Auto Sector

Electric cars are the future, WWF says

Brussels  - Plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles are more efficient and less greenhouse gas intensive than all other alternatives, the World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) reported.

"The cars of the future must be much more efficient smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic - and they should increasingly, be powered by electricity," said James Leape, Director General of WWF International.

The organization's analysis found electric vehicles were three times more efficient than hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.

"More importantly perhaps, electric vheicles can be widely introduced using existing technologies and distribution infrastructure," the WWF said.

Citroen 2CV "Duck" returns with design study

Paris  - Citroen is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the legendary 2CV "Duck" with a concept study to be presented at this year's Paris Motor Show, according to reports.

Affectionately nicknamed "the duck" by its many hippie fans in the 1960s and 1970s because of its distinctive design, production of the 2CV ceased in 1990. Around 5 million units were sold worldwide.

But now Germany's auto-motor-sport magazine has released sketches of what a modern 2CV could look like, showing some similarity with the original looks and the sharply downward sloping bonnet. A typical design cue from the original are the partially covered rear wheels.

Italian car sales plunge in March

Italian carBerlin  - A sharp drop in new car registrations in Italy helped to drag down total European auto sales, data released Tuesday showed, with weak consumer demand also hitting the country's key carmaker, Fiat.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said Italy recorded a 18.8-per-cent plunge in car registrations with the nation reporting a 10-per-cent fall for the quarter.

Total new European passenger car registrations slumped by 9.5 per cent in March, the data showed with last month's fall resulting in car registrations dropping by 1.7 per cent during the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2007.

European car sales slump in March

Berlin  - New European passenger car registrations slumped by 9.5 per cent in March, data released Tuesday showed, as rising oil prices and growing economic uncertainty kept consumers away from car showrooms.

The March fall resulted in car registrations dropping by 1.7 per cent during the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2007, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said releasing the figures.

The decline in car sales also came despite continuing solid growth in the auto markets in Central and Eastern Europe.

While monthly registrations in Western Europe dropped by 10.2 per cent during March, registrations in Central and Eastern Europe rose by 3.5 per cent last month.

Thailand claims "eco" niche in Asia's small-car production

Bangkok - Small CarThailand, already the world's second largest producer of one-ton pickup trucks (after only the US), earlier this month secured itself an eco-car niche in the globe's competitive auto manufacturing sector.

On April 2, Thailand's Board of Investment (BoI) granted tax incentives to Toyota, Mitsubishi and Tata to invest a combined 536 million dollars to produce more than 300,000 eco-cars for the domestic and export markets over the next five years.

India squeezes prices to mount small-car challenge

Small CarBy Siddhartha Kumar  - India is set to emerge as a global small car hub with domestic and multinational automakers adapting to cost-conscious consumers in a way that is changing the small car paradigm and could well revolutionize the way cars are made globally.

The unveiling of the world's cheapest car, the 2,500-dollar Nano by India's Tata Motors earlier this year set the scramble among carmakers for a new domain of low-priced small cars in the Indian market.

Asia's big battle for the small-car market

Small CarAsia , with its teaming masses and booming economies, is arguably the final frontier for the world's automobile industry. With rising incomes among the 2-billion-plus populations of India and China, the growth potential for car sales is staggering.

So, too, is the potential for more pollution, traffic problems and oil consumption. To meet demand while mitigating the environmental impact, most Asian governments are encouraging local automobile manufacturers to produce smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

Chinese car firms diversify in battle for "green" market

Beijing  - Chinese car firms are diversifying into hybrids, electric, hydrogen and gas powered vehicles, as well as improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, as they battle for shares of the emerging market for "greener" models.

"All the research that foreign companies are doing on 'eco' cars, we are also doing," Du Fangci, deputy head of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"For example, hybrid, fuel-cell, multiple fuel, alternative fuels; we are doing all of this and we have been doing the research for more than five years," Du said.

Most joint-venture and Chinese firms are researching hybrids and other new technologies.

China, Brazil help to drive VW sales to record high

Berlin  - The booming car markets of China and Brazil helped to push German auto maker Volkswagen AG's sales to an all-time high during the first quarter of 2008 raising the prospects of a new record sales year for the group.

Europe's biggest carmaker said it delivered 1.58 million autos worldwide during the first three months of the year, which represented a rise of 7 per cent over the same period last year.

Releasing the data, VW described the first quarter as the most successful in the company's history.

The first-quarter increase followed a surge of about 33 per cent in sales to China and almost a 25 per cent jump in Brazil. (dpa)

Toyota to launch small car by year 2010; will set up new plant in Bangalore

Toyota plans small car by 2010

Indian consumers will have more choice in small car segment with auto major Toyota announcing the expected launch of their small car by year 2010. Top officials at Toyota recently said that the small car will make its debut in India very soon.

Toyota manufactures Innova and Corolla at its present facility in Bangalore. The company imports Luxury Sedan Toyota Camry and SUV Prado for Indian markets.

Toyota Motors to pump Rs 1400 crore for the setup of new facility in India

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will launch a small car in the Indian market and will invest Rs 1400 crore ($ 350 million) for a new factory that will come up in Bangalore by 2010.

The company will build a second plant on the site of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Limited (TKM), its automobile production base in India.

Toyota is present in India through Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd. (TKM), which is a joint venture company established on the outskirts of Bangalore in October 1997 by TMC and the Kirloskar Group.

