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  1. 1. GM India to hike prices up to 2.5 pc from January 2011<br />Car-maker General Motors India on Sunday said it will hike prices by up to two-and-half per cent across models due to rising input costs effective from January 2011.<br />1.5 and 2.5 per cent from January first week next year to offset rising input costs," General Motors India (GMI) Vice-President P Balendran said here. <br />"The increasing input cost is our biggest concern. After the commodity prices reached its bottom, now all materials like steel, aluminium and rubber are rising," Balendran said adding, "Some component prices have increased between 5 and 10 per cent." <br />The company's last price revision was done in June-July this year. <br />GM India has already crossed the one-lakh unit sales mark in a calendar year for the first time since its inception in the country. The company achieved the feat last month, meeting its yearly target with over a month still to go. <br />"Our Chevrolet Beat and Cruze are in good demand in the Indian market," he said. <br />The company plans to ramp-up its dealership network to 300 from present 219 by March 11. <br />"We will open more dealers in the Tier-II and Tier III cities coming days. We will increase our dealership network to 240 from present 219 by this month-end," he said adding "the dealership network will increase to 300 by March 11."<br />Honda to end motorcycle JV with Hero Honda Motors<br />Honda Motor Co . reached a basic agreement this week to dissolve its partnership in India's Hero Honda Motors Ltd , the Nikkei business daily reported. <br />Once on its own, Honda will focus its resources on wholly owned subsidiary Honda Motorcycle &amp; Scooter India Pvt , the Nikkei report said. <br />Honda and its Indian partner Hero Group will seek approval for the breakup from their respective boards of directors later this month, the paper said. <br />The Japanese automaker could reap up to around 100 bn yen ($1.20 bn) from the sale of its shares in Hero Honda Motors, founded in 1984 with India's Hero Group, Nikkei said. <br />The partners each took 26 percent stakes in the venture, which became an emerging market foothold for Honda. <br />Honda will sell its entire stake in the motorcycle maker to the Hero Group's founding family and investment funds by as early as March, the report added. <br />A standing agreement to provide technical support to Hero Honda for development and production until 2014 will not be renewed, Nikkei said.<br />Bajaj Auto plans massive distribution network expansion<br />Bajaj Auto said it plans massive distribution network expansion to meet robust growth targets, adding 130 new dealerships and upgrading 1,100 service centres by next festive season. <br />The new dealers, largely in small towns, would take the total number to more than 600 dealerships across India, the company said. <br />According to S Sridhar, President - Motorcycle Business, Bajaj Auto, the company is well placed in terms of distribution as far as Pulsar - a premium brand, with an urban focus - is concerned. <br />"On the other hand 'Discover' which is a mass commuter has huge potential in smaller towns. While Discover's growth in terms of volumes and market share has been outstanding, the next big boost will come from increasing the share in these towns and in rural India which accounts for more than 50 per cent sales of this category", he said.<br />Ford to expand Figo exports to 48 countries<br />With 58,000 Figo compact cars sold in India within eight months of the model's launch, Ford India is now firming up plans to expand exports of the indigenously manufactured hatchback to 48 countries in the near future. <br />To start with, the company will export 7,000 Figos to South Africa by the end of this year. "Figo has received a very good response in the Indian market. We now plan to take it globally. We will export 7,000 Figos to South Africa by this year-end and plan to export this hatchback to 48 countries going forward," said Ford India president and managing director Michael Boneham here. <br />The company has been exporting the car to Nepal since October this year, Boneham said, adding that the small car has contributed strongly to the company's sales growth. The company plans to launch a slew of models in the Indian market in the next five to six years. <br />"We will continue to launch vehicles to strengthen our presence in India. We plan to launch eight new vehicle models by the middle of this decade," he said.<br />Honda's Brio compact car to make India debut next yr<br />Honda Motor Company showcased Brio compact car at the Bangkok Motor Expo on Tuesday, the smallest and the cheapest in its portfolio, that is expected to cost less than . 