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  • Honda Malaysia achieves 100,000 unit sales mark – BR-V is now No 1-selling MPV/utility vehicle in country

    At today’s 600,000-unit production milestone event at its Pegoh plant, Honda Malaysia also announced that despite the challenging market situation over the past year, it had surpassed the 100,000 unit sales mark in a current financial year (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017).

    The final numbers will only be revealed once March comes to an end (which is tomorrow), but the current impression already eclipses the 2016 financial year sales figure of 91,533 units. The company added the 100k unit achievement will mark a successful and strong first quarter in 2017 for it.

    Meanwhile, the new Honda BR-V – which was introduced here in January – is going great guns. In the first month, it received 4,000 bookings, and by February, it was reported that it had reached the 7,000 mark.

    Earlier this month, this had swelled to 8,500 units. Today, the company revealed that the seven-seat offering with MPV functionality and SUV styling has achieved almost 10,000 bookings and more than 5,200 registrations since its launch.

    The numbers are good enough to propel it into becoming the country’s best-selling vehicle in the MPV and utility segment. At today’s event, Noriaki Abe, Honda Motor’s COO of regional operations (Asia & Oceania) and president/CEO of Asian Honda Motor, revealed that the BR-V had taken the No. 1 spot in the segment for February 2017, outselling national offerings such as the Perodua Alza. No official numbers were however divulged.

    The company also revealed new booking figures for the City facelift, which was launched earlier this month. In the first 10 days of it going on sale, bookings had reached the 2,000 unit mark, and as of today, it reported that number has risen to 3,000 units, 50% more than its monthly target.

    Abe also commended Honda Malaysia for its number one spot in the non-national segment and being number two in the overall TIV list, and made special mention of the company’s market share performance from a global perspective.

    For the first two months of 2017, Honda Malaysia was ranked first among all Honda automobile operations worldwide in terms of having the highest market share. It had a 19.2% market share in the country in January, and 18.1% in February. Last year, it was second in the automaker’s global automobile operation network in terms of market share ranking.

  • G01 BMW X3 to be unveiled in June, with M40i variant

    The next-generation G01 BMW X3 is set to be unveiled in around two months time in June, if a report by BMWBlog is to be believed. According to the website, the new compact SUV is set to go on sale in the United States in October, which points to a world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

    As with many new BMW models, the G01 will move to the rear-biased Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform, offering greater interior space and a more practical and comfortable seating system. Despite this, the use of lightweight materials is expected to net a 100 kg weight saving over the current F25 generation.

    In terms of engines, the G01 should make use of the usual 2.0 litre four-cylinder and 3.0 litre straight-six turbo petrol and diesel engines. An uprated version of the petrol six-cylinder mill will power an M40i variant, with output expected to be closer to 400 hp, rather than the 360 hp of the X4 M40i. A full-fat X3 M is expected to follow, using the M4’s twin-turbo six to produce around 500 hp.

  • UMW Toyota expands Takata airbag recall – 42k units of 2010-2012 Corolla, Vios, Yaris and Alphard affected

    Local Toyota distributor UMW Toyota Motor has announced that its recall of Takata airbags has been expanded, this time concerning the front passenger airbag. In total, around 42,000 units of the Corolla Altis, Vios, Yaris and Alphard, manufactured between May 2010 and December 2012, have been affected.

    As before, the problem is caused by a defective airbag inflator, which contains a non-desiccated, phase-stabilised ammonium nitrate propellant that degrades after prolonged exposure to high absolute humidity, temperatures and cycling between low and high temperatures.

    As such, the inflator module could rupture when the airbag is deployed, causing metal fragments to pass through the airbag and into the cabin at high speed, potentially resulting in serious injury or death. The Toyota Motor Corporation is currently obtaining the necessary components for the recall, and UMW Toyota will notify owners to bring their cars to authorised dealers once the parts are available.

    Replacing the airbag will take between one and three hours, and all costs will be borne by UMW Toyota. The company has also escalated efforts to notify owners about the recall, and as it is aware that some owners may not be contactable after the vehicles have changed hands, it urges owners involved in the recall to contact any authorised service centre, or call Toyota’s Freephone hotline at 1800-88-69682.

    Owners will also be able to check if their car is involved by visiting Toyota’s Special Service Campaign website, using a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) checker. The Toyota Drive smartphone app will also have a link to the site and the checker.

