Latest Stories

  • Isuzu expects pick-up demand in Thailand to drop 35%

    With sales significantly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, Isuzu expects that the demand for pick-up trucks and other light commercial vehicles (LCV) in Thailand is likely to fall by 35% this year, Kyodo News reports.

    The Japanese automaker, which has the largest share of the segment in the country, at more than 30%, expects the entire demand for LCVs – mainly one-ton pickup trucks – in Thailand to drop to around 321,000 units in 2020 from the 492,000 units that wsa recorded last year.

    In an earnings report released earlier this week, it said that LCV demand in the Thai market will bottom out in the July-September period this year, but will begin recovering in the following quarter.

    It added that its LCV sales in the Kingdom is likely to be around 100,000 units this year. Its manufacturing unit in the country temporarily suspended production at its two factories near Bangkok in April and May due to the pandemic.

    Earlier, the Federation of Thai Industries had said in late April that overall vehicle production in the country for 2020 is expected to be halved from last year, when it topped two million units, if Covid-19 lingered until the end of September.

    As for new vehicle sales, the federation’s automotive industry division said that the domestic sales target for the year would probably be cut from one million units to around 500,000 to 700,000 units, the figure including that of light commercial vehicles.

  • Hyundai signs deal with Sony Pictures – carmaker’s models to feature in upcoming Spider-Man movies

    Deals between carmakers and entertainment companies are not uncommon, as the exposure provided to the former can prove to be rather invaluable. For example, when Iron Man first appeared on the silver screen in 2008, the Audi R8 became affectionally known as “Iron Man’s car,” and sales in the United States saw growth.

    Hyundai is looking to replicate this success and has recently signed a multi-picture promotional deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which will see the Korean carmaker’s new models and technologies be featured in upcoming productions.

    These include five upcoming Sony Pictures films: the sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home (November 2021), the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (October 2022), Uncharted (July 2021), and other tentpoles to be announced. Of course, this isn’t the first time Hyundai has dabbled in the superhero world, as there was the Kona Iron Man Edition that was introduced in July 2018.

    The partnership is said to be advantageous for both parties, which includes leveraging Sony’s intellectual property for marketing content and entertainment purposes. There will also be collaborations on infrastructure and concepts for Sony Pictures movies, as well as co-creating virtual reality and gaming experiences.

    “This strategic partnership with Sony Pictures will allow customers to understand and experience our human-centered future mobility vision through innovative vehicles and technologies, illuminating a way forward for transforming how we move, interact, and design our lives for optimal benefits. We will offer various ways to inspire our customers and movie fans around the globe,” said Wonhong Cho, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor.

    “This deal embodies the true definition of the word partnership. The deal has many layers, including substantial marketing support, but its real potential and impact come from groundbreaking content that we will develop together,” commented Jeffrey Godsick, EVP of global partnerships and brand management, and head of location based entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment.


  • 2021 Volkswagen Nivus debuts – compact ‘SUV coupe’ on sale in Brazil next month, Europe next year

    The 2021 Volkswagen Nivus has made its debut ahead of going on sale in Brazil at the end of next month. Argentina will get the new model by the end of 2020. Designed and made in Brazil, the coupe-roofed compact crossover will also be made and sold in Europe in the second half of 2021.

    The Nivus sits on Volkswagen’s MQB A0 platform that also underpins several group products, including the current Polo and the T-Cross, VW’s junior SUV. The Nivus measures 4,266 mm long, 1,757 mm wide and 1,493 mm tall, with a 2,566 mm wheelbase.

    The latter is identical to the sixth-generation Polo hatchback that first surfaced in 2017. However, the Nivus is longer than the Polo (4,057 mm) and T-Cross (4,199 mm) and has the biggest boot of all at 415 litres (115L more than the Polo and 42L more than the T-Cross).

    Of course, the main difference between the Nivus and T-Cross is the new car’s roofline, which slopes down from rear doors onwards. The T-Cross is a conventionally-shaped small SUV.

