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  • Toyota GR Yaris: Malaysian demand “overwhelming”

    Distributor UMW Toyota Motor has announced that it has received “overwhelming” demand for the new GR Yaris, which was launched in Malaysia last month. The news is a hurry-up call of sorts to potential buyers who have yet to decide whether to purchase the über-hot hatch, with just 127 units earmarked for the local market (the company’s official figure is “under 200 units,” which suggests an option of importing more).

    No indication of how many have already been snapped up, but UMW Toyota says the units have “shot out of the showrooms with unprecedented speed.” President Ravindran Kurusamy said the company knew the GR Yaris had potential in the Malaysian market ever since it was informed about the car, given the increasing amount of motorsport activities it was organising locally.

    “The enthusiastic fans were eagerly awaiting the launch of the model and wasted no time booking one right after we launched the car on December 17, 2020. And now, just over a month since its launch, we have been receiving such overwhelming response. We thank customers for their enthusiastic support,” he said, adding that while the take-up rate has been fast, customers were still encouraged to register their interest.

    Deputy chairman and Gazoo Racing Malaysia chief motorsports officer Akio Takeyama said, “The GR brand harnesses the experience gained by pushing the limits in motorsport and applies it to a whole new generation of high-performance cars from Toyota. The result is models like the GR Yaris that are fine examples of how we are making ever-better cars that are rewarding and fun to drive. Further to that, we are also more than pleased that we will be introducing even more GR models to the in the near future,”

    To recap, the GR Yaris is a World Rally Championship-inspired three-door hot hatch, coming off the back of a manufacturers’ title and two consecutive drivers’ crowns. Based on the Japanese- and European-market five-door Yaris but with the double-wishbone rear suspension of the C-HR, it’s powered by a bespoke G16E-GTS 1.6 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, delivering 261 PS and 360 Nm of torque.

    Those outputs are routed through a six-speed manual gearbox and a unique all-wheel-drive system with a multi-plate clutch to apportion torque. We get the coveted Performance Pack that adds front and rear limited-slip differentials, 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres and retuned suspension.

    Initially priced at RM299,000, the GR Yaris was given a price drop of over RM12,000 thanks to the extension of the sales and services tax (SST) exemption, now retailing at RM286,896 on-the-road without insurance. The car is only available at selected showrooms with the GR Garage, which also offers the GR Supra and the new Vios GR Sport.

  • BMW Motorrad R18 Kingston Custom Spirit of Passion

    Designed in homage to the R5, the BMW Motorrad is somewhat suited to customisation and dressing up, as shown by the BMW Motorrad R18 “Spirit of Passion” by Kingston Custom. In this case, Spirit of Passion is the brainchild of Kingston Custom principal Dirk Oehlerking, and follows previous custom designs in the R18 series, R18 Dragster by Roland Sands and the Blechmann R18 by Bernhard Naumann.

    Oehlerking, commissioned by BMW Motorrad as part of its “SoulFuel” custom motorcycle series, left the R18’s frame untouched, saying, “the frame is 100 % original and so sophisticated that nothing should be changed here.” However, the installation of a throwback from the 1950s, a streamliner or “dustbin” fairing, gives Spirit of Passion a look not seen since the days of motorcycle racing in over six decades.

    The Art Deco look of the fairing with the trademark BMW kidney grille integrates an LED front headlight and Kellermann indicators with the exhaust modified by Oehlerking, and an aftermarket saddle fitted. The fairing is finished in the same shade of black os the original R18, along with the pinstriping.

    Carrying the largest opposed-twin made by BMW Motorrad, the R18’s engine displaces 1,802 cc and produces 91 hp at 4,750 rpm and 152 Nm peak torque at 3,000 rpm. Designed for low-end grunt, the R18 delivers 150 Nm of torque from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, making a gearbox seem almost superfluous.

    An exposed shaft drive delivers power to the rear wheel, mimicking the design of the original R5. In Malaysia, the 2020 BMW Motorrad R18 is priced at RM149,500, on-the-road without insurance.


