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  • New national car project will continue, government to be briefed on its development – Mohamed Azmin

    The government says the new national car project (NNCP) is set to continue despite the change in national leadership, according to senior minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali. “This is for the sake of expanding the country’s automotive sector,” he said.

    The latest statement by the international trade and industry (MITI) minister reiterates what Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) CEO Datuk Madani Sahari had stated back in March. At that point, Madani had said that there were no plans to scrap the project, which is being led by Cyberjaya-based digital engineering services and consultancy company DreamEdge, because the government is not involved in – or funding – its development.

    Mohamed Azmin said that DreamEdge will be called to give a briefing on the development of the project, Berita Harian reports. He added that Perodua and Daihatsu had been requested to brief and present a paper to the government on how the two automotive companies could help develop the NNCP.

    “This is because we have identified the platform and its implementation. This needs to be clarified,” he said. He added that the NAP2020 would continue as outlined, as it contains the agenda and framework for the automotive industry moving ahead into the future.

    Meanwhile, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad said the request for the proposal would be fulfilled by the company as soon as possible. He said the proposed paper would not just include the NNCP but the automotive ecosystem on the whole.

    “We will show the government how Perodua can help the local automotive ecosystem, not just focus on a new national car. It will cover everything from the workforce to the technology and the vendors,” he explained.

    The NNCP first surfaced into public view in June 2018 when ex-prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mooted the idea of a new national car. The topic evolved into a series of discussions in the following year, until DreamEdge was announced as the lead for the project in August last year.

    The car – which is expected to be a plus-sized B-segment sedan – was teased at the launch of the National Automotive Policy 2020 (NAP 2020) in February this year, albeit in a box and draped, with just the headlight and tail lamp section being offered for view.

    The prototype was supposed to have been previewed in April at the Malaysia Autoshow 2020, which was first postponed and later shifted to 2021 due to the Covid-19 outbreak and resulting movement control order (MCO). There has been no update as to when it will be shown to the public.

    DreamEdge has previously stated that the new car promises to be an all-round performer that will be fun to drive, family friendly, highly fuel efficient and be value for money. It will also get a “modern and futuristic styling,” complete with up-to-date in-car connectivity functions, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.

    Powertrain-wise, the car is likely to feature a regular internal combustion petrol engine or a hybrid powertrain, but this will be led by technology partner Daihatsu, which confirmed its involvement in the project last October. Daihatsu has no equity involvement, but will merely head powertrain and platform development.

    Previously, DreamEdge had revealed that full production of he new car was set to take place by the first half of 2022, and it was targeting to sell at least 3,000 cars a month in the first year of sales, leading to an annual rate of 36,000 units a year.

  • SPYSHOTS: Land Rover Discovery facelift on road test

    With the new-generation Land Rover Defender having already arrived, it’s time for the just as recognisable Discovery to receive its mid-lifecycle update. The fifth-generation Discovery is approaching four years of age, though along the way it has received engine and equipment upgrades as well.

    The front end receives sparing changes, with the headlamps appearing to be carried over from the current model. The front bumper also appears to be the existing item, though the grille has been concealed on this development vehicle, and will therefore likely sport an update when it is eventually uncovered.

    The aforementioned headlamps should therefore be also ripe for a new design, as will the tail lamp units, while the asymmetrical tail gate with its offset license plate mount also appears set to be carried over into the update. No close-up images of the revised Disco’s interior just yet, however a glimpse through the windows reveal some fabric shrouding atop the dashboard, suggesting updates are to be found here.

    The mid-lifecycle update should bring some revisions to the powertrain line-up as well, where 48-volt electrical architecture is expected to appear and offer the basis of mild-hybrid engines as a result. This could mean the addition of the electrified 3.0 litre turbocharged petrol inline-six that produces 400 PS and 550 Nm of torque in both the Defender and Range Rover Sport HST.

    The Discovery engine line-up currently includes the 2.0 litre Ingenium turbocharged petrol engine with 240 PS and 340 Nm of torque, while diesels come in the form of a 2.0 litre SD4 four-cylinder with 240 PS and 430 Nm of torque, while a 3.0 litre SD6 six-cylinder makes 306 PS and 700 Nm of torque.

    Off-roading capability is paramount in a Land Rover product, and the facelifted Discovery is expected to at least retain the current model’s 900 mm water-wading depth, as well as its 3,500 kg towing capacity; figures which are identical to those of the latest Land Rover Defender.