    The company is also setting up a booth, which will be able to conduct airbag replacements, at its Toyota Go 2017 events in April and May. The events will be held at various shopping malls, including selected AEON Mall outlets across Malaysia.

  • Honda Malaysia hits 600,000-unit production milestone

    Earlier today, Honda Malaysia announced that its local assembly operations had reached a historical milestone with the production of its 600,000th unit at its Pegoh plant in Alor Gajah, Malacca.

    The milestone was celebrated at an event in the plant, which began operations in January 2003 with the assembly of CR-V, City, Civic and Accord models on its No.1 Line. Production capacity of the plant was 50,000 units a year, and in the first 11 years of operation, production at Pegoh amounted to 300,000 units.

    The introduction of a second line in Oct 2013 – which was officially commissioned in January 2014 – doubled output, and the move to a two-shift production later that year further spurred the jump in the build numbers, according to Honda Malaysia MD and CEO Katsuto Hayashi.

    “We achieved 300,000 production units in just three years as compared to 11 years taken earlier to reach the first 300,000 units,” he said. The 600,000th vehicle that rolled out of the No.2 Line was a facelifted City model.

    Today, both assembly lines have a combined production capacity of 100,000 units per annum, and produce seven models (Accord, City, Civic, CR-V, Jazz, HR-V and BR-V) for the local market. Line one builds the new Civic, Accord and CR-V as well as the City, which is also assembled at the second line alongside the Jazz, HR-V and BR-V.

    The automaker said that the Pegoh complex – which sits on 748,668 sq ft of land area and has a built-up area of 128,837 sq ft – has a flexible production capacity that can produce multiple models at the same time, enabling the company to meet market demands and limit the waiting period for customers when there is a surge in bookings for certain models.

    For example, it said the waiting period for the BR-V is only one to two months long despite there being nearly close to 10,000 bookings so far for the SUV, which is 12 times of its monthly sales target. It added that the waiting period for all Honda models is now just one to two months on average.

    Some of the latest technologies applied at Pegoh – which has a staff count of 3,262 personnel as of January 2017 – include an automated smart general welding machine for improved body frame production as well as an international standard painting facility comprising wall-mounted spray robots, which help ensure better spray pattern control, a more precise coating thickness and inproved paint consumption.

    The facility also has a custom-built 2.1 km-long test course that puts every vehicle that comes out of the production line through a road test to ensure they meet the necessary quality and defined standards.

    Built over six months in 2012 at a cost of RM7.1 milion, the small test track benchmarks Malaysian roads and features seven types of surfaces (hump, wavy, up/down, cobble stone, Belgian, pothole and slippery roads) and trials acceleration, braking and transmission-related aspects during vehicle testing. Every dynamic verification takes around seven minutes to complete.

    Aside from the production facilities, Pegoh has three pre-delivery inspection yards, which handles inspection and car preparation as well as storage and delivery aspectes. The first, completed in June 2012, has a 2,500 unit capacity, while the second, completed in Nov 2013, is able to accomodate 1,350 units. The newest, Yard 3, which came into service in August 2015, is also the biggest, and can handle 8,690 units.

    Also present at the event today were Seiji Kuraishi, the executive vice president, executive officer and representative director of Honda Motor and Noriaki Abe, COO of regional operations (Asia & Oceania), Honda Motor. Abe also holds the office of president and CEO of Asian Honda Motor.

  • Bangkok 2017: Honda shows 150 SS Racer concept

    In Thailand, the Honda MSX 125 mini-moto – known as the Grom in some markets – has proven popular with the younger set, especially the ladies. The land of smiles being what it is, this means a plethora of mods and customs abound on Bangkok city streets.

    For the 2017 Bangkok motor show, Honda Motorcycles Thailand showed the Honda 150 SS Racer, a mini-moto with big wheels based on an engine taken from the CBR150R. It’s hard to tell from this futuristic build, and no information was forthcoming if it was a concept motorcycle, or something destined for production.

    Taking a closer look at it, though, we feel this is more of a concept study. The sculpted fuel tank is somewhat reminiscent of the MSX 125’s unit, and the LCD instrument panel certainly looks if it come from the MSX.