  • Automobile production still affected by chip shortage, supply forced to compete with consumer electronics

    The Covid-19 pandemic that has been coursing through the veins of industries worldwide has also seen to the disruption of car production due to an insufficient supply of computer chips. The component shortage was foreseen last December as automotive parts suppliers Continental and Bosch warned of the looming supply shortage, a message reaffirmed by Volkswagen at the time.

    At the beginning of this month, cuts in vehicle production were announced by Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) due to the shortage of semiconductors essential to production, Reuters reported at the time, while Honda had also reported early signs of impact upon its parts supply, requiring the turning down of Jazz production in Japan by around 4,000 units a month.

    The latest addition to the group of automakers is Audi, who has announced that it will put more than 10,000 of its workers on furlough because chip shortage has slowed its production lines, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann told Financial Times. Production of the A4 and A5 will be affected, according to Automotive News Europe.

    Volkswagen has said that it will be reducing its first quarter output by 100,000 vehicles as a result of the chip shortage; Audi will be doing all it can to keep the volume reduction to less than 10,000 fewer vehicles produced in the first quarter of the year, its CEO said.

    Duesmann has called the situation “a crisis within a crisis”, as the drop in demand prompted carmakers to drastically reduce their order volumes for computer chips in the electronics-intensive architecture of cars today. However, demand jumped unexpectedly in the final quarter of last year as the market improved. Audi had its best quarterly performance ever thanks to a rebound in the China market, the report said.

    The resurgence was unexpected amongst auto parts suppliers, who found themselves in competition with the consumer electronics sector for supply as new gaming consoles and smartphones went to market. This was compounded by carmakers’ switch to just-in-time manufacturing, which meant they no longer held substantial inventories for themselves, according to Financial Times.

    Some computer chip companies such as TSMC have now prioritised the automotive industry, however the lead times involved mean that suppliers will have to wait several weeks before their orders are fulfilled, industry sources were quoted as saying.

    The computer chip shortage might also affect production going into the second quarter of this year, “but only in the order in which we build cars,” Duesmann said, however adding that as things stand, Audi’s overall output for 2021 will not suffer as the automaker is set to catch up in the second half of this year.

  • Volvo sold 661,713 cars in 2020 – strongest second-half ever, gained market share, overall 6.2% down

    Last year, especially the first half of 2020, was a bad one for most businesses as the coronavirus took hold. Volvo Cars had a tough start too, with sales dipping 21% at the halfway mark. But the Swedish brand bounced back to have the strongest ever second half sales in its history.

    Second half sales rose by 7.4% year-on-year to 391,751 cars. By the end of 2020, Volvo sold 661,713 cars, a decline of 6.2% versus 2019. Volvo said it acted decisively to mitigate the impact of the pandemic during the first half of the year, allowing it to quickly restart operations after a brief shutdown and embark on a strong recovery, helped by growing demand for its Recharge electrified models.

    The share of Recharge cars, with a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain, more than doubled in 2020 compared to 2019. In Europe, Recharge cars contributed 29% to overall sales, making Volvo the leading brand in the region for chargeable cars. It was also the leading plug-in hybrid brand in the US.

    In China and the US, Volvo’s two largest individual markets, the company reported growing sales for the full year as it managed to more than recover from a Covid-related sales drop in the first half.

    “We had a great second half of the year after a tough start, gaining market share in all our main sales regions. We aim to build on this positive trend in 2021 as we continue to roll out new electrified Volvos and expand our online business,” said Lex Kerssemakers, head of Volvo’s global commercial operations.

    The Geely-owned premium brand said that it outperformed competitors and gained market share in all its main sales regions during the first 11 months of 2020. Sales rose 7.5% in China in 2020 (to 166,617 cars), and 1.8% in the US (110,129 cars). In both markets, strong demand for the Volvo’s XC SUVs was responsible for the majority of sales.

