On Wednesday, German luxury car-maker BMW launched the company’s first plug-in hybrid in India. The BMW i8 which has been priced at Rs. 2.29 crore, is the first high performance plug-in hybrid from the ‘i’ department of BMW.
Th concept of the BMW i8 was showcased at the Auto Expo four years ago in India, and this is the first plug-in hybrid to be launched in India. The car is already available at the company’s showrooms across Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.
During the launch, BMW India President Philipp von Sahr said that the car, which made its first appearance in the New Delhi Auto Expo four years ago, was part of the Project ‘i’ of the company which was initiated back in 2007 for developing vehicles with emphasis on sustainable mobility solutions, and that this iconic change was inevitable. He also said that India has been at a nascent stage for electric and hybrid cars.
The intelligent plug-in hybrid system of the i8 combines the benefits from the electric motor and the petrol engine. The electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery that produce 96kW or 131 hp of power. The petrol engine is the BMW TwinPower 1.5 liter three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 231 hp or 170 kW or peak power. The electric motor is mounted on the front axle while the rear axle houses the petrol engine. Together, the combined power of the two engines exceeds 362 hp and gives the car acceleration from 0-100 kmph in a mere 4.4 seconds.
In an effort to reduce the mounting dealer reserves of the Chevrolet Sonic, Camaro sports car, Buick Regal and other models, the American car major General Motors is cutting production at two of its plants.
The American car market has seen a dwindling demand for cars in the recent months, despite the falling gasoline prices but there has been a growth spurt in trucks and crossover demands. The line-up of General Motors consists mostly of cars that are well into their life-cycles and are due for major updates soon.
This week General Motors scheduled down-time for its Orion assembly plant, located in suburban Detroit region, from March 9-13. The Sonic and the Buick Verano subcompact cars are produced here. The news has been reported by a plant worker as well as anthers person who has good knowledge of the plant’s schedules. The Orion assembly plant was also idle last week and the plant previously had a scheduled down-time from April 6-10.
The other plant where GM has scheduled down-time is the Oshawa, Ontario plant, which is notable for its “Flex” assembly line. The plant has scheduled downtime from April 13-17. The cars produced here are the Camaro sports car, Buick Regal sedan, Cadillac XTS sedan and Chevy Impala.
Notably, GM executives have acted more quickly in the recent years to cut the production to avoid the heavy discounts that are needed to be offered to customers in order to clear stocks, which results in lowering profit margins and also hurting resale values.
According to ICRA agency, the growth of domestic two-wheeler has reached around 8-9% in the current fiscal. However, it will decelerate in the next fiscal because of limited flow of first time buyers. The growth is principally driven by the increasing demand of scooters.
However, motorcycle industry has seen a bit downward in the early FY15 because of declining volumes of motorcycles segment. The growth will be decelerated in the next fiscal around 1-3% in view of limited flow of first-time buyers. India’s economy is more reassuring and thus the disposable incomes of general population are unlikely to expand.
The industry is expected to report a volume CAGR of 8-9 percent, reaching a size of 22-23 million units in domestic and export by 2017. According to ICRA, the positive change is going to show in two-wheeler segment including a favourable demographic profile, poor public transport system and less import of two-wheelers. The growing urbanization and strong replacement demand also reasons for a strong growth.
There is also a big export market that India’s two-wheeler segment is yet to tap. There is a demand of Indian two-wheeler automobile in Africa and Latin America. ICRA mentioned that the volume faltered after a positive growth in the first half of 2014-15. There are also large number of OEMs lined up new models to lure customers. More than 65% percent of two-wheeler industry volumes, motorcycles have performed relatively well.
Indian auto component industry is growing an exponential pace, and probably will reach $100 billion industry by 2020. Auto component industry body ACMA has reported that the industry will jump nearly three-fold in the turnover, primarily because of high-quality products and low-cost manufacturing.
ACMA said that the Indian auto component industry is ready to achieve the target of $100 billion by 2020. Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) President Ramesh Suri said it seemed an ambitious target, but the growth pattern of the industry showed a positive curve in the past one year.