    The dashboard is largely similar to the T-Cross’ but with slight changes to the shapes of the side AC vents and centre console. The VW logo is also the latest one. It’s properly modern in here with two 10-inch screens in the cockpit – one is the Active Info Display instrument panel and the other belongs to the new VW Play infotainment system.

    The latter, developed in Brazil, is a touchscreen with “virtual buttons” and is anti-scratch. Services, streaming and apps are promised, and there’s 10GB of memory. VW Play is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones and is the first car in Brazil with wireless mirroring, Volkswagen says.

    Notable equipment include adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, LED headlights and daytime running lights, Driver Alert System, Kessy keyless entry and start, reverse camera and 17-inch alloys. The hatch can be opened using a virtual button in VW Play.

    Under the hood is Volkswagen’s 1.0 litre TSI engine, branded as 200 TSI in Brazil. This EA211 family turbocharged engine has three cylinders, 128 hp and 200 Nm of torque, and is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Power goes to the front wheels – no 4Motion here. Typically for Latin America, it’s flexfuel ready.

    What do you think of VW’s latest SUV? Looks quite good with its Subaru XV-esque shape and Audi Q8-style rear end, no?

  • F90 BMW M5 facelift teased ahead of official debut

    The G30 BMW 5 Series LCI (or facelift) only recently made its debut, and if you’re wondering why there’s no M5 variant in the line-up at the time of the model’s reveal, that is because it will arrive later on. How much later? Well, only a couple of weeks, according to Markus Flasch, who is the CEO of BMW M.

    This was made known during Flasch’s recent Q&A session on Instagram, where he also talked about the all-new G80 M3 and G82 M4. Aside from giving us a timeline for the refreshed M5, he also gave us a glimpse of the car itself, seen here with an orange paint finish and black wheels.

    Unsurprisingly, we also get to see one of the car’s sharper headlamps, which sport blue accents that indicate they are equipped BMW’s Laserlight technology. Other styling changes should include the regular 5 Series LCI’s taillights and reprofile bumpers that are model-specific.

    Current F90 BMW M5 Competition

    No technical details were spilled by Flasch at the time, but the S63 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 is expected to be carried over, albeit with a slight increase in power to even surpass the pre-facelift M5 Competition’s 625 PS (617 hp) and 750 Nm of torque. This will paired with an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic tranmission and M xDrive all-wheel drive system.

    There are also rumours that a newer S68 V8 will be used with a smaller displacement to circumvent higher taxes that are associated with larger engines like in China, along with a more hardcore and lightened M5 CS variant that will sit at the top of the range as part of the facelift.

    We’ll only find out more when the new M5 debuts in a few weeks’ time, and we’ll have to wait and see how Mercedes-Benz will respond with its new E 63, which has yet to appear after the W213 E-Class got its facelift back in March.

  • Lego Technic Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 – 3,696 pieces, moving V12, 8-speed gearbox and AWD, RM1,599.90

    Last year, Lamborghini revealed its latest 12-cylinder model, the Sián FKP 37 – a limited-run supercar and its first petrol-electric hybrid product. It’s a stunning thing to behold, and Danish toymaker Lego has now used its iconic bricks to replicate the low-slung look with its latest Technic model.

    The Technic moniker means that this 1:8-scale car has a number of working technical features, and Lego says this is the most complex model set it has ever produced – more complex even than 2018’s Bugatti Chiron replica. Weighing in at a hefty 3,696 pieces, it contains many of the real Sián’s standout features.

    The car is finished in a striking lime green, and Lego has taken great pains to translate the Lambo’s myriad lines and curves into brick form. It has the same wedge-shaped low-slung profile, triangular headlight and air intake arrangement (with distinctive three-pronged daytime running lights), crisp body side surfaces, triple hexagonal tail lights and even a working movable rear spoiler, operable using a switch inside.

