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  • 2015 Mazda 2 – bookings open, pricing teased, RM88k

    mazda 2 mal spec 1a

    It looks like things are speeding up towards the local market introduction of the 2015 Mazda 2ASEAN production of the fourth-gen DJ began at the AAT plant in Rayong mid-September, and the Thai-assembled hatch made its regional debut in Jakarta last week at the IIMS 2014.

    Now, one of the Bermaz dealers has teased the car by announcing that bookings have opened for it, with first deliveries scheduled to begin early next year. Tentative pricing for the hatch has also been offered – at RM87,XXX, this falls in line with Bermaz’s aim to price the car under RM90k.

    Of interest is the mention of an indicative pricing for the sedan version of the 2, tagged at RM85,XXX – it’s on the cards, yes, but the car hasn’t been unveiled yet. The sedan was spied on test recently, so it might be that an official introduction isn’t far away. As far as show debuts go, it’s Bangkok next year if it doesn’t appear at the Thai Motor Expo in December.

    The tentative spec-sheet states that a single engine version will be offered for the 2, the same as in Indonesia – this is a 1.5 litre direct-injected SkyActiv-G four-cylinder petrol mill, good for 115 PS at 6,000 rpm and 148 Nm at 4,000 rpm, paired with a six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission. No manual option to be found here, as before.

    mazda 2 mal spec 2a

    As far as specifications go, all indicators point to us getting a variant identical to the mid-level R Spec that will be sold in the republic. Kit includes a seven-inch LCD touchscreen as part of the MZD Connect infotainment system, DRLs, i-stop automatic start/stop system, leather seats and auto air-conditioning.

    Also on, pretty much the same kit as seen on the Indonesian R Spec – items bandied include leather seats, a reverse camera and paddle shifters as well as 16-inch alloys wrapped with 185/60 rubbers (on the IIMS display, these were Dunlop Enasave 300+ eco-tyres).

    And, like the Indonesian versions, the Malaysian Mazda 2 will come with dual airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and traction control. There’s quite a marked difference in the pricing of the car in both markets, of course – in Indonesia, the 2 will go on sale with prices ranging between Rp. 225-270 million (RM61,000-RM73,200).

    We’ve of course driven it – read Jonathan Lee’s impressions of the Mazda 2 from the test drive in Japan back in August. The gallery below of the Indonesian R Spec variant, meanwhile, offers a good indication as to how the Malaysian specification car will shape up.

    Mazda 2 R Spec (Indonesia)

     
     
  • Budget 2015 likely to align itself with NAP – Madani

    madani wm

    Budget 2015‘s auto-related matters are likely to be aligned with the aspirations of the National Automotive Policy (NAP 2014), Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) CEO Mohamad Madani Sahari has said, according to a Bernama report.

    “The automotive segment in the forthcoming Budget 2015 should align itself with the NAP,” Madani told the national news agency. “The fundamentals of implementation could be touched on in the budget and cover factors such as infrastructure, skilled workers, supply chains and the development of technologies.”

    To be tabled in Parliament on October 10, Budget 2015 is also expected to yield a list of zero-rated or tax-exempted items with respect to the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) – will our petrol and diesel be GST-ed?

    nap 2014 roadmap slide 1

    Bernama reports that NAP 2014, which concentrates on green initiatives, developing technologies and human capital, expanding the market and strengthening the industry ecosystem, has seen Proton and Perodua lead in the industry’s response. The launches of the Iriz and Axia are cited as examples.

    Non-national carmakers, however, have asked for an extension of incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles. “Electric vehicles also need an incentive in the form of an extended duty exemption or on tax,” BMW Malaysia MD Alan Harris told Bernama.

    “There was an incentive in the previous budget prior to the NAP 2014 which outlined that only locally-assembled vehicles would get incentivised. But electric vehicles are still new, not like the EEV (Energy Efficient Vehicle). Electric cars need a good take up and in the meantime, still need to be imported,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia sales and marketing VP Kai Schlickum said the government took a step in the right direction with the NAP-incentivised locally-assembled hybrid.

    “It does benefit us, especially our S-Class Hybrid. With the S 400 L model qualifying and receiving full duty exemption, we are proud to be able to contribute in helping Malaysia fulfill its ambition of becoming a regional EEV hub.

    “However, since the (CKD) hybrid incentive will expire in 2015, we wish it to be extended,” he told Bernama.

