avantgarde guise.

    Getting back on track, the E 180 is powered by the same M274 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine found in the C 180. The mill serves up 156 PS (154 hp) at 5,300 rpm and 250 Nm of torque from 1,200 to 4,000 rpm, with drive going to the rear wheels via a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.

    In terms of equipment, there’s an Avantgarde styling package, LED High Performance headlamps, 18-inch wheels, an Audio 20 infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, paddle shifters, Thermatic dual-zone climate control, powered rear sun blinds, Keyless Go, a fully-digital instrument cluster, and a Nappa leather steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls.

    As for safety and driver assist systems, there’s seven airbags, the usual stability systems, Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist, Brake Assist, Pre-Safe, passive cruise control with speed limiter function, and Active Parking Assist. Do you think there’s a demand for a more affordable E-Class with a smaller engine in Malaysia?

     
  • W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift for Geneva debut

    Mercedes-Benz has revealed its exhibit for next month’s Geneva Motor Show, confirming that the long-awaited W213 E-Class facelift will finally make its debut at the exhibition, along with several other vehicles.

    Preliminary details of the executive sedan, along with photos of test prototypes, were revealed last month, and they show the car with a significantly revised exterior design. The front end is almost completely new, with trapezoidal headlights (with arrow-shaped daytime running lights) and a slimmer grille bringing it closer in look to Stuttgart’s newer models. Only the bonnet appears to remain unchanged.

    Another wholesale revamp can be expected at the rear, the wider two-piece tail lights again referencing Mercedes’ latest design language. Inside, the E-Class will benefit from a new steering wheel that retains its touchpads, as well as larger 10.25-inch displays as standard (12.3-inch items optional). The facelift also sees the integration of the latest Mercedes-Benz User Interface (MBUX), including its advanced voice control.

    Other new technologies include the new Distronic adaptive cruise control that adjusts its speed based on navigation information, as well as Active Tailback Assist that provides Level 3 semi-autonomous driving at speeds of up to 60 km/h. There’s also a new rescue lane function for the Active Steering Assist, a cross-traffic function for Active Brake Assist and a door opening warning.

    In terms of powertrains, the E-Class will receive a new M254 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing up to 268 PS, available with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The company has also confirmed no less than seven plug-in hybrid models, including 4Matic all-wheel drive and wagon models.

    Aside from the cooking variants, the AMG E 63 will also be making its world premiere, along with two Affalterbach-fettled SUV models and a revamped Marco Polo camper van with MBUX and a Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control (MBAC) interface module.

    GALLERY: W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift prototypes

     
  • Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) Superbikes welcomes Desmo Cup – Ducati racing class, three categories

    Local Ducati club, Desmo Owners Club Malaysia (DOCM) has launched its 2020 race series, the Desmo Cup which will be taking place as part of the Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) Superbikes series this year, at the Sepang International Circuit. There will be three categories – Superbike, Supersports and Super Naked, rather than the conventional MSF Superbikes separation of contestants based on their lap times.

    Here in the Desmo Cup, the Superbike category will find participation from the likes of the Panigale 1199 and 1299 as well as the current Panigale V4 (both the 1,103 cc V4/V4S and the homologation 998 cc V4 R), while the Supersports category will attract ‘super-mid’ contenders such as the 848, Panigale 899 and 959.

    The third category, Super Naked, welcomes models such as the Monster (696, 795, 796, 797, 821, 1100 and 1200), Streetfighter 848 and 1098, Hypermotard and Hyperstrada (796, 821, 939, 950 and 1100) and Multistrada (1200 and 1260). In short, there are no model year restrictions across all categories for the model ranges stated; if you have a 916 or 748 that is fit for the heat of competition, these are also welcome.

