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  • Malaysia’s first flying car is Chinese-made EHang 216 – EastCap Berhad’s drone takes flight this Thursday

    Malaysia’s first flying vehicle prototype – which is set to take flight this Thursday – has been identified, and it’s not the Vector that is being developed by local company Aerodyne Group. Emerging information from news reports has revealed the unit to be foreign-made, in this case the EHang 216, a passenger drone made by Chinese company Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology Co.

    As Berita Harian reports, the vehicle, which will be known as the Super Dron locally, is a joint venture project between local company EastCap and two Chinese companies, EHang Intelligent Equipment (Guangzhou) and Strong Rich Holdings. The strategic partnership will handle the marketing, operation and maintenance of the Super Dron in the country.

    Earlier this week, it was reported that entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof is set to ride alongside the pilot when the vehicle takes its maiden flight in Subang on Thursday.

    The EHang 216 is a passenger drone with eight arms, each mounting two electric motors that are connected to propellers, making for 16 rotors in all. The 360 kg unit features an aero-cab structure capable of accomodating two passengers, with payload rated at 260 kg. Performance figures off the Internet reveal a cruising speed of 130 km/h and a flight range of around 35 km for the drone.

    The BH report adds that EastCap, which is helmed by Datuk Seri Zakwanhafiz Ahmad Ansari, who is the MD and CEO, is also involved in the plantation industry, especially in guarana crop development. Back in August, the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Rumah Koperasi Indonesia (RKI) for the latter to purchase 1,000 units of the Super Dron for use primarily in the agricultural sector as a plantation mapping tool and as a crop sprayer.

    The company has also previously stated that the introduction of the Super Dron in the country was not meant as an avenue for public transportation, but for applications such as border monitoring by authorities as an emergency aid vehicle. EastCap has also said it aims to build a super drone assembly facility in Malaysia with a production capacity of 10,000 units a year.

    Last month, Redzuan said that a second flying vehicle is in the works, and this would utilise different technologies from the first one. He added that the vehicle is expected to perform its inaugural flight in the third quarter of 2020.

    This could likely be the Vector, a drone-based, point-to-point air mobility solution being developed by Malaysian company Aerodyne Group in collaboration with a Japanese partner. The Vector will reportedly be powered by four motors and a lithium-ion battery. Weighing in at 600 kg, and with a payload capacity of up to 200 kg, the vehicle is capable of flying about 50 metres above ground level at 60 km/h, and will offer from 30 up to 90 minutes of flight time.

    GALLERY: EHang 216 passenger drone

  • Geely’s TX4 London taxi enters ASEAN – Thai CKD

    As the descendant of a long line of iconic London taxis, the TX4’s identity is inexorably tied to Britain’s capital, having served commuters there for the better part of a decade. But now, the defunct black cab is getting a new lease of life, a new stamp on its passport and a new home in the Land of Smiles.

    That’s because Geely Commercial Vehicles (GCV), which owns the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) that previously built the TX4 as the London Taxi Company (and currently builds the new TX that has replaced it), is bringing it to Thailand as its first offering in Southeast Asia. Assembled by Asia Cab, the TX4 is the first in what is set to be a full range of commercial vehicles to be sold in the region.

    Maintaining its 2,883 mm wheelbase and tall 1,823 mm height, the TX4 retains the bulbous design that has made it a recognisable part of London’s landscape, as well as its unique 1+2+3 seating configuration. However, it ditches its 2.5 litre VM Motori diesel engine in favour of a “modern” petrol mill, although GCV hasn’t released any specifics as yet. Chinese-built models use a 2.4 litre Mitsubishi petrol unit.

    This, of course, isn’t the first time the TX4 has made an appearance in the region – it was also sold in Singapore, back when it was made by LEVC’s predecessor London Taxis International (LTI). That company was liquidated in 2013 and sold to Geely. The TX4 has also seen service in continental Europe, Australia and the Middle East as well as major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.

  • FIRST RIDE: 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 – fast and easy

    During the Ducati World Premiere in Rimini, Italy, recently, the Borgo Panigale outfit revealed the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2. As the replacement for the 959 Panigale, the Panigale V2 follows the naming convention of its larger stablemate, the Panigale V4.