5 lakh . <br />The Brio could turnaround Japanese carmaker’s Indian operations, which has reported flat sales in the current fiscal, even as the domestic market grew 33%. <br />Brio (originating from the Italian meaning energetic ) is likely to come with a 1.2 litre small engine that is expected to deliver fuel efficiency of around 20km/litre, close to Eco-Car another variant of the same car that would be sold in Thailand from March 2011 onwards. <br />The Indian variant would hit the market around the festive season of September-October and would have high local content of around 80%. <br />It would be pitted against other popular compact cars like the Volkswagen Polo, Maruti Swift and Hyundai i20 in India, which has emerged as the fastest growing segment in the Indian market. Honda sales increased merely 3% to 35,460 units in April to Oct this year.<br />Mahindras to re-enter compact SUV segment with Thar launch<br />Mahindra & Mahindra is re-entering the off-road compact SUV segment with Thar, a reworked version of the Commander Jeep that was pulled off the roads in early 2000. <br />The Mumbai-based utility vehicle major plans to price the sports utility vehicle at around `7 lakh and launch it in Kerala and Rajasthan next month, a person familiar with the development told ET. <br />The Thar has been selling in the South African markets, since the past two years, for `9.5-10 lakh. “It is the need for a retro-styled product that has forced M&M to launch the product in Indian markets,” a person said on condition of anonymity. <br />“This is a niche, retro-styled product and there will be a lot of young buyers and Jeep fans for such a vehicle,” a Mumbai-based dealer said on condition of anonymity. The vehicle will be sold in soft top and hard top versions. A company spokesperson said, “As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on any of our future plans or products.” <br />The Mahindra Thar, a derivative of the globally renowned Commander Jeep 5 (CJ5), has improved suspensions and features and better ground clearance to take on tough roads. It is powered by a 2.5 litre CRDi diesel engine.<br />SkodaAuto may take Maruti's help to develop small car<br />Czech firm SkodaAuto today said it may take help from India's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki in developing a small car, which is proposed to be introduced in 2012. <br />SkodaAuto today launched its sports utility vehicle Yeti in India, priced between Rs 15.40 lakh and Rs 16.63 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). <br />"There could be a possibility that we will take Maruti's input in the small car," SkodaAuto India Board Member and Director (Sales and Marketing) Thomas Kuehl told reporters here when asked if the company will seek Maruti Suzuki's help in developing its proposed small car for the Indian market. <br />SkodaAuto's parent Volkswagen had last year picked up 19.9 per cent stake in Suzuki Motor Corp for USD 2.5 billion, following which the partners have been exploring possibilities of joint production and vehicle design. <br />"Suzuki is interested in our engines and we (Volkswagen) are interested in Suzuki's expertise in small car and without Maruti, Suzuki will be not in today's position.<br />Tata Motors Group Oct global sales up 18 pc at 86,705 units<br />The Tata Motors Group today said that its global sales has jumped 18 per cent at 86,705 units in October this year, as compared to last year. <br />The Group comprises of the Tata, Tata Daewoo and Hispano Carrocera range of commercial vehicles, Tata passenger vehicles along with distributed brands in India and Jaguar and Land Rover. <br />The company sold 40,750 units of commercial vehicles in October 2010, clocking a growth rate of 20 per cent. Its cumulative sales for the fiscal are 2,74,323 units, growth of 52 per cent, a statement issued here said. <br />The group's cumulative sales for the fiscal (April-October 2010) stood at 5,98,639 units, higher by 44 per cent, as compared to the corresponding period last year. <br />Tata Motors Group sold 45,955 units of passenger vehicles in October, growth of 17 per cent. Its cumulative sales for the fiscal are 3,24,316 units, growth of 39 per cent, the statement said.<br />Volkswagen group expects to double sales this year<br />Volkswagen group, which sells luxury cars under the Audi , Volkswagen and Skoda brand names, is expecting to double its sales this year, a company official said. <br />"Last year we sold 19,000 units comprising the three makes. This year we expect to double the sales," Maik Stephan, managing director of Volkswagen Group Sales India , said. <br />He said that besides China, India is the fastest growing market in the luxury car segment. <br />With an installed capacity of 1.10 lakh units per annum at its plants in Pune and Aurangabad, the company does not have any investment plans at the moment, he said. <br />The group had invested Rs 3,800 crore at Pune, which manufactures Skoda Fabia, Polo and Vento. The Aurangabad plant assembles Skoda, Volkswagen and Audi. <br />Stephan said that the group would aggressively expand the dealer network.