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  • A90 Toyota GR Supra gains Akrapovic exhaust system

    It’s been a while since the all-new A90 Toyota GR Supra made its debut, giving aftermarket companies plenty of time to develop modifications for the reborn sports car. One such company is Akrapovic, which is a household name when it comes to automotive exhaust systems.

    The Slovenian outfit recently posted a video showcasing its new offering for the Supra, including dyno runs and sliding around a wet circuit. The exhaust kit certainly sounds good, enhancing the engine note of the BMW-sourced B58 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six engine to give the Supra even more presence.

    According to Akrapovic, the system is made completely out of titanium, and consists of a muffler with an exhaust valve plus tailpipes. After periods of extended use, the tailpipes will morph into a violet-blue hue, which is the natural colour of titanium after it’s been exposed to extremely high temperatures.

    Aside from aural and visual enhancements, the titanium exhaust system is also said to improve the horsepower count and reduce overall vehicle weight, although the company didn’t say to what extent.

    For those who require some modulation, there’s an optional Sound Kit that allows the driver to adjust the exhaust sound on the move. There’s also a stainless steel Evolution link pipe available for “further tuning opportunities.”

    GALLERY: A90 Toyota GR Supra at GIIAS 2019

  • 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid debuts – solar panel roof

    Hyundai has revealed details of its new Sonata Hybrid, which joins the eighth-gen model range that debuted in March. Not much to identify the hybrid from view, with a cross-hole cascading front grille, rear spoiler, a different alloy wheel design and hybrid badging providing the only visual indicators at eye level.

    Perch yourself higher, and that’s when you find a definite giveaway, which is a solar panel system incorporated in the roof. The system, which makes its debut on the car, recharges the battery to aid operating range, and the automaker says that it’ll provide an additional 1,300 km of travel distance annually with six hours of charging daily.

    The hybrid powertrain consists of a Smartstream G2.0 GDi HEV engine, coupled with a six-speed hybrid transmission. Output from the mill is 150 hp and 188 Nm, and this is combined with the 38 kW (51 hp) and 205 Nm from the electric motor, the latter identical to that seen in the hybrid version of the seventh-gen LF facelift.

    Total system power output for the Korean market version is 192 hp, with a combined fuel economy of 20.1 km per litre – strangely, the automaker didn’t reveal total operating range of the new car, but it should mirror or better that of the 2018 LF facelift, which provisional estimates listed as being close to 1,050 km, under typical driving conditions.

    There’s also no mention of the rating and output of the battery pack, but one thing the new car improves on over the old is with boot space. Where the previous iteration offered 377 litres of cargo space at the rear, the new one has 510 litres, a noticeable hike.

    Tech-wise, the automaker is shouting about its new Active Shift Control (ASC) tech, which also makes its debut on the car. New control logic software to the Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) controls the electric motor to align the rotational speeds of the engine and transmission, reducing shift times by 30%. Hyundai says that aside from performance gains, the system also improves transmission durability by minimising friction during shifts.

    In terms of kit, that available for the Hybrid shouldn’t veer far from that available for the rest of the range – there’s mention of the Hyundai Digital Key, which utilises Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and allows a device or smartphone to control selected vehicle systems remotely.

    The car also gets the same levels of safety as its petrol siblings, with an onboard array of Smartsense advanced driver assistance systems to be found. These include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Lane Follow Assist.

  • F44 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased ahead of debut – range-topping M235i xDrive gets 302 hp 2.0L turbo

    The new F44 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is set to make its debut soon, but before that, the German carmaker has released several photos of a development car wrapped in multi-coloured camouflage to get us all excited.

    Like the F40 1 Series, the 2 Series GC will feature a front-wheel drive platform, with the range-topping variant being called the M235i xDrive. This will be powered by the BMW Group’s most powerful four-cylinder engine, a B48 2.0 litre turbocharged unit that develops 306 PS (302 hp) and 450 Nm of torque.

    While there’s no mention of the transmission that will be paired with the mill, it’s likely an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic unit will be used. BMW notes that a Torsen limited-slip differential is part of the driveline, along with its xDrive all-wheel drive system.

    The actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (ARB) technology (adapted from the i3s) seen on the 1er will also be present here, and is supported by a standard BMW Performance Control (yaw moment distribution) system.

