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  • Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz jointly acquire Nokia’s Here mapping business for US$2.8 billion

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    Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have announced that they are set to acquire Nokia Corporation’s Here mapping and location services business. The deal, which is reported to be €2.8 billion (RM11.8 billion), brings to an end months of speculation – in May, the consortium was said to be making a bid for the Finnish company’s mapping division.

    The automotive trio stated via a statement that the acquisition is intended to secure the long term availability of Here’s products and services as an open, independent and value creating platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services accessible to all customers from the automotive industry and other sectors.

    The three partners will each hold an equal stake in Here, with none of them seeking to acquire a majority interest. Subject to the approval of the relevant antitrust authorities, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

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    The automakers add that the acquisition will lay the foundations for the next generation of mobility and location based services, and provide the basis for new assistance systems and ultimately aid in fully autonomous driving.

    Extremely precise digital maps will be used in combination with real-time vehicle data in order to increase road safety and to facilitate innovative new products and services. On the basis of the shared raw data, all automobile manufacturers can offer their customers differentiated and brand-specific services.

    Here provides mapping and location intelligence for nearly 200 countries in more than 50 languages and is one of the main providers of mapping and location services. It was stated that the company will continue have an independent management and to develop its position as an independent provider of maps and location-based services.

     
  • Alfa Romeo SUV on track to be launched next year

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    There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not complaining about something. Most of my ire is always focused on the state of our roads, especially within the city. With third-party contractors making slipshod resurfacing works and haphazard potholes sprouting up everywhere, doesn’t it just make perfect sense to own a SUV?

    Not just any SUV, but a high-performance one, which handles well and leaves a grin on your face each time you prod it to go ever faster, while gliding over all of these imperfections with relative ease.

    Well, here’s some good news for Alfa Romeo fans, as the company has just finished preparation work for its first SUV. The model is apparently right on track to be launched next year. Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Alfa parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said the new model will go into production in the middle of 2016.

    Supplier sources have told the publication that this new model will be a mid-sized SUV, code-named project 949, which will be a rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. An early test mule is seen here, wearing the body of a Fiat 500L Living.

    It is believed that the SUV will be based on the Giulia sedan, and European sales launch will most probably be scheduled for September or October 2016, with a launch in the US scheduled for 2017.

     
  • VIDEO: DC Shoes Pipe Dream – a real amphibious bike

    In a video that would make you go “that’s sick dude,” American footwear brand DC Shoes collaborated with Australian stuntman Robbie ‘Maddo’ Maddison to come up with a video that we predict would be “making waves” in just a matter of days. For full mind-blowing effect, watch it in 4K.

    In the video, the self-professed Maddo rides a modified, amphibious KTM scrambler from land to sea and even onto big waves with ease.

    The bike took two years to make, said Maddison. It wears paddle tyres, which are designed to take on terrain like sand dunes and mud to give it the physics required to propel it on water. Attached to the bike seems to be a set of skis that lets ol’Maddo here take on the famous waves of Teahupoo and Papara in Tahiti.

    If you’re unfamiliar with who Robbi Maddison is, you might have seen him as James Bond. Well, sort of. Maddison was the stunt double for Daniel Craig in bike scenes of Skyfall. He has also done other notable stunts like the one in 2009, where he backflipped across London’s tower bridge. In 2010, he jumped across the Corinth Canal in Greece on a bike. This is a well-versed daredevil, that’s for sure.

    Stunts like these and DC Shoes are not that uncommon, seeing as the co-founder of the footwear brand is professional rally driver, Ken Block, who is notoriously famous for his Gymkhana videos featuring the Subaru WRX STI, Ford Fiesta ST and more recently, the 1965 Ford Mustang.

    An amphibious bike? Ain’t no pipe dream no more, it seems.

     
  • KL City Grand Prix – sponsors and post-race concert

    kl-city-grand-prix-launch 726

    More news regarding the inaugural KL City Grand Prix, which begins in four days from August 7-9 – as the city completes preparations for the street race, organiser GT Global Race has revealed the sponsors for the event, as well as the performers for the post-race concert at KLCC Park on Sunday at 6:30 pm.

    Firstly, the safety car will be provided by Mercedes-Benz – official dealer Hap Seng Star will supply the race with the new RM1.15mil Mercedes-AMG GT S that will make the rounds on the circuit to make sure everything is safe and sound before the start of a race.

    Those who purchase tickets (grandstand tickets start at RM350, Premium Walkabout passes with access to paddock and Premium Zones cost RM50; access is free elsewhere) to watch the race, on the other hand, will stand a chance to win a Nissan Almera VL complete with the Nismo Performance Pack, courtesy of Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM). Other key sponsors include Petronas, Red Bull, Asia Plantation Capital, VisionKL magazine, Holiday Tours and DC Print.

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    As for the post-race concert, the roster of Malaysian talent that will be performing includes Dasha Logan (daughter of late Alleycats member Loganathan Arumugam), Kayda, Kyoto Protocol, DJ duo Twinkles, violinist Dennis Lau, Michael Leaner and Radio3000. There will also be other live concerts happening throughout the race days, as well as other cultural shows.

