AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
At one point, Japan was among the world’s leading auto markets but the country has yet to regain its stride after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Japanese auto sales dropped to half the peak rate and a recovery has yet to take hold.
Global information company IHS Automotive conducted a study that shows sales in India will reach 4.88 million by 2016, taking the emerging nation ahead of Japan’s projected 4.51 million units in sales for that year. What’s more, IHS believes sales in Japan would taper off to 4.25 million by 2020.
At one point, Japan was ranked as one of the world’s top three largest regional markets, behind the United States and Europe. China has since rocketed past the rest of the world, claiming the global top ranking several years ago. Reports reveal that Chinese consumers have purchased 17.66 million vehicles for 2011. IHS predicts that China sales could even pass 30 million by the decade’s end.
The organization believes that India is positioned to be the next country to experience a big automotive boom, linking to a prediction that India’s population will sustain rapid growth in the coming decades.
That said, India’s economy is not as strong as China’s and it will also take a while for India to develop infrastructure that could handle a rapid spike in vehicles on the road. Some villages can only be reached by mules and donkeys and big cities suffer incredible traffic congestion due to the lack of major roadways.
Nonetheless, demand for automobiles in India is surging and may become the next focus market for global automakers.
[Source: Detroit Bureau]
With the luxury car and mid-size car market growing rapidly, it makes sense that the BMW group has introduced its MINI brand to India.
MINI has brought four models with them for their Indian debut: the MINI Cooper, the MINI Cooper S, the MINI Cooper Convertible and the Clubman. Kay Segler, senior vice-president of MINI brand management and business coordination said, “We are not looking at volumes initially in India. We are looking to build the MINI brand. The MINI cars will feature 1.6 liter petrol engines. There is no plan of diesel engines for time being.”
MINI has looked at making this move in the past, but up until now has felt that the country and market were not ready for them. “More Indians are traveling and living abroad, they have network overseas and are more aware of trends,” Segler said. For the time being the cars will be distributed from three exclusive MINI dealers, two of them are in New Delhi and one will be in Mumbai.
All of India’s MINI’s will be assembled in the UK with no talk of an Indian assembly plant in the near future. The Indian prices for the MINI will range from Rs 24.90 lakh to Rs 31.99 lakh.
We’ve been hearing rumors of a new “global” B-segment crossover from Ford for some time. Now, the Blue Oval has officially revealed details on its latest EcoSport , unveiled at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo this week.
The new EcoSport, underpinned by Ford’s latest B-segment vehicle architecture, is the second of eight new models the company plans to introduce into the Indian market by mid decade and will also serve to drive sales in other Asian markets as well, plus in other parts of the world where vehicle demand is growing, notably Brazil.
Looking a lot like a Fiesta on stilts, the latest EcoSport will be produced locally in India at the Chennai integrated manufacturing complex for both domestic consumption and also export, with production in other countries, likely Brazil slated to commence down the road.
Given it shares engineering with the Fiesta, perhaps not surprisingly the EcoSport gets Ford’s 1.0-liter, 120 metric horsepower (PS) three-cylinder, direct injected, turbocharged EcoBoost engine, coupled with a five-speed manual transaxle.
Although at the time of posting this story, other technical features had yet to be announced, don’t be surprised if a four-cylinder engine, a diesel and a choice of front or all-wheel drive options, plus a self-shifting transmission materialize as well, at least in some markets.
GALLERY: Ford EcoSport
Watch out Tata Nano – there’s a new vehicle in town and its aiming to be the cheapest car on the road. The Bajaj RE60 in a new four wheeled vehicle that’s looking to replace the Nano as the most inexpensive car in India.
Tipping the scales at a mere 880 pounds, the Bajaj RE60 keeps its weight down by utilizing a monocoque metal-polymer hybrid structure that’s durable as well as light weight. It gets its juice from a water-cooled 200cc engine that pumps out 20 horsepower, and offers a top speed of 43 mph. Even though it’s a compact car, there’s room for cargo – about 14.1 cubic feet when you fold down the rear seats.
In an effort to keep it eco-friendly, the RE60 will be available in gasoline, liquid propane gas and compressed natural gas models, which will give this vehicle 60 gm/km range and mileage of 35 kmpl.
“At Bajaj Auto, we believe the people of this planet deserve much better, much faster,” said Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto . “We therefore decided to focus our efforts on developing vehicles powered by engines using available natural resources and infrastructure. We are very excited with the outcome of our efforts and, in the RE60, we believe we have an excellent solution for the mobility challenges arising from the rapid urbanization of India.”
No word on price just yet, but in order to make a dent in India’s car market, Bajaj will have to keep the price on the RE60 below the Nano.
