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  • Toyota C-HR by Karl Lagerfeld officially launched in Thailand – limited to 200 units; priced at RM161,859

    Toyota Motor Thailand has launched the new C-HR by Karl Lagerfeld in the Kingdom, which will be offered in limited numbers (200 units) at a price of 1.219 million baht (RM161,589). As the name suggests, the special edition model was designed in the spirit of the legendary fashion designer who passed away last year and features a number of unique styling cues.

    To match the dressing style of the man in question, the car adopts a white and black colour scheme for its exterior and interior. The former sees the majority of the bodywork finished in black, while specific areas like the roof, side mirror caps, side skirts, and parts of the bumpers are painted white for contrast.

    Other exterior touches include 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels, dedicated sill plates, a Karl Lagerfeld emblem on the tailgate, as well as a pearl white wrap applied on the doors that also sport the logo. The interior also follows the two-tone theme, as seen on the branded dashboard and seats, the latter of which is upholstered in high-quality leather.

    Customers who purchase the special C-HR will also get a limited edition set designed by the Karl Lagerfeld team worth over 50,000 baht (RM6,628), which consists of a luggage bag, handbag, cap and key chain.

    The “fashion vehicle” is based on the HV Hi hybrid variant of the C-HR sold in the Kingdom, and is powered by a 2ZR-FXE 1.8 litre four-cylinder (98 PS and 142 Nm of torque) paired with an E-CVT. The powertrain also features an electric motor (72 PS and 163 Nm) that draws power from a 6.5 Ah nickel-metal hydride battery, which provides a total system output of 122 PS.

    Standard equipment includes LED taillights and projector headlamps, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, a 4.2-inch multi-info instrument cluster display, a seven-inch touchscreen head unit, T-Connect telematics, seven airbags (including for the driver’s knee), and the usual list of safety equipment like Vehicle Stability Control, ABS, traction control, Hill-start Assist Control, and EBD.

    The model also gets additional systems like automatic high beam, Lane Departure Alert, adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, a tyre pressure monitoring system and Toyota’s Pre-collision System (autonomous emergency braking).

  • Mercedes-Benz Services Malaysia says no six-month car loan payment holiday, but will work on solutions

    On March 25, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) issued a directive to all banks to grant an automatic six-month moratorium (deferment) of all loan/financing repayments effective from April 1, to September 30, 2020. In the case of all conventional hire purchase (HP) car loans, the monthly instalments will automatically be put on hold for six months.

    As for loans from non-bank credit providers, these are not banks and so aren’t tied under the BNM directive, so they’re not bound to offer any deferment. Mercedes-Benz Services Malaysia (MBSM) is one such company, and has stated that since it is not in the category of a licensed bank or financial institution under the purview of BNM, the automatic moratorium directive does not apply for it.

    As such, the company says it will have to continue to accept all monthly instalments due for now. It however added that it was aware of the difficulties faced by its customers and is currently working on the best solution to support customers. It added that customers who wish to make enquiries on the matter to contact the company via email at or at 1-800-88-1133 (press #2).

    The company, which is Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s financial arm, recorded new contracts worth over RM1 billion last year. In 2019, MBSM financed five out of every 10 Mercedes-Benz vehicles sold and held a servicing portfolio of RM2.6 billion.

  • Dongfeng reviews PSA stake following share price drop due to Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak – report

    Dongfeng Motor Group is reviewing its deal with PSA for reducing its stake in the French automaker following a sharp drop in share prices due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

    The French automaker group of companies agreed late last year to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which would effectively create the fourth-largest automaker by sales volume, and bring together a combined workforce of 400,000 staff. The two automakers signed a memorandum of understanding in December towards closing the merger in 12 to 18 months, Automotive News reported.

    To facilitate this process, Dongfeng had agreed to lower its 12.2% stake in PSA by selling 30.7 million shares back to the French company. This stake was worth around 680 million euros (RM3.2 billion), and the share sale would leave Dongfeng holding approximately 4.5% of the merged PSA-FCA group, said Reuters.