     
     
  • 2015 Honda CR-V facelift – 2.4 i-VTEC with CVT for the US, and 1.6 i-DTEC with nine-speed auto for Europe

    2015 Honda CR-V

    We saw the first official photo of the 2015 Honda CR-V facelift last week, and now comes the full unveiling. There are two different versions: one for American markets – where the CR-V is claimed to be the best-selling SUV for the past decade – and the other for Europe. Each gets its own set of under-the-hood updates.

    The US model receives a new Earth Dreams Technology 2.4 litre direct-injection i-VTEC engine with 185 hp and 245 Nm of torque. That’s the same power as the previous non-direct-injection engine, but with 24 Nm more. To compare, the Malaysian-spec CR-V 2.4 (also without direct-injection) makes 190 hp and 222 Nm.

    Also new is the transmission the engine is paired to. A CVT gearbox with seamless G-design Shift takes over from the old five-speed auto, contributing to improved efficiency claims across the board. The new combined fuel economy ratings are 12.3 km/l (FWD) and 11.9 km/l (AWD), both up by 1.3 km/l (all US EPA ratings, not comparable to Europe’s NEDC consumption figures).

    For the European markets, however, the CR-V will have a different machine altogether. Diesel is the name of the game there, and there will be an uprated Earth Dreams Technology 1.6 litre i-DTEC engine with 160 PS and 350 Nm taking place of the 150 PS/350 Nm 2.2 litre i-DTEC unit of old.

    All new is the transmission, this time a nine-speed automatic gearbox that is sourced from ZF – previously introduced on the 2015 Acura TLX. The updated engine and transmission combo emits just 135 g/km, 20% better than before. Front-wheel drive versions make do with the existing 120 PS/300 Nm 1.6 i-DTEC engine and six-speed manual transmission.

    On the outside, there isn’t a big change over the outgoing model. The front headlights gain fancy new LED DRLs, while the split-level grille now conforms to Honda’s latest “Solid Wing Face” design trend. Round the back, the lights have new graphics, with a prominent chrome bar running across the tailgate. New wheels and redesigned front and rear bumpers complete the update.

    The US and European models look very similar, though the latter is still branded as a prototype at the Paris Motor Show where it will be displayed. Compared to the American model, the red European show car has a different front bumper underguard, bigger wing mirrors and wheels, a shark-fin antennae and LED taillamps.

    Inside, the 2015 Honda CR-V gains a centre console armrest, sliding sunvisors and rear air con vents, with 10-way power adjustable front seats, a HondaLink-compatible 7.0-inch touchscreen head unit and a powered tailgate available as optional extras. Sound insulation is said to have been thoroughly improved too.

    A updated suspension design with revised shock absorber tuning and improved Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering (EPS) help deliver a more refined driving feel too, says Honda.

    2015 Honda CR-V

    A new suite of safety systems, all housed under the Honda Sensing package, can be had in the USA too. This includes Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Honda LaneWatch.

    The Honda Sensing pack is only standard in the Touring, a brand new range-topping trim line that also adds large 18-inch wheels and special badging. In the USA, the home-built (in the East Liberty Auto Plant in Ohio) 2015 Honda CR-V facelift is covered by a three-year/58,000 km warranty and a five-year/96,000 km powertrain limited warranty.

    European Honda CR-V ‘Prototype’


    US-market 2015 Honda CR-V facelift

     
     
  • Easy Taxi introduces Super Easy Taxi reward scheme

    easy-taxi-super-easy-taxi 261

    Easy Taxi, the world’s largest taxi-booking app, has introduced the Super Easy Taxi programme in Malaysia. Taxis under the scheme are set to offer an upgraded level of service thanks to a rating- and reward-based plan that’s the first of its kind in the country.

    For starters, passengers will be warmly greeted by drivers who have been workshop-trained to improve their customer service initiatives and etiquette. Their unique-liveried cars will be clean and comfortable, and customers will be offered mineral water or the music of their choice.

    Central to this is a rating-based incentive programme that rewards drivers between RM200 and RM1,000 a month depending on their performance and ratings given by customers through the app. This represents, says Easy Taxi regional MD Joon Chan, around a third up on their income per month.

    easy-taxi-super-easy-taxi 260

    Easy Taxi also provides monthly bonuses which vary on a month-to-month basis, to continuously motivate drivers to increase their level of service. These rewards are over and above their daily income from fares.