DC Design is scheduled to unveil India’s first supercar at the upcoming 2012 Delhi Auto Expo that’s just around the corner. This is the same firm that was responsible for the Rolls-Royce inspired Phantom DC Concept coupe back in 2006.
The supercar will be a limited edition, low volume vehicle assembled at DC Design’s facility in Pune, India. They anticipate deliveries of the vehicle to begin by the end of 2013.
Details are bleak, but what we do know is that it will probably be powered by a V6 engine sourced from Honda with a custom turbo setup to give it over 400-hp. The power-to-weight ratio will be the focus for this supercar, as DC Design is aiming to have it weigh less than 3,400-lbs.
Right now DC Design is aiming to have 300 vehicles built and if there is enough demand they’ll produce up to 3,000 vehicles a year. Despite being a “supercar” DC Design hopes to price it around $55,000.
We’re sure more details will be revealed once the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo starts on January 5th, 2012.
Ford announced their lineup at the upcoming 2012 Delhi Auto Expo in India, mentioning the world debut of a new global vehicle along with a teaser image. General consensus around here is that this will be Ford’s next EcoSport CUV.
In the release, Ford only mentions that an all-new vehicle planned for global markets will be introduced in India and will be the latest One Ford global product. The second-generation EcoSport will probably be based on the same platform as Ford’s Fiesta, and even though Ford’s all about a global launch, we’re a little hesitant to believe it’ll make it to American shores anytime soon.
Ford will also be showing off their Figo, all-new Fiesta, Classic and Endeavour at the Auto Expo. A total of 12 vehicles will be on display in a new, high-tech booth boasting a 3D theater, live shows and a crowd-sourced interactive driving game.
The two have been working together since 2003 when Suzuki started offering a Fiat-sourced 2.0-liter diesel in their Sedici/SX4 duo. That partnership flew in the face of another deal between Suzuki and Volkswagen that has since imploded.
Recently rising gas prices in India, where Maruti-Suzuki has a commanding grasp of the auto market, have meant that demand for diesels is outstripping supply. Consequently, a new deal between Suzuki and Fiat will ramp up production from the previous 280,000 Swifts per year to 380,000.
The Swift is the best-selling car in India, and will likely take an even bigger share in January when the increased production will take effect. The diesel version is so popular that Maruti-Suzuki actually raised the price to encourage consumers to opt for the less popular gasoline powered version.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Toyota has announced that starting in 2013, it will sell Lexus vehicles in India. No specific products were announced for sale, but likely contenders include the LS and GS sedans, as well as the RX crossover. Given India’s less than perfect roads, the LX and GX SUVs (based on the popular Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs) may also make it over.
While Lexus has been around for over 20 years, the brand didn’t expand beyond North American and Europe until 2o05. Asia, Russia the Middle East and now India are its latest conquests, and Toyota is hoping to repeat its success in markets like The United States. Unlike some luxury manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz, Toyota will import Lexus vehicles from Japan and elsewhere. Mercedes chooses to assemble vehicles locally to avoid expensive import duties.
[Source: Left Lane News]
A public disagreement between Volkswagen and Suzuki in early September left the Japanese automaker wanting to end its partnership, but that might not happen. In a news release Monday, the company said it “will retain its stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. unchanged.”
Suzuki requested its shares be returned in light of what representatives say are numerous violations in the 2009 agreement to develop green cars. Two years ago the companies partnered, agreeing to share VW technology with Suzuki in exchange for insight into emerging markets like India. The agreement disintegrated since then, with both companies citing violations by the other.
Suzuki claims Volkswagen violated the agreement in developing hybrids and electric cars several times thus far. On the other end of the argument, Suzuki also bought diesel engines from VW rival Fiat, something Volkswagen said was contradictory to their agreement.
Volkswagen made an announcement about the issue early last month, leading to a public dispute between then two companies. The fight left Suzuki insisting the companies part ways.
Suzuki owns just under a 1.5 percent stake in Volkswagen.
[Source: The Detroit News]
The world’s economy stinks, gas is expensive and we’re all watching our wallets closely.
You might assume that would also indicate less car parts being sold, but not for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins. “Several of the economies where Cummins operates are clearly weakening,” COO Tom Linebarger told analysts last month. “We really don’t know how deep it will go. We are confident in the long-term profitable growth of the company.”
The Columbus, Ind. based manufacturer builds natural gas and diesel engines and despite the worlds money woes is projecting a sharp rise in diesel fuel demand. Last month Cummins told analysts they forecast to grow by more than 60 per cent and reach $30 billion in 2015.
Over the next five years the company also plans to hire 7000 new engineers to compensate for increased demand. They hope doing so will allow them to develop new engines to meet increasingly stringent efficiency standards.
