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  • 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.

  • Car-sharing users increasingly rent cars to eat, sleep

    It seems that car-sharing users in Japan are renting cars to do a range other things other than driving them, such as taking a nap, practice singing, or even do facial stretches to reduce the size of their face. Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, rental cars were also used to recharge cellphones.

    The Asahi Shimbun reports that Times24, a leading car-sharing service provider with over 1.2 million registered users, discovered that customers utilise its rental cars to nap or use as a workspace. Another person used the car to store bags and other personal belongings when nearby coin lockers were full.

    Orix Auto, a car-sharing operator with 230,000 registered users, is also facing difficulties to figure out what some customers were actually doing with its rental cars. When asked to examine mileage records, Orix said several percent of its rented vehicles “travelled no distance.”

    A company public relations official said: “We have no clear idea how they actually used our vehicles. The only thing we can say is that data show a number of people who rent cars without driving them.” Other car-sharing operators similarly reported that some rented cars logged unusually low mileage after they were returned.

    Survey results by other firms reveal the number of customers who rent cars for reasons besides driving is steadily rising. A 31-year-old employee who lives near Tokyo said: “I rented a car to eat a boxed meal that I bought at a convenience store because I couldn’t find anywhere else to have lunch.”

    “Usually the only place I can take a nap while visiting my clients is a cybercafe in front of the station, but renting a car to sleep in is just a few hundred yen (below RM50), almost the same as staying in the cybercafe.”

    In 2018, another service provider NTT Docomo found that one of eight users (sample size of 400 individuals) rented a car for purposes other than transportation. A large number of respondents said they slept or rested in vehicles, followed by those who said they used cars to converse with friends, family, and business clients on the phone.

    NTT Docomo said “cars can be used for private space. People used our vehicles in more ways than we expected.” Currently, the bulk of car-sharing users do use the cars for transportation purposes, but the number of those who rent it for other purposes is rising.

    While this may sound good for business, operators actually lose money because customers pay more if they rack up more mileage. Also, those who spend time sitting in an idling car could adversely affect the environment.

    “Motorists should shut off their engines when they’re not driving, and we do not recommend our customers rent vehicles for purposes other than travelling. We believe it’s best for our cars to be used for driving,” an Orix PR official said.

    In terms of cost, customers are only required to pay 400 yen (RM15) for a rental duration of 30 minutes. It’s very easily accessible as well – users can reserve the vehicles at any given time, even for immediate use. Once booked, they only need to pick up the car at one of the firm’s 12,000 parking places across Japan.

  • FIRST DRIVE: 2019 B9 Audi A4 facelift sampled in Italy

    With competing brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz flashing out fancy new technologies and design for the respective G20 3 Series and W205 C-Class facelift, Audi just can’t afford to stay quiet. Which is why the Ingolstadt-based automaker has unveiled the B9 A4 facelift.

    The refreshed compact executive sedan has been thoroughly reskinned, complete with new LED headlights and tail lights. The cabin has also been given a proper update, courtesy of the brand new Audi virtual cockpit, a new 10.1-inch touchscreen display, and a slightly more practical centre console.

    In terms of powertrain, the Malaysian-bound model is set to be powered by the 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine from before, albeit detuned slightly from 252 hp to 245 hp (peak torque remains the same at 320 Nm). However, there is a new 12-volt mild hybrid system to help improve fuel economy.

    If you find the car good looking, well, you’re definitely not the only one. But all things considered, just how does the Audi A4 facelift stack up against the venerable BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class? Find out in our video review, here.

    GALLERY: B9 Audi A4 45 TFSI quattro

  • Ghosn sues Nissan, Mitsubishi for RM69 million in damages for ‘grave mistakes’ in dismissal – report

    It has been three months since former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance Carlos Ghosn addressed the public on video following his first arrest last year, and as many would have expected, Ghosn has countered with a court case against Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, Reuters quoted a report by Dutch newspaper NRC.

    The former alliance chief is seeking 15 million euros (RM69 million) in damages from the automakers. Japanese prosecutors charged Ghosn with financial misconduct, essentially under-reporting his income, while Nissan and Mitsubishi claimed that Ghosn improperly received $9 million (RM37 million). Ghosn has denied these charges, and resigned from his positions at Renault in January.

    “In the Netherlands, if you want to fire an executive you have to first tell him what he’s being accused of, and you have to provide him with the evidence for the accusations. Neither of those things has happened,” lawyer Laurens de Graaf told the Dutch newspaper. Ghosn was granted bail early in March after his first arrest, although he was re-arrested shortly thereafter.

    Prosecutors who charged Ghosn for financial misconduct last year also charged Nissan for filing false financial statements, and the automaker said that it took the situation extremely seriously. The district court in Amsterdam is reviewing the case but has not set a trial date yet, NRC reported.

  • Volvo issues recall for 507,000 cars over fire risk

    Volvo has announced a recall involving 507,000 vehicles worldwide due to a faulty engine component that, in extreme cases, could result in a fire, Automotive News Europe reports. In its own investigations, the Swedish automaker has identified that the plastic engine intake manifold may melt and deform, although cases are very rare.