    As its entry-level sports bike, if something with 155 hp and weighing 200 kg can be called entry-level, the Panigale V2 is the only superbike you can buy from Ducati with a V-twin. Anything else comes either without a fairing, is meant to cross deserts or is designed to appeal to the man bun wearing, soy milk latte sipping, hipster crowd.

    There are some who think this is a “baby” Panigale but we can tell you, there is nothing baby about this machine at all. Look at it from this point of view – in 1997, Carl Fogarty won a World Superbike Championship on a 955 cc V-twin with 140 hp.

    Today, 200+ hp superbikes on the street are the norm and I’ve seen all too many Malaysian riders on Karak riding them wearing a hoodie and jeans with no gloves. Make of that what you will.

    Coming back to the matter at hand, after the reveal, was invited to the Panigale V2 press test at Jerez, Spain to put this two-cylinder sports bike through the paces. Here’s what we found.

    Read the First Look of the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 after the jump.

  • Proton R3 – The road to success at Sepang 1000KM

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, and in that vein, neither was Proton’s success in motorsport. Through its motorsport division Proton R3, the national carmaker captured numerous victories in both rallying and circuit racing, most recently in the latter with its string of four wins at the Sepang 1000KM endurance race under the R3 banner and five in total for Proton.

    Proton R3 has released a series of short videos, each briefly describing the various aspects of what it takes to succeed in motorsports at the national level. Here, the process of taking a conventional, road-going passenger vehicle and dissecting it for the best possible approach towards the making of race-winning cars is illustrated, as well as the benefits offered by the Proton models used.

    The national carmaker’s motorsports division also observes grassroots racing in Malaysia, namely within the Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) from which a wealth of racing talent can be scouted and drawn from, said Proton R3 team principal Gary Lee.

    Not only do Team Proton R3 hopefuls have to be quick on track – that’s a given – they also need the right attitude, to be passionate and to be a team player to succeed, says Lee. Team Proton R3 driver Admi Shahrul concurs – racing is ‘more than just about steering and getting on the throttle’; it also takes a lot of discipline and mental strength to succeed or do well in motorsports, he added.

    Talent is scouted not just from the driver selection point of view, but also from a technical capability standpoint. Proton R3 works closely with local universities, among them the motorsports department at DRB-Hicom Automotive University of Malaysia, whose students are regularly invited to Proton R3 where they receive guidance towards a professional career in the motorsports industry.

    Check out the videos below, and perhaps the budding racers and engineers among you may be even further inspired to pursue your aspirations in this direction. Is the motorsport life for you?

    GALLERY: New livery for Proton Saga R3 race car

  • 2019 Renault Triber launched in Indonesia – fr RM40k

    Renault has finally launched the new Triber in Indonesia. The three-row MPV, which takes on a more rugged appearance thanks to the SUV-esque design, competes in the country’s Low Cost Green Car category. It’s a heavily contested segment, filled with the likes of the Toyota Calya, Daihatsu Sigra and Datsun GO+). There’s also competition from the Low MPV class, those being the Toyota Avanza and Daihatsu Xenia twins, Honda Mobilio, Suzuki Ertiga, and the Mitsubishi Xpander and Nissan Livina team.

    Now, the Triber sits on the PSA Group’s CMF-A platform and measures 3,990 mm in length. There’s a total of six variants on offer, with prices starting from 133 million rupiah (RM40k) to 170 million rupiah (RM50k) – not bad considering that it’s fully imported from India, eh?

    All variants are powered by a naturally-aspirated 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine, making 72 hp and 96 Nm of torque. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or five-speed automated manual (AMT). It doesn’t sound like much, but the Triber’s kerb weight is just under one tonne.

    Features include a 3.5-inch multi-info display with digital speedometer, an 8.0-inch touchscreen head unit with Apple CarPlay, air con vents for all three rows, Renault’s usual “smart card” keyless entry and push start with auto lock, and 15-inch alloys. As for safety, there’s ABS and four airbags, as well as reverse sensor with reverse camera.