    It was also announced that after submitting a licence application to the Sport Commissioner’s Office last week, the latter has finally given GT Global Race permission to host the race, meaning that the organiser no longer runs afoul of the Sports Development Act 1997 (which carries a fine, a jail term or both).

    Lastly, GT Global Race CEO M Arrasu encouraged racegoers to take public transport to watch the race in order to minimise hassles, adding that the free Go KL bus service and other public bus services will continue running but with routes adjusted to accommodate for road closures.

    “This area is splendidly connected by RapidKL’s underground and elevated LRT and monorail lines, which are unaffected at all [sic] by the road closures,” Arrasu said. “The committee has held meetings with RapidKL representatives and they are committed to support the event including the usage of their monorail stations as pedestrian bridges.”

    Attendees can call the event’s traffic information hotline at 019-374 7774 for travel advice and traffic management information, while a special hotline for access to affected properties (019-364 5888) has also been set up. Enquiries can also be directed to inquiry@gtcitygrandprix.com.

    In total, four race series will be held this year, including the one-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo Cup, Formula Masters and the KL GT City Cup, as well as an exhibition run of the Australian V8 Supercars series. The latter is set to become a proper full championship round for four years starting from 2016.

     
  • Honda Malaysia – 43,957 units sold in first half of 2015

    Honda HR-V Drive Langkawi 42

    Honda Malaysia has managed to sell 43,597 vehicles in the first half of 2015, achieving 51% of its annual sales target of 85,000 units this year. The company currently leads the way in the non-national segment from January to June 2015, accounting for 13.5% of the Total Industry Volume (TIV).

    Its current market share marks a considerable 2.3-point improvement compared to the same period last year. On a year-on-year comparison, Honda’s sales increased by 6,408 units or 17% against the 37,189 units sold in the first half of 2014.

    The Honda City is currently the best-selling model for Honda Malaysia – contributing 41% to the overall sales – followed by the Jazz at 19% and the HR-V at 17%. Interestingly, the City, Jazz, HR-V, CR-V and Accord are all leading their respective segments as of June 2015.

    Positive sales in East Malaysia market also contributed to Honda Malaysia’s robust sales performance nationwide. Sales in this region particularly have increased to 2,390 units in the first six months of 2015 – 32% higher than 1,814 units achieved in the same period last year. Honda Malaysia plans to add three more dealerships in East Malaysia to its existing 10 dealerships by the end of the year.

    Recently, the company established a logistics hub in East Malaysia, and is planning to open a regional office, training facilities and parts warehouse in the near future. The company aims to have 90 dealers by 2016, and aims to increase its annual sales to 100,000 units.

     
  • VIDEO: 2017 Formula 1 regulation changes visualised

    As you know, 2017 promises to be another exciting year for Formula 1 in terms of regulation changes. This particular video animation by Giorgio Piola, posted by OmniCorse, shows what F1 cars could look like once the new set of regulations is enforced. In a nutshell, Formula 1 cars in 2017 will be a lot more aggressive, both in terms of looks and hopefully, performance too.

    Firstly, the cars will be marginally wider than they are now (with wider front wings), while the overall length will be significant increased too. The new rear tyres will also see an increase from 420 mm to 450 mm, while the air-intakes on the side pods will be swept back by 15 degrees.

    Rear aerodynamics will also see quite a revision. Both rear wing elements will be set considerably lower and wider than they are now. Interestingly, the structures around the side pods will be set at pre-determined angles, including the rear wing uprights.

    Watch the video above for more details. Whether the changes will make for better racing remains to be seen, but the cars will sure look more exciting, that’s for sure. Race fans, what do you think of this?

     
  • VIDEO: 2016 Lexus IS 200t in Japanese test drive

    It has already been announced that Lexus will be coming up with an updated IS – one that will have a smaller but turbocharged engine along with other enhancements. In a fresh video, Japanese motoring journalist Yasuhisa Shimashita takes the new 2016 Lexus IS 200t sedan for a spin along winding stretches.

    Wearing a 200t moniker means that the IS will have its 2.5 litre V6 engine swapped out for a smaller-but-more-capable 2.0 litre turbocharged engine that can be found under the bonnet of the Lexus NX 200t compact SUV and the upcoming Lexus RC 200t. It will be paired to an eight-speed automatic Sport Direct Shift transmission, and will get from 0-100 km/h in seven seconds flat.

    When it arrives here soon (Q3 2015, we’ve been informed), the IS 200t will produce 245 hp and 350 Nm of torque – healthy power bump of 40 hp and 98 Nm compared to the previous 4GR-FSE V6 mill. What is interesting to note in the video is that since the new engine comes turbocharged, you can actually see the amount of boost that the turbine makes in the instrument cluster, which should satisfy your inner racer boy.

     
  • 2016 Honda Civic – a choice of 2.0 NA and 1.5 turbo?

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    Fresh rumours regarding the 2016 Honda Civic have surfaced. According to a Temple of VTEC USA report, the next-generation Civic sedan will be offered with a choice of two engines: a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated VTEC and a new 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo.