    In terms of styling, the M235i is rather aggressive-looking thing, with large intakes in the lower apron that are further partitioned to guide air where necessary. Meanwhile, the upper portion of the car’s front is reminiscent of the latest 1 Series, as you’ll find a conjoined kidney grille at the front that has a mesh pattern also found on other M Performance models.

    The creases on the bonnet are also rather similar to the hatchback, but a point of distinction is shape of the headlamps, which have a small step at their base. Along the sides, the roofline appears lower than that on the 1 Series Sedan, and this leads to rear deck that has a small lip spoiler on the boot.

    F44 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe (left), F52 BMW 1 Series Sedan (right)

    At the rear, there are L-shaped tailights, a boot-mounted number plate and twin trapezoidal exhaust pipes, with a subtle diffuser sandwiched between them. There are no photos of the interior, but the 2 Series Gran Coupe should share the same cabin as the 1 Series given their association, but we’ll have to wait for an official reveal to confirm this.

    Following the 2 Series Gran Coupe online debut, the model will be presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2019 before a worldwide market launch begins in spring 2020.

  • Indonesia plans new electric car production, due 2022

    A senior official from Indonesia’s Industry Ministry has announced that the country aims to start production of electric vehicles in 2022, Reuters reports. At the same time, the country is pushing for EV development and battery production facilities to create a downstream industry for nickel laterite ore, for which it has in abundance.

    The raw material is used for production of lithium batteries. Companies such as Toyota and Hyundai have already expressed interest in building EV plants in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s second-largest car production hub. The Japanese automaker has committed to invest US$2 billion (RM8.24 billion) in Indonesia over the next five years, part of which will be used to produce EVs, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto told the press.

    “By 2022, production of electric-based vehicles should start,” said Harjanto, director general of metal, machinery, transportation and electronics at the Industry Ministry. He also said that the government has targeted EVs to reach a 20% share of national car production by 2025.

    As incentive, the government is offering tax holidays for companies producing EV batteries in Indonesia. “Recently there were a few battery companies which met the (industry) minister, but it is still an initial intention,” Harjanto said.

    “They see Indonesia has big potential to develop electric-based products due to the availability of raw material,” he added. Several companies are currently developing smelters with high pressure acid leach (HPAL) technology to produce battery chemicals in Indonesia, including China’s Tsingshan Group.

    Meanwhile, Harjanto also added that the government is in the midst of finalising the revision of a luxury car tax scheme to encourage the production of cars with lower carbon emissions.

  • Decision on Hafizh Syahrin’s MotoGP job next week?

    With the announcement Malaysian MotoGP racer Hafizh Syahrin, nicknamed “El Pescao”, would not have his ride contract with Red Bull KTM Tech3 Racing renewed for 2020, speculation has been rife amongst his huge local fanbase as to what his fate might be. Some have said a return to Moto2 would be on the cards while others have suggested a shift to another race series is more likely.

    However, Hafizh is currently the best Malaysia has at the top flight of two-wheeled motorsport and while he has his detractors who imply he got there more because of politics than ability, Malaysia does have the option of having Petronas SIC Racing competing in all three MotoGP classes.

    Hafizh’s future in motorcycle racing is currently in the limbo and an unnamed source close to the issue has told that a meeting will be held between Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq, Petronas SIC Racing team principal Datuk Razlan Razali and team sponsor Petronas.

    Despite having a bad year in MotoGP, Hafizh Syahrin is felt to have not been given enough development time with the KTM RC16, a fact borne out by the fortunes of Tech 3 team mate Johann Zarco this season. The question that should be asked is, if not Petronas, then who, but Petronas is currently having a good season in the middle standings and could see no reason to jeopardise its team development purely on the grounds of nationalism.

  • Goodyear Malaysia launches solar panel use for electricity at corporate office, production plant

    Goodyear Malaysia has launched its array of 6,680 solar panels as one of its largest sustainability initiatives, officiated by the minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change Yeo Bee Yin. The array of solar panels is to power the company’s corporate office and production plant in Shah Alam, as part of its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

    The solar panel system has the capacity to produce 2.5MW of electricity daily, and is connected to six low-voltage (LV) substations at Goodyear’s Shah Alam location. This will aid in Goodyear’s direct reduction of electricity costs and its dependence on the conventional power grid, while helping the company reduce carbon emissions by 1.98 million kg annually, estimated over 25 years.