    This being a three-row MPV, the third row seats can be fully removed to provide 625 litres of boot space. Renault says the Triber can also compete as a five-seater hatchback, although it has a rather high ground clearance of 182 mm. In India, the French automaker says that the Triber’s cost of ownership is 20% less than B-segment hatches.

    Deliveries of the Triber will begin in December, although those are only limited to manual models. Buyers who opt for the AMT will have to wait till April 2020. So far, nearly 1,500 bookings for the Triber have been made, with a staggering 78% of buyers opted for the range-topping RXZ AMT model.

  • 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage, Attrage facelift Thai specs detailed – AEB, CarPlay, priced from RM65k to RM86k

    Following yesterday’s unveiling of the facelifted 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage and Attrage in Thailand, we now bring you the full specifications and equipment of the revised budget hatchback and sedan models in the Land of Smiles, which get a new look and interior trim, plus a couple of added features.

    Let’s start with pricing. The Mirage is the cheaper of the two, priced at 474,000 baht (RM65,300) for the GLX manual, 509,000 baht (RM70,200) for the GLX CVT, 574,000 baht (RM79,100) for the GLS CVT and 619,000 baht (RM85,300) for the GLS-LTD CVT, while the Attrage models retail at 494,000 baht (RM68,100), 529,000 baht (RM72,900), 579,000 baht (RM79,800) and 624,000 baht (RM86,000) respectively.

    This is technically the second facelift for these cars, and they now share the same face. Both get Mitsubishi’s latest Dynamic Shield look, featuring prominent chrome bars that lead inwards towards the large full-height grille. These are bookended by broader headlights, squared-off bumper corners and angular fake air intakes.

    Both cars also get similar rear end revisions that include vertical reflectors and a diffuser-like insert for the bumper. As standard, the Mirage gets halogen reflector headlights, chrome grille slats, LED tail lights and 14-inch steel wheels, while the GLS and GLS-LTD receive bi-LED (instead of xenon previously) headlights, red grille slats and 15-inch alloys – two-tone eight-spoke items for the Mirage, silver multi-spokes for the Attrage.

    The interior sees comparatively fewer changes, limited to new upholstery options for the top GLS-LTD model (others get regular cloth). On the Mirage, you get a combination of faux leather and a criss-cross fabric pattern, while the Attrage’s seats are full faux leather. All models get the new infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free voice control and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

    Standard kit includes a tilt-adjustable multifunction steering wheel, a multi-info display and a manual height-adjustable driver’s seats, with CVT models also getting a front armrest. The GLS steps it up with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and push-button start, while the GLS-LTD adds automatic headlights, cruise control, auto climate control, a leather gearknob and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

    Safety-wise, all models get dual airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control and rear ISOFIX child seat anchors, while the GLS and GLS-LTD models continue to be offered with low-speed autonomous emergency braking and pedal misapplication prevention – items that were groundbreaking when introduced on the 2015 facelift, and now only starting to appear on rivals. A reverse camera is fitted on the GLS-LTD.

    The mechanicals continue unchanged, with the 3A92 1.2 litre naturally-aspirated MIVEC three-cylinder petrol engine continuing to push out 78 PS at 6,000 rpm and 100 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. It is paired to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT, and despite the lack of any updates, the Bangkok Post reports that both models meet the latest Phase II requirements of Thailand’s Eco Car programme (minimum 23.3 km per litre of fuel efficiency, maximum 100 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions).

  • Nissan to invest RM1.37 billion on Thailand expansion

    Despite a softening market outlook and being saddled with domestic issues, Nissan is looking to expand its business further in Thailand. The automaker is planning to invest 10 billion baht (RM1.37 billion) in a three-year business plan to increase production capacity and develop new vehicles in the Kingdom, the Bangkok Post reports.

    Revealing this, Nissan Motor Thailand president Ramesh Narasimhan said that while investment details have yet to be finalised, the plans for expansion are very much on the cards. “For the Thai operation, Nissan will increase its production capacity to launch new future models, including employing new jobs,” he said.

