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  • Autonomous vehicle test bed planned for 2019 – MARii

    The Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) has provided some details about its autonomous vehicle test bed (AVTB) initiative, which is one of the technology access points it plans to develop in 2019.

    At the institute’s 2018 overview briefing session with the media today, Datuk Madani Sahari, CEO of MARii, explained the plan is to test various technologies relating to autonomous vehicles to assess its compatibility with the infrastructure and environment in Malaysia.

    “We will be testing all these technologies in these autonomous vehicles to ensure that they are safe and reliable according to local conditions in Malaysia,” he said.

    Madani added that MARii will work with other ministries and agencies such as Futurise, GreenTech, the road transport department (JPJ) and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) to set up a test bed in Cyberjaya.

    The institute is aiming to kick off the test bed in two stages this year, with the first half of 2019 comprising of planning, while the second half is when the testing phase begins. “We have visited similar autonomous test-bed facilities elsewhere, including Singapore, Europe and Japan,” Madani said.

    Autonomous vehicles is one aspect that will be incorporated into the upcoming review of the National Automotive Policy (NAP), with the other being electric vehicles. As reported in November last year, the new NAP was supposed to be revealed at the end of 2018, but that is only set to be revealed this year.

  • Malaysia automotive industry overview for 2018 – export is strongest growth performer, says MARii

    The Malaysian automotive sector continued to be a significant contributor to the economy last year, contributing 4.2% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Overall growth continued, and although the total industry volume (TIV) for the year surpassed that of 2017, other areas showed greater growtth potential, according to the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).

    At its 2018 overview presentation earlier today, MARii CEO Datuk Madani Sahari revealed relevant numbers for the sector in 2018 as well as the outlook for 2019. He said that parts and components exports hit a historic high of RM12.1 billion in 2018, significantly up from the RM4.7 billion recorded in 2014.

    Although the TIV and total production volume (TPV) increased to 603,664 units and 572,471 units respectively last year, the ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) agency said that the industry should be looking outwards and reducing its primary dependence on the domestic market, saying that this was small in the overall scheme of things. The motorisation rate, it added, was already at 348.6 to 1,000 people in 2017.

    Click to enlarge.

    This year, both TIV and TPV is expected to grow by less than one percent, the projection being 605,898 units (0.37% gain) for TIV and 575,603 units (0.55% gain) for TPV. The contribution from parts and components is expected to climb to RM13.03 billion (a 7.69% increase) this year.

    He added that remanufactured parts and components, which climbed to RM523.1 million in 2018, was a largely unexplored market with tremendous business potential. This is projected to improve to RM700 million in 2019.

    Other key highlights included CBU vehicle exports, which rebounded from its decline in 2017 and breached the RM2 billion mark for the first time (RM2.08 billion) last year. This is expected to grow to RM2.5 billion this year. The institute believes that exports, including that of remanufacturing, will provide the best avenue of growtth in 2019 and into the future.

    Last year, a total of 64,839 jobs were created in manufacturing and after-sales, although the forecast for this year will see a slightly lower number (59,942). Elsewhere, Madani said that the penetration rate for energy efficient vehicles (EEV) was 62% last year, and this is expected to increase to 70% in 2019.

    The agency also shared an overview of upcoming projects and developments expected in the coming year. Among them is the establishment of lithium-ion battery manufacturing, not just for the automotive market – the project, when it takes flight, will make the country the first in the region to produce lithium-ion cells, and the aim is to make Malaysia the regional production hub for this.

    Also expected to be set up this year is an autonomous vehicle test-bed (AVTB) initiative as well as an EV interoperability centre (EVIC) and a biodiesel application research centre, the latter working towards establishing eventual adoption of B15 and B20 biodiesel in the country.

    Research on a host of identified national roadmaps is also on the cards, on topics such as remanufacturing, mobility technology and after-sales service. Plans are also afoot to open new MARii satellite facilities, or centres of competency, across the country, these being in Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, UiTM Shah Alam, UPM Serdang, UKM Bangi and UCTS Sibu.

    Also present at the event was Ong Kian Ming, the deputy minister of international trade and industry. “The key figures presented today are a clear signal that the automotive industry intends to lead Malaysia’s drive towards emerging as a serious contender in the regional and global markets,” he said in his speech.

    He added that the entire ecosystem must further transform to meet changing demands for future automotive products and services.

