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  • CIMB files arbitration to stop PLUS’ RFID system

    There can be only one. Or there should be only one, in the case of RFID-based toll payment collection. The Star reports that Touch ‘n Go parent company CIMB Group Holdings is seeking to halt PLUS from introducing its own radio-frequency identification (RFID) toll collection system, first announced last month.

    The financial institution said it has filed a notice of arbitration dated December 17 on PLUS. In May 1998, CIMB, CIMB SI 1 and PLUS entered into a joint venture agreement in relation to Touch ‘n Go – CIMB says that PLUS’ introduction of its own RFID system breaches the obligations under the Touch ‘n Go JV.

    “The company and CIMB SI 1 are, amongst others, seeking an injunction to restrain PLUS from engaging in further business of the PLUS RFID system together with damages, interests and costs,” it said in a filing with the Bursa.

    On November 19, PLUS had announced that its RFID pilot project was set to begin trials on December 15 at four locations, these being the Penang Bridge toll plaza, the Kubang Semang and Lunas toll plazas on the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE) and the Jitra toll plaza in Kedah.

    The PLUS RFID system differs from the Touch ‘n Go RFID system, which began trials in early September ahead of an official rollout in January 2019, is in the method of payment. While the latter uses the Touch ‘n Go eWallet that needs to be topped up, PLUS’ product is an open payment system, tied to the user’s debit or credit card (including American Express charge cards), debiting the toll charge straight from the user’s account.

  • Petron sponsors Rainforest Challenge 2018 in M’sia

    Fuel retailer Petron was once again the official fuel and engine oil sponsor of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) Grand Finale in Malaysia, the 2018 edition of which concluded on December 4. The company provided fuel for over 150 4×4 vehicles, as 300 off-road enthusiasts from 30 countries braved Malaysia’s tropical rainforest starting from November 24.

    The Malaysia leg was the finale event of the RFC Global Series (RFCGS), a worldwide off-road racing circuit with 45 events across 22 nations. This year, participants went from Kota Bharu to Gua Musang, via Tanah Merah and Kuala Krai. The Predator, Terminator and Twilight Zone stages featured steep downhill and uphill sections, narrow bridges, tropical swamps, mud pools and crossings of Sungai Bering.

    Flagged off at Dataran Redha in Kota Bahru, the convoy was escorted by local police to the first overnight campsite at Tumpat Pantai Sri Tujuh. After refuelling at a Petron petrol station in Belimbing, Tanah Merah, participants entered the pitstops at Air Naga, Gua Harimau and Bering.

    All race and support vehicles were required to carry enough fuel to last the whole event, due to the long off-road section far away from other towns and villages. The teams reached their sixth and final campsite in Pos Gob, a deep aborigines settlement in Kelantan, before proceeding to Kuala Betis, refuelling for the final time at another Petron station in Gua Musang.

    “Petron is proud to be a partner of this super league of extreme 4×4 motor sports as its official fuel partner for the third year. This year, we introduced our engine oil Petron Rev-X Engine Oil to complement the Turbo Diesel Euro 5 in this legendary race for an even better performance and excellent engine cleaning action,” said Petron Malaysia head of retail business Choong Kum Choy.

    Rainforest Challenge founder and RFC Global Series creator Luis J.A. Wee added, “RFC is, indeed, proud to have Petron as our fuel and engine oil partner especially as we face tough conditions during the monsoon season. This year, we faced the longest off-road sector under monsoon conditions but we were very confident that the fuel and engine oil from Petron [would] enable us to finish the race.”

  • Minister denies colleague’s revelation that Qatar will invest RM1.6 trillion in new national car project

    Earlier, it was reported that a sheikh from Qatar had expressed interest to invest up to US$400 billion (RM1.6 trillion) in Malaysia’s new national car project (NNCP). It was revealed by Federal Territories minister Khalid Abdul Samad, reported by Bernama. That came out from a meeting between prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Qatari, the Shah Alam MP said.

    Now, Khalid’s cabinet colleague, entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof, has come out to deny such an investment in the NNCP, according to Malaysiakini.