They owe their expansion in large part to overseas demand in emerging economies like China and South America and India where there is still high demand for construction equipment, but it isn’t the only reason.
The company is also expanding its production for consumer vehicles. Nissan is currently working on putting a 2.8-liter direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder from Cummins into its 2015 Titan pickup. Once available, the new generation Titan will be one of the most efficient full-size pickups on the market.
A report by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants claims that by 2015, Brazil will be the world’s third largest auto market, with China and the United States occupying the first and second slots respectively.
Brazil will displace Japan as the third largest market, as sales are expected to double to 6.6 million vehicles by 2020. The report also claims that Chinese and Indian auto makers will export vehicles to Brazil en masse and could grab 10 percent of the market by 2020. Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat have long enjoyed market dominance in Brazil, but a flood of cheap cars from China and India could radically alter the balance of market share in an economy where merely having a car is seen as a major step-up from two-wheeled transportation.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Suzuki may be an also ran in America, but in India, their Maruti Suzuki partnership can boast the title of “best-selling car” with their Alto subcompact. With a population of 1 billion people, the Indian market is a significant one, and the Japanese auto maker is facing competition not just from home grown efforts like Tata, but Hyundai as well.
The Alto is a pretty antiquated platform, and Hyundai is hoping that their new effort, dubbed the Eon, will not only be more technologically advanced, but price competitive, at around $6,000. Powering the Eon will be a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine making 80 horsepower.
In 2010, the world’s vehicle population hit one billion which works out to be roughly one car for every seven people. Reports conclude that China fueled half of the global growth, as it passed Japan for the world’s second largest vehicle population, with 28 million cars on the road.
India’s vehicle population has increased by nearly nine percent, pushing its total to 21 million cars on the road. The United States is still the country of cars, despite a lingering downturn in vehicle sales. The total vehicle population of 240 million cars, works out to be one car for every 1.2 persons.
[Source: Inside Line]
Land Rover sold 31, 864 units in 2010 and has sold 20,000 vehicles through July of 2011. ”Both brands have some similarities in the fact that we are planning for growth predicated on product introductions,” said Goss. With the new compact Evoque added to the lineup, Goss feels the 50,000 mark is within the automakers reach. Jaguar will most likely have more trouble attaining the 50,000 unit goal, based on the fact that the automaker only sold 13,340 units in 2011. Jaguar hoping to up sales with help from a sports car that the brand is considering, which may debut as a concept at the Frankfurt auto show. Goss did not provide any details but noted that Jaguar needs a small sports car and a sedan to compete with the BMW 3-Series.
[Source: Automotive News]
Tata Motors, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, is suffering from slumping sales as the first-quarter profits are released. Tata’s Indian passenger car sales fell and Jaguar deliveries have also decreased. Surprisingly, however, Tata’s net income rose to twenty billion rupees in the three months ending on June 30th. This is up from 19.9 billion rupees a year earlier, but misses expectations.
Tata Motors confirmed an 8.5 percent decrease in Indian passenger car sales during the quarter caused by rising interest rates. The rising interest rates reduced demand throughout the country where eighty percent of purchases are funded by loans. Jaguar sales were down twenty-seven percent in the period cause by a sparse lineup and limited presence in the booming Chinese market.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota is eager to regain its “world’s largest automaker” title back. So by 2012, if things go according to plan, expect to see a lot more Toyota products on the roads: 8 million, to be specific.
This target is 1 million more than what Toyota will build this year. The company is gunning for this lofty production target in emerging markets like China and India, where sales are booming. To reach this goal, Toyota plans to build new factories in China and Brazil with the capacity to build 170,000 compact cars. It also plans to expand production in India by 50,000 vehicles, as well as expanding at other plants in China and Thailand.
America will get involved, too: a plant in Mississippi will open up in the fall, with a capacity of 150,000 vehicles. And back home in Japan, Toyota will increase daily production by 2-3,000 vehicles, to 15,000 per day. A new compact hybrid will comprise part of that production.
[Source: Nikkei via Morningstar]
Ford will invest over $1 billion in new factories located in northwest India, to better capture its growing market.
The plants will build around 250,000 cars aimed at two sectors Ford lags in sales, the Asian and African markets—including India itself, where car sales grew 29% in the last year, with 2.5 million cars. Ford only claims 3% of the car market there: compare this to Brazil, where Ford enjoys a 10% hold on new car sales.
Ford will build two factories by 2014 that will employ 5,000 people and be able to build 240,000 cars and 270,000 engines. The northwest state of Gujarat was chosen for Ford’s investment because of its pro-business regulations as well as easy access to international ports. Further south in India, Ford already has a facility that also employs 5,000 people in manufacturing and another 5,000 in office work.