    Also introduced is the ET Pay cash-free system – register your credit card with the app and you may simply pay your fare through your smartphone, without having to fish out your card and swipe it through a terminal.

    “We believe there are good (taxi) drivers out there,” said Chan. “We would like to continue to champion Malaysian taxis by investing in them. As we all know, the public transportation industry is experiencing quite a shake-up right now, but our priority remains with the Malaysian taxi drivers who are earning their humble livelihood.

    “Our initiative in upgrading Malaysian taxis marks the first time a private company is investing to improve the condition of these taxis. This will pave way for an overall improved end-to-end taxi experience for passengers.”

    The programme has been running for two weeks now, and about 100 taxis have already signed up. That accounts for just two percent of the entire Easy Taxi fleet, but the company is looking to recruit, in phases, somewhere in the thousands.

    Born in Brazil in June 2011, Easy Taxi today operates in over 33 countries and 170 cities around the globe. The app can be downloaded for free on iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms. Easy Taxi started in Malaysia in 2013 and is now present in Johor Bahru, Penang, Kuching and the Klang Valley.

     
     
  • Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTEC Hybrid and Volkswagen Jetta GP local assembly to begin in November?

    DRB-HICOM-ANNUAL-REPORT

    We saw something interesting in DRB-Hicom’s Annual Report 2014 which was released earlier this month.

    Look at page 93 for the section on HICOM Automotive Manufacturers (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. HAMM operates a plant in Pekan, where foreign makes such as Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are assembled.

    There’s a list of future models that are expected to be locally assembled along with their expected Start of Production dates. I’ll list only the passenger cars here, as there are commercial vehicles listed as well.

    • Volkswagen Jetta GP – November 2014
    • Mercedes-Benz E Class Bluetec Hybrid – November 2014
    • Mercedes-Benz C Class W205 – January 2015

    mercedes-benz-e300-bluetec-hybrid-0001

    The E-Class Bluetec Hybrid is an interesting car. This is not the first time we’ve heard of this car coming to Malaysia. Back in August, a sales advisor posted an ad for it on our classifieds site oto.my in hope of getting some pre-launch bookings.

    Under the hood is a 2.1 litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine with 204 hp and 500 Nm, paired to a 27 hp electric motor installed in the 7G-TRONIC gearbox in place of the torque converter. The big exec is no slouch, doing the 100 km/h sprint in 7.5 seconds, but the main selling point here is the combo of the diesel engine and electric motor, which results in a claimed combined fuel consumption of just 4.3 litres per 100 km.

    The E-Class Bluetec Hybrid should qualify for 100% duty exemptions under the new NAP just like the S 400 Hybrid. If that’s true, expect an incredible pricetag, or super high equipment levels, or perhaps both at the same time. If the Start of Production date is accurate, it means Mercedes-Benz Malaysia will have just over a year to sell this car until the incentives expire at the end of 2015.

    We already know the new W205 C-Class – which was launched as a CBU first as a C 200 Avantgarde and C 250 Exclusive – is expected to be locally assembled, but at least now we have some kind of timeline of when the CKD version of the C-Class will be rolling out of the plant.

    2015_Volkswagen_Jetta_facelift_04

    We’re not 100% sure what the Jetta GP is, but given that the URL slug for the facelifted Jetta on the Volkswagen UK website is “jetta-gp”, we reckon it should be the Jetta facelift. It’s already been sighted in Malaysia a couple of times, though those units are probably CBU cars brought in for evaluation purposes.

    We contacted VGM to clarify if “Jetta GP” referred to a facelift and the official response is that there are no plans to facelift the Jetta CKD at the moment. Anyway, there are currently some promotions going on for the pre-facelift CKD Jetta if you’re interested.

    Of course, we should assume that this information is subject to change and are only accurate up to the date that the annual report was published. You know that term – best effort basis?

    But while the dates may move around, the car themselves should be coming, since there’s some lead time required in CKD planning and the mentioned Start of Production dates are very close now.

     
     
  • Diesel subsidy rationalisation expected in January

    diesel-cap

    According to a Bernama report, the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism ministry (KPDNKK) expects to implement the diesel subsidy rationalisation plan in early January.

    The ministry is awaiting the final decision from the Economic Planning Unit and the Finance ministry, regarding a number of policies, before implementation takes place, said KPDNKK secretary-general Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad.