The auto component industry is currently at $35 billion, with a good $10 billion earning from exports. So, the Mr. Suri expects it an achievable goal as the manufacturing sector has reached the global standards. The low-cost production imparts a strong growth and earning capacity of the industry.
India is already becoming a global export hub for small cars and this will benefit the auto component industry. He said.
When asked about the difficulty the industry is facing, he said that the biggest problem was the spurious spare parts. He suggested a proper verification of auto components so that it would resolve the problem.
He further added to increase an active campaign for genuine spare parts as many people die in accidents due to faulty parts in the vehicles.
He also said that the industry was expecting a growth in a single digit in the next fiscal.
Recently, ACMA Automechanica event occurred where more than 400 auto component makers from 16 countries were there to promote their products.
Czech carmaker Skoda has decided to expand its business in India from 2017. On a consolatory note, the company has said it will start a new drive in India from 2017, launching new models in a competitive prices.
Skoda Auto India Chairman and Managing Director Sudhir Rao has told reporters that the company has planned to ramp their product portfolio in India. He further added that the company wanted to consolidate the market methodically.
The Volkswagen group company currently sells Superb, Octabia, Rapid sedan and SUV Yeti in the country. The company has now emphasized on customer satisfaction and lower the cost of production.
The company has recently revealed the latest version of its flagship model Superb. The sedan will be tentatively launched by the second half of 2016. According to the company’s spokesperson, Skoda is now focused on launching new models in India. The plan to capitalize the market is through refreshing existing models and launching new ones.
Discussing about the investments, Rao said that investments were ongoing process, and the company would invest more if necessary to remain competitive in the market. According to him, it is important to access the right time of investment.
The company focuses on the next 3-5 years plan and the topmost priority would be customer satisfaction. In 2014 report, the company had gained mileage in customer satisfaction and it will continue be the priority for the company.
The new Hyundai hatchback Elite i20 has reportedly reached three months waiting period in India because of its exponential demand. The demand has also increased because of decreasing oil prices since June 2014. Nevertheless, after Union Budget 2015, the petrol price has hiked steeply, and custom duty is also increased from 10 percent to 40 percent, giving pressure on automobile sector.
Hyundai Elite i20 is the latest hatchback and got excellent response from the customers all across the country for its fuel efficiency and styling. According to one report, the petrol variants of the car is enjoying 3 months waiting period, while diesel variants is much easier to get.
The car was launched in August 2014 and since then has crossed more than 56,000 booking within four months. Elite i20 comes with 1.2 liter petrol engine and 1.4 diesel motor. The petrol engine car has much demand in the market, churning out 83ps of power and peak torque of 114nm. The diesel engine churns out 90ps of power and peak torque of 220nm.
The new i20 has many attractive features such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). Like many other premier hatchbacks, the car carries reverse-parking camera and four-passenger airbags. Other regular features are Bluetooth integrated 2 Din audio with USB and Aux-in and 1GB internal storage.
Hyundai is also planning to launch its new Elite i20 based crossover i20 Active in India in March.
US carmaker General Motors has decided to restructure its Indian operation to minimize loss, focusing on export and launching new models in coming years. As India has become a profitable business market for automobile companies, GM has decided to revamp its operations to earn some profit over the next few years.
Indian subsidiary, General Motors India, will launch a new sport utility vehicle Chevrolet Trailblazer imported from Thailand. Another car Chevrolet Spin will be launched from its local plants in 2016.
Arvind Saxena, GM India president and managing director told reporters that the company was being more focused on sustainable development so as to help dealers and utilize current manufacturing capabilities. The company at present is looking for about 2.8 lakh units in 2015 and trying to launch some more cars in association with Chinese partner SAIC.
“ We are working on improving the product quality as well as performance of these cars based on customers’ feedback. “ He further added.
According to a recent data, the sales decreased to 44, 210 units from the previous fiscal. It is almost 36% dip that is quite surprising in this growing Indian automobile market.