<br />Ferrari's India 'speed date' in six months<br />Get set for the prancing stallion. Ferrari, the famed Italian sports car maker, is all set to blaze on Indian roads, looking to tap the growing appetite of an emerged India for luxury. <br />Part of Fiat's stable, Ferrari will officially zoom on the Indian roads within the next six months, hoping to challenge rivals like Porsche and Lamborghini who are already present in the market. "Ferrari will enter the Indian market in the first half of 2011. India will be the 58th market in the world where Ferrari will be present," Valeria Costa, Communications Director of the Italian brand, told TOI from the company's headquarters at Turin in Italy . <br />The company will, however, not take the support of Fiat's Indian partner, Tata Motors, for its foray, but rather come through the direct import route. "We will have an importer managing the business," Costa said. Fiat cars in India are currently retailed as well as serviced through the network of Tata Motors. Incidentally, Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata also owns a Ferrari. Other famous Indians to own the car include Sachin Tendulkar (who was gifted a Ferrari 360 Modena by Fiat when he equaled the late Don Bradman's tally of 29 Test centuries) and liquor baron Vijay Mallya . <br />Ferrari is believed to be looking at top metros like Delhi and Mumbai for its debut, though Costa did not confirm this. Industry sources said senior officials from Ferrari have visited India many times and have also had meetings with various importers of luxury brands. <br />The company's models, that include California (also owned by Ratan Tata), 458 Italia, 599 and 612, will be imported to India and thus attract duties of around 110%. The model line-up will come with a hefty price tag that would run upwards of Rs 1.5 crore. Ashish Chordia, Director of Porsche India, said the entry of Ferrari will help expand the market for ultra luxury cars further. <br />"The market has matured and is growing rapidly. New cars will help stimulate demand further. The economy is on a roll and people are open to engage in luxury buys." Porsche expects sales to go up more than two times this year. Against 94 units sold in 2009, it has already sold 269 units till October this year.<br />GM to pay new CEO Akerson $1.7 million cash a year<br />General Motors Co. will pay new CEO Dan Akerson $1.7 million in cash annually, plus $5.3 million in stock over the next three years.Akerson, 61, also will receive $2 million in restricted stock as part of the company's long-term incentive plan, Detroit-based GM said today in a regulatory filing.<br />Akerson, a former managing director of the Carlyle Group, took over as CEO from Ed Whitacre on Sept. 1 to give GM a longer-term executive. The automaker is planning an initial public offering to begin freeing itself from government ownership. Whitacre, 68, remains chairman through the end of the year.<br />“Top executives in the automotive industry aren't at the top of the compensation pyramid like they were 30 or 40 years ago,” David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said in a telephone interview. “This compensation is relatively small compared to other industries. I think it's fair.”<br />GM, 61 percent owned by the U.S. Treasury, has had four CEOs in the past 18 months. The company received a $50 billion taxpayer bailout following its bankruptcy in June 2009.<br />Whitacre, who became chairman in July 2009 and CEO in December, will get $300,000 for his four remaining months on the board, according to today's filing.<br />Akerson's pay package matches one GM planned for Whitacre that was detailed in a Feb. 19 regulatory filing. Akerson's pay was decided by GM's board and the special master on executive compensation for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said Noreen Pratscher, a GM spokeswoman.<br />GM is seeking to raise as much as $16 billion in its IPO, a person familiar with the plans said in August. That would be the second-biggest offering in U.S. history, behind Visa Inc.'s $19.7 billion share sale in March 2008.<br />MALAYSIA: Vehicle sales up 13% in October<br />Vehicle sales in Malaysia rose by 13% to 52,297 units in October, up from 46,087 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA). Year to date sales were up by 14% at 505,546 units, from 444,037 units in the first 10 months of 2009.<br />The association cited strong consumer demand and improved supply of vehicles as key to last month’s buoyant sales volumes. Passenger car sales increased by 11.9% to 46,439 units, while commercial vehicles were up by 28.1% at 5,858 units.<br />The association expects growth to moderate as it normally does towards the end of the year, with some buyers preferring to wait until the next year before making a purchase. <br />The outlook for the market is also good for next year, with the managing director of the second national car company Perodua expecting total sales to reach a new record of 600,000 units. This compares with average sales of 500,000 over the last decade and an expected record total of 570,000 for this year.<br />Sales of hybrid cars will get a boost next year after the government decided to remove excise taxes on these vehicles from January 2011.<br />Peugeot Marks 200th Birthday With Bevy of Offerings in Paris<br />PARIS – Automobiles Peugeot hardly could do more on its 200th birthday as a company than it is here at the Paris auto show.<br />From its beginnings as a maker of pepper mills, Peugeot has become a company that manufactures bicycles, scooters, cars, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.