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  • Ford to cut over 5,000 jobs in Germany, some in UK

    In a bid to return to profit in Europe, Ford plans to cut over 5,000 jobs in Germany. The US carmaker will also reduce its workforce in the UK and has offered voluntary redundancy programmes for employees in both countries, it said in a statement.

    “Through these programs and other initiatives, Ford of Germany expects to reduce its headcount in excess of 5,000 jobs, including temporary staff,” the company said, adding that the total number of positions affected in Britain is yet to be determined.

    The Detroit carmaker, which sells the popular Focus and Fiesta hatchbacks in Europe, also announced it would streamline its lineup by “improving or exiting less profitable vehicle lines,” although it didn’t elaborate on which models would be culled.

    This move is part of a turnaround plan announced by Ford in January that would involve thousands of job cuts and possible plant closures and the discontinuation of loss-making vehicle lines.

    According to Reuters, Ford of Europe has been losing money for years and pressure to restructure its operations has increased since main US rival General Motors raised profits by selling its European Opel-Vauxhall brands to France’s Groupe PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen. Ford’s turnaround plan is targeting a 6% operating margin in the continent.

    Ford recently entered into an alliance with Volkswagen, although the partnership does not involve cross-ownership like the Renault-Nissan model.

     
  • Grab to charge RM3-5 cancellation fee from March 25

    Grab has announced that will begin charging customers a fee if they cancel a ride after five minutes of getting a driver, or if they are beyond five minutes late to their ride and the driver has to cancel as a result of that delay.

    As outlined in its updated passenger cancellation policy, which takes effect from March 25, the company said passengers who cancel a ride after a five minute period (or three minutes, in the case of GrabShare) will be charged a cancellation fee ranging from RM3 to RM5, depending on the service booked and the type of vehicle that is employed.

    For GrabCar, JustGrab, GrabShare, GrabTaxi (metered or executive) and GrabCar Plus, the cancellation fee is RM3, while that for a six-seater GrabCar/JustGrab and 10-seater JustGrab will be RM4. As for GrabCar Premium or GrabCar Luxe, the fee is RM5.

    The ride service provider said that in the case of passengers showing up late, a five minute leeway (or three minutes on GrabShare) is provided. If a passenger does not show up by then and the driver eventually cancels the ride, the passenger will be charged RM5.

    If a customer is on GrabPay, the amount will be deducted directly from his/her GrabPay credits balance or credit/debit card. For those using cash, the fee will be added automatically to the their fare on the next ride – the driver on the next trip will be informed to collect this fee on Grab’s behalf to compensate the driver for the previous ride that was cancelled. The company added that 100% of the cancellation fee goes to the driver to compensate for his or her time on the road.

    The company said that any cancellations made within five minutes of getting a driver will not have any fee imposed. Cancellation fees will also be waived if a driver does not arrive within 10 minutes after the first-shown estimated time of arrival.

    For example, if a customer is allocated a driver who is three minutes away but has to wait for more than 13 minutes for the driver, and finally cancels the booking, the fee will be waived. Nonetheless, in situations where the driver is taking too long to arrive and the customer wants to cancel, the company encourages the customer to first check in with the driver via call or GrabChat.

    The company said customers need not fear that they will be charged in cases where the driver fails to get to the correct pick-up location or when a driver does not adhere to – or cancel the ride earlier than – the designated wait time period. It said if a driver cancels the ride before this waiting time is up, the customer will not be charged, but the necessary penalty against the driver will be taken.

    Grab said it expects the policy update to affect less than 1% of bookings, saying that most passengers don’t cancel after booking.

     
  • C253 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe facelift gets teased

    Mercedes-Benz has begun teasing the new C253 GLC Coupe facelift, which will continue to challenge the BMW X4 in their unique market. The regular X253 GLC has already been given an update recently, and we should expect some of the changes to trickle down to its coupe-inspired sibling.

    This Instagram post uploaded by Mercedes-Benz previews the GLC Coupe’s new front and rear ends, with the former appearing very similar to the facelifted GLC in the design of the headlamps that have an outer LED DRL “ring.”

    The taillight graphics also appears to be revised here, which is something that is evident from spyshots of development mules undergoing testing. Those snaps also reveal the GLC Coupe’s shape remains unchanged from before, although some tweaks to the bumpers are highly likely.

    As for the interior, expect the same changes from the normal GLC to make their way into the GLC Coupe, including new trim options, an infotainment system powered by the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), new steering wheel design, widescreen main display, digital instrument cluster display and others.

    On the matter of powertrains, the GLC Coupe should get the usual mix of the latest petrol and diesel engines, including a mild hybrid option based on the M264 mill. More details will only be released when the GLC Coupe facelift makes its global debut.