    Each panel is made of 375W bifacial monocrystalline perc double glass solar modules, says Goodyear Malaysia. “As a leading tyre manufacturer globally, we are aware of the potential impact from our business operations on our environment, which is why we are embarking on multiple initiatives to protect our people, our consumers and the planet,” said director of Goodyear Asia Pacific manufacturing operations Ramon Le.

    The solar panels installed at the Shah Alam facility helps the company significantly reduce the amount of electricity used, Goodyear Malaysia said. The firm is still purchasing electricity from Tenaga Nasional, however Goodyear expects to have excess electricity that it will channel back into the grid once its solar electricity generation setup is fully optimised, Le said.

  • 2019 Nissan Leaf – buying vs leasing, which is better?

    You’ve read all the tech details of the second-generation Nissan Leaf, which was officially launched in Malaysia earlier today, so if you’re considering the all-electric hatchback, you’re already aware that Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) is offering two ways in which you can get one.

    The first is the conventional route, in which the car can be purchased, and there’s the alternative path, in which you can lease the Leaf via a car subscription plan. The question is, does the leasing plan make better financial sense, or should you opt for the traditional manner of going via the hire purchase channel?

    From a cost point of view, the conventional method of buying a car is straightforward and transparent – the fully-imported CBU Leaf is priced at RM188,888, on-the-road without insurance. As indicated in our launch report, the Leaf gets complete import tax exemption, and is only faced with 10% excise tax and SST.

    The Leaf comes with a three-year/100,000 km warranty and three-year/60,000 km free service maintenance, while the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery gets an eight-year/160,000 km warranty for peace of mind ownership.

    As for the car subscription plan, this is pretty much a “pay and use” format, but unlike a traditional hire purchase scheme, you’re merely renting the car for the duration and don’t end up owning it at the end of the cycle. For this, it’ll cost you RM3,500 a month to lease the EV, set on a three-year leasing contract. The monthly rate is the same for an individual or a company choosing to subcribe to the Leaf.

    As such, the monthly leasing rate adds up to RM42,000 a year, or RM126,000 for the tenure of the 36-month contract, which makes the option a more cost effective one when viewed in direct fashion. Of course, there’s no vehicle to offset funding for a new one, and you’ll have to start over again at the end of the three years.

    You can choose to buy the car at the then current market value based on negotiations made, and ETCM will help you to apply for a hire purchase scheme if you choose to do so. Or, you could opt to subscribe for another new Leaf – according to the company, there will likely be other EVs and new subscription options by that time.

    Do note that there’s a mileage cap with the subscription plan, with use being limited to 100,000 km of travel over the three-year contract period – there’s no specific mileage you’re allowed to use in a year, just that the total over 36 months can’t exceed the stipulated cap. Apparently, there’s a charge if you exceed 100,000 km of use, but the company hasn’t detailed how much that will be.

    A point to note is that the leasing plan has some other costs involved. A two-month security deposit is needed, as is a one-month advance payment, which means you’ll have to come up with RM10,500 to get the lease going. The deposit is refundable, so that doesn’t figure as additional cost in the final analysis.

    Also, the lessee will have to pay for the yearly road tax and insurance for the duration of the contract, much like a conventional HP plan. We were told by ETCM that the road tax for the Leaf is RM187 a year (there was no specific mention of this in our launch report, the pricing merely indicating OTR), and the insurance – which will have to go through ETCM – for the Leaf in the first year will cost above RM5,000. Again, while this is extra cost to note at point of entry for leasing, you’d also have to do the same for the HP route.

    Elsewhere, while the car comes with the aforementioned three-year/60,000 km free service maintenance, customers will have to pay for wear and tear replacement items such as tyres, wipers and brake pads, if these are needed over the period.

    As mentioned in the launch report, the Leaf comes with a single-phase 6.6 kW AC home wallbox charger as standard, and this applies to both purchase and leasing, with installation being free in either case. The process will require a technician to inspect the wiring on location to ensure suitability, and in the case of leasing, one should bear in mind that the wallbox will be removed once the contract is over and the lessee chooses not to extend with another EV subscription plan.

    It was announced that Leaf adoption will also come with an owners privilege programme thrown in at no extra cost, in which there is 23 days of complimentary usage a year of the X-Trail, Serena and Navara for other travelling needs, during the first three years of ownership.

    The company says that the courtesy programme is also included for the leasing plan, also for the same period. All that’s needed to secure the use of a complimentary vehicle is two weeks advance notice, which can be done online or by calling the customer service centre.