    Lego senior designer Aurelien Rouffiange told us that the development of Sián model necessitated the creation of four unique pieces – the triangular bonnet panels, front fenders, side skirts and complex gold wheels – in order to get the design down pat.

    The model also features the most iconic feature of Lamborghini’s most extreme models – twin scissor doors that can be opened using buttons tucked away behind the roof. Inside, there is a functioning steering wheel, a movable gearlever and even paddle shifters, just like the real thing.

    The reason why it has a gearlever and paddles is because, like the Chiron model, the Lego Sián has a working eight-speed sequential gearbox, including a reverse gear – and unlike the Chiron, this one has a window underneath to expose its full workings. This gearbox is linked to a V12 with actual moving pistons, hidden below a removable cover.

    Lego also managed to squeeze in all-wheel drive system and pushrod suspension, along with an overnight bag under the bonnet. This is also where the owner will be able to find a unique serial number, which can be used to access special content on the official Lego website.

    Because this is such a complex build, the Lego Sián won’t come cheap, even though it will cost a fraction of the real deal. It will go on sale at Lego Certified Stores and Legoland Malaysia on June 1 at a retail price of RM1,599.90, before reaching many retailers globally from August 1.

    To sweeten the deal, all purchases in Malaysia will come with a mini Lego Lamborghini model, while stocks last. Buyers will also receive exclusive Lamborghini merchandise from June 1 to 21.

    To recap, the real Sián features a 785 PS V12, augmented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system that draws kinetic energy under deceleration and stores it in a supercapacitor, rather than the usual batteries. The electric motor produces 34 PS, bringing total power up to a massive 819 PS – enough for the big Lambo to see off 100 km/h in under 2.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of over 350 km/h. Production is limited to just 63 units.

  • Nissan teases several new models – 400Z, Navara facelift, X-Trail, Ariya, Qashqai, Note, Frontier, Terra!

    It’s been a busy day for Nissan, but the company has now dropped a veritable bombshell, teasing several models that are coming soon. It’s a broad range that includes 12 cars, including the one we’ve all been waiting for – the next Fairlady Z!

    Tipped to be called the 400Z in international markets, the new sports car marks the long-heralded renewal of the Z brand, finally replacing the 370Z – a car nearly old enough to enter secondary school. From the brief glimpse, it will retain the iconic fastback profile and feature a Z badge (sporting the new logo) on the C-pillar, chrome roof trim and circular daytime running lights that appear to hark back to the seminal 240Z.

    Details remain unclear for now, but the car is expected to be powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 – perhaps related to the VR38DETT 3.8 litre unit in the GT-R – which could put out up to 500 hp, according to Autocar. This teaser also empathically puts to rest the rumours that the next Fairlady might take the form of a crossover – this car will definitely be a two-door sports coupé.

    Other new models shown include the Ariya electric SUV, the production version of a concept shown at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Set to be available with a two-motor all-wheel drive system, it will have a range of up to 480 km and get from zero to 100 km/h in under five seconds.

    Next on the list is the new Armada, the North American version of the Patrol that was already updated last year. The facelifted Kicks is another car we’ve already seen, having made its debut in Thailand last month in e-Power form. One model that is new to us is the long-awaited facelifted NP300 Navara, which looks set to gain the Patrol’s C-shaped daytime running lights.

    Its sibling, the Terra SUV, is also set to get an update, sporting a new front fascia with a much larger V-motion grille. The coming months should also see the arrival of the next-generation Note, Nissan’s tall hatchback that debuted the company’s ePower range extender electric vehicle technology. The third-gen model will almost certainly be based on the latest Micra, riding on a modified version of the existing V platform.

    Nissan Ariya (left) and X-Trail (right)

    Then we come to Nissan’s core pair of SUV models – the X-Trail (called the Rogue in the United States, hence the R) and Qashqai. Both these cars will soon be completely redesigned, and images of the former have already leaked, showing a radical makeover. The Pathfinder, a three-row unibody SUV formerly based on the Navara, will also get a new generation.