    In Europe, the Gothenburg-based carmaker saw strong demand for its Recharge cars in many key markets. A sluggish overall market, battered by pandemic-related restrictions, meant that overall sales fell 15.5% for the whole year.

    As for the sales breakdown by model, the XC60 SUV was the best selling Volvo in 2020 with 191,696 units (204,965 in 2019), followed by the XC40 with 185,406 units (139,847 in 2019) and the XC90 with 92,458 units (100,729 in 2019).

    Volvo says that the ongoing pandemic has accelerated its move towards online sales, which will continue to be a focus area in 2021. In 2020, Volvo more than doubled its number of subscriptions sold online versus 2019. Conquest rates via this channel continued to be high, supporting the increase in market share.

    As for new models, Volvo says that it is committed to becoming a premium EV company and in the coming years, it will launch “several full EVs”. By 2025, the carmaker aims for its global sales to consist of 50% fully electric cars, with the rest hybrids. Volvo is also proud of the fact that currently, it’s the only carmaker to offer a plug-in hybrid variant on every model in the range.

    On the local front, Volvo Car Malaysia announced last week that it sold 1,950 cars last year, the highest annual total since the establishment of the company, beating 2019’s 1,883 units, which was the previous record. VCM sold 1,384 units in 2018, so it’s a big jump in a short time.

  • Lynk & Co Zero – more images of EV crossover interior

    Geely’s up-and-coming youth-oriented brand Lynk & Co has released more interior photos of the Zero Concept, which previews a new electric SUV/coupé crossover in the vein of the Jaguar I-Pace. That car has already been on road tests and is slated to go into production in the middle of this year.

    The cabin is as per last year’s Beijing show car, with a low-profile horizontal dashboard, a tall and wide centre console and a massive centre touchscreen. Other details we can see are a flat-bottomed steering wheel with a small circular airbag boss, a slim instrument display, a small gear selector and ambient light strips embedded in the decorative trim panels.

    Occupants are ensconced in fairly luxurious-looking seats, which feature integrated headrests at the front and wraparound ones at the rear. Passengers should find plenty of room to lounge about, given that the car has a quoted wheelbase of nearly three metres against a total length of over five metres. The Zero also comes with Yamaha speakers and in-car cameras, presumably to monitor the driver’s attention levels.

    Built on the Geely group’s new Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) for electric vehicles, the Zero features an all-wheel drive system which, bizarrely, is powered by a single motor developing over 400 kW (536 hp). Lynk & Co is touting a zero-to-100 km/h time of under four seconds and a range of more than 700 km. All this is thanks to an 800-volt battery that has a design life of over two million kilometres and is able to withstand degradation for the first 200,000 km.

    The company is also claiming a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and world-class chassis tuning for its magnetorheological dampers and air springs, which are able to adjust the ride height from 150 mm to 220 mm. As for safety, the Zero boasts a CoPilot advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), utilising Mobileye’s SuperVision technology and EyeQ5 system-on-a-chip to provide autonomous driving functions.

    The car’s features, including the air suspension, can be updated over the air over the life of the vehicle, allowing engineers to optimise the Zero through user feedback. Deliveries to customers are slated to kick off in the final quarter of the year.

  • Purchase of lesen terbang still available online – JPJ reminds the public that such services are illegal

    The road transport department (JPJ) is reminding the public that all matters relating to driving licences, motor vehicle licences and vehicle ownership transfers, which are not performed following procedures set by the government, are strictly illegal.

    This comes as several posts were spotted on social media that offered a variety of “convenient” services. These include vehicle ownership transfers that do not require the original owner’s registration document, renewal of road tax that has lapsed (beyond three years) without requiring a Puspakom inspection, and creating a driving licence without sitting for the theory and practical exams (also known as lesen terbang).

    It goes without saying that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. However, based on the responses to these advertisements, it looks like many are either unaware or still insist on taking up the illegal services offered.

    The department also stated that it has filed reports with the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to “eradicate this immoral activity.” It added that those who are unsure about the proper protocols can contact the department. Should you happen to come across posts that offer such services, do file a complaint with the department via its SISPAA system.