    “The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) said they were interested to invest in the country, but there were no specific mention of the project (NNCP). I don’t know what’s his (Khalid) source, but I think what he meant was QIA has plenty of funds to invest in our country,” Mohd Redzuan told reporters in Cyberjaya today.

    Unlike Khalid, Mohd Redzuan is directly involved in the NNCP. News of the “third national car” first came from his ministry and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT, under the purview of the PM’s department) in October.

    Then, the timelines for the NNCP was announced – the new national car’s name will be revealed by the end of this year, while the prototype for the NNCP model is expected to be ready by early next year, ahead of a 2020 roll out. The car is expected to feature semi-autonomous capabilities and advanced safety features, while remaining affordable.

    Earlier this month, economic affairs minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the NNCP was discussed in a recent National Development Council meeting chaired by the PM, and “we will share the prototype with the public soonest next year.”

    The ministry of international trade and industry has received over 20 proposals for the NNCP, which will receive R&D grants from the government.

  • SPIED: Next-gen Audi S3 cabin seen for the first time!

    Just shortly after our spy photographers captured the next-generation Audi A3 and S3 out in the open, a new set of photos came through, complete with a single image clearly showing the top half of the cabin.

    As seen in the picture above, the dashboard is entirely new, complete with a deeply recessed instrument binnacle that houses the Audi Virtual Cockpit. The steering wheel here is of the fancier kind, with a trapezoidal centrepiece and chromed lower spokes, which looks virtually identical to that of the Audi Q5.

    Elsewhere, the A3 and S3’s cabin looks set to get horizontal air vents as opposed to the outgoing model’s circular units. The overall layout is similar to the all-new Audi A1, in that the instrument binnacle is flanked by two air-con vents, one on each side. Over to the centre, one can clearly see the new MMI infotainment unit (also angled towards the driver), which is most likely the range-topping 10.1-inch MMI Navigation plus with hybrid route guidance and Audi connect. Besides that, not much else is known of its interior.

    On the outside, the A3 and S3 will get a brand new look, although interestingly the jagged headlights would seemingly be the single most identifiable feature of the car. Expect the hotter S3 model to get largely the same looks, albeit dressed in a suitably more aggressive body kit, larger wheels and beefier brakes.

    For performance, again, not much is known, but it’s likely that the A3 will be underpinned by an upgraded version of VW Group’s MQB platform. Expect the existing range of engines to be fine tuned and carried over – the Group’s 1.5 litre EA211 TSI evo engine with Active Cylinder Technology could be offered, as well as a range of advanced electrified powertrains.

    Also, the A3 could possibly be joined by a new four-door coupe, in addition to the current hatch, five-door Sportback, Cabriolet and four-door sedan models. The coupe is said to be modelled after the TT Sportback concept and will go head to head against the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

  • Aston Martin to build own straight-six, replace AMG V8

    Aston Martin is currently leaning heavily on its engine deal with Mercedes-AMG, with the latter’s 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8 being offered on both the DB11 and the brand new Vantage. However, Gaydon is seeking to break away from this reliance and regain its independence with the development of its own straight-six, if a recent report by Autocar is correct.

    According to a source close to the company, Aston has already began working on the engine – unrelated to AMG’s own 3.0 litre mill, previously tipped to be used by the company – that would be key to helping it stringent future emissions regulations. The AMG deal signed in 2013 was apparently only meant to be temporary, buying Aston time to work on its own engine, which could be based on its 5.2 litre biturbo V12.

    No technical details have been revealed just yet, but the engine should make use of hybrid technology derived from the Rapide E electric vehicle programme. Autocar said that it probably won’t be a plug-in hybrid, as the company said last year such a powertrain setup still doesn’t deliver an experience that is “premium enough” for its customers. Expect a similar mild hybrid system as on the AMG straight-six.

    The forthcoming DBX crossover is the most likely recipient of the new mill, although it is expected debut with the AMG V8 and Aston’s V12 first. The SUV will be launched in the fourth quarter of next year and built at a new facility in St Athan, Wales.