<br />Its new 508 sedan moves the brand upscale, while its iOn will be its first EV and the 3008Hy4 its first diesel hybrid.<br />Peugeot’s new 508, available in sedan and station wagon variants, replaces the 607 and the 407 in the auto maker’s lineup.<br />Engines rated from 112-204 hp are more efficient thanks to the introduction of parent PSA Peugeot Citroen’s second-generation stop/start system, which combined with the most-efficient diesel means carbon-dioxide emissions of just 109 g/km.<br />When it gets hybridized later with PSA’s Hy4 system, the 508 will achieve 200 hp, emit just 99 g/km of CO2 and feature all-wheel drive.<br />Peugeot shows how quickly the auto maker has adapted. Two stars on its display here are the 3008 Hy4 and iOn. During the decade preceding this year’s Paris show, the auto maker abandoned the production of EVs after manufacturing 10,000 units and earlier disparaged the idea of HEVs. Peugeot displays another electric car in its showroom on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, rather than on its stand. The EX1 is light and powerful, designed to look futuristic and break obscure acceleration records that most people never have heard of, such as covering 1/8th of a mile in 8.9 seconds.<br />The dual-motor, 340-hp (250-kW) EX1 is a single-purpose concept car that recalls its famous French ancestor, the Jamais Content EV car that in 1899 set the world speed record for any car at 65 mph (105 km/h).Peugeot says maximum speed of the EX1 is 160 mph (260 km/h), with acceleration exceeding 1G of force. Range (at normal speeds) is estimated at 280 miles (450 km) with the 30-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.After the Paris exhibit closes in November, the EX1 will go to China to call attention to Peugeot’s ambitions in the world’s largest market.The iOn, developed with Mitsubishi Motor Corp. on the i-MiEV platform, will be available for lease at the end of this year for €500 ($685) a month. Peugeot is hoping to win a contract early next year to provide 3,000 units to the city of Paris Autolib car-sharing program.The 3008 Hy4 will go on sale in 2012. The 3008 is a compact European cross/utility vehicle that already sells well with its internal-combustion engines.<br />The base 3008 emits 165 g/km of CO2 with its 1.6L, 120-hp gasoline engine and sells for about €21,600(29,570). The 3008 Hy4 will emit 99 g/km and sell for about €30,000 ($41,070).<br />Also on Peugeot’s Paris stand is the bb1 concept, displayed at last year’s show, as it fits with the auto maker’s mobility theme. Additionally, the auto maker shows an electric scooter, e-Vivacity, going on sale next year, as well as a concept scooter, the e-Satelis.<br />Peugeot is trying to interest the public in a total mobility approach by offering all its vehicles, from bicycles to vans, as short-term rentals through the “Mu by Peugeot” program.<br />Hyundai’s New B-Car to Bow at Paris Show<br />Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. releases a teaser sketch of the new B-segment ʼ11 ix20 multipurpose vehicle it will unveil at the Paris auto show Sept. 30.The new entry will go on sale in Europe in the fourth quarter, the auto maker says.The ix20 will not be sold in the U.S., a Hyundai spokesman says.The new model will be produced at Hyundai’s plant in Nosovice, Czech Republic. It has seating for four and will be offered with three engines: the gasoline Gamma 1.4L and 1.4L and 1.6L diesel versions.The ix20 was designed and developed at the Hyundai R&D Center in Russelsheim, Germany. It features the auto maker’s “fluidic sculpture” styling theme to attain a graceful, sporty appearance usually not found in an MPV, Hyundai says.<br />The Hyundai ix20 will be offered with a 5-year unlimited warranty, plus five years of roadside assistance and free vehicle checkups.Hyundai also plans to debut its new 2011 i10 city car at the Paris show. The new A-segment i10 will be powered by a new 1.0L gas engine that limits carbon-dioxide emissions to 99g/km.<br />GM India to launch 6 new vehicles in 2011<br />MUMBAI: General Motors' India unit will launch six new vehicles next year in Asia's third-largest economy and expand dealers network to tap the growing demand, its country head said on Thursday. The dealer network will be increased to 240 by the end of this year from 211 now, Karl Slym told reporters.<br />Mahindra mulls electric vehicles for US market<br />NEW DELHI:Auto major Mahindra & Mahindra plans to enter the US market with its electric vehicles from group firm REVA's portfolio within next five years, a top official said today. <br />The announcement comes at a time when the homegrown firm is fighting a legal battle with its erstwhile sole US distributor for delaying the launch of its pick-up truck in the American nation. <br />"US is an important and big market for electric vehicles. We are looking at that market. We will be there before our target of full global presence in next five years, but exactly when, that we have not decided yet," Mahindra REVA Electric Vehicles chief of operations R Chandramouli said. At present, the US government provides various incentives to the tune of USD 7,500 on electric vehicles, he