    We also get to see the new 2021 Frontier for North America, entirely separate from the Navara sold elsewhere (the previous-generation D40 Navara continues to be sold there, and this new one will replace it). The pick-up truck will reportedly retain the D40 chassis, but will be significantly overhauled and come with a new 310 hp 3.8 litre VQ V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission that is already fitted to the 2020 Frontier.

    Last but not least is what looks like a new small crossover, which has no name attached but will apparently have a moniker starting with the letter M. Judging by the shape of the grille seen in the teaser, it will actually be a Datsun, and indeed reports suggest that a Datsun Magnite will make its debut soon.

  • Nissan posts US$6.2 billion net loss, worst in 20 years

    Nissan has announced a net loss of 671 billion yen (US$6.2, or RM27.1 billion) for the year ended in March, a dramatic swing from the 319 billion yen (RM12.9 billion) profit it had recorded the year before.

    The result is the beleaguered automaker‘s worst financial performance since 1999, when it lost 684 billion yen (RM27.6 billion at the current exchange rate) amid a restructuring plan that was initiated by former boss Carlos Ghosn, the Nikkei reports. It also exceeds the 233 billion yen (RM9.4 billion, current rate) net loss it recorded in 2008, a year marked by the global financial crisis.

    It said the 2019 result included 603 billion yen (RM24.4 billion) in costs associated with restructuring and impairments as it “focused on operational and efficiency improvements to transform the business.”

    “The global Covid-19 pandemic substantially impacted Nissan’s production, sales and other business activities in all regions,” the automaker said via a statement, but added that it had sufficient liquidity to steer through the challenging business environment.

    Last week, it was reported that Japan’s third-largest automaker was set to cut over 20,000 jobs, which would represent a 15% reduction of its 139,000 global workforce, in a bid to reduce costs. It has already shuttered its manufacturing operations in Indonesia and is phasing out of its Datsun sub-brand, and is now closing its Spanish assembly plant, located in Barcelona. The closure will result in a loss of 2,800 jobs.

    The annual financial result comes a day after the company and alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi Motors revealed plans to make their global operations more efficient, turning away from a focus on sales growth.

    Despite a rocky period that threatened to severe the relationship, both Nissan and Renault have reaffirmed their commitment and have introduced new initiatives as part of a new cooperation business model.

    The automaker sold 4.79 million vehicles in its latest financial year, a drop of 13% from last year. In fiscal 2017, it achieved a record 5.79 million units in global sales.

  • Swindon Powertrain’s crate electric motor now ready for purchase – 107 hp and 136 Nm; priced at RM34k

    Last year, Swindon Powertrain revealed its plans to introduce a crate electric motor that would allow niche manufacturers, OEMs and hobbyists to electrify their vehicles using existing drivetrains. After a few months, the company has now announced the availability of its High Power Density (HPD) EV system, with deliveries set to begin in August.

    The asking price is 6,400 British pounds (RM34,190) including VAT and that gets you an electric motor rated at 107 hp and 136 Nm of torque, a single-speed transmission with a choice of two ratios, and a differential. For an additional cost, the company also offers a cooling pump, inverters, output shafts and a limited slip differential.

    According to the company, the HPD’s specifications have been refined since it was first announced in October 2019. The integrated unit weighs just 49.9 kg (including lubricants) and uses a brushless, permanent magnet motor, with all other components (including one metre of cabling) package into a size of 441 mm long, 384 mm wide and 228 mm tall.

    The motor has a peak efficiency of 97% when spinning at 8,000 rpm and has a maximum rotational speed of 10,500 rpm. Depending on the transmission ratio chosen (11.508 or 6.332) – factoring in tyre size and the top speed requirement – the maximum nominal output torque is between 861 Nm and 1,565 Nm.

    The HPD unit has multiple installation points and with the ability to site the inverter and cooling packs separately, as well as being waterproof, offers more flexibility to fit in a wide range of vehicles. Said inverter also comes in two varieties (144 V or 400 V), depending on the battery voltage.