  • BMW Motorrad shows Active Cruise Control for bikes

    While four-wheeled vehicles have had active cruise control for a while now, BMW Motorrad is presenting its application for two-wheelers as well. Developed in conjunction with its technology partner Bosch, the BMW Motorrad Active Cruise Control (ACC) for bikes aims to provide a comfortable and safer riding experience.

    Primarily designed for the touring rider, ACC automatically regulates the speed set by the rider and the distance to the vehicle in front. When the vehicle in front slows down, ACC slows the motorcycle down accordingly and keeps a set separation distance as determined by the rider.

    Setting ACC is done using using a button, which allows for setting of both motorcycle speed and separation distance. Information is displayed on the instrument panel with two selectable control characteristics – Comfortable or Dynamic – with distance control switched off in Dynamic mode.

    When cornering, speed will be limited by the ACC, taking data from the inertial measurement unit and rider’s desired lean angle. When lean angle is increased, intervention by the ACC is reduced and braking and acceleration dynamics are limited in order to maintain a stable cornering line.

    This avoids upsetting the bike’s balance through abrupt braking or acceleration by the ACC and BMW Motorrad clearly states ACC is only meant to be a riding aid with the rider needing to intervene when necessary. It should be noted ACC only responds to moving vehicles and stationary vehicles – like at the end of a traffic jam or at traffic lights – are disregarded by the system.

  • 2020 Honda Civic facelift at the top of the C-segment chart – over 6,500 bookings; 2,900 units delivered

    The 2020 Honda Civic facelift, launched back in February this year, remains at the top of the C-segment charts. According to Honda Malaysia, more than 2,900 units of the Civic have been delivered to customers nationwide, representing an estimated market share of 70%.

    It’s currently the third best-selling Honda model in Malaysia, with the central region contributing to 44% of the total sales, followed by 17% from the southern region and 15% from the northern region. The White Orchid Pearl is the most popular colour, with 42% of customers opting for the paint.

    As of June 2020, the company has recorded over 6,500 bookings for the new Civic, and states that the current waiting period is approximately one month. Sales have also picked up thanks to the sales tax relief, which saw prices for the locally-assembled Civic drop by up to RM5,000.

    Honda Malaysia managing director and CEO, Toichi Ishiyama said: “With Malaysia moving into Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period, most businesses are resuming operations in accordance to guidelines and standard operating procedure set by the government. All industries, including the automotive industry, are eager to recover from the pandemic and help the nation towards economic recovery.”

    GALLERY: 2020 Honda Civic 1.5 TC-P facelift

    GALLERY: 2020 Honda Civic 1.5 TC facelift with Modulo accessories package
    GALLERY: 2020 Honda Civic 1.8 S facelift

  • 2020 AC Cobra – reborn legend with Mustang’s 2.3L EcoBoost, full electric model available too; 116 units

    The AC Cobra, an automotive legend from the 1960s, has just been given a new lease of life. The reborn classic is available in two versions – the AC Cobra Series 1 Electric and the AC Cobra 140 Charter Edition, and production is limited to just 58 units each (58 representing the number of years since the launch of the original Cobra).

    As the name implies, the Series 1 Electric is a fully electric model, and its powertrain is built on the Cobra’s original ladder frame architecture. Adaptations have been made throughout the chassis to accommodate the batteries, and components such as the steering system, brakes and suspension have all been upgraded to meet the expectations of modern motoring.

    The electric motor produces 230 kW (313 PS) and 500 Nm of peak torque (250 Nm continuous torque), allowing the 1,250-kg roadster to sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. The onboard 54 kWh battery pack delivers an estimated 240 km of range on a full charge, and it supports a maximum charge rate of 6 kW.

    The body of the car will be made of high grade composite, and the cabin will remain completely original. Just four colours of the Series 1 Electric are offered – AC Electric Blue, AC Electric Black, AC Electric White (pictured here), and AC Electric Green. Prices start from £138,000 (RM739k).

    Meanwhile, the AC Cobra 140 Charter Edition gets shoehorned with Ford’s 2.3 litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine, tuned to produce about 355 PS and 440 Nm of torque. It’s quicker than the electric model in the century sprint, requiring just six seconds to do the deed. It also weighs less, at 1,100 kg.

    The 140 Charter Edition will share the same handling and performance upgrades as its full electric twin, but customers have a wider range of colours to choose from. This one is also cheaper, with the base price starting at £85,000 (RM455k). Deliveries for both models will begin at the end of the year.

    AC Cars CEO, Alan Lubinsky said: “Our long saga reflects the many challenges of making sports cars in low volumes in the modern world. But, over the years, our belief in the brand has been sustained by the loyalty and support of AC Cobra owners worldwide.”