    The report suggests that the 2.0 NA engine will be marketed as the base motor, only available with the lesser trim lines. The 1.5T, meanwhile, is said to be positioned slightly higher, and can be had with more premium equipment packs.

    Transmission wise, both engines can be paired with either a six-speed manual ‘box or a CVT. The six-speeder, though, is tied only to each engine’s base trim, if the report is to be believed, whereas the CVT is to be available across the entire range.

    Nothing on power outputs yet, but as a reference, Honda’s 2.0 litre VTEC engine makes 155 PS and 190 Nm in our current-generation Civic, while the 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo unit fitted on the StepWGN and Jade RS offers 150 PS and 203 Nm. Whether these figures will be kept the same on the Civic remains to be seen.

    It has to be mentioned, though, that the report refers to the US-market line-up, where the Civic Sedan is currently offered with a 143 hp/175 Nm 1.8 litre VTEC engine as standard. There’s also a 205 hp/237 Nm 2.4 litre VTEC option in the semi-hot Civic Si variant.

    So far, it looks like the two new engine options (2.0 NA and 1.5T) will take the place of the standard Civic line-up. A replacement for the Civic Si should appear later on.

    How the Malaysian-market 2016 Honda Civic will shape up is yet unknown. But given a choice, which one would you prefer – 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated VTEC or 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo?

     
  • Chevrolet Cruze facelift launched in Thailand, new rear

    Amazing New  Chevrolet Cruze

    GM has launched the Chevrolet Cruze facelift in Thailand. The C-segment sedan, which does battle with the mighty Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic in the Kingdom, was unveiled at the Bangkok International Grand (BIG) Motor Sale 2015 alongside the new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.

    Styling changes are pretty substantial for a facelift – the updated J300 gets a new dual-port grille and bumper in front (with LED daytime running lights above the fog lamps), and an all-new rear end with Camaro-inspired LED tail lights. The number plate is now on the bumper. There are also new design 17-inch alloys.

    By the way, this is the South Korean facelift introduced in May, rather than the North American (and Australian, by way of Holden) version which retains the original rear end. There are also two brand new cars with the Cruze nameplate, one each for China and North America, so the situation is pretty confusing.

    Amazing New  Chevrolet Cruze

    Inside, the biggest news is the addition of a seven-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Chevrolet’s MyLink. It features built-in app technology, enhanced voice control and Bluetooth audio streaming. Another change is the new interior colour scheme called ‘Saddle Up’. Switches have also been rearranged for better ergonomics.

    No change under the bonnet. The Cruze retains its Ecotec 1.8 litre engine with 141 hp and 177 Nm. The DOHC with Double CVC (Double Continuous Variable Cam Phasing) unit is paired to a second-generation GF6 six-speed automatic, which GM says has been tuned for smoother changes and quicker response.

    The Ecotec is E85-capable, which means it can accept gasoline with up to 85% ethanol. The Cruze used to be available with a 163 PS/360 Nm 2.0 turbodiesel engine as well, a novelty in the segment, but that expensive variant has been dropped for the facelift due to low sales.

    Prices start from 946,000 baht (RM103,782) for the Cruze LT and 998,000 baht (RM109,442) for the range topping LTZ. Deliveries are expected to start next month. Should be coming to Malaysia in the near future.

     
  • Mercedes-AMG to embrace hybrid power by 2020

    AMG GT S SF 28

    By 2020, Mercedes-AMG vehicles will be embracing hybrid power wholeheartedly, according to its head of R&D, Thomas Weber. Speaking to Autocar UK, Weber says that Mercedes will be looking into incorporating its current hybrid powertrain technology into the high performance AMG stable.

    Weber believes that in a world where there is increasing pressure to reduce CO2 outputs across the board, hybrid technology remains the most effective method to achieve this objective.

    “Every car line has to reduce fuel consumption, even AMG,” said Weber. He acknowledges that it is a huge task for AMG to reduce fuel consumption across its model range, but it’s also a huge opportunity to make truly better cars.

    Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, is aiming for a target of 101 g/km of CO2 by 2020, as per the latest CO2 weighted emissions regime in the EU. Apparently, 95% of the company’s overall European sales volume will need to adhere to this ruling, but by 2021, if the company misses the target on all its cars, Daimler will have to fork out a significant amount to pay potentially huge fines.

    Weber is unsure if AMG customers will ever be ready for a hybrid performance. As from what he has gauged from the demographic, most of AMG customers want the highest performance with no compromises. “We haven’t done it so far, because right now the customer wouldn’t buy it,” Weber said.

    Nonetheless, he is adamant that by 2020, it could be necessary to introduce an AMG hybrid. “In our development department, we are already planning for the time when we will have to offer them something special,” he added.

    Weber thinks that a light, cheap and simple e-boost solution set-up, that is similar to Mercedes’ current Bluetec Hybrid, with a small motor and battery, is a viable option that can be considered. “It could help us to add power and regenerate energy by braking, and we have an advantage as it’s already in large volume production,” he elaborated.

     
 

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