    The Chinese firm, however is reviewing the move, according to a Dongfeng official. “There are possibilities that the stake sale plan will change. We are evaluating the issue. This is closely related to (PSA’s) merger talks with FCA, so we are also in close talks with them,” said the official in an earnings call.

    A document sighted by Reuters showed Dongfeng and PSA plans to cut jobs at the Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroen Automobile (DPCA) facility in Wuhan, and reduce its number of car assembly plants in order to make the joint venture more profitable, according to the report.

    Last month, PSA stated that it is still committed to This is closely related to their (PSA’s) merger talks with FCA, so we are also in close talks with them merger deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, following French media reports that the merger between the two automotive groups could be threatened by developing market conditions a resulting from the ongoing pandemic.

    It was also previously reported that all five PSA brands and all nine FCA brands will be maintained after the after the US$50 billion (RM207.5 billion) 50:50 share merger.

  • Volvo’s Q1 2020 sales down by 18.2% due to Covid-19

    Volvo’s consecutive years of charting record growth has been abruptly disrupted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, and in the first quarter of 2020 it sold 131,889 cars globally. That’s a drop of 18.2% compared to the same period last year.

    Last month, the Swedish brand sold 46,395 cars, down 31.2% compared to the March 2019, mostly due to weaker demand in Europe and the US. It sold 70,510 cars in Europe, down 18.5% from Q1 2019, and shifted just 19,485 cars in the US, representing a reduction of 11.7%. Both these markets are expected to deteriorate further as they battle the rampaging Covid-19 outbreak.

    On the flip side, the China market is currently showing signs of recovery, with Volvo claiming that showroom traffic is improving. In China, Volvo sold 20,780 cars, a 30.5% drop from the same period last year. Some provinces which began easing movement restrictions in the beginning of March have seen an increase of activity in dealerships, and Volvo has also reopened four of its manufacturing plants in China.

    A breakdown for the total number of cars Volvo sold globally in Q1 2020

    For Q1 2020, the Volvo XC60 was the best-selling model with 36,930 units sold (down from 46,259 units in Q1 2019), followed by the XC40 (34,268 units; up from 28,903 cars) and XC90 (18,327 units; down from 22,073 cars).

    Its SUV range accounted for 67.9% of the total sales in the first quarter (up from 60.3% in Q1 2019), while the Recharge plug-in hybrid line-up stood at 14.7%, nearly doubling last year’s first quarter figure of 7.4%.

  • MCO: ERL suspends all KLIA Express, Transit services

    The government’s movement control order is continuing to affect businesses nationwide, as Express Rail Link (ERL) has announced that it will be temporarily suspending all KLIA Express and KLIA Transit services from tomorrow until after the order lifts on April 15.

    According to The Star, the suspension follows a very low level of ridership over the past eight days, with the company stating that the coronavirus pandemic has halted virtually all air travel, resulting in a very low number of travellers and commuters during the order period.

    As such, ERL will shutter its services after consulting the relevant authorities. The company has also suspended online ticketing for travels until April 14, with only travel dates from the following day onwards being selectable for purchase through the official website and the smartphone app.

    Alternative travel options to KLIA Express and Transit

    Passengers were advised to make alternative arrangements for transportation during this period, and ERL also confirmed that refunds for unused tickets can be made through the customer enquiry email.

    Before suspending services altogether, ERL revised its schedules twice during the order. Originally, KLIA Express and KLIA Transit ran as a combined service in 30-minute intervals from 4:30 am to 1:00 am, but on March 25, the hours were shortened to 6:00 am to 10:00 am and 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

  • Mercedes-Benz Malaysia says that missed routine servicing due to MCO will not affect vehicle warranty

    As a result of the movement control order (MCO), all car showrooms and service centres in the country will remain closed until April 14, and the inability to send vehicles in for routine maintenance has led to questions about whether that delay in scheduled service will have an impact on any warranty claims down the line, should these crop up

    Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has announced that missed servicing for its Mercedes-Benz vehicles as a result of restrictions brought about by MCO will not affect the warranty of eligible vehicles.