    “Their faith has given us the motivation to keep on striving to give AC a future – and with these superb new products, engineered not just for today but for tomorrow, I am convinced we have given AC a bright future. We have more exciting plans ahead but our focus for now is to get these 116 cars built, sold and out where they should be – on the open road,” he added.

  • Volvo to recall 2.18 million vehicles for seat belt issue

    Swedish carmaker Volvo will recall 2.18 million vehicles worldwide for the repair of a steel cable that could wear down and reduce the capability of the cars’ seat belts, Automotive News Europe reported. These comprise 412,000 vehicles in Sweden, 308,000 in the United States, 245,000 in China, 178,000 in Germany and 169,000 in the United Kingdom.

    In Malaysia, Volvo Car Malaysia has confirmed to that only five units are affected in this recall, all of them being privately-imported left-hand drive units. Owners of these vehicles will be contacted directly, as with owners of affected cars globally. The international recall involves the Volvo S60, S60L, S60CC, V60, V60CC, XC60, V70, XC70, S80 and S80L, made between 2006 and 2019.

    Affected vehicle owners will be asked to bring their Volvos to their local dealers in order to have the steel wire replaced by a fixed bracket, and the automaker said that there has been no report of accidents or injuries arising from the affected part. Both the original part and the replacement part are made by Swedish automotive components supplier, Autoliv.

    “We have seen that this wire can be subject to wear and tear under special conditions. This is a very rare problem. This could eventually cause damage to the cable, resulting in a reduction in the seatbelt restraint function,” Volvo press spokesman Stefan Elftstrom was quoted by AP as speaking to Swedish public radio.

  • G80 BMW M3, G82 M4 first details – 480 PS with manual, 510 PS Competition with auto, AWD later on

    The long-awaited G80 BMW M3 and G82 M4 will be unveiled in mid-September, and Munich has begun opening the floodgates of information regarding its new high-performance sedan and coupé. The company promises a significant increase in performance thanks to improvements to the chassis, brakes and engine.

    Much of what’s new is under the bonnet. The S58 engine has been lifted from the X3 and X4 M, and while the twin-turbo straight-six still displaces 3.0 litres, it’s a brand new unit that, in standard form, produces an extra 49 PS at 480 PS. Purists will be delighted to know that a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive will come as standard, although Autocar reports that an eight-speed automatic will also be available.

    For those looking for a bit more pep, BMW is offering a Competition model at launch, bumping outputs to 510 PS and 650 Nm of torque. This one, however, is fitted exclusively with the slushbox, with an M xDrive all-wheel-drive system set to be offered as an option later on. The latter will likely be derived from the M5 and M8, replete with a rear-drive mode for maximum skids.

    Underpinning the car will be an M-specific chassis setup with upgraded suspension, springs, dampers and braking. As for the visual enhancements, the M3 and M4 will share a common front end, and that means the sedan will adopt the coupé’s massive (and hugely contentious) double kidney grille, along with the trapezoidal headlights that are split from the grille.

    Other expected changes include larger front air intakes, more muscular fender bulges to hide the wider 19-inch alloy wheels, M-specific wing mirrors and a rear diffuser with the obligatory (and real) quad tailpipes. Inside, the cars will feature the M8’s Setup button that controls the individual settings of the engine, gearbox, drivetrain and suspension, while Competition models will get racy carbon fibre bucket seats.

    Autocar also reports that the M4 lineup will be expanded this generation. In addition to the usual Coupé and Convertible variants, the car will also be offered as a four-door Gran Coupé for the first time, mirroring the M8’s range of body styles.

    GALLERY: G80 BMW M3 in camouflage

    GALLERY: G82 BMW M4 in camouflage

  • 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 now in White Rosso colour scheme, Malaysia launch in July pending approval

    Released in 2019, the Ducati Panigale V2 is the Bologna firm’s middleweight racetrack weapon and for 2020 comes in a new colour scheme of White Rosso. Coming to Ducati dealers in July 2020, the Panigale V2 in in the new paint will be sold alongside the traditional Ducati Rosso Red.

    The clinical white paint scheme on the Panigale V2 is broken up with red accents in the front air intakes and the deflectors of the upper half-fairings. This is complemented with wheels painted in Ducati red, giving the Panigale V2 a futuristic, minimalist look as well as a V2 logo on the lower fairings.

    Carrying the 955 cc Superquadro V-twin in a monocoque frame, the Panigale V2 puts out 155 hp at 10,750 rpm and a maximum torque of 104 Nm at 9,000 rpm. In keeping with the sporting nature of the Panigale V2, 70% of the maximum torque is constantly available beyond 5,500 rpm, giving that famous V-twin drive out of corners.

