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  • Perodua Bezza servicing costs: just 1% or 40% more than the Proton Persona? The numbers explained

    It all started with Proton claiming that the Persona facelift – previewed earlier this month – has on average, 32% lower servicing costs compared to the Perodua Bezza and Honda City, over five years/100,000 km.

    It didn’t take long for Perodua to hit back. “The inaccuracy in cost difference is due to a comparison made not on an apple-to-apple basis. The Persona’s service costs were calculated as scheduled in its service booklet or owner’s manual whilst for the Bezza, the calculation was based on its preventive maintenance costs (which are optional) instead of scheduled costs as recommended in the service booklet,” said Datuk Zahari Husin, MD of Perodua Sales.

    P2’s sales chief added that the difference in maintenance costs between the Persona 1.6 AT and Bezza 1.3 AT is only RM44, or 1.4% in favour of the Proton, and not 32%. It was also pointed out that the Bezza uses 0W-20 motor oil (Persona uses 10W-30) and iridium spark plugs, which are costlier than regular items.

    So, is the difference 40%, 32% or 1%? Now that we have in our hands on the itemised service schedule from the Bezza’s owner’s manual, the picture is clear. Unlike Proton, Perodua has a Pro-Care preventive maintenance package for the Bezza that’s optional. Items on the Pro-Care menu is not strictly required as per the owner’s manual/service booklet, and opting out does not affect the car’s warranty.

    Perodua Bezza 1.3 AT with/without Pro-Care options vs Proton Persona 1.6. Click to enlarge chart

    As shown in the chart above, the difference between opting for all Pro-Care items and strictly going by the (service) book is not insubstantial for a budget car – RM4,287 versus RM3,095 for a difference of RM1,192 over five years. RM3,095 is the apple that P2 wants us to see next to the Persona’s RM3,051, and the difference is indeed a mere RM44, or 1.4%.

    However, if you just nod and say yes to everything (the full Pro-Care preventive maintenance package on top of the mandatory service menu), the difference between the Bezza and Persona becomes RM1,236. That’s 40% more.

    With that said, let’s take a closer look at the optional Pro-Care package and what it entails. Mainly, it’s shorter interval for selected items such as spark plugs, engine air filter and brake fluid.

    For instance, the 100,000 km spark plug change is in the owner’s manual, but there’s a Pro-Care optional change at 50,000 km. Similarly, mandatory brake fluid and air filter changes are set at 40,000 and 80,000 km in the service book, but Pro-Care recommends changes at every 20,000 km (which means these items pop up for your consideration at 20,000 and 60,000 km).

    Perodua Bezza 1.3 AT with/without Pro-Care options vs Proton Persona 1.6, itemised. Click to enlarge chart

    In addition, Perodua also offers tyre alignment, balancing and rotation (every 20,000 km); and a major air con service at 60,000 km as part of the Pro-Care package. If you skip the tyre and AC jobs and just tick the brake fluid, air filter and spark plug options, the difference between Pro-Care and standard is RM823.

    So there you have it, the difference in five-year/100,000 km servicing costs between the Bezza 1.3 AT by the service book, the Bezza 1.3 AT with the Pro-Care optional maintenance package, and the Proton Persona 1.6 AT – itemised. Those who rack up lots of miles (the Bezza is popular with Grab drivers) might want to consider Pro-Care suggestions, but forgoing them will not affect the car’s warranty – the choice is yours.

    Note that the Pro-Care optional items are all listed on Perodua’s website (asterisk marks out the options) and included in the total price for the selected interval – those were the official figures that we used for earlier comparisons (Proton also used the same source, it confirmed). Do look out for these optional items at the service centre, and specify that you want to follow the standard menu (owner’s manual), if you wish. By the way, Proton does not offer any optional service items.

    In any case, there’s more to overall running costs than just servicing costs. There’s road tax and annual insurance, and of course, fuel consumption. The Bezza 1.3 uses a modern Dual VVT-i engine from the NR family, which is used in various current Perodua/Daihatsu/Toyota models. Paired to a four-speed automatic, the top Bezza Advance model’s claimed FC is 22.0 km/l, thanks to the inclusion of Eco Idle automatic start-stop. Read more about the engine and its internals here.

  • Hyundai Tucson N Line gets new mild hybrid diesel

    After teasing the car last month, Hyundai has finally pulled the covers off the Tucson N Line, a look-faster trim level for the midsize SUV. While technically an appearance package, it gets a new engine option as well – and it’s another mild hybrid.

