Latest Stories

  • MCO 2.0: MITI allows all car factories to operate again

    From yes, to no, and now yes again. The ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) has reinstated automotive manufacturing to the approved list of services in economic sectors allowed to operate during the second movement control order (MCO), which means assembly plants will be allowed to run again.

    Vehicle production and component manufacturing were included in the initial directive issued on January 12, but an update to the document less than 24 hours later saw them being omitted, with a specific footnote mention that automotive assembly and manufacturing activities were no longer included in the permitted list.

    Now, in another u-turn, MITI has given the green light for all automotive assembly plants – covering vehicle and component manufacturing – to continue operations, with the activity restored to the essential services list as of today, January 16.

    Previously, the ban on activity was applicable only to states in which the MCO is in effect, specifically Selangor, Johor, Penang, Melaka, Sabah and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, which meant that Proton’s Shah Alam plant and Honda’s Pegoh plant in Melaka were impacted by the move.

    While assembly plants in other states – under a recovery or conditional MCO – such as the Hicom plant in Pekan, Pahang and the Inokom plant in Kulim, Kedah could remain in operation, interruptions to their operations were likely to happen at some point due to supply issues.

    This is because their ability to function would be subject to them being able to secure parts, something that would be difficult if component vendors within the MCO areas were closed. Now, it’s business as usual, and the resumption of auto manufacturing will be welcome news to companies looking to clear their order backlog.

    The move follows on the call made on Thursday by the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), which said it supported the move for the automotive sector in the country to resume operations quickly. According to MARii CEO Datuk Madani Sahari, this resumption was crucial given the industry’s major contribution to the national economy.

    He said that the sector, which contributed RM13.1 billion through exports in 2019 and employed more than 700,000 people, had continued to perform well last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which had resulted in many production interruptions and a scaling back in manufacturing.

    Despite all these challenges, exports of parts and components to regional markets had exceeded the RM10 billion mark by the end of October, and Madani said that it was important that the momentum continue, as any lengthy delay would have a significant negative impact on the industry.

    What do you think of the move to reinstate automotive manufacturing to the list of services allowed to continue during the MCO? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

  • New Kia Sportage reveal in 2H 2021; CV EV, K7 in Q1

    At a virtual global roundtable held today, Kia gave a more detailed explanation of its new brand strategy, which it also unveiled today. In it, the company reaffirmed its commitment to introduce seven new electric vehicles by 2027, with the first, a crossover codenamed CV, set to debut in the first quarter of the year.

    But it’s not just EVs that will be rolling out – answering a question posed by the media, CEO Song Ho-Sung listed the conventionally-powered models that will also be revealed this year. The all-new K7 sedan will be released around the same time as the CV in the first quarter.

    The large four-door is rumoured to receive a radical redesign this year, with a coupé-like roofline and a much larger “tiger nose” grille. It may also drop its international Cadenza name, following in the footsteps of the new K5, which was previously known outside of Korea as the Optima.

    Of more significance to our market is the new fifth-generation Sportage, which won’t be coming out until the second half of the year. The SUV’s styling will also be distinctive, as evidenced by the development prototype in these spyshots, which sports a massive grille and low-mounted headlight projectors. Reports suggest a polarising front end with tall arrow-shaped lamps flanking an X-shaped grille.

    Expect the Sportage to come with all the technological features found on the latest Sorento and other new Kia and Hyundai products, including large instrument and infotainment displays, a novel blind spot camera system and various driver assistance systems. Powertrain options should include the usual petrol and diesel engines, plus hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants for the first time.

    All three models mentioned will bear the new Kia logo, with the CV slated to be the first to receive it.

    GALLERY: 2022 Kia Sportage spyshots

    GALLERY: Kia CV spyshots


  • Kia Seltos now on sale in Malaysia, from RM115,888

    Last week, Naza Kia Malaysia revealed pricing for the Seltos, and now it has announced that the B-segment crossover has finally gone on sale. The car enters the market more than a year after it was teased on social media, entering a hotly-contested market with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona and, yes, the Proton X50.