  • Bermaz introduces new five-year/100,000 km free maintenance package for Mazda models except BT-50

    Bermaz Motor has announced that new Mazda vehicles registered from January 1, 2019 will be offered with a five-year/100,000 km free maintenance package, which is an improvement from the previous three-year package. Keep in mind that the BT-50 pick-up truck is excluded from this package.

    As before, the free maintenance offered to Mazda vehicles is inclusive of labour, parts and lubricants in accordance with the vehicle’s scheduled maintenance.

    The term of the new free maintenance package now matches the factory warranty that accompanies each Mazda vehicle except the BT-50, which is set a five years or 100,000 km (whichever comes first) since February 2017.

    Customers can also enjoy value-added aftersales services such as 24-hour Mazda Roadside Assistance, Mazda Mobile Service and the Mazda Privilege Card.

  • Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi product cooperation continues despite Ghosn’s alleged financial crimes

    While Carlos Ghosn’s criminal prosecution in Japan may have created tensions inside the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, it is apparently not slowing down the three automakers’ plans to bring their vehicle platforms closer together, Philippe Klein told Automotive News.

    Klein, Nissan’s head of global planning, said “I am going to be damn clear. What is taking place is not changing, is not challenging, is not questioning [the alliance]. There is frankly no willingness to change that” in response to whether Ghosn’s legal trouble is causing a reconsideration of shared platforms.

    Klein explained that the three firms recently met to develop a new level of shared product development activity, which extends to a range of global vehicles. Of the Nissan vehicles expected to hit the market over the next five years, “all but one will be heavily sharing platforms and components” with alliance partners, said Klein, adding that “we are not changing our product planning process at all.”

    Weaving together the product development efforts of the alliance had been a passionate mission for Ghosn in recent years. The alliance has already announced plans to share global platforms across a large number of vehicle segments.

    All was well, until Ghosn was arrested on November 19 on charges of complex financial misconducts. He was quickly removed as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi, but remains as CEO of Renault – his duties are currently being handled by other senior executives.

    Klein declined to discuss Ghosn’s situation during an interview at the Detroit Auto Show, but reacted strongly to the question on whether Ghosn’s departure might cause Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi to drift away from their alliance efforts. “There is a lot of things moving, and it’s going to require readjustment,” Klein said of the crisis. “But, we are going to manage to go through that.”

    Disrupting the alliance might not be an option, because its network of manufacturing, sourcing and product planning are deeply intertwined. In fact, cooperation between the three automakers is critical to tackling current industry challenges, especially relating to tightening environmental regulations, powertrain transitions, development of autonomous driving tech and emergence of new transportation models.

    The automakers are stitched together in a complex web of cross-shareholdings. Renault holds a 43% controlling stake in Nissan. Nissan, the bigger, more profitable partner, owns just 15% of Renault and has no voting rights. Nissan also has a controlling, 34% stake in Mitsubishi.

  • 2019 CFMoto 250 NK now in Malaysia – RM12,800 for standard, RM13,800 for NK SE with ABS and TFT-LCD

    Malaysia’s quarter-litre motorcycle class sees the introduction of the 2019 CFMoto 250 NK which comes in two versions – the standard model at RM12,800 and the 250 NK SE with is priced at RM13,800 and adds ABS and a TFT-LCD screen. All prices exclude road tax, registration and insurance with styling for the 250 NK done by Kiska Design.

    Powered by a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine displacing 250 cc, the 250 NK puts out 22 Nm of torque at 7,500 rpm and while no power figures were provided, a figure of 20 hp would not be out of the question. Fed by EFI, the 250 NK gets power to the ground via a six-speed gearbox and chain final drive with electric starting.

    A steel tube trellis frame ties everything together, with non-adjustable upside-down forks in front and a pre-load adjustable monoshock in the rear. Rolling on 17-inch wheels with 110/70 and 140/60 tyres front and rear respectively, the 250 NK uses single brake discs on each wheel for stopping, with a two-piston hydraulic calliper on the front and two-channel ABS for the SE model.

    Also differentiating the 250 NK SE is a colour TFT-LCD screen inside the cockpit, switchable between two displays while the base model gets a monochrome LCD screen. LED lighting is found throughout the 250 NK, along with LED daytime running lights.

    Wheelbase is 1,360 mm between wheel hubs, making the 250 NK a fairly compact motorcycle and seat height is a rider friendly 795 mm. Fuel carried in a 12.5-litre tank and the 250 NK weighs in at 151 kg.