[Source: New York Times]
Imagine you’re Indian royalty. Your favorite hobby is the Most Dangerous Game, the hunting of wild tigers in the wilderness—as befitting a maharaja. Such a gentlemanly pursuit requires only the most luxurious and extravagant of conveyances: when blasting tigers with a Browning 30-06 machine gun (the choice of professionals!), why would you settle for anything less than a coachbuilt 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom?
This custom-bodied Roller was commissioned by Umed Singh II, who ruled from 1889 to 1940 and at the height of tiger hunting’s popularity (and before those pesky conservation laws). Hunters commonly stalked their prey from atop elephants, but some employed motor carriages such as this: with an 8.0-liter six-cylinder engine and off-road low gearing, the Rolls is pretty close to an elephant but with more places to stash one’s brandy.
The Rolls also came with some features not available on today’s Phantom unless you ask really nicely, such as a bronze Lantaka cannon and a trailer-mounted machine gun, as well as enough rifle and shotgun racks to make Jeff Foxworthy feel underappreciated. All the better to drive India’s endangered Bengal tiger population from a peak of 40,000 to around 1,700 today.
If that sort of PETA-annoying violence appeals to you, then Bonhams will gladly auction this relic of Indian royalty to you for the appropriately lavish sum of $1 million or more when it goes on the block on August 18th. Tiger-hunting season will probably start around then. And after you mount one on the hood, drive it to an ESSO station and put a tiger in your tank!
Today, a report was released regarding the possibility of Tata motors entering a joint engine-development program with Jaguar Land Rover. Tata is currently India’s leading automaker by sales, and presently obtains engines from Jaguar and Land Rover models from the brand’s previous owner, Ford Motor Co.
Tata feels that the joint engine-development program would allow another step forward to establishing the brands’ independence from Ford(Tata bought Jaguar Land Rover from Ford in 2008). ”To optimize the synergistic strengths between JLR and Tata Motors in India, an examination is also under way on a joint engine development program which would have manufacturing facilities both in the U.K. and India,” explained Ratan Tata
Tata Motors sold 62,090 Jaguar and Land Rovers globally for the fiscal year, up 9 percent from the previous year, according to the company. Jaguar Land Rover North America sold 23,702 vehicles in the U.S in the first six months of 2011, up 13.9 percent over the first six months of 2010.
[Source: Automotive News]
Jaguar has plans to change its badging and drop the brand name from appearing on the lineup of luxury vehicles. The word ‘Jaguar’ will soon be replaced from the back of production cars within two or three years, the firm’s design boss confirmed. ”Eventually we will take the name off and just leave the leaper,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design director.
“When people see the XF they won’t know what it is, so they will look for a name badge. That’s why we’ve left it on, but put the leaper there as well. The name will go probably on production cars within two or three years.”
The traditional text-based badge will be replaced leaving the prominent Jaguar big cat leaper. The plan is to faze out the text badge, and with exposure to the leaper badge, people will become familiar over time and not need to locate the text badge on the back to identify the brand.
The facility, which will be located in Pune, close to existing Tata operations, will produce modular four-cylinder engines and is said to be a virtual ‘carbon copy’ of the company’s new engine plant being set up in the West Midlands, UK.
Both facilities have been conceived so that Jaguar Land Rover can replace, as quickly as possible the four-cylinder gasoline and turbo diesel engines it currently sources from Ford Motor Company, which have proven to be relatively expensive.
Jaguar says that work on the new Indian plant won’t begin until the West Midlands operation is fully up and running, but said that once operations are in full swing; both plants together will have capacity to produce as many as 500,000 engines per year, which will help satisfy growing demand; particularly in China where Jaguar Land Rover already has a local assembly operation.
As for Jaguar’s other engines, namely it’s V-6 and V-8 gas and diesel units, these will continue to be sourced from Ford at Dagenham, Essex, UK, at least for the time being.
To capitalize on India’s new found wealth, Ferrari has now officially opened doors to its first ever dealership in the country. The dealership is located in the city of New Delhi, a city best known for its Bollywood film studios.
The grand opening which was attended by local and international media, was hosted by Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa, Ferrari Commercial and Marketing Director Enrico Galliera, and Ashish Chordia, Chairman of the Shreyans Group, the official Ferrari importer to India.
India is the 58th country where Ferrari’s are officially sold. The well-to-do have owned Ferrari’s in India before, but those cars came through specialist importers.
Indian customer’s will be able to order any of the new Ferrari models, but due to the country’s high tax on imported vehicles, the cheapest model, the California, will be priced at $485,300. The same model in the U.S. starts at $192,000.
With clients spread all across the nation, Ferrari plans to open more dealerships in India over the next three years.