    As previously reported, the Seltos is being sold in two variants. The base EX is priced at RM115,888, while the sportier-looking GT Line retails at RM133,888. Both figures are on-the-road without insurance and include a 50% reduction in the sales and services tax (SST) and a five-year warranty. One thing of note is that Naza no longer offers unlimited-mileage coverage for its warranty, which is now capped at 150,000 km.

    Whichever model you pick, the Seltos is powered by a 1.6 litre naturally-aspirated Gamma MPI four-cylinder engine, producing 123 PS at 6,300 rpm and 151 Nm of torque at 4,850 rpm. Drive is sent only to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, while the car’s Traction drive modes – which include Snow, Mud and Sand settings – provide increased grip in slippery conditions.

    The styling of the Seltos is certainly distinctive, with a large “tiger nose” grille that leads into slim LED daytime running light strips, while the larger main lamps sit below. A wraparound windscreen design, upswept window line and black D-pillar strips give the car a “floating roof” look, and the rear sports broad two-piece taillights joined together by a silver trim piece.

    Setting the GT Line apart is a chrome grille with extended daytime running lights, more prominent front and rear skid plates, a chrome window line strip, fake twin tailpipes and red exterior highlights. The range-topping variant also adds LED headlights, fog lights and taillights to replace the EX’s halogen items, plus 17-inch Y-spoke two-tone alloy wheels (with red centre cap trim) instead of the EX’s grey rollers.

    Inside, the Seltos features a Mercedes-Benz-aping freestanding display panel, which houses an analogue instrument cluster and a standard eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. There’s also a Sound Mood ambient lighting system that pulses with the beat of the music being played through the six speakers, with six themes and eight colours to choose from.

    The EX comes with a flat-bottomed steering wheel, gloss black interior trim and quilted black leather upholstery, while the GT Line adds a GT Line-badged steering wheel, a soft-touch dash with fake stitching, linear red seat stitching and alloy pedals.

    As the Seltos is a competitor to the Honda HR-V, it’s no surprise that the dimensions are roughly similar. Measuring 4,315 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,645 mm tall, the Kia is 19 mm shorter, 28 mm wider and 40 mm taller, while its 2,610 mm is identical to the Japanese car’s. The 433-litre boot can be expanded to 900 litres with the 60:40-split rear seats folded.

    Standard kit includes roof rails, keyless entry, push-button start, a 3.5-inch multi-info display, cruise control, reverse sensors and a reverse camera. Step up to the GT Line and you get a seven-inch multi-info display, a head-up display, ventilated front seats with eight-way driver’s side power adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Qi wireless smartphone charger and front parking sensors.

    Both cars come with identical safety kit, consisting of six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill start assist and ISOFIX rear child seat anchors. Unfortunately, active safety features like autonomous emergency braking are nowhere to be found.

    GALLERY: Kia Seltos 1.6 EX

    GALLERY: Kia Seltos 1.6 GT Line

  • BMW Malaysia updates price list – cheaper with two-year warranty; 218i, X1 under RM200k, 320i RM227k

    BMW Malaysia has just announced a new price list to go along with its move to offer extended warranty and service packages as separate cost options. Starting January 1, 2021, all new BMW and MINI models will now come with a standard two-year, unlimited mileage warranty, with lower prices to go along with it. The previous five-year warranty and servicing (as offered before) is still available, but now as cost options.

    With the standard two-year warranty, prices are lower across the board, ranging from between RM12,190 for the 218i Gran Coupé and M135i, to RM44,560 for the M8 Coupé and Gran Coupé. The reduction for each model matches the price of the optional five-year warranty and service package, so opting for the extended coverage brings it back to the original price again.

    Let’s take the most affordable BMW model as an example. The F48 X1 sDrive18i with the standard two-year warranty now retails for RM194,738 (with SST exemption included, effective until June 30, 2021), which is RM13,630 cheaper than before. If you want the five-year warranty with free service package, you’ll have to top up exactly that, therefore bringing the price up to parity.

