Auto Sector

VW Passat parks by remote control

Hanover, Germany - Volkswagen has developed a new park assist system that can park a vehicle by remote control without a driver behind the wheel.

Presented at the recent Hanover Fair, a Volkswagen Passat estate could be seen with the driver getting out of the car, slamming the door shut and aiming a remote control at the car while walking away. The car then drives itself into an empty parking space.

The system independently switches off the engine and activates the door locks. According to the car maker the park assist is designed mainly for perpendicular parking space found often in underground car parks, allowing little space for the driver to get in and out of the car.

Fiat moves a step closer to Zastava purchase

Belgrade  -  Serbia and Italy's giant carmaker Fiat Tuesday signed a protocol moving them a step closer to the 1-billion-dollar privatization of Serbia's moribund automobile factory, Zastava.

According to the deal signed with Zastava labour unions, Fiat has agreed not to lay off workers, who would also receive backlog salaries totalling 10 million euros and other benefits.

In return, local authorities agreed to tax and investment incentives including land for installations free of charge over the first decade of the investment.

Fiat and Serbia last week signed a letter of intent on a joint venture envisaging a 700-million-euro (1.08-billion-dollar) investment by Fiat, for its 70-per-cent stake in Zastava.

Mahindra & Mahindra gets approval to raise 700 crore through FCDs

Mahindra & Mahindra 700 Crore FCDs Scorpio
Mahindra & Mahindra, India's top utility vehicle maker, has informed that the company’s board at its meeting has approved raising additional resources through issue of 93,95,974, (9.25% per annum) unsecured fully and compulsorily convertible debentures (FCDs) of the face value of Rs 745 each to Golboot Holdings Ltd, controlled by Goldman Sachs.

The company plans to raise Rs 700 crore through the issue. The company will utilize the amount raised through the preferential offer for its auto and tractor businesses.

Tata Motors inks JV pact with Punjab State Transport Department

Punjab government will establish “State Institute of Automotive and Driving Skills (SIADS)” as a joint venture between Tata Motors and the State Transport Department in Mahuna village, Muktsar district, Punjab at a cost of Rs 13 crore.

In this regard, a memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant.

Under the agreement, the government will provide 14 acres to set up the SIADS, which would be run by a registered society with equal number of representatives from Tata Motors and the government.

TVS Motors register 5% jump in Two-Wheeler Sales

TVS Motor Company

India's third biggest motorcycle maker, TVS Motor Company Ltd reported a 4.81 per cent jump in two-wheeler sales during April at 1,09,937 units as compared to 1,04,893 units for the same month previous year.

During the same period, the company sold 58,202 units of motorcycles up from 53,499 units during the year-ago period.

While, in the scooters and mopeds segments, the company sold 19,034 and 32,701 units, respectively last month in comparison to 18,798 and 32,596 units respectively in the corresponding period of 2007.

TVS Motor April Sales Up 4.81%; To Roll Out Two Limited Edition Scooters Soon

In keeping with its decision to launch seasonal limited versions each year, TVS MotorIndia's third biggest motorcycle maker TVS Motor Co Ltd has signed up with the All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) as a licensee to introduce two limited edition scooters, which will be inspired by the spirit of Wimbledon, by June 2008.

These scooters will appeal to women with a liking for Sports and will be introduced to coincide with forthcoming Wimbledon season.

TVS Motor said it aims to strengthen its premium segment with the launch of the fuel injection variant of the Apache RTR.

Hero Electric Plans Expansion; To Roll Out EV Scooters Soon

Hero Electric, a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Hero Group, has made Hero Groupannouncement about its plan to launch a variety of electric scooters under the low and high-speed electric vehicles (EV) category.

Besides, the company has also decided to invest around Rs 80 crore in order to strengthen its manufacturing plant of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ludhiana plus the development of its R&D facility. The investment will be funded through internal accruals.

Maruti register 22.4% growth in domestic sales

Maruti register 22.4% growth in domestic sales

Country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd has recorded a 22.4 per cent growth in domestic sales in April 2008 at 59,539 units as compared to 48,652 units in the same month last year.

The A2 segment, which includes the Alto, Wagon-R and Swift, accounted for the company's highest sales.

While, the A3 segment, comprising SX4 and Dzire sold a total of 4,187 units, as against 2,124 units in the same month last year, registering a decent growth in that segment.

Singapore to get environmentally kinder German-engineered buses

Mercedes-Benz busSingapore - Singapore is to become the first country in South-East Asia to obtain German-engineered buses designed to be kind to the environment and accessible to disabled passengers, a public transport firm said Thursday.

The first of the Mercedes-Benz buses is to hit the road in mid-May and another 66 are to be rolled out between August and December, the SMRT Corp said.

Ashok Leyland Plans Expansion

Hinduja Group’s flagship company, Ashok Leyland announced that it will Ashok Leylandinvest Rs 3000 crore on setting up a new plant in Uttarakhand and expand capacity at its subsisting facility at Ennore, Tamil Nadu.

The company also said that a part of the its proposed investment will also move on its engine development program. It is setting up six cylinder and four cylinder engines, complying with the Euro IV norms in collaboration with Austrian firm AVL.

VW reports earnings jump as deliveries hit record

Wolfsburg - Europe's biggest carmaker VolkswagenEurope's biggest carmaker Volkswagen AG confirmed Wednesday a jump in first-quarter earnings after worldwide deliveries increased by 7 per cent.