    Fitted with Metzeler Racetec racing slicks mounted on solid-disc wheels with a carbon-fibre skin, the 150 SS Racer looks like it would fit in well on a movie set, perhaps like “Ghost in the Shell” which featured another Honda machine, the NM4 Vultus. Anodised blue accents litter the Honda 150 SS Racer, along with lots of shiny alloy, to complete that sci-fi style.

    A huge megaphone silencer graces the underside of the bike, and the chopped rear end brings to mind the abbreviated butt of the Kenstomoto MechaStallion. What appears to be a rear view camera tops of the rear seat cowl, and a front-facing cam mounted in the instrument panel cowl, with perhaps the feed being displayed on the LCD panel.

  • Kia Stinger official 0-100 km/h time revealed – 4.9 sec

    The Kia Stinger makes its Asian premiere at the 2017 Seoul Motor Show today, with the Korean carmaker divulging an important piece of info about its stunning, four-door gran turismo machine – its 0-100 km/h time.

    During its global debut at the start of 2017, Kia targeted a 0-100 km/h time of just 5.1 seconds for the Stinger. However, Kia has revealed that the Stinger will actually complete the century sprint in just 4.9 seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating car the company has ever produced. To put that into perspective, a BMW M3 accomplishes the same feat in 4.1 seconds.

    Of course, this level of performance is only available on Stinger variants fitted with the 3.3 litre Lambda II twin-turbo V6 engine. The mill churns out 365 hp at 6,000 rpm and 510 Nm from 1,300 to 4,500 rpm, which also makes the Stinger the most powerful Kia ever.

    A less powerful version of the Stinger comes with a smaller 2.0 litre turbocharged Theta engine with 255 PS at 6,200 rpm and 353 Nm from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm. European models will be offered with a 2.2 litre turbodiesel, and the Stinger will be available with a choice of rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, the former being a first for a Kia sedan.

    Excited? Well, we were told by Naza Kia Malaysia chief operating officer Datuk Samson Anand George back in February that he is “confident” that the company will be able to bring in the Kia Stinger soon. Company head Nazman S.H.C Yusof also echoed the same notion, although he added that it will have to depend on the demand and legibility.

    GALLERY: Kia Stinger at the 2017 Seoul Motor Show

    GALLERY: Kia Stinger at the 2017 Australian Open

  • Mitsubishi could sell rebadged Renault models in SEA

    According to a report by Automotive News, Mitsubishi could rebadge and sell models from fellow Alliance partner Renault in Southeast Asia. Trevor Mann, CEO of Mitsubishi, said this is one way to create synergies between the Alliance and its newest member.

    “Renault is almost non-existent in Southeast Asia. If it made sense for Mitsubishi to cross badge a Renault product in Southeast Asia that could be an interesting discussion,” he said.

    This isn’t the first time such a move has been suggested either. Back in 2013, Mitsubishi and the then Renault-Nissan Alliance announced a joint intention to explore several projects involving shared products, technology and manufacturing capacity. Mitsubishi and Nissan are also part of a joint venture company (NMKV), which handles product planning and engineering for Kei cars for the Japanese domestic market (JDM).

    Compared to Nissan, Mitsubishi has a stronger presence in the region, with three factories in Thailand having produced more than three million vehicles. By pooling its resources together (either by rebadging or sharing technologies), Mitsubishi could assist its partners such as Nissan and Renault to increase its market share and profits.

    It was reported earlier that Mitsubishi and Nissan are currently considering a joint development of pick-up trucks, where Mitsubishi will prepare the platforms rather than Nissan. “If you look at our cost performance in that region, we are the benchmark within the alliance. Our cost-base on pickups is better than Nissan’s,” Mann explained.

  • Ford recalls Kuga, Fiesta ST over 1.6 EcoBoost fire risk – US, South Africa, Australia affected so far

    Ford has issued a safety recall for models equipped with the 1.6 litre EcoBoost engine over a risk of under-the-bonnet fires, affecting 230,756 units of the 2014 Escape (known as the Kuga over here), 2014-2015 Fiesta ST, 2013-2014 Fusion (Mondeo) and 2013-2015 Transit Connect in North America.

    The problem centres around a lack of coolant circulation, which could cause the engine to overheat. This can result in a cracked cylinder head, causing a pressurised oil leak – if the oil comes into contact with a hot engine surface, it increases the risk of a fire in the engine compartment.