    Click to enlarge

    The move also makes the 218i Gran Coupé effectively cheaper, moving from RM211,367 (with five-year warranty and service) to under the magic RM200k mark, at RM199,177 (with standard two-year warranty). Likewise, the most affordable 3 Series is now priced at RM226,763.65, down from RM239,883.65. Prefer to have the extended coverage? Opt for the optional package, and pay the same as before. No more, no less.

    In essence, the extended warranty plus free service package has simply been made optional – there is no price increase here, and you’re not getting short-changed either. Let’s just say this is one way to broaden the brand’s appeal here in Malaysia. After all, wouldn’t a sub-RM200k BMW tickle your fancy?

    While everyone loves the idea of a cheaper BMW, we would think that added peace of mind is not worth sacrificing. You may, of course, choose to purchase the extended warranty package separately at any point throughout the first two years of ownership, or even pass the cost on to the next owner if you plan to drive it for less than that. Resale value down the line may also take a hit if the standard warranty expires (nearly-new BMW with no warranty, no way), but you’ll also have to balance it out with the extra cost of extending it.

    So, what do you think? Pay less for a shorter warranty coverage, or pay the same as before for extra peace of mind? How would you go about this? Let us know, below.

  • 2021 January week three fuel price – all up once more

    It’s Friday, and despite the country being in one form of a movement control order (MCO) or another, the usual weekly fuel price update goes on. Fuel prices are going up this coming week, but the consolation is that most people will be staying put or not driving very far.

    The ministry of finance has announced that for the January 16 to 22 week, the price of Euro 4M RON 95 petrol will be increased by five sen from RM1.84 per litre to RM1.89 per litre. Accordingly, Euro 4M RON 97 also sees a five sen increase to RM2.19 from the RM2.14 per litre it is at this week.

    Meanwhile, Euro 2M diesel will be priced at RM2.05 per litre, up three sen from the current RM2.02 per litre. This means Euro 5 diesel, which costs 10 sen more per litre, also sees an increase of three sen, going up to RM2.15 from the RM2.12 it is at now.

    These prices will remain in effect from midnight tonight until the following Friday, January 22, when the next round of fuel price updates will be announced. This is third edition of the weekly fuel pricing format this year, and the 106th in total since its introduction at the beginning of 2019.

  • Philippines to implement new vehicle inspection guidelines – tyres to be limited to five years of age

    The department of transport in the Philippines is planning the implementation of a new motor vehicle inspection system, reports Auto Industriya. This is centred upon a more stringent set of checks that every motor vehicle will have to undergo as a requirement of the annual motor vehicle registration process with the land transportation office (LTO) in the country, it said.

    The section pertaining to wheels and tyres in particular were mentioned, which says that “tyres have a safe and useful life of five years,” and that users should “see to it that tyres are not yet ‘expired’,” an excerpt of the guidelines sighted by Auto Industriya said, which the publication says that it indicates the country’s department of transport and land transportation office have set a five-year age limit for tyres.

    Each motor vehicle inspection centre (MVIC) will also check every wheel on the vehicle to ensure that there are no fractures or welding defects, as well as for the specifications of the tyres for the size, load capacity and speed category ratings to match those for the vehicle, the report said.

    A quick recap – a tyre’s age is indicated by the DOT (Department of Transportation) code, a four-digit stamp on its sidewall, where the first two numbers denote the week number in a year, and the last two numbers indicate the year.

    Taking the first picture above as an example, the “5018” stamp on this tyre’s sidewall indicates that it was manufactured in the 50th week of 2018. In the context of the Philippines ruling, this tyre depicted here is well within the five-year age limit.

    In 2019, we reported on the British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA)’s recommendation that tyres not used for six years or more should not be fitted to vehicles, and all tyres exceeding 10 years of age be replaced of disposed of. This was in light of a social media post regarding the age of tyres being sold, that had been making the rounds at the time.