    “In the very worst case, there is a possibility that a localised engine bay fire may occur,” Volvo said. The cars affected by the recall were manufactured from 2014 and 2019 and have a 2.0 litre four-cylinder diesel engine, Volvo said. The affected models are the S60, S80, S90, V40, V60, V70, V90, XC90, and XC60.

    So far, no reports of accidents or personal injuries have been detected. Volvo added that all customers will receive a letter, urging them to contact their local retailer for corrective measures. When asked to provide details of the potential financial impact, company spokesman Stefan Elfstrom refused to comment on the cost. All rectification costs related to the recall will be borne by the automaker.

  • G29 BMW Z4 sDrive30i launched in Malaysia – RM480k

    Following its first appearance here in March during the launch of the G20 3 Series, and then subsequently as a showcase display at Sepang during the BMW M Track Day in June, the G29 BMW Z4 has now officially gone on sale in Malaysia. As reported previously, BMW Malaysia is only bringing in a sole engine variant of the third-generation drop-top, and this is the sDrive30i in M Sport trim.

    Let’s get to the pricing first – the Z4 sDrive30i M Sport goes for RM479,800, on-the-road without insurance (with five years Unlimited Mileage Warranty, Free Scheduled Service Programme and BMW Tyre Warranty Programme), and that’s RM23,000 more than the last estimated pricing provided for the car, which was during the Sepang preview.

    The sDrive30i variant is equipped with a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 255 hp (258 PS) and 400 Nm from 1,550 to 4,400 rpm, and this is paired with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. Performance figures include a 0-100 km/h time of 5.4 seconds and a 250 km/h top speed.

    Standard kit includes a M Sport Suspension and Variable Sport Steering, along with wireless phone charging and Intelligent Parking Assistant with a Reversing Assistant feature. There’s also Connected Package Professional, which will allow owners to add on more features from the ConnectedDrive store.

    The Z4 also comes with a BMW Digital Key, which enables the driver to lock/unlock and operate the vehicle with the use of select Android smartphones via Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Via the BMW Connected App, the Digital Key can be shared with up to five people.

    A choice of five exterior colours is available for the car, and these are San Francisco Red, Misano Blue, Black Sapphire, Glacier Silver and Alpine White. These can be matched with a pick from three interior colour options – black décor with black stitching, Magma Red with black stitching or Cognac with black stitching, as seen in the photo set of the car here from the Sepang showcase.

    The company says that through a Balloon Financing Plan from BMW Group Financial Services Malaysia, monthly installment plans for the Z4 sDrive30i M Sport start from RM5,478.00 (based on estimates of an 80% loan, on a five-year tenure).

    GALLERY: G29 BMW Z4 sDrive30i

  • 2019 Nissan Leaf launched in Malaysia – from RM189k

    The second-generation Nissan Leaf has made its launch debut in Malaysia, several months after the electric vehicle was presented at last year’s Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS).

    Arriving as a fully-imported (CBU) model from Japan, the Leaf doesn’t qualify for incentives under the current Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) scheme. However, it does get complete import tax exemption, and is only faced with 10% excise tax and SST, so the sole variant that is available to customers is priced at RM188,888 on-the-road without insurance.

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

    If you want an alternative to the conventional method of buying a car, Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) is also offering a car subscription service for the Leaf, which costs RM3,500 a month for a three-year contract. At the end of the term, customers can choose to buy the car at current market value based on prior negotiations, or opt for a new Leaf altogether.

    There’s also an owners privilege programme for Leaf adopters, where they will enjoy complimentary 23 days a year usage of the X-Trail, Serena and Navara for other travelling needs, during the first three years of ownership.

    For the money, you’ll get a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery (ETCM is considering bringing in the 62 kWh version), which is a significant improvement from the 24 kWh unit fitted to the first-generation model launched way back in 2013. As such, the claimed operating range is 311 km based on the NEDC test cycle.

    Recharging the 350-volt battery is done with a Type 1 port located at the car’s nose (or SAE J1772 if you want get technical about things) and the onboard AC charger that is rated at 6.6 kW. Every Leaf purchased comes as standard with a single-phase home wallbox charger that delivers 6.6 kW of single-phase AC charging power, and it will take approximately seven hours to fully charge the battery.

    If you’re away from home, you can also drop by any of the 17 Nissan dealerships operated by ETCM for free usage of the same 6.6 kW wallbox. The company says it plans to install more chargers in other ETCM locations in the future. You can also plug the car to other public charging stations, but keep in mind you will need to use an adapter (not provided with the Leaf) if the stations feature a Type 2 connector. We’ve been told that Nissan is working on a Type 2 to Type 1 adapter, which will be sold as an accessory when it becomes available.

    An even faster means of charging is DC charging, and the Leaf is capable of receiving up to 50 kW via a separate CHAdeMO port, which will fully charge the Leaf in about an hour. Several companies in Malaysia have already set up DC charging stations, including ABB Malaysia (Subang Jaya), Nichicon (Bandar Baru Bangi) and PLUS (Ayer Keroh R&R).