    The company says that vehicles where the service or warranty period due date falls between the period of the MCO are covered, but owners should schedule a vehicle service or send in their car for a warranty repair to be performed within four weeks following the lifting of the MCO to maintain the status of the warranty.

    Customers needing emergency services for their vehicle or having any urgent query relating to the vehicle during this period can contact 1-800-88-1133, where off-site personnel will be able to assist remotely.

  • Mazda launches 100th anniversary celebratory models

    Mazda is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and to commemorate its centenary since its foundation on January 30, 1920, the carmaker has introduced a new special edition series of cars that will be sold in Japan followed by other markets later on. These will be offered for a limited time until the end of March 2021, with pre-orders starting as of today.

    The offerings cover nearly all major models in Mazda’s current line-up, from the Mazda 2 right on through to the MX-5, with each adopting a white and burgundy two-tone colour theme inspired by the brand’s first passenger car, the R360 that first debuted in 1960. The theme references the first debut of the pint-sized car, which carried the white and red combination when it was put on display at the Japan Auto Show for the very first time.

    The R360 marked a turning point for the company, which initially built motorcycles and trucks from its foundation until 1959. The four-seat coupe packed a 356 cc four-cylinder V-twin engine, which was paired with a four-speed manual transmission initially and was available with an optional two-speed automatic option later on.

    Aside from the Snowflake White Pearl Mica exterior finish and burgundy interior, the commemorative models will also get unique touches like “100th Anniversary” badging on the fenders as well as the wheel hubcaps. Other touches include embossed headrests, floor mats and a key fob, all of which bear the special logo as well.

    For the Japanese market, the celebratory Mazda 2, Mazda 3 and CX-3 models will be the first to go on sale in June 2020, which will then be followed by the CX-30, CX-5, CX-8, MX-5 and MX-5 RF a month later, while the Mazda 6 comes much later in September.

  • MCO: Bring utility bill when driving out, advices police

    As someone who lives alone and is hopeless in the kitchen, this writer has been tapauing a fair bit over the movement control order (MCO) period. While I’ve not come across roadblocks on my usual routes, news of the authorities tightening the traffic choke in phase two is worrying.

    The police are looking out for two things, those who do not comply with the one-person-per-car rule and those who are gallivanting or moving far from their area for essentials. There’s a 10 km radius rule now in place, but the message is stay within your neighbourhood.

    If stopped, how do you prove this? Utility bills, of course. I’ve had them in the glove box since day one thanks to warnings by our in-house Covid war chief General Lim, but if you haven’t already done so, here’s one from the PDRM.

    Selangor residents who need to drive out during the MCO are encouraged to bring along a utility bill with proof of current residence. State police integrity and standards compliance department chief ACP Mohd Ismail Muslim said the move is to show that they have fulfilled the conditions set in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (measures within infected local areas) Regulations 2020, Bernama reports.

    The cop reiterated that Rule 4 of the regulation, which took effect on April 1 and will last throughout the MCO period, stipulates that any travel for reasons allowed is restricted to a 10 km radius from the individual’s residence. Those involved in essential services must present a written permission letter from their employer if required.

    “During the MCO period, just keep any of your utility bill in your vehicle and if the police ask you where do you want to go, just tell them that you are heading home or want to buy daily necessities by showing us the bill,” he told reporters in Shah Alam yesterday, adding that Selangor police will increase the number of roadblocks and road closures, especially at highway entry and exit points.

    The authorities are definitely stepping up enforcement in this second phase of the MCO, which is a crucial time in our country’s battle to flatten the coronavirus curve. Round the clock operations on a large scale have started in Subang and the Gombak police district for instance, and the cops are nabbing joyriders who have been sentenced almost immediately. So, remember to keep those utility bills in the car.

    In MCO phase two, supermarkets, grocers, restaurants providing takeaways and petrol stations are all limited to 8am-8pm operating hours, and the same goes for food delivery services. Public transport operation hours are now from 6am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm daily, while taxis and ride-hailing cars will be permitted to operate from 6am to 10pm.