    Further to this, Michelin added that unlike fruits, tyres do not go bad simply because they have been left untouched. The tyre manufacturer said that the ‘expiry date’ of a tyre should be determined from the date it is fitted to a vehicle, and not just from its date of manufacture. This is because tyres sustain zero load when in storage, and the demands of driving have a far greater impact on tyres.

    What do you think of this move, dear readers? Would this be a good ruling to apply in Malaysia as well, given the recently publicised state of repair of roads in the country?

  • Sepang CEO: Tough times ahead but we’re prepared

    With the imposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and declaration of a State of Emergency for Malaysia, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is not taking things for granted and is prepared for a tough year ahead. With the cancellation of the MotoGP Winter Test in February and Malaysian Superbike Championship rounds, scheduled for this month, SIC chief executive officer Azlan Shafriman Hanif is optimistic that the circuit and its staff will weather this crisis as it has in the past year.

    “The MCO has had a severe impact on SIC’s revenue last year, I don’t have the exact number with me right now, but in terms of percentage of revenue it’s more than 50%, from our calculations,” said Shafriman. Shafriman, who prefers to be knows as “Shaf”, said this has affected SIC’s profit for 2020.

    Realising this has to be addressed, Shaf has implemented cost savings and control of fixed costs, something that was started last year during the first MCO and will continue into this year. “We have several plans, especially in the area of cost control and we will have to be careful with expenditure,” he said.

    Shaf doesn’t expect the MCO to be lifted in two weeks and foresees a possible continuation. “SIC intends to resume it calendar once the MCO lifts and one of the measures we have proposed to the authorities is a “travel bubble” where international participants will go from the airport to the hotel for a day’s quarantine, then between the hotel and circuit until the event ends,” Shaf said in reference to the Malaysian MotoGP round at the end of this year and the possibility of it being held.

    SIC is also looking at revenue streams apart from the traditional motorsports events, with an emphasis on involving the family. “Most often, the gentlemen in the family come to Sepang for the racing or whatever, and the family doesn’t follow simply because there is nothing there for them. We want to change that by making Sepang a family-friendly place, perhaps with a nice cafe and nursery where families can spend time,” said Shaf.

    Plans also include a renovation of the Sepang go-kart track and the building of a drive experience centre. “We have called for the tender and once the process concludes we expect to begin work in April,” explained Shaf.

    It appears 2021 will be much the same as 2020 for SIC, with travel restrictions and pandemic lockdowns playing havoc with the race calendar both regionally and internationally. “Looking on the bright side, I feel SIC has a key role to play in developing motorsports in the region, as we done in the past, and we will get through this as a team,” Shaf said.

  • JPJ reminds public of dress code – no shorts, slippers

    Click to enlarge

    The road transport department (JPJ) has reminded its customers to follow the dress code when at its premises. In a Facebook post yesterday, JPJ listed down and illustrated the don’ts when it comes to dressing. “Customers must dress modestly and appropriately, in line with the fifth Rukun Negara principle, which is courtesy and morality (kesopanan dan kesusilaan),” the caption read.

    The five examples of what not to wear were listed/illustrated as torn pants (a pair of torn jeans shown), short pants (a man in running shorts shown), skirts or shorts above the knee level/mini skirts or shorts (this is for ladies), slippers, and sleeveless shirts (man in singlet pictured). Keep this in mind if you’re paying a visit to the JPJ, or other government departments for that matter.

    For states under the movement control order (MCO), JPJ offices will be open from 9am to 4pm (1pm to 2pm lunch break), but with services limited to road tax for commercial vehicles and the renewal of driving license and vocational licenses (GDL, PSV) for commercial vehicles, including taxis and e-hailing.

    One can also head to JPJ to obtain a vehicle ownership certificate (VOC) and to get a public ID for access to the MySikap online system. All services involving private individuals can be done online, via MySikap or partner platforms. No changes to opening hours or services rendered in states under the conditional MCO (CMCO) and recovery MCO (RMCO).