    The country is the automaker’s production hub in Southeast Asia. It has two production plants, both located in Samut Prakan province, building passenger cars and pickups. With an annual production capacity of 295,000 vehicles, the factories build Navara, Teana, Terra, Note, Almera, March, Sylphy and X-Trail models for both the domestic market and export.

    The new plan follows on the expansion seen earlier in the decade. In November 2012, the automaker announced it would invest 11 billion baht to expand its presence in the country. Of this, nearly 10 billion baht was spent on building a second plant to increase its production capacity. The new facility was launched in July 2014, with an initial production capacity of 75,000 units.

    The automaker also built the Nissan Motor Asia Pacific (NMAP) R&D Test Centre in Samut Prakan. Opened in April 2016, the facility is the company’s third overseas testing centre outside Japan and an R&D hub for the ASEAN region.

    Earlier this year, the company announced that it had chosen Thailand to build a new manufacturing hub for electric vehicles, the first outside of Japan. Nissan has two investment projects already approved by the country’s Board of Investment (BoI), a 10.96 billion baht (RM1.5 billion) investment to produce hybrid e-Power vehicles and a 470 million baht project (RM64.8 million) to assemble batteries for its e-Power cars.

    In related news, Narasimhan said that Nissan plans to export the new Almera to Asia and Oceania starting next year. The second-gen Almera, which made its ASEAN debut in Thailand last week, is powered by a HRA0 1.0 litre three-cylinder DOHC turbo engine offering 100 hp and 152 Nm of torque, which complies with Thailand’s Phase 2 eco car rules.

  • GALLERY: Inside Proton R3 headquarters – a brief tour

    Proton R3 will be fielding a three-pronged attack on this year’s edition of the Sepang 1000KM endurance race which takes place at the Sepang International Circuit this weekend, where the #82 Proton Saga and #83 Proton Iriz will compete along with the firm’s newly-liveried Saga courtesy of Design For Speed contest winner Azham Bin Zainol.

    This weekend, the Saga with the new livery design will be driven by Admi Shahrul and Syafiq Ali, regular winners of the Sepang 1000KM, along with Faye Kusairi, Nurul Husna Nasharuddin and Leona Chin in the #82 Saga, joined by Farique Hairuman and Mitchell Cheah in the #83 Iriz.

    The repeated success enjoyed by the Proton factory team certainly comes from the detailed work which will rarely be seen by the general public, who will usually see racing as the more commonly broadcast action on-circuit, as well as trackside. The tip of the iceberg, as it may be.

    As for the cars themselves, these originate from the main production line, after which R3 goes to work on the cars, stripping them back to the basics and applying the necessities for a life at the racetrack; check out the Iriz, Saga and Suprima S R3 race cars in further detail, here.

    The Saga and Iriz R3 race cars are powered by the same S4PH 1.6 litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, albeit suitably built for the rigours of racing. This is in accordance with the Malaysian Touring Car (MTC) regulations which stipulate the use of a naturally-aspirated engine displacing between 1,401 cc and 1,600 cc.

    This will produce peak outputs in the region of 180 hp to 190 hp, said Proton R3 team principal Gary Lee. These engines are slated for a service life of over 1,000 km before rebuilds, though they have previously taken ex-Sepang 1000KM engines and run them for a further 800 km. These powerplants can therefore, in practice, handle almost 2,000 km before requiring rebuilds, he added. The engine and transmission remain the most expensive parts of the car, and cost around RM60,000 each or RM120,000 collectively.

    Proton R3 is one of two factory-backed teams currently competing in the Malaysia Championship Series, which the Sepang 1000KM is a part of. Personnel in Proton R3 work exclusively on the team’s racing programmes and its cars, and not staff who are multi-tasked from the automaker’s mass-production operations.

    The team is keen to dispel the myth that Proton R3 outsources its machining to external contractors – for example, the rumour that the crankshaft for the S4PH engine is sourced externally is just that; a rumour, and that component is in fact a factory-stock item, team principal Lee said. Even with components which R3 does not necessarily manufacture themselves, the involvement runs deep.