    The 48-volt system, which was introduced on the 185 PS 2.0 litre CRDi diesel with the facelift, has now been fitted to the smaller 136 PS 1.6 litre Smart Stream unit as well, claimed to provide an 11% reduction in fuel consumption. As on the 2.0 litre oil burner, the system consists of a mild hybrid starter generator (MHSG), a low-voltage DC/DC (LDC) converter, an inverter and a 0.44 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery.

    Also offered are the aforementioned 2.0 litre diesel and a 177 PS 1.6 litre T-GDI turbocharged petrol, and all powertrains meet the latest Euro 6d Temp emissions standards. Hyundai has also made some chassis tweaks to the N Line, with the petrol and 2.0 litre diesel mills receiving more linear and direct steering and revised suspension that is eight percent stiffer at the front and five percent at the rear.

    As far as exterior changes go, there’s a redesigned front bumper with squared-off corners, greater use of body colour and distinctive arrow-shaped LED daytime running lights, along with black bezels for the headlights and a darker mesh grille. You’ll also find gloss black door mirror caps and rear spoiler, body-coloured (instead of chrome) door handles, a sportier rear diffuser and black 19-inch alloy wheels.

    Inside, there are N-branded leather-and-suede sport seats and red contrast stitching on the steering wheel and seats. Alloy pedals and a leather-wrapped N-branded gearlever with a red stripe complete the look.

  • No new AWAS cameras installed – transport ministry

    According to transport minister Anthony Loke, the government has not installed any new AWAS (Awareness Automated Safety System) cameras. In a report by The Star, Loke said there are currently 45 cameras in operation. Of the 45 cameras, 29 are used for monitoring speed limit offences, while the remaining 16 for traffic light regulation.

    Loke was responding to a question from Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar on whether the government intends to set up more AWAS cameras and how much it would cost to do so. “At this time, the government has not installed any new cameras using government funds,” said Loke.

    “All the AWAS cameras were installed under the previous contract. The cost of installation for the cameras was borne by the two companies. However, the detailed breakdown cost of the installations were not stated,” he added.

    Loke estimated that installing one camera would cost between RM200,000 and RM250,000, which includes the electric cable, infrastructure, camera and ground work costs, but excludes maintenance.

    The minister also reiterated that the purpose of AWAS is not to trap anyone, but to educate motorists to adhere to the road rules especially in accident-prone areas.

    “In areas where AWAS is enforced, there are ample signboards of the system at the distance of three kilometres, two kilometres and one kilometre before the location of the actual camera. These signboards are to inform road users that the system is in force and not to trap or catch drivers off guard,” he explained.

    For now, about 90,000 summonses have been issued under the AWAS system, although the settlement rate remains low.

  • Pan-Borneo Highway: Don’t build new roads, expand existing ones to protect environment – Sabah CM

    The Sabah government is revisiting the project proposals for the Pan-Borneo Highway, and this time it plans to look into expanding and upgrading existing roads instead of building new ones, says chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

    According to The Star, he said there would be new approaches for the projects, and the government could take over the implementation instead of private companies managing them.

    Shafie has had long discussions with finance minister Lim Guan Eng and works minister Baru Bian about different approaches to speed up the Pan-Borneo Highway projects in Sabah without the involvement of private project delivery partners (PDP). Shafie also said the federal government would drop the PDP model in favour of a turnkey approach.

    “Let the government departments like the Public Works Department, the Federal Finance Ministry and the state get involved and make it more transparent,” he told reporters during the recent Heart of Borneo conference.

    Currently, the Pan-Borneo Highway projects are being carried out by Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd (BHP) in Sabah, whereas Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) handles the projects in Sarawak. A total of 35 parcels of projects amounting to RM12.8 billion are being implemented in Sabah, and it’s expected to be completed by 2025.

    Shafie also raised concerns about proposed new roads which would unnecessarily cut through forest reserves. “I hope they take it seriously, I told them not to flatten hills and chop trees, but just expand existing roads that we have,” he said adding that this would result in “new” roads without sacrificing the environment.

    The chief minister explained that expanding existing roads would be considerably faster than creating new roads. Upon completion, the Pan-Borneo Highway would span a collective length of about 2,325 km.

  • Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in Malaysia: RM2.88m

    The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera has arrived in Malaysia to replace the naturally aspirated Vanquish S for the top spot in the British marque’s line-up, boasting an uprated version of the 5.2 litre biturbo V12 which also served in the DB11 and now, the DB11 AMR. Here, the twelve-pot powerplant produces 715 hp at 6,500 rpm and 900 Nm of torque between 1,800 rpm and 5,000 rpm, making it 85 hp and 200 Nm stronger than in the DB11 AMR.

    Driveline for the DBS Superleggera continues to be an eight-speed ZF automatic – a rear-mounted transaxle, for a 51:49 front-to-rear weight distribution – with a limited slip-differential, albeit one that is an uprated unit with higher torque capacity to support this car’s greater outputs. This enables a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.4 seconds, while top speed is rated at 340 km/h, at which 180 kg of downforce is produced by the bodywork.

    An evolution of the DB11’s bonded aluminium structure is used for the DBS Superleggera, clothed in carbon-fibre body panels. Suspension is tasked to forged double wishbones and a multi-link setup for the front and rear, respectively, with adaptive dampers. Three dynamic drive modes – GT, Sport and Sport Plus – can be selected for both powertrain and chassis, the former controlling engine and gearbox responses together.

    Rolling stock comprises 21-inch wheels fitted with tyres measuring 265/35ZR21 in front and 305/30ZR21 at the back, which are home to carbon-ceramic brake discs of 410 mm and 360 mm diameters front and rear, respectively. This Y-spoke design comes in three finishes, with a twin-spoke design in two finishes.

    Inside, the DBS Superleggera features the Bang & Olufsen audio system as part of an infotainment pack which combines iOS mobile device integration, USB playback, digital and FM/AM radio, Bluetooth and satellite navigation, viewed through an eight-inch display and controlled via a centre console touchpad. Naturally, all manner of personalisation is possible, from contrast stitching to paint-to-sample finishes.

    The price for this range-topping, bent-twelve super GT? RM2.88 million including taxes as specified here, or RM1.205 million before duties or options – applicable duties ring the till for RM1.5 million, according to an Aston Martin representative. So far, there have been three confirmed bookings for the DBS Superleggera, which will go towards an estimated overall volume of 20 units for the marque in Malaysia this year.

  • Volvo to introduce Care Key as standard on all its cars

    Following the announcement earlier this month that Volvo will limit the top speed on all its cars to 180 km/h from 2020, the Swedish carmaker has now revealed that the Care Key will come as standard on all 2021 model year Volvo cars onwards.

    With the Care Key, owners will be able to set limitations on the car’s top speed should they have to hand over the keys to family members or friends. This is highly relevant to younger and inexperienced drivers that only just received their driving license.

    Such a feature isn’t exactly new, as Volvo also offers the Red Key that does the same thing. In fact, other manufacturers such as Ford also offer a similar capability with its MyKey (the Ranger sold in Malaysia comes with it), while Chevrolet allows owners to register a key fob as the Teen Driver key.

    “We believe that a carmaker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety. Our recently announced speed limit fits that thinking and the Care Key is another example,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO at Volvo Car Group.

    “Many want to be able to share their car with friends and family, but are unsure about how to make sure they are safe on the road. The Care Key provides one good solution and extra peace of mind,” he added.

    Volvo also stated that with these safety features in place, it is currently inviting insurance companies to discuss on special, favourable insurance to the Volvo community. “If we can encourage and support better behaviour with technology that helps drivers to stay out of trouble, that should logically also have a positive impact on insurance premiums,” said Samuelsson.

  • Lotus cars to get new design language, electrified powertrain, autonomous and connected technologies

    Lotus is on the verge of another major evolution, one that will see the brand cast its nets on a more global scale. In fact, future Lotus models will feature a new design language and incorporate the wide array of autonomous and connected technologies within the Geely family.

    Geely Auto’s vice president of public relations, Victor Young told us that a new design centre has been established in the UK, and the facility will utilise cutting-edge design technologies for upcoming products. “The next-generation of Lotus cars will have very beautiful designs,” said Young.

    A new research and development centre has also been set up in Germany to work on high-end electrified architectures for Lotus. When asked if the move will dilute the purity and essence of Lotus cars, Young said: “No, no. Firstly, we really respect the distinctive values of each brand, like Volvo, Lotus and Proton. But we want to bring something new to the brand.”