    “The implementation of the subsidy rationalisation for just diesel is expected in January, while that for petrol will take a little longer. This is because the system for diesel is the Diesel Subsidy Control System which is ready, and we are merely ‘upgrading’.

    “For petrol, we are starting from zero and it needs time,” he said, adding that the rationalisation of petrol subsidies could happen two to three months after that for diesel.

    gst-petrol-diesel

    According to Alias, around 780,000 vehicles will be involved in the subsidy rationalisation for diesel, and about 18 million for petrol. He also said the diesel subsidy rationalisation will result in savings of between five and six million litres annually.

    Second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah revealed in July that the government is looking at a certain salary level to be eligible for fuel subsidies. He cited, as an example, those with monthly earnings of RM4,000 and below alongside those earning more, and up to a certain level.

    Meanwhile, an official decision has yet to be reached on whether RON 95 petrol and diesel will be exempted from the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The tax is scheduled to come into effect on April 1, 2015.

    But we’ll know the fate of our fuel prices soon enough, as the final list of zero-rated or tax-exempted items will be gazetted on October 10, when Budget 2015 will be tabled in Parliament.

     
     
  • Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept – diesel-electric hybrid

    01468f34-c620-4ec1-913b-5d94da40943f

    Set to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show later this week, the Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept previews a future diesel-electric hybrid version of the Korean D-segment sedan. More than that, it’s the first showcase of the brand’s new “mild hybrid” powertrain that could be applied to future Kia models.

    The Optima T-Hybrid (for turbo-hybrid) uses the standard (Europe-only) 1.7 litre CRDi turbodiesel engine as its main source of power, but here it’s paired to a small electric motor and a 48 V lead-carbon battery. The latter is chosen over a lithium-ion unit as it requires no active cooling. It’s also easier to recycle at the end of its lifecycle.

    For an extra boost of power, there’s an electric supercharger linked to the engine (on top of the mechanical turbocharger) for improved torque and engine response at low engine speeds. That is if the engine is on, of course, as the Optima T-Hybrid has a zero-emissions electric-only mode at low speeds and cruising conditions.

    Also in the mix is Kia’s new automatic stop/start system with a belt-driven starter generator in place of a conventional alternator, which allows for quick restarts with minimal noise and vibration. The fitment of a smaller battery and starter motor also enhances weight distribution and handling.

    Power and efficiency figures have yet to be confirmed, but Kia targets a significant reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, as well a 15-20% increase in power with the use of this mild hybrid system. The application of this technology is not limited to the Optima alone, of course.

    Plans for full mass production (Optima T-Hybrid or other possible models) are still up in the air, but you wouldn’t bet against Kia making it a reality, would you?

     
     
  • IIMS 2014: Mitsubishi Delica – it’s a ‘Sport Utility MPV’

    IIMS 2014 Mitsu Delica 1

    We’re now completing the final lap of our 2014 Indonesia International Motor Show coverage after an intermission in the form of the Proton Iriz. Mitsubishi, which has a decent presence in Indonesia thanks to the Pajero Sport, launched the Delica at the annual Jakarta show.

    Dubbed ‘the world’s first Sport Utility MPV’, the fifth-generation Mitsubishi Delica isn’t an easy vehicle to pigeonhole. No longer looking like a standard white van, the fourth-gen car’s rounded shape has been sharpened to create a monobox.

    While not Dakar-ready in stock form, it looks pretty robust with a high ground clearance (190 mm) and high-profile tyres. MMC made a point to highlight the Delica’s long stroke suspension at the launch, too.

    Like an off-roading MPV, except that the Indonesian market Delica is 2WD. Power comes from a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated four-pot with 150 PS and 191 Nm. The 4J11 with Auto Stop & Go (auto start stop) is mated to an INVECS-III CVT gearbox with six ratios in manual mode, swappable via long steering paddles that Lancer owners will be familiar with.

    Inside, the seven-seater Delica is slightly more Alphard than Pajero Sport, with two captain chairs in the middle row. The last row is a slidable bench that side split folds 50:50, with decent room for luggage even with all seats up. Second and third rows get roof AC vents on each side. Access is via powered rear doors on both sides.

    Standard equipment include HID headlamps, keyless entry, cruise control, dual-zone auto AC and a touch-screen multimedia head unit. Safety wise, the Delica comes with three airbags (dual front, driver’s knee), ABS, EBD, BA, Active Stability Control (ASC) and Hill Start Assist. The Mitsubishi Delica goes for Rp 409 juta (RM110,235) in Indonesia.