    As for riders themselves, participants must be aged 16 or older, be a current member of Desmo Owners Club Malaysia and owner of a Ducati motorcycle, and be in possession of a current MAM motorcycle racing license. Over the season’s 2020 calendar, Desmo Cup racers will partake in various competition formats; these will include the sprint, super sprint and enduro races, in addition to more race formats which will be announced in due course. At launch, there are 30 confirmed full-season participants in the Desmo Cup.

     
  • Audi e-tron S to debut at Geneva – three electric motors with 435 PS, 808 Nm, torque vectoring rear axle

    The all-electric Audi e-tron SUV may be the pinnacle of Ingolstadt’s electrification efforts, but the company isn’t hanging around for long. Say hello to the e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback, the brand’s first S-branded EVs, which promise to bring along a smorgasbord of new technologies – as Audi revealed during the international media’s first drive of the prototypes.

    Whereas the standard e-tron is available with twin electric motors producing 360 PS and 561 Nm of torque, the S adds a second motor on the rear axle, making it the first three-motor EV in production. This provides real torque vectoring across the two rear wheels, a greater rearward bias and more dynamic handling.

    Some changes were made to the configuration of the motors, with the larger unit at the rear of the regular 55 model now being placed at the front of the car, albeit in a modified form and producing 124 kW (169 PS) instead of the usual 140 kW (190 PS). The 55’s smaller front motor has been switched to the rear of the car, and there are now two of them, producing a combined 196 kW (266 PS).

    All in all, Audi claims that the e-tron S churns out 320 kW (435 PS) and 808 Nm of torque, while an overboost function in S mode brings that up to 370 kW (503 PS) and a whopping 973 Nm for eight seconds, thanks to an uprated cooling system. So equipped, it is capable of getting from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds before hitting its electronically limited top speed of 210 km/h.

    All motors get their own power electronics supplying their own three-phase power, and are each connected to the wheels via a single-speed planetary gear set. They are juiced by the same 397 V lithium-ion battery with a 95 kWh gross capacity (net figure 86.5 kWh) as the standard car. No range figure has been released, but Audi says the battery is capable of pushing out up to 430 kW temporarily, supporting the car’s performance.

    The car runs mostly in rear-wheel drive only, with the front motor only being engaged when more power is required, or when grip levels are low. The real magic sauce, however, is the fully variable torque distribution at the rear, capable of shuffling torque from one wheel to the other within milliseconds. This means it can generate a yaw moment to support the steering, and reduce the steering angle to make a turn, Audi says.

    The e-tron S comes as standard with air suspension with adaptive damping, which can adjust the ride height by 76 mm, dropping the car by up to 26 mm at high speeds. Its settings, like those of the powertrain, can be manipulated through the Audi drive select system with comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, individual, allroad and offroad modes. The car can also recuperate up to 270 kW of kinetic energy when braking from 100 km/h.

    Elsewhere, the e-tron S features five-link axles at the front and rear with larger anti-roll bars and optimised harmonisation of the elastokinematics and dampers. The brake discs measure up to 400 mm in front that are clamped by six-piston callipers (optionally available in orange), and buyers can also specify Audi’s progressive steering system that increases the steering ratio the more the driver turns the wheel.

    Just like other S models, the e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback look fairly similar to their standard iterations, sharing the large triangular front air intakes and rear diffuser of the S Line variants. However, these cars benefit from wheel arches that are 23 mm wider than stock; despite this, their optimised aerodynamics mean that the Sportback model still has a low drag coefficient of 0.26, while the regular body style’s is 0.28.

    The interior is also mostly unchanged, with Audi continuing to offer either sports seats or the optional super sport seats with increased bolstering. The S badges on the steering wheel and door sills, as well as the S embossings on the seats and gearlever, are the only hints of the car’s sporting potential.

    Charging is performed using a portable charger that can be used with either a single-phase 230-volt socket or a triple-phase 400-volt outlet, as well as a charging system connect wallbox. The car can also accept up to 11 kW of AC charging, or 150 kW of DC charging through the European Ionity fast charging network – the latter can bring the battery’s charge from 5% to 80% in just half an hour.