     
  • 2019 Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) Round 1 ends with 205 cars entered and intense racing action at Sepang

    The first round of the 2019 Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF 2019), which was held at the Sepang International Circuit, saw no shortage of historic moments and exciting close quarters racing to entertain the nearly 15,000-strong crowd that attended the event over the March 15 weekend.

    Held alongside the Asia GT Festival, the list of participants for Round 1 was not only expansive with 205 cars being entered, but also diversified as there were entrants from neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.

    While there was a variety of race categories, the most anticipated was no doubt the Ultimate with cars such as Speed Demon Motorville’s turbocharged Honda EG6 (#29), MilleniumFatboy Penrite’s four-wheel drive Proton Satria Turbo (#21), Wenso Racing’s Honda EG6 K24 (#50), Sitty Racing Team’s Honda EG6 K24 (#500) and Empire M ByKunyit’s Honda EG6 K24 (#13) all vying to come out on top.

    Following an incident-packed time on track in the first race, it was car #29 that secured first place in the deciding final race, followed by car #21, #50, #500 and finally, #13.

    Equally a crowd puller is the Saga Cup, and for the first round of MSF 2019, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was on hand to flag off racing versions of the first Proton car he unveiled 35 years ago.

    On the mention of the national car brand, the 2019 season of the MSF also welcomed a fleet of Proton X70 SUVs as the official safety car, medical car and official car of the racing series.

    Round 2 of the 2019 MSF season is set to take place during the April 19 weekend, which will also include the MSF Superbikes race.

     
  • The Volkswagen Beetle – grab one while you still can

    It has been described in many ways, from cute to curious, right on through to iconic. If you hadn’t guessed already, we’re talking about the Volkswagen Beetle, a model that has been influential in shaping automotive history, while having some of the most colourful fans in the world.

    Among the famous names that have owned at least one “Love Bug” include comedian Jerry Seinfeld, supermodel Heidi Klum, Jay Leno, Chris Pratt and even Mr Wolverine, Hugh Jackman. While celebrities may attract the headlines, tales like Kathleen Brooks’s 73-year old “Annie” help to further cement just how passionate Beetle fans can be.

    Sadly, the tale of the Bug is coming to an end, with production of the famous nameplate set to be discontinued. Therefore, if you’ve been longing to be a part of the vast Beetle owners club, don’t waste this last chance to claim one as your own.

    Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) is making that dream even more attainable with savings of up to RM2,000 on the Beetle Sport, provided you place a booking before the end of March 2019. With limited units up for grabs, securing one of the very last few new Beetles is a rather exclusive experience.

    The Beetle Sport is powered a 1.2 litre four-cylinder TSI engine with 105 PS and 175 Nm of torque, which is paired with a seven-speed DSG gearbox. The exterior features 17-inch ‘Rotor’ alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps and a choice of four finishes – Blue Silk, Pure White, Habanero Orange and Tornado Red.

    Like the exterior, the interior combines functionality and fun, with body-coloured dashboard trim and accents, two-zone climate control, sports seats, Vienna leather upholstery and a 6.5-inch Composition Media touchscreen infotainment unit.

    A combination of timeless design, a capable powertrain and a comprehensive list of equipment makes the Beetle Sport a perfect daily companion. So, if you’ve ever been bitten by the “Love Bug,” you’d better hurry and get one while you still can. For more information on the Beetle Sport, head on over to Volkswagen Malaysia’s official website.

     
  • AD: Volkswagen JOIN Special Edition models come with sporty accessories, 2019 model year rebates

    The ‘JOIN’ special edition offered by Volkswagen for the Polo, Vento, Tiguan and Passat models represent great value with the inclusion of sporty accessories on top of standard specifications. Even better, there’s now a promotion offering cash rebates worth up to RM15,000 for current 2019 models.

    The Polo JOIN adds on leather seats, aluminium scuff plates, black body side mouldings, black trunk garnish, a black rear spoiler and VW Tint window film. As with all JOIN models, there’s a discreet badge on the profile – here, it’s on the B pillars. Colours that can be had with the JOIN package are Candy White, Carbon Steel Grey, Flash Red and Reflex Silver.

    Powered by a 1.6 litre MPI engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the sporty hatchback now comes with a RM4,000 rebate. Include the RM7,000 worth of JOIN accessories and you’ll save a total of RM11,000 on the RM81,990 car (price of JOIN version before rebate).

    The Vento JOIN package can be added to the Vento Comfortline (1.6L MPI) or the Vento Highline with a 1.2 litre turbocharged TSI engine with 105 PS and 175 Nm, paired to a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox.