Wolfsburg-based VW said operating profit rose by 21 per cent to 1.3 billion euros (2.02 billion dollars) during the first three months of the year, with profit after tax climbing by about 26 per cent to 929 million euros.

This followed a rise in deliveries during the first three months to 1.57 million vehicles with the group saying that all its brands reported an improved operating profit during the first quarter.

Infiniti extends model range in Europe with FX37

Geneva  - The luxury brand Infiniti is extending its model range in Europe with the downsized V6 FX37 that will be on sale from October together with the G37 limousine, G37 coupe and the FX50 that was unveiled in Geneva.

In combining typical SUV features with sports car characteristics, the FX37 comes with a 320 hp motor and 360Nm of torque. It includes a seven-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts to further drive home the sporting nature.

Jaguar XK convertible available with smaller engine

Whitley, England  - Jaguar is offering the XK convertible with a smaller V8 3.5-litre motor along with the bigger 4.2-litre version with some 300 units of the special edition planned, the manufacturer announced recently.

The 3.5-litre has an output of 190 kW/258 hp, featuring a luxury sports package with a park assist. The XK will sell in Europe for 86,100 euros (136,842 dollars).

Like its stronger 4.2 -litre brother with an output of 300 hp, the car comes with an all-aluminium body construction. The XK series was launched in 1996 with the XK and XKR. (dpa)

Lithium-ion battery for Smart next year

Stuttgart, Germany  - A new generation of battery-powered Smart cars would be fitted with a lithium-ion battery next year with a pilot test in London possibly being extended to Los Angeles, Germany's auto-motor-sport magazine reports.

"We will fit the new generation with lithium-ion batteries and if the tests are positive we could soon make a decision on serial production," the magazine quoted Smart CEO Anders Jensen as saying.

The Smart micro-car was predestined for alternative drive. "We need not design a new car for this type of drive system," Jensen said.

Hefty fine for using mobile in the car in most European countries

Munich  - Most European countries have imposed hefty penalties for the use of mobile phones in the car with fines of between 100 and 160 euros (160 and 255 dollars), according to Germany's motoring association ADAC.

Some 30 European countries have either doubled or sharply increased the fines for using a mobile while behind the wheel.

Fines in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Hungary were the highest. Britain has also doubled the fine to 75 euros.

Sweden and Serbia are two of the few countries with no specific ban on mobile phone use in the car, but both countries have hefty penalties for drivers involved in an accident or found responsible for negligent driving, the ADAC said.

VW Golf convertible planned for 2010, report

Berlin  - Volkswagen is planning to revive a convertible version of the Golf with the start of sales start scheduled for 2010, Germany's Auto Bild newspaper reports.

Situated in the segment below the EOS, it will be smaller and cheaper featuring a vinyl roof that hugs the bodywork closely, according to pictures revealed in the report.

A Golf convertible was built between 1979 and 2002 with the New Beetle convertible produced in Mexico finally replacing the open top version.

The platform of the current Golf V three-door model would serve as the basis for the convertible, doing away with the rollover bars of earlier models. Rollover protection is provided by supports situated within the front headrests.

Biofuels under fire as food crisis looms

Hamburg  - The increased use of biofuels has been partially responsible for a hefty increase in food prices worldwide with Western governments now having second thoughts on "green fuels" such as ethanol.

Once praised as the answer to global warming, several nations rushed into subsidizing biofuels, failing to heed warnings from experts that it leads to more clearing of rainforests and in fact a further increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

GM to lay off 3500 workers, build fewer pickups, SUVs

Detroit, US  - The United States' largest automaker General Motors (GM) announced it is set to lay off 3,500 workers as it reduces its production of pickup trucks and heavy four-wheel vehicles due to falling demand.

After laying off a shift in four North American factories, GM plans to make around 88,000 fewer pickup trucks and 50,000 fewer sports utility vehicles (SUVs) this year. This corresponds to more than 10 per cent of the previous year's production in this sector.

According to the announcement late Monday evening, the market for pickup trucks and SUVs slipped as much as 20 per cent in the first quarter. The company speculated that the change in the market was due to high fuel prices and the general economic downturn.

Financial crisis hits BMW's profits

Munich -BMW German auto group BMW AG reported Tuesday a bigger-than-forecast slump in first-quarter earnings as the global financial crisis and a slowing world economy took their toll on the world's leading luxury carmaker's profits.

Munich-based BMW said net profit fell to 487 million euros (761 million dollars) from 587 million euros a year earlier, despite an 11.2 per cent jump in revenue to 13.3 billion euros.

The carmaker's earnings fell short of analysts' predictions with first-quarter pretax profit slipping to 641 million euros from 852 million euros in the same period of 2007.

Controversial US billionaire to join Ford

Ford LogoDetroit/Los Angeles - US billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is to join car giant Ford and increase his share to more than 5 per cent, reports said Monday.

Since early April, the private holding Tracinda has bought a 4.7 per cent stake in Ford, according to an announcement Monday.

Kerkorian intends to spend 170 million dollars on 20 million shares bringing the total stake to 5.6 per cent.

Tracinda offers shareholders 8.50 dollars per share - an increase of 13.3 per cent on the premium over the 7.50 dollar closing price on April 25.

In the first quarter of 2008, Ford posted a profit of 100 million dollars last week. (dpa)

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