    There are two colour options for the 2019 CFMoto 250 NK – Electro Silver and Nebula Black and availability at authorised CFMoto dealers is from January for the standard model, while the 250 NK SE ABS will be in dealer showrooms in February. Every 250 NK comes with a two-year or 20,000 km manufacturing warranty while the engine is covered under a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

    GALLERY: 2019 CFMoto 250 NK SE ABS

    GALLERY: 2019 CFMoto 250 NK standard

  • Jan 2019 week three fuel price – petrol and diesel up

    It’s Friday, which means another weekly fuel price update. No cheer this coming week though, as prices of both petrol and diesel have gone up compared to last week.

    From tomorrow, January 19, RON 95 will be priced at RM1.98 per litre (up six sen from the RM1.92 from last week). It’s the same amount of increase for RON 97, which will go for RM2.28 per litre (up six sen from RM2.22) the whole of next week.

    As for Euro 2M diesel, it will be priced at RM2.17 per litre (up 12 sen from RM2.05). This means that Euro 5 diesel, which is always 10 sen more than standard diesel, will be priced at RM2.27 per litre.

    The government said that the increase in retail price at the pump was unavoidable, due to the global price increase in the refined product compared to the previous week – in the case of RON 95, this increased from US$60 (RM247) per barrel to US$63 (RM259), while that for RON 97 was hiked from US$68 (RM280) to US$72 (RM296) per barrel.

    These prices will be in effect until January 25, when the next set of fuel price adjustments will be announced. This is the third week of the weekly fuel price format, which is set to be announced every Friday. The prices will be effective from Saturday until the following Friday.

  • Malaysia set to manufacture 18650 cells, aiming to become regional hub for lithium-ion battery production

    Malaysia is set to venture into the production of lithium-ion batteries, with plans to manufacture 18650 cells in the coming future. According to Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) CEO Datuk Madani Sahari, battery development forms part of the technology growth slated for the industry in 2019.

    A feasibility study is currently being conducted in the country together with a local listed company, which is set to manufacture these cells. The study is expected to be concluded in three months, he said at a press briefing earlier today.

    The eventual plan is for the country to become the regional hub for the production of lithium-ion batteries, and production will not just be limited for automotive applications, Madani said.

    “The whole idea of making Malaysia the regional production hub for lithium-ion batteries is because of the importance of it (the battery). Not just for electric cars, buses but as a form or electric storage. As you know we have a lot of sunlight and this can be harnessed as a form of energy. However, there is no form of storage,” he said.

    “Lead-acid units are not a good energy retention medium, but lithium-ion is, so this project contains a two-prong strategy. One is to provide lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and the other, for the purpose of establishing energy storage systems,” he said.

    Madani said that these energy storage systems can be used in rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak that are off the electric utility grid, where traditional cabling involves long distances and would be too expensive. In these cases, solar power and battery storage would be able to provide electricity to rural folk on a 24-hour basis.

    He indicated that the project is expected to kick-off this year, but the line set-up to produce the 18650 cell – as seen in some Tesla battery configurations – will take another 12 months to complete, to accommodate cathode production for the cell.

    “Malaysia already has an electrolyte supplier, and the anode can be gotten off the shelf, but to build the cell, the facility needs to be able to handle cathode production. so in order to manage this the line has to be set-up,” he explained, adding that once this is done then development will progress to cell production and eventually to module assembly, with different layouts for automotive and non-automotive applications.

    Madani said that the plant location is still being decided on, with Negeri Sembilan and Selangor being considered as a possible location to house the facility, but unlike the past where similar plans were envisioned, things are expected to move in rapid fashion in this case, given that the country is eyeing regional dominance in this area.

    “If we start things off this year, Malaysia will be the first country in the region to produce lithium-ion battery cells. Thailand has assembly, yes, but we want to produce the cells, because the technology is in the cells,” he said, adding that the long-term aim is to look at technological autonomy.

    “There are not enough batteries in the world, what more for Malaysia. And when automotive OEMs start production of their full EVs or hybrids (or even buses) there will be more than enough demand, so there’s really a big market. This project will be a key enabler to grow electric mobility in the country. After all, the battery is the core and heart of an electric vehicle,” Madani said.

  • Carlos Ghosn received 7.82 million euros in improper payments based on Nissan-Mitsubishi investigation

    Nissan and Mitsubishi have announced the results from their joint investigation into the (alleged) misconduct carried out by Carlos Ghosn, who is the former chairman of both companies. Ghosn was arrested back in November 2018 on suspected financial law breach for under-reporting of his corporate salary.