  • Dacia Bigster Concept debuts – rugged, hybrid C-SUV

    Dacia has taken the veils off the Bigster Concept car, giving us a glimpse of the company’s first and upcoming C-segment SUV. It will be built on the Renault-Nissan modular CMF-B platform (Dacia is a Renault subsidiary), suggesting the Romanian automaker’s imminent foray into electrification.

    The Bigster measures approximately 4.6 metres long, making it similar in size to the X-Trail and about 300 mm longer than the B-segment Duster. It’s fairly bold and rugged-looking, too, a fact accentuated by the foliage green paint, muscular wheel arches and chunky front and rear bumpers.

    Lighting signature is highlighted by the Y-shaped headlights and tail lights, though the additional LEDs along the radiator grille will likely not make it to production. It’s a no-nonsense car – Dacia decided to not use any exterior chrome or faux aluminium trimmings, favouring raw recycled plastics to create the protective exterior panels instead.

    It’s a great looking SUV with the right proportions, we think. There’s an inviting sense of cohesion among other features like the sculpted bonnet, chunky side vents, huge wheels and raised roof rails. Dacia design director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos said: “The Dacia Bigster Concept epitomises the evolution of the brand. Essential, with a touch of cool and an outdoor spirit.”

    The Bigster Concept is scheduled to hit markets by 2025, and is part of Group Renault’s five-year Renaulution turnaround plan. With the CMF-B platform, both Dacia and Lada (a Renault-owned Russian brand) can commonalise parts by downscaling from four platforms to one. The two companies will also reduce the combined 18 body types to 11, enabling further cost savings.

  • MINI Malaysia updates price list – cheaper but with 2-year warranty; 4-year plus service now cost options

    MINI models aren’t left out of BMW Group Malaysia’s decision to revise its warranty policy, which sees the introduction of optional extended warranty and service packages to accompany a shorter standard warranty period.

    Before getting into the nitty gritty, a brief recap. In January 2016, MINI Malaysia announced that models sold in the country would come with a four-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which was an upgrade from the two-year/unlimited-mileage coverage that was provided before. The new scheme (at the time) also included a four-year/60,000 km free service package that replaced the three-year/50,000-km MINI Service Inclusive FIX package.

    Based on the latest MINI price list effective January 1, 2021, the company has now reverted to the previous two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty for all models, with no free service package offered as standard. That certainly sounds like a negative, but hear us out first.

    Click to enlarge

    The four-year/unlimited-mileage warranty and free service package (as offered before) is still available, but now as cost options. These add-ons can be ordered individually or as a bundle after buying the car (within the standard two-year warranty), although the latter is discounted provided you specify them upon initial purchase of a new MINI.

    Does this change have any effect on pricing of MINI models? Yes. Referring to MINI Malaysia’s price list, all models are now cheaper than before, but if you add on the discounted bundle (warranty extension and free service), you arrive at the same prices listed previously. Effectively, you are given more flexibility when it comes to choosing your warranty coverage and servicing.

    Cherry-picking a few examples, the MINI 3 Door Cooper S retails for RM233,577.56 the with SST exemption factored in (effective until June 30, 2021), which is certainly less than the RM240,777.56 listed if we refer to last August’s price list. Add in the bundle that costs RM7,200 for this particular model, and you arrive back at RM240,777.56.

    Click to enlarge

    Need another example? Let’s take the Clubman John Cooper Works, which now goes for RM337,527.82. The bundle for JCW models costs more at RM7,970, which when added to the starting price, ends up at RM345,497.82, the same as stated previously.

    So, if you’re content with less coverage (we can’t see why anyone would), you’ll pay less for a MINI now. However, keep in mind that a shorter warranty will have some effect on resale value, because not everyone will want to settle for an out-of-warranty car, especially if it’s relatively new.

    Of course, if the MINI is still within the standard two-year coverage when it changes hands, the new owner could always purchase the aforementioned packages to stay covered for a while longer. Pay less but receive shorter coverage, or pay the same as before to have the previously offered standard, four-year warranty, that’s a choice you’ll have to make. What say you?


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Last Updated 16 Jan 2021


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