Currently, TKM produces the Corolla and the IMV series Innova minivan, with annual production in 2007 of 52,000 vehicles (an increase of 18% year-on-year).

Daimler-Chrysler Achieves Milestone By Rolling Out 20,000th Passenger Car

To achieve a milestone in the luxury car segment, Auto Major Mercedes Benz 'E' Class ModelDaimler-Chrysler has rolled out its 20,000th passenger car in the 'E' Class, on Wednesday, from Mercedes Benz India’s plant in Chikali.

While lecturing on the occasion, Managing Director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, Dr Wilfried Aulbur stated, “'The Indian market is growing rapidly and the growing economy is fostering our growth. The luxury segment has grown and we have already registered sales of 60 per cent over the previous.”

Hero Honda to pump Rs 150 crore more in its Haridwar Facility

Hero Honda to pump Rs 150 crore more in its Haridwar FacilityThe country's top motorcycle-maker Hero Honda Motors Limited has unveiled its plan to invest an additional Rs 150 crore by the end of the year in its new facility in Haridwar to raise capacity.

The Haridwar plant, company’s third in the country, spread over 275 acres, will have an initial installed capacity of 5 lakh units and will be scaled up to 10 lakh units by the end of the year. Earlier, the company has invested Rs 450 crore in the plant.

Daimler confirms growth plans for 2008 despite difficult conditions

Auto PartsBerlin- Daimler confirmed its targets for growth and a substantial rise in profits for 2008 at the German luxury car and utility vehicle maker's annual general meeting in Berlin Wednesday.

Daimler board chairman Dieter Zetsche pointed, however, to difficulties in the US, the most important foreign market for the company's Mercedes car range.

This resulted from the ongoing financial crisis and from the expected continuing weakness of the dollar over coming months, he said.

"Currently, the economic climate suggests that things will get tougher rather than easier," Zetsche said in remarks released ahead of the AGM.

Hero Honda Commence Operations At Haridwar Facility; To Spend Rs 150 Cr More

The world’s biggest two-wheeler maker, Hero Honda Motors India (HHML) Hero Hondahas made announcement about the commencement of its operations at its new plant in Haridwar, Uttrakhand.

The production capacity of the company’s new facility is envisaged to be expanded in phases, initially from 0.5 million units to a million units by the end of the existing year (2008).

The company has invested Rs 450 crore in the Haridwar plant up till now. It will also invest an additional Rs 150 crore in 2008 to raise plant capacity.  

Competition and new choices in the hatchback segment

C-SegmentGeneva - Car makers are launching a spate of new models in the hatchback or c-segment this year with practical family saloons and station wagons pitched against affordable sports cars and luxury models.

Volkswagen's Scirocco sports car will be available in European showrooms soon at prices starting at 21,750 euros (34,419 dollars). The car maker has combined the new design of the three-door car with VW Golf technology such as the transmission and engines in the range 88 kW/120 hp to 147 kW/200 hp. New is the adaptive chassis.

Real or fake? Lucrative trade in imitation Ferraris, Bugattis

Hamburg - Ferrari and Bugattis LogoIn an operation dubbed "Red Passion" Italian police earlier this year launched a nationwide crackdown on secret workshops manufacturing imitation Ferraris, confiscating 14 finished cars and eight more under construction.

Acting on a tipoff from Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello, police eventually seized more than a dozen suspects across the nation. But experts agree that this is only the tip of the iceberg with thousands of imitation classics from the 1960s and 1970s manufactured by secret workshops all over the world.

Facelift for Mercedes B-Class - fuel cell set for 2010

Mercedes B ClassStuttgart - Mercedes has given the B-Class a design makeover with more economical engines and a special fuel-cell hydrogen drive version available in 2010, the car maker has announced.

The four-cylinder engines are up to 7 per cent more economical than the predecessor with exhaust emissions that undercut current European Union (EU) emission standards by as much as 90 per cent, Mercedes said.

A new start/stop function will be available for the B 150 and B 170 models. The engine switches off automatically at traffic lights. Additional new developments include a bi-fuel petrol/natural-gas drive in the B 170 NGT, along with active parking assist.

Sports cars remain popular despite eco-debate

Audi TTS sports carHamburg - Despite rising prices at the pump and car manufacturers actively working on clean-drive technology and more economical vehicles, sports cars remain popular with several new models coming onto the market soon.

"Sports cars are not influenced by the current eco-debate. They are emotional objects," says market analyst Nick Margetts from the market research organisation Jato Dynamics.

Mercedes has given the SL and SLK a makeover just in time for spring in Europe. Volkswagen also unveiled the new Scirocco, featuring an avant garde design and a package of new technology, at the recent Geneva Motor Show.

Mercedes Sprinter van with natural-gas drive

Mercedes Sprinter VanStuttgart - Mercedes is offering the new Sprinter transporter with natural-gas drive, with operating costs 30 per cent lower than comparable diesel-engined versions, the manufacturer has announced.

Fitted with bivalent drive the Sprinter NGT, has a four-cylinder unit with a displacement of 1.8 litres, developing 115 kW/156 hp.

The driver can switch between gas and petrol-drive by pressing a button to the left of the ignition lock. An indicator lamp comes on when in natural-gas mode. A display in the cockpit also lets the driver know how much gas is left in the tank.

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