  • Stellantis takes flight as PSA-FCA complete merger

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Groupe PSA sealed their planned merger as scheduled last weekend, resulting in the creation of Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest automaker. The US$52 billion (RM208 billion) merger has taken more than a year to accomplish, as both companies first announced plans to combine in October 2019.

    The new entity, which will have an annual global production of around eight million vehicles and revenues of more than 165 billion euros (RM810 billion), is set to take the fight to larger rivals Toyota and Volkswagen. News reports indicated that shares in the new company were off to a good start during initial trading in European markets.

    Currently, Stellantis has 14 automotive brands under its umbrella, with FCA represented by Fiat, Chrysler, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Lancia, and PSA by Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, DS and Vauxhall. However, it remains to be seen if any brands are dropped from the portfolio as the automaker makes the shift towards a new automotive era in which electrification will be the primary focus.

    Prior to the merger, there was already talk about consolidating vehicle platforms, a move that will save the new company billions of dollars in engineering and manufacturing costs. Reportedly, this streamlining process could translate to job losses in Italy, Germany and Michigan as PSA technology gets integrated into North American and Italian vehicles. Rumours abounded that Chrysler was a brand that could possibly be axed.

    According to FCA CEO Mike Manley, who will head Stellantis’ key north American operations, 40% of the expected synergies from the merger will come from convergence of platforms and powertrains as well as from optimising R&D investments, while more than a third of synergies would be driven by savings on purchases and another 7% would come from savings on sales operations and general expenses.

    Both companies have previously pledged to not close any plants, and have said annual costs can be trimmed by over five billion euros (RM24.5 billion) without closures.

  • AD: Post your mobile i-Service experience with Auto Bavaria to redeem a complimentary BMW umbrella

    Auto Bavaria always strives to provide greater convenience to its customers, now more than ever during Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0. As such, the company is making it possible to have your car serviced from the comfort of your own home or workplace through its i-Service. Available for BMW and MINI vehicles, the mobile service aims to bring the convenience right to your doorstep.

    An Auto Bavaria i-Service vehicle can be directed to a location closest to you – be it at home or at the workplace – within a 40 km radius** from Auto Bavaria dealerships to perform scheduled maintenance services including oil change and tyre balancing. The service can also handle brake pad, battery and tyre changes, saving you a trip to the service centre.

    Every i-service vehicle is equipped with the latest tools and equipment, manned by experienced and qualified technicians using only BMW genuine parts to ensure that you get the best-in-class service at a greater convenience.

    All you have to do is to download the Auto Bavaria mobile app (available on both Google Play and Apple App stores), register your vehicle within the app and schedule your service appointment in advance. The app enables customers to book their service appointments, check their vehicle service history, view the service progress, and make payments – all in one application. It also has a special ‘track & chat’ feature to track the location of the i-Service vehicle and chat with technicians to monitor the progress of their vehicle being serviced.

    There’s also a bonus in store. Simply book your i-Service appointment from January 18 onwards, post your i-Service experience on your Facebook or Instagram account, tag these posts with @autobavariamy and #autobavariaiservice and you’ll take home a complimentary limited edition BMW umbrella***!

    Download the Auto Bavaria mobile app today and enjoy the benefits of having your cars serviced at a location convenient to you*. Find out more about the i-mobile service by visiting the Auto Bavaria official Facebook page.

    *Terms and conditions apply.
    **Auto Bavaria i-Service is only available in Klang Valley and Penang.
    ***Promotion is only valid for i-Service appointment booked from January 18, 2021 onwards.
    ***Limited to the first 300 customers.

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  • Mercedes-Benz EQA teased again before Jan 20 debut – early details reveal 401 km EV range, 66 kWh battery

    Mercedes-Benz will only reveal the new EQA on January 20, and has dropped another teaser of the latest member of the EQ family. However, we now have preliminary details of the all-electric SUV thanks to a report by Autocar UK.