    So, which sounds like the more appealing route, and not just from a cost viewpoint – conventional hire purchase, or the subscription plan? Share your views in the comments section.

  • Berjaya denies Suzuki distributorship rumour – report

    Those excited by the prospect of the new Suzuki Jimny becoming a reality here might have to wait a bit longer, because Berjaya Corporation has come out to deny that its executive chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan will fly to Japan early next month to sign a distributorship agreement with Suzuki, The Sun reports.

    This follows a news report by the New Straits Times yesterday, which indicated that Berjaya had plans to reintroduce the Suzuki brand in Malaysia, with sources saying that an agreement would be inked with the Japanese automaker next month.

    “Berjaya Corp wishes to clarify that this statement is not true at all. The board of directors of Berjaya Corp is also not aware of and has not deliberated on the arrangement,” the company announced via a statement today.

    The brand was last represented in Malaysia by Suzuki Malaysia Automobile, with local assembly of the Swift hatchback being carried out by Hicom Automotive Manufacturers in Pekan, Pahang.

    In June 2015, Suzuki signed a memorandum of understanding and licence agreement with Proton and DRB-Hicom for the production of motor vehicles. Sales and assembly of Suzuki models in Malaysia were halted under a rationalisation plan, and in January 2016 it was announced that all 29 Suzuki dealerships in the country would be converted to Proton Edar outlets, ending the brand’s official sales presence in the country.

    The collaboration was to have allowed Proton access to Suzuki’s models, platforms, powertrain and automotive technology, with the Japanese carmaker providing specific technical assistance for the selected products and scope, but the union resulted only in the Proton Ertiga being introduced for the Malaysian market. The MPV, which is based on the Suzuki Ertiga, was last seen in Ertiga Xtra form.

  • C8 Chevy Corvette: RHD model confirmed for Australia

    More news on the C8 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. During its unveiling, Chevy announced that the new mid-engined sports car will be available in right-hand drive format for the first time, allowing it to be introduced in markets such as the UK, Japan, and Australia.

    Well, it appears that Holden’s chairman and managing director, Dave Buttner, declared: “The news that Corvette will now be built in right-hand-drive for the first time ever – and will be exported to Australia – is hugely exciting for our team at Holden and any Australian who loves high performance cars.”

    General Motors has yet to confirm other RHD markets for the Corvette, though one can expect the UK and Japan to be among the earliest to receive it. To recap, the C8 gets a mid-mounted, naturally-aspirated LT2 6.2 litre V8 that produces 495 hp at 6,450 rpm and 637 Nm of torque at 5,150 rpm, making it the most powerful base Corvette ever.

    It’s also the fastest, going from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in under three seconds when fitted with the Z51 Performance Package. Unfortunately, the previous seven-speed manual will no longer be offered, replaced instead by an eight-speed dual clutch transmission developed by Tremec.

    Features comprise of LED headlights with daytime running lights, huge mixed wheels (19-inch up front, 20-inch behind) shod with Michelin Pilot Sport all-season rubbers, LED tail lights, customisable 12-inch digital instrument display and a squared-off two-spoke steering wheel.

    Items that are fitted as standard include eBoost electro-hydraulic brake booster and a nose lift system, electronic limited-slip differential, version 4.0 of the optional Magnetic Ride Control dampers. Those wanting more can opt for the Z51 package which adds on a number of performance-enhancing features, such as the two-piece rear spoiler that produces up to 180 kg of downforce.

  • China’s BAIC Group acquires 5% stake in Daimler AG

    Daimler AG has officially announced that China’s BAIC Group now owns an equity interest of approximately 5% in the German company, further cementing the partnership between both companies that has existed since 2003.

    “We are very pleased that our long-standing partner BAIC is now a long-term investor in Daimler,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

    “This step reinforces our successful partnership and is a signal of trust in the strategy and future potential of our company. The Chinese market is and remains a crucial pillar of our success – not only for sales, but also for our product development and production,” he added.

    Over the years, the two companies have cooperated in the production, research and development, and the sale of passenger cars, vans and trucks. Daimler currently holds a 9.55% stake in BAIC since it first invested in the company in 2013, as well as a 3.01% interest in BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology.

    Even with the investment, BAIC is not the largest shareholder in Daimler, as that honour goes to Zhejiang Geely Holding founder Li Shufu, who has a 9.69% stake.


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Last Updated 20 Jul 2019


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