    Perhaps more widely known in superbike circles, suspension components manufacturer Ohlins is the supplier to Proton R3, who regards the Swedish company to be the best at what it does. Proton R3 is one of only two organisations in Malaysia to conduct the full range of testing, servicing, rebuilding and calibration of Ohlins automotive components – the other being the principal importer of Ohlins products themselves, according to the national automaker’s motorsport division.

    An endurance race such as the Sepang 1000KM which takes place this weekend is the most involving one on the national racing calendar for the team; before the feature race starts on Saturday, Proton R3 will have arrived at the circuit today to commence setup for practice and final tests before qualifying and then ultimately, the race.

  • FIRST LOOK: W247 Mercedes-Benz B200 – RM240k

    The W247 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is officially on sale in Malaysia. There’s just one variant available, though, and it’s the B 200 Progressive Line. It’s priced at RM239,888 (on-the-road without insurance), and included in the price is a four-year unlimited mileage warranty.

    Now, the B 200 is powered by the same M282 1.33 litre turbocharged four-pot mill as the A 200, offering 163 PS at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm from 1,620 to 4,000 rpm. It’s paired with a Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch (wet) transmission, and sprints from 0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds before topping out at 233 km/h. A passive Comfort suspension is standard, and like the A 200, it features a torsion beam rear end.

    For features, it gets LED headlights, a radiator grille with silver-painted twin louvre and chrome insert, 18-inch five-twin spoke light-alloy wheels, LED tail lights, and dual exhaust exits.

    Inside, things are very much shaped along the lines of the A-Class, so it gets the dual 10.25-inch freestanding displays with the full Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system, 64-colour ambient lighting system, and automatic climate control system. Safety-wise, the B 200 gets Active Brake Assist (autonomous emergency braking), Blind Spot Assist and Active Parking Assist.

    Lastly, for convenience, the B-Class gets a hands-free powered tailgate and offers up to 455 litres of space. A dual-tier floor frees up even more space in its lowest position, but the Malaysian-spec model isn’t available with a sliding or reclining rear bench. A 40:20:40-split seats do fold to increase luggage capacity to a maximum of 1,540 litres.

  • Ford may introduce more Mustang-badged cars soon

    Following the launch of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Blue Oval has revealed that it plans to introduce more Mustang-badged models in the future, effectively turning the storied nameplate into a performance sub-brand, Autocar reports. The move is much like what Seat is doing with its Cupra sub-brand.

    As you would know, the Mach-E electric SUV is Ford’s first bespoke EV, and it wears both the Mustang name and pony badge. Originally, the development team began working on a different EV project, but that all changed when Ford decided to slap on the Mustang badge. Ford’s European design chief, Murat Gueler said that decision could lead to more new Mustang models.

    “The Mach-E is our step into the future, without ignoring history. There’s a lot of emotion with the Mustang, and it’s time to progress that and make it spread wider,” Gueler told the publication.

    He also said that the Mustang and the Porsche 911 are the most famous sports cars on the planet. “Mustang is a big nameplate and it’s about time we applied electrification to it. People now understand we can do different things to different nameplates quite successfully,” he added.

    Ford is currently working on new EV projects as follow ups to the Mach-E, but Gueler emphasised that the new cars won’t be as simple as Mustang-inspired EV models of different sizes.

    “We don’t want to take a Russian doll approach, where you can’t tell them apart other than the size of the car, but we want a family feel where a Ford EV starts to build off this concept. But we’d never do a smaller version of this – if we did a smaller vehicle it would have different proportions,” he explained.

    To recap, the Mustang Mach-E will be available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The entry-level model will be powered by a sole electric motor, producing at least 254 hp and 420 Nm, with juice provided by a smaller 75.7 kWh lithium-ion battery. The larger 98.8 kWh battery variant gets 281 hp, and Ford is promising a WLTP-rated range of up to 600 km with this variant. Both models are expected to get from zero to 100 km/h in under eight seconds.

    AWD versions of the Mach-E get more torque (thanks to an additional electric motor) that improve the century sprint time, though the range-topping model will get the full 439 hp and 830 Nm that Ford is targeting. The automaker says this variant will outperform higher-end offerings by Ferrari and Porsche. Big bold claims, no?


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Last Updated 16 Nov 2019


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