    GALLERY: Aston Martin DBX prototype

  • Mitsubishi returns to Dakar Rally with Eclipse Cross

    When you hear “Dakar Rally”, what comes to mind? I’m pretty sure the image for most is of a Mitsubishi Pajero with a brown background of desert sand. Right? MMC has strong heritage in the famous rally, having won it 12 times (seven of those wins were consecutive), a feat unmatched by any other manufacturer. Now, it’s making a comeback with a different car.

    Mitsubishi, via its Spanish arm, is entering the 2019 Dakar Rally with a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross T1 Prototype. The machine will be driven by Spanish Cristina Gutierrez, assisted by compatriot Pablo Huete. Backed by Mitsubishi Motors Spain for the past four years, Gutierrez, 26, was the first Spanish woman to complete Dakar in a car in 2017. The following year, she was the highest placed female driver.

    “As always when you face a Dakar, you do it with great expectation but also a lot of respect for the test. The first objective, of course, is to finish what is the toughest rally in the world, for the third time in a row,” she said.

    The Eclipse Cross T1 prototype is built around a steel spaceframe chassis with a carbon fibre body, and employs double wishbone suspension with two fully-adjustable Ohlins dampers on each wheel. The full-time 4WD system uses a mechanical centre differential and limited slip differentials at both ends, helping transmit the turbodiesel engine’s 340 hp/686 Nm to ground via a six-speed sequential transmission. Stopping power is courtesy of four-piston AP Racing brakes at each corner.

    “For me, it is a big step ahead compared to the previous years. You can go very fast with it, while it is easier to drive and has greater off road capabilities. It’s the most spectacular car I’ve ever driven and attracts a lot of attention!” commented Gutierrez.

    The 2019 Dakar Rally takes place solely in Peru (it has been held in South America since 2009) next month, with drivers and riders facing 5,000 km of timed competition over ten stages, 70% of which on sand. After racing on Sunday, they’ll be hoping to sell this on Monday.

    GALLERY: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5T in Singapore

  • Volvo’s next-gen Android-based Sensus system to debut in Polestar 2, third-gen XC90 to follow suit

    The Polestar 2, Volvo’s forthcoming Tesla Model 3 rival will be the first from the Swedish manufacturer to have the Android infotainment operating system embedded when it enters production in 2020, according to Automotive News.

    In May, Volvo said that it will embed the voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps as well as other Google services into its own next-generation Sensus infotainment system. The tech giant has a similar agreement with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, Automotive News adds.

    Upon taking over from Peter Mertens in 2016, chief of research and development Henrik Green changed direction from adopting an in-house upgrade of the Sensus infotainment system in favour of adopting the Google setup. “Why would you ever pick that fight and invest the same amount of money. It would be an endless struggle to make it as good as Google’s system,” Green said.

    “We want to give our consumers a fantastic experience where their cars are as seamlessly integrated as any other device. After coming to that conclusion, it was super easy to jump on board with the Android embedded program,” he continued.

    Taking this approach towards infotainment systems helps Volvo save on development costs, Green said. Having a partner to help maintain and fix any issues that arise once the system is launched will be a ‘huge advantage in overall quality,’ he added.

    The Google solution replaces a Windows-based infotainment system, and will be first available on Compact Modular Architecture (CMA)-based cars, including the XC40 and the forthcoming Polestar 2. This approach will extend further across the group as well; sister marque Lynk & Co also currently uses the Android infotainment system, albeit one that is open-source rather than the embedded version.

    This embedded version of the Android system will be built into Volvo’s second-generation SPA (SPA2) platform-based models such as the third-generation XC90, which will debut in 2021, the report said.

    The Swedish automaker confirmed that it will also emphasise the presence of Google products in its cars, adding that “it is a a good selling point,” the R&D chief said. “People are used to having Google maps and Google assistant on their Android phone or on their iPhone or on their watch so we want to make sure that digital life continues when I get into the car,” added Google director of product management Mickey Kataria.

  • Maybach brand to stand on its own – Mercedes CEO

    The Mercedes-Maybach nameplate currently represents the most luxurious segment within the German automaker’s range of offerings, with the likes of the Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman. The luxury brand made its modern-day comeback in 2002 with the Maybach 57 and 62, before getting a facelift in 2010 before eventually bowing out in 2012.