    Just before IIMS 2014, MMC’s CEO Osamu Masuko announced that the company will be investing US$600 million to build a new assembly plant in Indonesia. The spend will also involve the development of a new vehicle for the market, and we’re expecting an MPV that competes with the Toyota Avanza, Daihatsu Xenia, Suzuki Ertiga and Honda Mobilio in the country’s Low-MPV segment.

    Big JDM MPVs are popular in Malaysia, but will the Mitsubishi Delica, which doesn’t have that desired “VIP look”, work in Malaysia?

     
     
  • Round 2 of BHPetrol’s Fuel Your Way to Nurburgring is on! Win an all-expense-paid motorsport experience to the Nurburgring and RM40,000 worth of prizes!

    Round 2 of BHPetrol’s Fuel Your Way to Nurburgring is finally here! Enjoy more savings while putting yourself in the running to win monthly prizes equivalent to a year’s usage of fuel worth RM40,000, and an unforgettable experience of a lifetime at the Nurburgring.

    As mentioned in our previous announcements, the BHPetrol Fuel Your Way to Nurburgring contest is a three-month-long contest, where in each month, 10 luckly winners will be able to take home prizes equivalent to a year’s usage of fuel worth RM40,000 in total (thirty winners in total), and one winner will be selected to win the ultimate grand prize of heading to the legendary Nurburgring circuit in Germany!

    bhpetrol-2

    At the Nurburgring, you and a friend will get to enjoy a full motoring experience for three days! You will able to spectate a race, get driven around in a BMW M5 and drive a sports car like a Nissan GT-R around the 20 kilometre-long circuit.

    Nurburgring Experience Grand Prize:

    • Spectate an actual race weekend
    • Take part in the BMW Ring-Taxi experience with Sabine Schmitz
    • Score some laps around the legendary Nurburgring circuit in a sports car such as a Nissan GT-R and more!

    Monthly Prizes worth RM40,000:

    • 1 x First Prize: RM4,800
    • 1 x Second Prize: RM3,600
    • 1 x Third Prize: RM1,500
    • 7 x Consolation Prize: RM500

    bhpetrol steps1

    To take part, you just need to head to a BHPetrol station outfitted with a BHPetromart, spend a minimum of RM20, keep the receipt and then head to the Paul Tan’s Automotive News Facebook page and hit on the Fuel Your Way to Nurburgring contest tab. Simply answer the questions and submit your entry! The best part is, you can take part as many times as you like to help increase your chances of winning! To help you with the questions, look for clues in the video above.

    You have till October 26 to submit your entries :) The BHPetrol Fuel Your Way to Nurburgring contest is exclusively brought to you by paultan.org and the BHPetrol Infiniti Advanced 2x premium fuel, giving you more mileage, more savings and more power from its 800 ppm double dose of German additives.

    BHPetrol (marketed under Bousted Petroluem Marketing Sdn Bhd) is a member of the home-grown Boustead Group of Companies. Click here to head to the contest tab on the Paul Tan’s Automotive News official Facebook page.

     
     
  • Volkswagen Tristar – no ordinary Transporter, this

    It’s called the Tristar, but it’s not from the brand with that logo. Rather, it’s a pick-up concept from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, based on the company’s current T platform. The study, which debuted at the IAA commercial show in Hanover, offers hints of what to expect in the coming sixth-gen Transporter.

    The beefy offering features an extended cab, styling bar, a short wheelbase and 30 mm of additional ground clearance over the regulation Transporter. In terms of carrying ability, cargo can be distributed on two separate levels – there’s a regulation flatbed as well as a dust-proof/watertight drawer sitting under it.

    Plenty of sharp, wrap-around lines on that exterior, which is further dressed up with 17-inch Rocadura alloys and 245/70 rubbers. The Tristar is powered by a 204 PS and 450 Nm 2.0 litre TDI oil burner, which works with a seven-speed DSG tranny and 4Motion four-wheel drive with mechanical rear-axle differential lock.

    Inside, the monolithic dashboard’s styling pays homage to earlier models of the Transporter. Interior design elements include a 20-inch tablet table and state-of-the-art video conferencing and sound systems alongside the turning/sliding driver and passenger seats.

     
     
 

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