    “Lotus is a very famous brand in high-end sporty cars and they are very strong in lightweight technologies, engineering and racing heritage. We all like that and the Chinese consumers actually like that. But of course, in the modern car industry, you must have the economies of scale. If you don’t have bigger scale, you do not have the chance to survive.”

    Speaking of scale, Geely is in the midst of building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in China, with Young stating that it will help the brand achieve economies of scale and enjoy lower manufacturing costs. Plans to expand Lotus’ sales and service network have also been set in motion – the existing range of Lotus cars will be sold in China starting this year, before being exported to the US at a later stage.

    However, Young said despite having a larger scale, the company also has to move fast because the demands from the consumer move fast. “You always have to think from the demands of the consumer,” Young said, adding that “all the young consumers, no matter where they are, have a common trend of enjoying and embracing new technologies, as well as new services.”

    “They want to enjoy the driving dynamics of the car, but they also want to have more environmental responsibilities. That means the cars can be fast, can be fun, but can be green as well,” Young explained. “I think if you see Geneva, you’ll see a lot of hypercars that are either electrified, or pure electric.”

    Besides having new designs and hybrid propulsion tech, Young also said that Lotus may benefit from Geely’s suite of intelligent driving tech. “The intelligent part of driving makes driving more safe and more fun. Autonomous driving technology can be adopted and applied to Lotus cars as well,” he said.

    Lotus Esprit concept

    In fact, Young hinted that Lotus cars could also feature connected technologies. “In five to 10 years from now, the world will be connected in every way, so a car won’t be a single item. It has to be connected to other cars, with other signs on the road, with your home appliance – it all has to be connected, so it has to be a standard offering on the cars,” he added, although it remains to be seen if the sports cars will get them.

    On the product side of things, Young said Lotus’ portfolio will have to be diversified, with plans that include the possible introduction of two Volvo-powered SUVs and an all-new, RM10 million electric hypercar.

    To recap, Lotus recently teamed up with Williams to develop a the hypercar, dubbed Project Omega. The car is said to be the most ambitious project Lotus has undertaken in its history, and it’s tipped to be the fastest and most radical model to wear the Lotus badge.

    Lotus, now backed by an automotive stronghold which facilitated Volvo’s impressive record-setting turnaround, is on track to establish a more globalised brand presence. Anyone excited for this?

  • Volvo launches the E.V.A. Initiative – over 60 years of safety knowledge made available to everyone for free

    In 1959, Volvo introduced the world to one of the most important inventions in the history of automotive safety, the three-point safety belt, which was first used in the Amazon.

    The invention of the safety device is the work of Nils Bohlin, who first began his career as an aircraft engineer in 1942 at Saab, developing catapult seats and other safety equipment for pilots. He would later move to Volvo in 1958 to become a safety engineer.

    Even though Volvo held the patent to the three-point safety belt, the company recognised its significance in improving traffic safety. As a result, the patent was made available to everyone, including other automakers, and the safety device is estimated to have saved over one million lives globally since.

    This year’s marks the 60th anniversary of this milestone, and to underline that its sharing tradition goes beyond patents and physical products, Volvo recently launched the E.V.A. (Equal Vehicles for All) Initiative.

    The project celebrates sixty years worth of sharing research into car safety with the world for no charge, with a dedicated website allowing virtually anyone to access research materials from 1970 until 2018.

    “We have data on tens of thousands of real-life accidents, to help ensure our cars are as safe as they can be for what happens in real traffic. This means our cars are developed with the aim to protect all people, regardless of gender, height, shape or weight, beyond the ‘average person’ represented by crash test dummies,” said Lotta Jakobsson, professor and senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

    All that data gathered over the years also highlighted a noteworthy issue with inequality in terms of car safety development: most automakers still produce cars based exclusively on data from male crash test dummies.

    According to Volvo’s research, women are more at risk for some injuries in a car crash due to differences in, for example, anatomy and neck strength between the average man and woman. This would mean that women run a higher risk of getting injured in a traffic accident than men.

    Volvo has been testing its vehicles with a female crash test dummy since 1995, starting with the only available small sized female frontal impact dummy, HIII 5th percentile, while a small sized side impact dummy, SID-IIs, was included in 2001.

    Later on, Volvo developed a virtual model of a pregnant woman in the early 2000s, followed by a midsized female crash test dummy for whiplash evaluation in rear end impacts, as the only original car manufacturer in the co-development of EvaRID.