    First up, here’s what we know so far. The EQA will be the sister model the H247 GLA, sharing the same MFA (Modular Front Architecture) used by the company’s other compact models. This isn’t a dedicated EV platform, as that will come much later with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) for compact and mid-sized models – the company’s EV plans are detailed here.

    With the EQA, the platform had to be re-engineered to accept an all-electric powertrain, which sees a lithium-ion battery pack being placed within the rear section of raised floor, including under the rear seats. According to the report, this results in smaller boot space compared to a regular GLA. As before, the EQA retains the GLA’s suspension setup: front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link.

    At launch, an EQA 250 variant will be offered with a 66-kWh lithium-ion battery capable of up to 401 km (249 miles) of range, and this powers a front-mounted, ZF-sourced 190 PS (188 hp or 140 kW) electric motor. The SUV will support both 11 kW AC and 100 kW DC charging, but there’s no information on how long each will take just yet.

    The German automaker has already confirmed that all-wheel drive versions and higher power levels up to over 272 PS (268 hp or 200 kW) will be introduced, and this also includes a performance-focused AMG model.

    In terms of operation, the EQA is pretty similar to the GLA as it uses the same push start button and column-mounted gear lever. However, the steering wheel-mounted paddles are not used to change gears, but to adjust the car’s energy recuperation system, with four different modes to modify the braking characteristics when you lift off the accelerator pedal. One-pedal-style driving is possible using the most aggressive “D–” setting, while “D+” promotes coasting.

    As for the looks, it’s pretty much a GLA but with EQ-specific cues like a blanked-off grille and specific lighting units. The same can be said of the interior, which has been reworked to sport EQ-themed displays and graphics. Full details of the EQA will be released when the model makes its full debut, so stay tuned.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz EQA spyshots

  • 2021 Ducati Malaysia price list updated, new 2021 Ducati Hypermotard 950 RVE priced at RM80,900

    While we await the market launch of the 2021 Ducati Monster and Monster+ in Malaysia, along with the updated SuperSport 950, XDiavel and Multistrada V4, here’s the current year Malaysian price list for Ducati. Ducati, like many other motorcycle makers around the world, was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    However, a second half the year saw Ducati come back strongly, with a total of 48,042 motorcycles sold worldwide. As can be expected, the Streetfighter V4, launched in 2019 and priced at RM115,900, was its best selling product with 5,730 units sold and the range has been expanded with the “Dark Stealth” model variant.

    Meanwhile for Malaysia, no major changes in pricing or the line up, with 2020 having had a severe impact on large displacement motorcycle sales in general. There were surprises though, such as the Ducati Panigale Superleggera V4 being the target of a private purchase despite the soft economy.

    Surprise inclusion in the Ducati Malaysia price list is the 2021 Ducati Hypermotard 950 RVE, priced at RM80,900 before road tax, insurance and registration. Based on the Hypermotard 950 Concept shown at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este show in Italy in 2019, the Hypermotard 950 RVE is yet to be released in Malaysia.

    The Monster 821 is still on the price list, with no change in pricing from 2019 and pending the Malaysian launch of the 2021 Ducati Monster and Monster+. Remaining stocks are limited though, and if you’re wanting the last of the iconic trellis-framed Monsters, this is your last chance.

    On the superbike side of things, we were informed the Panigale V4 has had a good take up amongst Malaysian sports riders, with all units imported in 2019 sold, in both the base model (RM132,900) and V4 S (RM172,900) forms.

    For the Multistrada, the Multistrada 1262 is set to be replaced by the Multistrada V4, though no word on pricing as yet. The Multistrada 950 S – the base model Multistrada 950 was not brought into Malaysia – continues on in V2 form, and pricing remains unchanged from last year.

    In the retro motorcycle lifestyle side of things, no changes to the Scrambler line up, with prices brought forward from 2020. For the new year, expect to see more variations on the theme from Ducati, with new model variants featuring different paint jobs and names but remaining mechanically unchanged.


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Last Updated 16 Jan 2021


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