    The battery pack itself is mounted underneath the vehicle floor, and supplies power to an EM57 electric motor that drives the front wheels. The mill puts out 150 PS (110 kW) and 320 Nm of torque, which results in a zero to 100 km/h time of 7.9 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155 km/h.

    Regenerative braking is present, and there are different modes to adjust the aggressiveness of the system, including D and B modes on the gear lever, along with an Eco mode. There’s also an e-Pedal function, which allows you to accelerate and fully decelerate using just one pedal.

    Unlike the first-gen car, the new Leaf features a less divisive design that draws inspiration from the IDS Concept and fifth-generation March/Micra. At the front, you’ll find Nissan’s signature V-motion grille flanked by angular LED headlamps, giving the EV a rather aggressive face.

    Down the sides, part of the C-pillars is blacked-out to create a “floating roof” look, a cue that is further perpetuated by a “kink” on them. For our market, the Leaf comes with 17-inch ‘Turbine’ wheels, wrapped with 215/50 profile tyres. Meanwhile at the rear, the “boomerang-shaped” taillights mimic the light signature of the daytime running lights up front, and they blend in neatly with the two-tone tailgate.

    On that mention, the Leaf is available in six exterior finishes, including four single-tone and two dual-tone options. For the former, there’s Brilliant Silver, Super black, Gunmetal Grey and Deep Blue Pearl. Meanwhile, the first of the themed options sees a Pearl White body and Deep Blue Pearl roof, while the other matches a Magnetic Red body to roof painted Super Black.

    Moving inside, the redesigned dashboard is now simpler in appearance, as the two-tier instrument cluster has been replaced with a single seven-inch, full-colour, customisable display instead. Elsewhere, all the air vents have been reshaped, with those in the centre now being much slimmer than in the past. These occupy a centre stack that also holds a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is paired with a four-speaker sound system.

    In terms of interior equipment, you get automatic air-conditioning with a timer function, a multifunction steering wheel, keyless entry and start, as well as seats trimmed in leather/Alcantara. For the last item, two colours – Graphite Black and Stone Grey – are offered for all exterior finishes.

    As for safety and driver assistance systems, the Leaf gets six airbags (front, side, curtain), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), ABS, EBD, brake assist, Hill Start Assist, as well as several Nissan Intelligent Safety Shield systems. These include Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Around View Monitor (I-AVM) with Moving Object Detection (I-MOD), Driver Alertness (I-DA), Ride Control and Trace Control.

    We’ve already had a go in the Leaf during our time in Hong Kong for the Nissan Futures event, if you want to know what the Nissan EV is like to drive. For detailed specifications of the Leaf, head over to

  • 2020 Audi SQ7 TDI debuts – 4.0L V8, 435 hp, 900 Nm!

    The newly facelifted Audi Q7 has just been joined by the hot new SQ7 TDI, one which shares the same 4.0 litre biturbo V8 diesel engine as the SQ8. The engine makes 435 hp and 900 Nm of torque from a low 1,000 rpm, allowing the three-rowed-seating SUV to sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds before maxing out at an electronically limited speed of 250 km/h.

    Of course, the SQ7’s engine is also augmented by a 48-volt electrical system which feeds an electric-powered compressor (EPC) to assist the pair of conventional turbochargers. This, Audi says, gives the SUV a virtually lag-free performance. A set of two actuators within the exhaust system help modulate the full sound of the eight-cylinder engine.

    Power is put down to the road through a quick-shifting eight-speed tiptronic automatic and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. There’s also all-wheel steering, which turns the rear wheels by up to five degrees at low speeds, thereby increasing agility.

    Air suspension is standard, although customers can opt for the advanced suspension package that includes an electromechanical active roll stabilisation. Equipment such as progressive steering and sport differential are standard fitment.

    Design-wise, the largest Q car gets the customary S-specific trims such as the sportier bumpers, Singleframe grille with twin slats, aluminium side mirror caps, quad exhaust exits with chrome tips, and matte silver exterior highlights.

    The 20-inch cast aluminium wheels (seen here with a five-spoke turbine design) is wrapped with 285/45 tyres, behind which rests a pair of 400 mm rotors up front and 370 mm discs at the back. Clamping those discs is a set of black brake calipers with S logo, although this is optionally available in red. Larger carbon ceramic discs are available too, and those come with anthracite grey calipers.

    Inside, the cabin gets a combination of dark leather and Alcantara upholstery for the sport seats, complete with brushed aluminium trims. However, customers can opt for carbon trims, S sport seats plus with Valcona leather and rhombus pattern, as well as the ambient lighting package with 30 adjustable colours.

    Other features include MMI navigation plus with live traffic updates, head-up display, S-specific Audi virtual cockpit with performance view, four-zone climate control, soft-closing doors (optional), Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System, and air quality package with fragrancing and ioniser. Prices start from 94,900 euros (RM438k) in Germany.


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Last Updated 20 Jul 2019


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