    “The long-term plan for Maybach is for it to “stand on its own two feet, like AMG,” said Mercedes-Benz chief Dieter Zetsche. The SUV direction taken by examples such as the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan is certainly under serious consideration at Maybach, in the vein of the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury powered by four electric motors.

    Where the earlier Maybach models took on the likes of full-sized Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, the current Mercedes-Maybach range stands in the realm populated by the likes of the Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost, a rung above cars like the Audi A8 and the BMW 7 Series. With that foothold established, Mercedes-Maybach may be working to renew its mark at the top of the luxury tree.

  • DS Automobiles opens first DS Store in Malaysia

    DS Automobiles has made its official entrance to Malaysia with the opening of its DS Store in Petaling Jaya, marking the first location for the marque in the country. The outlet – operated by Naza Euro Motors, sole distributor for DS cars in Malaysia – located in within the premises of the Naza Automall serves as the flagship outlet of the brand, and its design concept is based upon DS Automobiles’ philosophy for its outlets in key global markets, the company says.

    The DS Store is also the first to be introduced in Southeast Asia, said Naza automotive group CEO Datuk Samson Anand George. “The DS Store is about inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the values of the DS brand, and gives visitors sophistication at their fingertips to configure, personalise and view their new DS,” he adds.

    DS Automotobiles CEO, Yves Bonnefont said “each DS Store embodies the DS Automobiles universe and is inspired by Parisian luxury boutiques with its very own atmosphere. It is designed to place the customer at the centre of the brand experience.” Along with showcasing DS models, the DS Store is also where customers get to configure and personalise their own DS with the assistance of a DS Advisor.

    Visitors can have a virtual sampling of DS models configuration as well, courtesy of the DS Virtual Vision virtual reality setup. This will enable visitors to explore and interact with DS models, according to the company, while seated in a DS model seat.

    The DS Store in Petaling Jaya joins a roster of 450 DS Store locations worldwide, and the brand has targeted growth for up to 1,000 DS Stores globally. This first one in Malaysia occupies floor space totalling 3,230 sq ft with the capacity to accommodate up to three display vehicles at once, and will also serve as a one-stop 3S (sales, service and spares) outlet for DS owners and prospective customers.

    A further RM5 million is earmarked for the marketing and operations of the DS brand in Malaysia for 2019, in addition to the RM2 million that has been invested towards the setting up of the flagship DS Store in Petaling Jaya, Datuk Samson noted.

  • Maserati debuts Edizione Nobile pack for America – 150 units for Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante

    Maserati has announced the Edizione Nobile pack for the Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante, and there will be just 50 units of each model for this limited edition run, for a total of 150 units across the three models, exclusively on the GranLusso trim variants.

    The Edizione Nobile pack is for 2019 model year range Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante, each starting with Blu Nobile tri-coat paint, while paired with 20-inch alloy wheels and silver brake calipers.

    Inside, each Edizione Nobile pack-equipped model gets a “one of 50” badge on the centre console denoting the production run of each model variant, while occupants get perched on sports seats normally the reserve of Maserati’s GranSport models. These are trimmed in Piero Fiore natural leather, which feature a two-tone colour combination. Rear seat passengers gain heated seats, while the front seats have the choice of heating as well as ventilation.

    In terms of cabin trim, the Quattroporte and Ghibli receive high-gloss Rovere wood veneers, while their SUV sibling the Levante gets a high-gloss metal net weave. Additionally, all Edizione Nobile models receive Alcantara headlining and a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio system.

    The Level 2 Autonomy Driver Assistance package also features here, which includes a highway assist system, 360-degree surround view camera setup, lane keep assist, active blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go support, forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition and pedestrian recognition.

    A company spokesperson said the Nobile packages will cost US$7,500 (RM31k), but contain approximately US$13,000 (RM54k) worth of options, making the package quite the deal for Maserati customers. Deliveries will commence this month.


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Last Updated 01 Dec 2018


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