    These discoveries, along with those in the past, are responsible for some of the safety technologies found in Volvos today. These include the WHIPS whiplash protection, side airbags and inflatable curtains, side impact protection system (SIPS) and Run-off Road Protection being some of them.

    The idea of E.V.A. is simple: free-for-all knowledge sharing to make cars safer for everyone – regardless of your size, gender, or body shape. You can access the E.V.A. Initative here.

  • Volvo to install in-car cameras to prevent drunk driving

    Volvo is taking huge steps in its bid to eliminate fatalities in its cars by the end of the decade – in addition to instituting a blanket 180 km/h speed limit on all its cars in 2020, it will also install cameras in all its cars in a bid to prevent drunk and distracted driving.

    The company will use these cameras as well as other sensors to enable the car to monitor the driver for any dangerous behaviour that can cause an accident involving serious injury and death. These include a complete lack of steering input and eyes being closed or off the road for extended periods of time, as well as extreme weaving across lanes and excessively slow reaction times.

    If the driver does not respond to warning signals, the car could then intervene, for example, by limiting the speed, alerting the Volvo on Call assistance service and, finally, actively slowing down and parking safely. Volvo says that such a driver monitoring system is an important part of allowing the car to actively make decisions to help avoid potentially fatal accidents.

    According to Gothenburg, intoxication and distraction are the main gaps in Volvo’s quest for zero deaths, together with speeding – which is why the company is going beyond vehicle safety and expanding its focus on driver behaviour as well. Figures from the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that in the US alone, almost 30% of all traffic fatalities in 2017 involved intoxicated drivers.

    “When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable,” said senior vice president of research and development Henrik Green. “In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.”

    The cameras will be introduced starting with models on the next-generation SPA2 platform in the early 2020s, with details of the exact amount of cameras and their positioning in the interior to be revealed at a later stage. Volvo knows that people may be unsettled by the idea of being monitored, so the company wants to start a conversation on whether carmakers have the right or even the obligation to install such technology.

    “There are many accidents that occur as a result of intoxicated drivers,” said its professor on driver behaviour Trent Victor. “Some people still believe that they can drive after having had a drink, and that this will not affect their capabilities. We want to ensure that people are not put in danger as a result of intoxication.”

  • Toyota to produce new hybrid car for Suzuki in the UK

    Toyota has announced that it will be producing a new hybrid car in the UK for Suzuki, in a boost to British car industry workers amid continued Brexit uncertainty, The Guardian reports. The car in question is said to be based on the Toyota Corolla, and the announcement is part of the Toyota-Suzuki global partnership to produce hybrid and electric cars.

    The new car, which will be built at the firm’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire (engines are to be supplied by its Deeside factory in north Wales), is unlikely to create new jobs within the facility, but it will contribute to the security of its employees, amounting to around 3,200 workers. This is a stark contrast to Honda’s decision to close down its Swindon plant, affecting some 3,500 workers.

    Toyota Manufacturing UK’s managing director, Marvin Cook, said “this is good news for our UK plants. Seeking to produce additional volume for other customers is one example of all the efforts we are making to keep our UK manufacturing operations as competitive as they can be,” he explained.

    Moving forward, Toyota will produce hybrids based on its Corolla and RAV4 SUV for Suzuki in Europe, while Suzuki will supply Toyota with petrol engines for compact vehicle models sold in the same region. The partnership will also see Suzuki produce more Toyota vehicles in the near future.

    The report also says Suzuki, a smaller but dominant player in the fast-growing Indian automotive market, will help Toyota expand its presence in India, and it plans to do so by developing two compact models based on its Ciaz and Ertiga models. Toyota has struggled to increase sales in the world’s fifth-largest passenger car market, due to poor demand for its low-cost cars.

    This partnership will also allow Suzuki to tap into Toyota’s R&D firepower to help develop lower-emission vehicles and self-driving cars, two areas which Suzuki admits to be lagging behind. In turn, Suzuki will also produce its Baleno, Vitara Brezza, Ciaz, and Ertiga models for Toyota, which will be rebranded and renamed as Toyota models for the African market.

    Toyota president Akio Toyoda said: “We believe that the expansion of our business partnership with Suzuki… will help give us the competitive edge we will need to survive this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation.”


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Last Updated 16 Mar 2019


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