    Since introducing the system last year, the company has received over 400 requests for more information and several pre-orders have been made. The positive reaction also saw some OEMs committing to further R&D projects, including one for a hybrid e-axle application.

    “It’s now easier than ever for anyone to convert a car, truck or even quad bike to electric. HPD is a new, properly engineered system with a years’ warranty. With deliveries starting in August, now could be the ideal time to start planning a project,” said Raphaël Caillé, managing director of Swindon Powertrain.

  • G30 BMW 5 Series LCI – M Performance parts revealed

    With the release of a new BMW comes a slew of new M Performance products to show off, and the facelifted G30 5 Series is no exception. The refreshed executive sedan and wagon can be decked out in the usual range of over-the-top accessories for an overtly sporty look, in concert with the M Sport package.

    Starting from the front end, the new 5 Series can be equipped with an assortment of carbon fibre parts, including bumper attachments, a splitter and even surrounds for the double kidney grille, which themselves appear to be available in illuminated form.

    The side Air Breather vents, door mirror caps and side skirt extensions can also be had in carbon, while decorative graphics can be applied to the side skirts and shoulder line to emphasise the design. Around the back, the grey rear bumper insert can be swapped out with a gloss black version with an additional body colour panel, and for increased showiness there’s even a proper diffuser, in either carbon or matte black.

    For the sedan body style, there are three spoiler options to choose from – a small lip finished in carbon fibre or matte black or a larger Pro version in carbon. Rounding off the exterior additions are a variety of forged alloy wheel options – the 19-inch double-spoke Style 786 M in matte black, the 20-inch multi-spoke Style 732 M in two-tone and the 20-inch double-spoke Style 669 M in either two-tone or full Orbit Grey.

    Behind these rollers, you can fit 19-inch M Performance brakes with red callipers, while diesel models can be had with an M Performance exhaust systems. Whichever model you have, you can swap out the standard chrome tailpipe finishers with carbon fibre items – as you can with the fuel filler cap.

    Step inside – admiring the projected M Performance logo as you open the door – and you’ll find the M Performance steering wheel in standard and carbon fibre versions, the latter with leather or Alcantara grips. You can also add carbon fibre paddle shifters, M Performance floor mats and a carbon fibre/Alcantara key cover to turn your car into something worthy of showing off at your owner’s club teh tarik session.

  • GALLERY: Titan Motorcycles – feed your inner hipster

    Many Malaysian riders will remember Titan Motorcycle from the 90s, born out of sheer market need for a Harley-Davidson when there were none to be had and the waiting list was nine months long. Well, this Titan Motorcycles is nothing like the chrome-laden customs from that era and hails from Graz, Austria.

    Building to order, Titan Motorcycles is Michael Siebenhofer, the founder, and designer Thanh Ho Ngo. Siebenhofer says Titan’s goal is “to build the perfect custom bike for each person.”

    Unlike the US company of the same name which fell into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2007, this European is young and new. No chrome laden cruiser with raked out front forks here, though we have a feeling Titan will build you one if you so wish.

    Instead, what a prospective customer gets is a collaboration between builder and buyer, translating a vision into reality. Titan Motorcycles makes it clear the customer might not always be right and will not necessarily get what they want.

    To this end, anyone making an enquiry for a Titan fills out a 20 question survey which determines a baseline from which both customer and customiser can work. As seen from Titan’s list of builds, aside from the usual Harley-Davidson V-twins, it range of custom builds includes oldies such as the samurai-themed Kawasaki 454 LTD called “Privilege” and a Honda Dominator NX650 named “Dominar”, done up as a cafe racer.

    From the catalogue, bobbers, cafe racers and streetfighters seem to be a Titan speciality but when they say they can build you anything you want, they are not joking. This is evident from previous work like the Urban Crosser, based on the Honda XR600R dual-purpose bike and converted to a motard.


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Last Updated 23 May 2020


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