    According to an official release, it was revealed that Ghosn received improper payments from Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V. (NMBV), a joint venture company established by Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors in June 2017.

    The Netherlands-based company’s role is to explore and promote synergies within the Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors partnership, and Ghosn was named the director of the company.

    Under his contract with NMBV, Ghosn received a total of 7,822,206.12 euros (RM36,656,920), including tax, in compensation. It is stated that Ghosn entered the contract without first discussing with other board members, namely Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko.

    This is despite a clear requirement that any decisions regarding director compensation and employment contracts specifying compensation must be approved by NMBV’s board of directors. Saikawa and Masuko reportedly not receive any compensation or other payments from NMBV.

    Aside from the above-mentioned discovery, the investigation also confirmed that Ghosn, former representative director Greg Kelly and others began to explore the possibility of paying undisclosed compensation to Ghosn through an equally-owned Netherlands-based unconsolidated joint venture between the companies.

    This was soon after the announcement in 2016 that Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors would forge a strategic alliance. Nissan says it views the payments Ghosn received from NMBV was a result of the misconduct, and is looking at measures to recover the sum in full.

  • Lotus cars could be made in China at new Geely plant

    It appears that Geely is planning to start producing Lotus cars in China for the first time, with the opening of a new 9 billion yuan (RM5.47 billion) factory in Wuhan city. According to Reuters, the info was revealed through company job advertisements and government documents.

    The move is in line with Geely’s ambitions to build more premium cars, which will help shake off its reputation for copycat designs and shoddy quality, the report states. For Lotus however, this could mean increased production volumes, as well as new models such as SUVs to boost sales.

    Shanghai based analyst at LMC Automotive, Alan Kang said “for Geely, going high-end can help it take more market share. Geely needs to do that to better compete with global brands.” Currently, Lotus cars are all built in Norfolk, England.

    In a joint statement, Geely and Lotus said while Norfolk was Lotus’ manufacturing home, a key part of the firm’s strategy to revive its brand was to expand its manufacturing footprint globally. “Details on additional locations and models will be confirmed in due course,” the company said in an e-mail to Reuters.

    Lotus is rumoured to be working on Project Omega – an electric hypercar that will cost RM10 million each

    Just recently, the planning authority of Hubei province (capital is Wuhan) approved of Geely’s plans for the plant – the factory will reportedly be able to manufacture 150,000 cars annually, according to a document posted on the authority’s website.

    The Wuhan Development Zone, where the factory will be based, said in a statement posted on its website last month that production at the plant would include “Geely’s Lotus project.” It’s been approved to build all-electric cars, electric hybrids and combustion engine cars like Lotuses. The documents however, did not say when the plant would begin operations.

    Job advertisements on Geely’s website show that the automaker is looking to fill at least 20 Wuhan-based roles for the Lotus project. Whether or not the plant will build Lotus’ existing range of sports cars remains unknown, and word is Geely wants to develop a luxury Lotus SUV to rival the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, which sells well in China.

  • Geely FY11 – more photos of CMA-based coupe SUV

    Geely Auto has released more official photos of its upcoming coupe SUV, codenamed the FY11, which will be the first to be based on the Compact Modular Architecture that was jointly developed with Volvo. The CMA is also used for the Volvo XC40 and vehicles from Geely’s Lynk & Co sub-brand.

    According to the Chinese carmaker, a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine rated at 235 hp and 350 Nm of torque will power the FY11, with front- and all-wheel drive configurations being made available.

    These new images give us a better look at the SUV, which bears similarities to the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and BMW X4 with its fastback shape. The vehicle’s stance is a result of its wide profile matched with muscular shoulder lines.

    At the front, you’ll find a slimmer version of Geely’s expanding cosmos grille, which also features a chrome strip at its base to link the “arrow-inspired” headlamps. Other details include a wide lower intake and prominent contour lines on the bonnet.

    The rear of the FY11 features slim taillights with a lighting signature that draws inspiration from the Chinese fan, a styling element also found on the Borui GE. Like the front, a chrome strip links the two clusters, with Geely script.

    While Geely has yet to release official dimensions of the FY11, reports indicate the SUV will measure 4,605 mm long, 1,878 mm wide and 1,643 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,700 mm.


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Last Updated 19 Jan 2019


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