    As tested by in Jerez, Spain, last year, the Panigale V2, despite the road-going hardware, is more at home on the track. The single-sided swingarm makes a comeback into Ducati’s sub-one litre catalogue, after being absent on the Panigale 959.

    Suspension is done with 43 mm diameter fully-adjustable Showa Big Piston Forks (BPF) in front and an adjustable Sachs monoshock at the back. Braking is by Brembo, with M4.32 monobloc callipers activated by a radial brake master cylinder with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres providing grip.

    For Malaysia, a date has yet to be announced for the launch of the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2, although a source tells us it will be “this July pending type approval.” Pricing is also yet to be announced, but previous conversations with Ducati Malaysia have indicated efforts are being made to bring the Panigale V2 “below the RM120,000 price point.”

  • 2021 Suzuki Across debuts – PHEV based on the RAV4

    The Toyota-Suzuki partnership has bore its first fruit. Meet the brand new 2021 Suzuki Across, a C-segment SUV based on the Toyota RAV4. For now, the Across is only available as a plug-in hybrid, sharing the same underpinnings as the popular RAV4 Prime.

    Design-wise, the Across gets a more curvaceous fascia with slimmer LED headlights, unique LED DRLs, and a gaping hexagonal radiator grille. This range-topping model sits on dual-tone 19-inch alloy wheels and can be had in six different colours – White Pearl Crystal Shine, Silver Metallic, Attitude Black Mica, Sensual Red Mica, Grey Metallic, and Dark Blue Mica. The rest of the exterior is unchanged from the RAV4.

    The cabin is also carried over wholesale, with the only difference being the steering boss with the Suzuki badge. In the middle is a freestanding nine-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, as well as MirrorLink functionalities for compatible smartphones. There’s also smart entry with push start, Optitron instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, and leather seats as standard.

    For performance, the Across is powered by the RAV4 Prime’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, which comprises a 2.5 litre A25A-FXS Dynamic Force Atkinson-cycle engine making 176 hp and 228 Nm. The engine is paired with a powerful electric motor to produce a total system output of 302 hp, allowing the SUV to do the 0-100 km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds.

    Meanwhile, an onboard high-capacity 18.1kWh (50.9 Ah) lithium-ion battery offers an all-electric range of 60 km (based on the WLTP cycle). It also gets Toyota’s E-Four electronic 4×4 system, which uses an independent 40 kW rear motor that works in tandem with the front motor to provide a front:rear torque distribution between 100:0 to 20:80.

    It isn’t short on safety, either. The Across comes with a raft of driving assist functions such as Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) as standard, as well as Road Sign Assist (RSA), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), and Rear Crossing Traffic Alert (RCTA). European sales will commence at the end of September 2020.

  • Proton sells 9,623 units in June; gains 69.5% month-on-month over May, increased 26.3% from June 2019

    Proton has recorded 9,623 vehicle sales for the month of June 2020, which the national carmaker says is its second-best monthly sales performance seen so far this year. This represents a 69.5% growth over the preceding month, and a 26.3% gain over the same month last year, it said.

    The carmaker claims a year-to-date market share of 21.2%, which it says is a 6.5% increase over that charted in the same period last year. Driving sales volume was the Saga, posting its best sales performance in 70 months according to the company, charting sales of 4,447 units in the month of June. This tops the sedan’s previous best sales figure of 4,275 units sold in October 2019, said the company.

    Meanwhile, the Proton X70 continues to be the best-selling C-segment SUV in the country with 1,909 units sold last month, and which made it the best-selling SUV overall in the country for the first half of this year, said Proton. The Persona also held on as the best-selling B-segment sedan in Malaysia for two months in a row, the company said.

    The Exora continues to be the top-selling C-segment MPV in the country, while the Iriz managed to reach third in the ranks of most popular B-segment hatchbacks in Malaysia, says Proton.

    “Proton’s sales in the first full month of business since February have been encouraging. While we remain cautiously optimistic for the second half of 2020, the demand for Malaysian cars in general and Proton vehicles in particular points towards increased consumer confidence in our products,” said CEO of Proton Edar Roslan Abdullah.

    This interest has also been buoyed by the recently-announced sales tax holiday which has stimulated demand, the company said. Looking forward, Proton expects to see further volume increase in the second half of the year with the 35th anniversary of the Proton Saga, which will springboard other activities set for 2020, said Roslan.


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Last Updated 27 Jun 2020