The company has decided to take some strict steps to cut loss and costs. Although things aren’t working in the way it should be, the company is hopeful to achieve substantial progress in Indian operations in the next two years. GM India has suffered total loss of Rs. 2,740 crores since it started operation in 1996.
India Bike Week 2015 has witnessed lots of models including cruisers and adventure motorcycles. In line with the festivities of the event, Triumph India has released the new Tiger XCx and the XRx adventure motorcycles, which was released earlier to worldwide audience at the EICMA 2014 Motor Show.
Both models share the basic architecture, though different in capabilities. The XRx is more suitable for tarmac roads with its alloy wheels, while the XCx with its spoke wheels is specially designed for off-roading. The XRx also features twin power sockets unlike XCx, which has a single socket. Both models share the basic architecture, which is primarily tubular steel trellis frame and cast aluminum swingarm.
The new four-way traction control system, cruise control and 3-cyclinder, liquid-cooled 800cc engines of both motorcycles have captured the attention of audience. The engine has 94 PS power and 79 Nm torque with six-speed transmission.
Another attractive feature of these machines is adjustable 45mm upside down forks with 2220mm travel. The rear is installed with hydraulic adjustable preload and rebound adjustment. The company didn’t reveal the ex-showroom price of the XRx and XCx, but it is estimated to be available at the end of March.
The bikes give the rider to select sensitivity maps including rain, road, sport and off-road. Both the motorcycles feature ABS brakes, which was only evident in earlier old Tiger. The new traction-control system also suit the road whether tarmac or off-road modes.
Struggling with gaining mileage in the growing four-wheeler market in India, French auto major Renault has launched an updated version of its compact car Pulse with a revised rate of Rs. 5.03 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).
Renault India Operations Country CEO and Managing Director Sumit Sawhney in a conference told reporters that Pulse played a significant role in their product portfolio, and the company did lots of enhancements in its updated version.
According to the company, the new Pulse is more attractive and stylish. The new version will come with an extra set of features like automatic headlamps, steering mounted controls and height adjustable driver’s seat.
Renault hasn’t revealed the prices in full, but according to sources the starting price for the petrol variant will be Rs. 5.03 lakh, which is same as petrol variant of the pre-launch.
The diesel variant is powered by the 1.5 liter K9K dCi engine with 64PS of power and 160Nm of torque. The petrol variant comes with 76PS/104 Nm of 1.2 l XH5 engine.
Earlier it was rumored that the company has stopped manufacturing Pulse and Scala from its Chennai facility. The report is, however, denied by the company. The company said that the production of Pulse and Scala would be increased at the Oragadam Plant in Chennai.
“Pulse is an important part of our product portfolio and we will come up with new enhancement.” Renault India Operations Country CEO and Managing Director Sumit Sawhney said in a statement.
The company also works on sedans Fluence and Scala and its flagship SUV Duster at its Oragadam plant in Chennai.
With a new view to revamp its tarnished image, the US based online taxi-hailing company Uber has now decided to cut about 40% of its rate its three cab categories, UberGO, UberX and UberBLACK. This is believed to lure customers who discarded Uber after the Delhi rape incident.
The latest revised fare is applicable across nine cities in India: Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune. The fare remains unchanged in Kolkata, but according to the sources, it will be likely dropped in the near future.
According to company’s sources, the fair dropping is a part of Uber experience. However, the actual fact is, after Delhi’s incident Uber services drastically dropped or abolished in many parts of India. The company has been struggling with huge revenue loss in India, and it needs to take corrective measures to revamp its service.
In Bangalore three categories UberGo, UberX and UberBlack charges 7, 8, and 13 with minimum fare being Rs. 50, Rs. 75 and Rs. 120 respectively. In Delhi, from where Uber bad stint started, slashed heavily. to Rs 7 per kilometre for UberGo, Rs 9 per kilometre for UberX and Rs 12 per kilometre for UberBlack. However, Chandigarh has the cheapest rates, with base fare of Rs. 20 for UberGo and Rs. 25 for UberX. Km charges are Rs. 5 and Rs. 7 for UberGo and UberX respectively.