    So, let’s stay at home unless it’s to get essentials, and if you head out, keep to you own neighbourhood, be mindful of the 10 km radius and adhere to the one-person-per-car rule.

  • McLaren to unveil new hybrid V6 sports car this year

    McLaren has revealed that it will be unveiling its first mainstream hybrid car later this year, and according to Autocar, sources say the new debutant will be positioned at the lower end of the model range, possibly within the Sports Series stable.

    As previously reported, the automaker will deploy its electrified twin-turbocharged V6 engine, with company CEO Mike Flewitt saying that he’s excited at the possibilities of using electrical power to boost performance and reduce emissions.

    “We have experience of hybrid systems with cars like the P1, P1 GTR, and Speedtail, and that recipe of offering a car that can be both truly economical and thrilling to drive remains our goal. McLaren is all about building the best driver’s cars, and we see opportunities with hybrid [powertrains], in terms of the instant torque and filling the gaps in the powerband,” Flewitt said.

    Hybrid powertrains often weigh more, and McLaren says its electrified cars will weigh an average of 32 kg more. However, its engineers have apparently overcome the hurdle, but whether or not this raises the car’s price tag remains to be seen.

    Not that it’s a problem, because as McLaren COO Jens Ludmann puts it: “We’re fortunate that we’re not so constrained by building to a price. Our customers want the best, so that’s what we obsess over.” The PHEV system will also offer a pure electric driving range of up to 32 km, and every model will be electrified within the next four years.

    The hybrid system for the V6 will also be compatible with the brand’s famous turbocharged V8 engines, which means future Ultimate Series models will only become more potent.

  • Mercedes-Benz evaluating organic batteries for road car use; production ‘at least 15 years away’ – report

    Mercedes-Benz is researching organic batteries that are more environmentally friendly for use in future road cars, however the technology is at least 15 years away from production, reports Autocar.

    Previewed on the Vision AVTR concept car shown earlier this year, the organic battery technology uses graphene-based organic cell chemistry with a water-based electrolyte. This does without the use of rare earth or toxic materials, says the report, making it recyclable through composting.

    Early testing shows that the batteries offer both high energy density and the ability to be recharged quickly, said Autocar. “It’s a very promising technology. I’ve already seen it working in laboratories, where the results look really good, but we don’t see that it’s close to being used in production technology for now; it’s around 15 to 20 years away,” said Mercedes-Benz senior manager of battery research Andreas Hintennach.

    Current electric and electrified vehicles use lithium-ion battery technology, the efficiency of which Mercedes-Benz is still working to improve. The range of vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries still can be increased by up to 25%, estimates Hintennach, while evaulating ‘a number of future technologies’ which the firm aims to introduce within the next five to 15 years.

    Production EVs such as the Mercedes-Benz EQC employ lithium-ion batteries

    Among these future technologies is solid-state batteries, though Hintennach cautioned that it is ‘not a magic solution’, even though solid-state battery technology ‘opens a lot of doors and windows’. “Solid state (battery technology) adds lots of positive aspects. It’s not a miracle but (it) would be a huge step forward,” he said.

    A major issue with solid-state batteries is long charging times required, making them unsuitable for road car use, said Hintennach. That said, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to be the first to put the technology into series production with the eCitaro bus in the second half of this decade, he noted.

    Other technologies being researched in this area include lithium-metal anodes, lithium-sulphur batteries and lithium-oxygen batteries, said Hintennach. All these offer different benefits and drawbacks in terms of efficiency, energy density and weight, he said. Each different battery type will likely have applications in different types of vehicles, for example lithium-sulphur batteries potentially allowing the creation of smaller battery packs compared to using lithium-ion, which is heavier.

    Is there a risk in pursuing multiple technologies at the same time? “It is challenging, but you need novel ideas . We need to be very focused on the future,” Hintennach said. “You do risk inefficiency by looking at multiple options, and not all will make it to market, but if you didn’t take risks in R&D by backing multiple horses, then you could end up losing. We’re also keeping the pipeline open for the future,” he noted.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept


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Last Updated 28 Mar 2020


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