     
  • 2020 Honda Jazz gets range of accessories in Japan

    With sales of the fourth-generation Honda Jazz well and truly underway in Japan (known as the Fit there), the carmaker has released a wide range of accessories for the hatchback in its home country. Available through Honda Access, these parts cover a variety of areas, including styling, convenience as well as driving support, and differ depending on the chosen grade.

    For the base Home grade, there are garnishes for the grille and fog lamps, 15-inch aluminium wheels finished in white, as well as piano black door switch panel and seat covers. Meanwhile, the Ness grade line-up of accessories include triple-diode LED maps below the fogs, a sportier front grille, all-around skirting, a roof spoiler, black badges and larger 16-inch aluminum wheels in a “snowflake” design.

    The crossover-esque Crosstar grade options list includes LED fog lamps, decals on the doors and tailgate, rugged lower-body garnishes, roof-mounted cross bars and trunk floor protector. As for the top-of-the-line Luxe grade, customers can opt for several illuminated items like tread plates, door handles, door cards and foot lighting. Also available is a replacement for the interior USB connector with two ports, protective film for the boot and a tonneau cover.

    All Jazz grades can be specified with a nine-inch Premium Internavi infotainment system and a selection of centre console storage solutions, including a dedicated smartphone tray and tissue box holder. A DRH-204VD drive recorder is also available, with the option to extend the function to include a rear recording camera as well. Finally, customers can also opt for the ‘Elegant Color Collection’ interior scheme that adds navy and pink accents throughout the cabin.

     
  • SPIED: 2020 Honda Civic facelift and new Accord in KL

    We already know that the new 2020 Honda Civic facelift will make its Malaysian debut this Wednesday (February 26), and it has been a while coming, what with the the car having been previewed last September after the order books had opened for it.

    Now, the car has been sighted on a transporter, and reader Zulhafiz Ramli managed to snap photos of the transporter, which was crawling along in heavy traffic. What’s interesting about the shipment of cars is that it isn’t just the refreshed Civic that is on – the new tenth-gen Accord is also to be seen. The order books for the D-segment sedan were opened earlier this month, so its uncovered appearance means that its introduction should also be around the corner.

    Not many changes to the Civic facelift’s exterior – the car now features a piano black “wing” on the grille instead of chrome, while the lower apron now integrates the black trim into a single piece running across the width of the unit.At the back, there’s a new rear bumper garnish and boot spoiler, and new 18-inch alloys for the high-spec 1.5 TC-P variant.

    Three variants will be available, the aforementioned 1.5 TC-P, as well as a mid-spec 1.5 TC and base 1.8 S. The powertrains remain unchanged, with a L15B7 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo four-cylinder petrol engine offering 173 PS and 220 Nm of torque for the turbo models, and a 1.8 litre SOHC normally-aspirated four-cylinder with 141 PS and 174 Nm. Both will be paired with an Earth Dreams continuously variable transmission (CVT).

    Kit-wise, the Civic will feature LED headlamps, an electric parking brake, remote engine start, a seven-inch Display Audio head unit, six airbags, front parking sensors, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and a reverse camera, among others.

    The big new item is the inclusion of Honda Sensing. This makes the Civic the third locally-assembled (CKD) Honda model to be equipped with the automaker’s suite of safety and driver assistance systems after the CR-V and Accord. No word on pricing for the new Civic as yet (the current pre-facelift is priced from RM108,165 to RM128,631), but all should be revealed on Wednesday.

    As for the Accord, only one engine variant has been announced for our market, a turbocharged 1.5L. The 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo mill is the same as that on the Civic and CR-V, but both power and torque outputs have been bumped up in the application here compared to other regional markets.

    The local Accord will have 201 PS and 260 Nm, an increase of 11 PS and 17 Nm over the tune seen on other ASEAN versions of the car, which have 190 PS at 5,500 rpm and 243 Nm from 1,500 to 5,500 rpm, identical to that on the CR-V 1.5L Turbo.