    So far, the issue has resulted in 29 reports of fire in the United States and Canada. Owners are still allowed to drive their vehicles, but are advised to see their dealer if the vehicle has a coolant leak, is overheating or needs to be topped up with coolant frequently.

    They will also receive instructions from the owner’s manual in the mail, on how to check and refill coolant. Once service kits are available, dealers will install a coolant level sensor with supporting hardware and software changes, free of charge.

    Over in Australia, the company is also recalling 4,450 units of the 2013-2014 Kuga as well as 400 units of the Fiesta ST over the same issue, according to CarAdvice. Ford Australia’s communication head Martin Günsberg told the publication that there have been seven reports of fire associated with the issue, although no injuries have been reported so far.

    The American and Australian recalls come some two months after Ford South Africa recalled 4,500 units of the Kuga, again over a fire risk due to a lack of coolant circulation. Seeing as South African and Australian-market Kuga models come from the same Valencia plant in Spain as ours, we could see a recall being announced in Malaysia as well. Local distributor Sime Darby AutoConnexion is now investigating the matter to see if Malaysian-market models are affected.

  • Toyota Hilux Tonka Concept – king of the sandpit

    Toyota is giving adults a chance to relive their favourite childhood memories with a new concept based on the Hilux pick-up truck. Dubbed the Hilux Tonka Concept, the carmaker describes it as “a full-size dream toy for adults” that embodies the toughness and durability found in Toyota and toymaker, Tonka’s DNAs.

    Developed and built by 150-strong team from Toyota Australia’s product planning and development division, the brightly coloured off-roader also celebrates the global anniversaries for both Toyota (80th) and Tonka (70th) this year.

    Based on the range-topping Hilux SR5 sold in Australia, the concept is powered by a 2.8 litre turbodiesel engine with 174 hp and 420 Nm of torque. It also gets plenty of modifications to create the “go anywhere” look, beginning with an increase in ride height of 150 mm, which is combined with a high-riding axle, heavy-duty suspension and 35-inch diameter tyres.

    Styling enhancements include a new front bar while the bonnet is fitted with a carbon-fibre skin, an aggressive “power bulge” and air scoops. To pierce through the darkness, the concept gets LED lighting in the front bar as well as the roof pod.

    To ensure vital components remain protected, a 6 mm-thick alloy bash plate is installed, and there are tubular side rails for body and chassis protection. The list of changes continue in the back, where a new tailgate (wrapped in carbon-fibre) is now released with a strap instead of a handle. It is joined by an integrated spoiler and two air vents for better airflow.

    Lower the tailgate, and in the flatbed, a removable tubular frame keeps all essential gear in place, including diesel fuel cans and storage boxes that contain recovery gear needed for extreme off-road driving. You’ll also find a fire extinguisher, axe, shovel and high-lift jack fitted to the back as well.

    Unfortunately, the concept is not destined to make it to dealer showrooms, which is a bummer If you want to relive those memories of playing with Tonka toys in the sandpit as an adult.

  • Skoda Vision E concept set to debut at Shanghai show

    Skoda is marking its push for electric mobility with the Vision E concept, which will debut at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show later in April. These sketches released by the carmaker show us a five-door SUV that exhibits a coupe-like design.

    The electric concept features short overhangs, which is said to benefit interior space, and the lack of a traditional front grille, another highlight of its zero emissions nature. Dimension wise, the SUV measures 4,645 mm long, 1,917 mm wide, 1,550 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,850 mm.

    Propulsion comes in the form of a pair of electric motors, one for each axle, which provides a total system output of 225 kW (302 hp). Skoda is quoting a top speed of 180 km/h, and a range of up to 500 km thanks to the SUV’s lithium-ion batteries and energy recuperation system.

    Skoda’s electrification of its model range will begin by as early as 2019, with the launch of a plug-in hybrid version of the Superb. This will be followed by its first battery electric vehicle in 2020, and by 2025, Skoda aims to have five electric vehicles in various segments.

    That’s not all, as the Vision E is said to achieve the prerequisites for level 3 autonomous driving. This means it can drive independently in traffic jams, go into autopilot on motorways, stay in lane and swerve, carry out overtaking manoeuvres, independently search for free parking spaces and park and leave parking spaces on its own.


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