    Like the Polo, the Vento JOIN comes with leather seats, aluminium scuff plates, black body side mouldings, black trunk garnish, a black rear lip spoiler, a JOIN emblem and VW Tint window film. Available colours are Candy White and Carbon Steel Grey for the RM91,690 Vento Comfortline and Carbon Steel Grey or Deep Black for the RM98,490 Vento Highline.

    The Vento JOIN Comfortline now comes with an RM8,000 rebate while the Highline has a RM6,000 rebate. Include the RM7,000 JOIN package and you’re looking at total savings of RM15,000 and RM13,000 respectively.

    Moving on, the Tiguan Highline JOIN adds on aluminium side steps, a front sports bumper, black rear spoiler, chrome trunk garnish and load lip protector, chrome exhaust tips, a JOIN emblem and VW Tint window film. The midsize SUV is powered by a 1.4 litre turbocharged TSI engine with 150 PS and 250 Nm, mated to a six-speed DSG transmission. Choose from Deep Black, Pure White, Tungsten Silver, Atlantic Blue and Indium Grey colours.

    The Tiguan JOIN is priced at RM175,990, but the top spec SUV now comes with a RM2,000 rebate on top of the RM10,000 savings from the JOIN pack. Total savings, RM12,000.

    Last but not least, the RM188,690 Passat Comfortline JOIN includes aluminium sports pedals, aluminium scuff plates, 18-inch Marseille alloy wheels, a JOIN emblem and VW Tint window film. Volkswagen’s flagship sedan is powered by a 1.8 litre turbocharged TSI engine with 180 PS and 250 Nm. Available colours are Deep Black, Manganese Grey, Pure White and Reflex Silver.

    Total savings for the Passat Comfortline JOIN is RM27,000, which is made up of RM12,000 worth of accessories and a RM15,000 rebate. All prices are inclusive of the JOIN accessories, but before rebates. For more information, visit Volkswagen Malaysia’s website.

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  • AAM says it remains the motorsports sanctioning authority in Malaysia, continues to perform its role

    Earlier this week, it was reported in the news that the sports commissioner’s office (PJS) said through a statement that the Automobile Association of Malaysia‘s (AAM) status as a sports body had been cancelled, meaning that it no longer has the power to recognise, organise or engage in any motor sports activities, both locally and abroad.

    In response to this, AAM has issued a statement saying there were inaccuracies in the statement made by PJS, and that it remains as the motorsports sanctioning authority in Malaysia through the mandate given to it by the international motorsports authorities (FIA, FIM and CIK).

    As such, it continues to perform its function in sanctioning, issuance of racing licenses, insurance and other matters relating to motorsports as set out in the guidelines set by the international motorsports bodies.

    The association said the statement by PJS, aside from raising more questions than answers, had caused much commotion amongst the motorsport fraternity, creating confusion and backlash among members of the association, clubs and organisers who have long been under AAM stewardship. It added that race license holders and race officials have also been severely affected by this predicament.

    It said it is actively pursuing options to address the issue, but will continue to perform its roles without fear or favour and with upmost neutrality in protecting the interests of its members, affiliated clubs and the motorsports fraternity in the country.

     
  • G20 BMW 3 Series set to be launched in Malaysia soon

    It looks like the G20 BMW 3 Series will be the next model to be launched by BMW Malaysia, following the debut of the G15 8 Series Coupe recently. The seventh generation of the 3 Series, which forms part of BMW’s core range of models, was first revealed at the Paris Motor Show in 2018.

    The post on BMW Malaysia’s Facebook page doesn’t explicitly indicate the G20, but merely takes us through the first six generations of the 3 Series, beginning with the E21 right up to the F30.

    With the line “the legacy continues” in the caption, it’s pretty clear what’s coming next. This look back into history has been done before, as prior to the launch of the 8 Series, the company also posted several “throwback” posts focusing on the significance of the number eight to BMW.

    As you’d expect, there’s not a lot in the way of details at the moment. The latest 3 Series can be had with a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder in two states of tune, with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. On the 320i, the mill makes 184 PS from 5,000-6,500 rpm and 300 Nm of torque from 1,350-4,000 rpm, with a zero to 100 km/h time of 7.2 seconds.

    Meanwhile, the 330i offers 258 PS from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 400 Nm from 1,550-4,400 rpm. As a result, the century sprint is quicker at 5.8 seconds. One or both of these petrol variants are likely what we’ll be getting, but we’ll have to wait for the launch so see what’s what.

    Other available G20 variants include the M340i xDrive, 330d, 320d and 318d, although we don’t expect these to be made available at launch. There’s also a petrol plug-in hybrid model in the guise of the 330e, but this may come a bit later. The current F30 LCI line-up in Malaysia consists of the 318i Luxury and 330e M Sport.