    Standard equipment will include full LED headlights and tail lights, a Smart Parking Assist System with Brake Assist (rear), multi-view 360° camera system as well as Honda LaneWatch, and the Malaysian car will ride on 18-inch alloys. There’s also Honda Sensing, as was the case with the outgoing Accord, but the tenth -gen adds Low Speed Follow (LSF) function to the other seven items available previously.

     
  • Malaysia-made BMW 520i Luxury for 2019 SEA Games – 40 units remaining for sale in Philippines market

    BMW’s role as mobility partner for the SEA Games hosted by the Philippines last year saw the company offer the Kulim, Kedah-built BMW 520i Luxury in the left-hand drive market for 3.99 million pesos (RM328,500). At the time, this meant a limited batch of the petrol-powered 5 Series was priced RM82,000 lower than the 520d diesel, which was launched for the Philippines market in 2018.

    The substantial saving was made possible because the 520i sold in that market was assembled in Malaysia, an Asean country, and could take advantage of reduced duties and taxes, and there are still 40 units available to purchase in the Philippines, said president of SMC Asia Car Distributors Corporation, distributor of BMW vehicles in the country.

    Beyond this limited batch for the SEA Games, BMW Philippines is looking to secure their future supply of the 520i, according to Autoindustriya.com. These future plans have been put on hold until certain matters have been resolved, BMW Philippines told the website. Though not described in detail, the company said the matters are ‘not related to build quality in any way.’

    The G30 BMW 520i was priced at RM328,800 on-the-road without insurance at its Malaysian-market launch last April, alongside the 530e M Sport (RM338,800 on-the-road) that was launched at the same time. Here, the 520i is powered by the firm’s B48 2.0 litre TwinPower Turbo petrol unit which produces 184 hp from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 290 Nm of torque from 1,350 to 4,250 rpm.

    Exterior equipment for the Malaysian 520i includes Chrome Line trim, 18-inch light-alloy Style 684 wheels, adaptive LED headlamps with BMW Selective Beam and LED fog lights. Inside, the 520i Luxury is kitted with Dakota leather upholstery and a Sensatec dashboard, sport leather steering wheel and illuminated door trim inserts and an 11-colour ambient lighting setup.

    GALLERY: G30 BMW 520i Luxury in Malaysia

     
  • Hyundai, Kia develop new ICT Connected Shift System – world’s first predictive transmission shifting tech

    Hyundai and Kia have announced the development of the world’s first predictive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System, which it says enables a vehicle to automatically shift to the optimal gear after identifying the road and traffic conditions ahead. According to both companies, this technology will make its way into their vehicles, and during its development, about 40 major patents were filed in South Korea and abroad.

    The ICT Connected Shift System relies on real-time information obtained from a vehicle’s cameras, radar sensors and 3D navigation equipped with a precise map of the road. Using these inputs, the transmission control unit predicts the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations through an artificial intelligence algorithm and shifts the gears accordingly.

    As an example, when a relatively long slowdown is expected and the car’s radar detects no speed irregularities with the car ahead, the transmission temporarily switches to neutral mode to improve fuel efficiency.

    During testing on a heavily curved road, the carmakers discovered that the frequency of shifts in cornering was reduced by approximately 43% compared to vehicles without the system. The system also saw a reduction in the frequency of brake operation by approximately 11%, thereby minimizing driving fatigue and brake wear.

    In other scenarios such as merging to enter a highway, where rapid acceleration is required, the system automatically switched to Sport mode at the merge to ease joining the traffic flow. After merging with traffic, the vehicle automatically returned to its original driving mode, enabling safe and efficient driving.

    Moving forward, Hyundai and Kia are planning to further develop the ICT Connected Shift System to be even more intelligent that can communicate with traffic signals by using LTE or 5G communication and identify drivers’ tendencies, resulting in further refinement of gear-shift control.

     
 

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Last Updated 22 Feb 2020



 

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