    GALLERY: G20 BMW 330i M Sport at Singapore Motor Show

     
  • Thailand proposes new Eco EV scheme for affordable electrified cars – Toyota, Honda, Nissan decline offer

    Thailand has had separate eco car and EV schemes in recent times. The programmes were for certain types of vehicles – affordable small cars for the former, of which two phases have already been introduced; and hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric for the latter – and carmakers were enticed with tax breaks and exemptions for their efforts.

    Now, the Thai government has concocted another scheme, and the Eco EV programme combines a bit of both the earlier schemes, as its name suggests. Affordable electrified eco cars is the name of this game, and the kingdom’s Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) has met with Toyota, Honda and Nissan to discuss the scheme and offer incentives.

    “Eco EV is aimed at closing any loopholes after the government launched the EV scheme in late March 2017, as the scheme should not be an obstacle to the current eco-car scheme. The OIE has found that the existing EV scheme was ineffective at boosting mass-market production of EVs and localising the manufacture of EV-related vital components,” said OIE director-general Nattapol Rangsitpol, reported by the Bangkok Post.

    Nattapol elaborated by describing the current EV scheme is a “free and open ticket” for carmakers to produce any green car in any vehicle segment. “Locally there are only high-end hybrid EVs priced above one million baht, same as before the scheme,” he said.

    The OIE’s proposal was for mild hybrid cars to be turned into affordable Eco EVs. “The mild hybrid under the Eco EV programme can offer prices ranging from 500,000 to 700,000 baht, equivalent to eco cars that are available in the local market,” Nattapol said. The country’s excise department said that Eco EVs may be taxed at 4%, on a par with hybrids and much lower than the 10-14% of today’s eco cars.

    However, the top three Japanese carmakers that have Thailand as their regional base – Toyota, Honda and Nissan – said no thank you. The OIE man said the companies wanted to wait for the market mechanism to catch up and for EV excise tax incentives to expire in 2025.

    However “by 2025, Eco EV will not be appropriate for the technological landscape and Thailand’s automotive industry will be far behind other countries,” he lamented.

    The three carmakers asked for a one-year extension to the offer. Nattapol said the OIE will continue working on the programme with other eco car companies. Besides Toyota, Honda and Nissan, the other eco car participants were Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Mazda.

    Those who have received Thailand’s Board of Investment EV incentives so far include Mazda and Toyota in the regular hybrid category, plus Mercedes-Benz, BMW and SAIC Motor (MG) in the PHEV category. Learn more about Thailand’s green car local assembly incentives here.

    Making basic small cars may be profitable if you know how, but perhaps throwing in hybrid tech/batteries will also throw away the business case for the Japanese giants. But with a bigger carrot, who knows?

     
  • BMW and Daimler said to be in talks to develop compact/mid-sized cars, electric vehicles together

    BMW and Daimler are reportedly studying the idea of working together on electric vehicle platforms, a move that could save each carmaker a fair bit of money, as Reuters reports.

    According to German publications Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Auto Bild, which provided the original source of information on the matter, both automakers are apparently in talks about sharing engineering costs for compact and mid-size cars. Allegedly, the vehicles are set to feature all-electric powertrains, but could also be designed to accommodate internal combustion engines.

    Going the shared routed would save each automaker US$7.91 billion (RM32.26 billion) over a period of seven years, and savings could be higher if larger models are added into the joint-platform mix, Auto Bild said. Talks are however still in their early stages and plans could possibly change. Both automakers have not commented on the reports.

    The possibility of vehicle collaboration has been mentioned before – earlier this year, German news outlet Handelsblatt reported that both automakers were looking at the possibility of co-developing future compact car models, such as that found in the 1 Series and the A-Class model range. It said then that this would be part of a wider cooperation that also includes technology sharing for autonomous cars.

    The latter has already come about. Last month, BMW and Daimler announced they will be collaborating to invest more than one billion euros to create a new global player providing sustainable mobility services to customers across a wide spectrum of portfolios involving car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multimodal transport.

    The cooperation will span over five joint ventures, namely Reach Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Free Now and Share Now. Each business will have its own CEO, with both automakers functioning as overseers, but not interfering in the companies’ operations.

    Earlier this month, the two German companies also signed a MoU for a long-term strategic cooperation on self-driving cars. The initial focus will be on developing next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, highway autonomous driving and parking features up the SAE’s Level 4 standard, but both parties will also look into the possibility of extending that partnership to include higher levels of autonomy covering urban areas.

     
 

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Last Updated 09 Mar 2019



 

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