added. In May this year, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) acquired 55.2 per cent stake in Chetan Maini-promoted REVA Electric Car Company through a combination of equity purchase and a fresh equity infusion of over Rs45 crore into the company. <br />The company is working on to introduce electricity-driven technology in M&M's entire product portfolio and a final announcement will be made during the next fiscal. When asked about expansion plans in global markets, Chandramouli said: "We want to be present across the globe in the next five years, apart from our current operations in the Europe and India." <br />So far, the company has focused only on two major cities -- Bangalore and London, where a total of over 1,000 Reva cars are plying on the roads at present. The company has sold about 3,700 units since launching its first car in 2001. <br />During US President Barack Obama's India visit earlier this month, M&M Group Vice Chairman and MD Anand Mahindra had said his firm is planning to leverage US technologies for its REVA cars. <br />"We have some plan to try and bring the template in the US. By template I mean, to run pilot operations for creating new models of electric vehicle transportation. We hope to scale up those models in the US and India," he had said. <br />Earlier M&M, which had planned to launch its Scorpio pick-up trucks in the US the end of 2009, missed two deadlines since, due to regulatory issues. It had again set 2010-end as the possible time for launching the vehicle in the US. <br />However, the firm's US dealer Global Vehicles (GV), which claimed to have made a total investment of USD 103.5 million (about Rs 480 crore) along with franchisees, filed a lawsuit against M&M on June 14 this year before an Atlanta District Court alleging inordinate delay in the launch of the truck. <br />Countering the lawsuit, the M&M also filed a dismiss motion in a US court.<br />India, Russia may follow China in autos M&A<br />LONDON/PARIS: Indian and Russian companies may follow China's lead in doing overseas deals to help grow their automotive industries, Meyrick Cox of Moelis &amp; Co told the Reuters Global Autos Summit on Tuesday. <br />China's car industry has spent a decade augmenting its technology, brands and distribution capabilities through alliances, consulting tie-ups and overseas takeovers, culminating in Geely's $1.5 billion purchase of Volvo from Ford this year. <br />Cox, speaking at the London office of Reuters, said Russia's automotive industry now faced "the same issue China had ten years ago". <br />Despite joint ventures such as Lada maker AvtoVAZ's tie-up with Renault SA, it and rivals such as GAZ were under "very heavy pressure from the Kremlin" to modernise Russia's car industry, he said. "Whether they can do that through paying consultants to help develop things, or their own work, or by buying things, is an open question, but I think it's entirely possible we would see them buying things if there are assets around to buy." <br />Similarly, Cox said Indian conglomerates such as the family owned Hinduja Group or Mahindra Group, whose Mahindra & Mahindra unit is the country's top utility vehicles maker, could pursue overseas deals that would help them better tap a domestic market of more than 1 billion people. <br />China's state-controlled giants Dongfeng and FAW also remained keen to boost their know-how, branding and footprint. But, he said, all face the same problem. "There aren't an awful lot of assets left to buy," Cox said. "The car industry tends to restructure itself about once every 10 years in ownership terms, and we've just had, I guess, two years or so of that." <br />That echoes Geely chairman Li Shufu, who told Reuters in an August interview that it was "very difficult to find a good brand like Volvo you can buy", and joked that Chinese companies would be interested in Daimler AG's Mercedes unit were it for sale. <br />Cox was a key adviser to Geely at Rothschild. He then left the family-owned bank for Ken Moelis's eponymous, 3-year old outfit to be head of global automotive and steel. <br />Cox said China's carmakers were focused on serving their domestic market, the world's biggest. "It's a mistake to think that this is an export-driven rush, in the same way as the Japanese car manufacturers focused on exports," he said. <br />"The focus is being able to design and build cars in China for Chinese people." <br />But with top Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp launching its "Roewe" cars in Europe, Cox said Chinese carmakers would begin to make inroads into developed markets. <br />"I read every now and again it's going to be 10 or 20 years before we see Chinese cars over here. Nonsense. We're going to see them here in the next five years, and they're going to be built just as well as mass-market cars here are," he said. <br />"The manufacturers who think it's going to be 10 or 20 years away are going to have a very unpleasant<br />Fiat says it may not meet sales target set for 2010<br />MUMBAI: Having sold only 24,000 units till October in a highly competitive environment, Fiat India has that the company may not meet the sales target of 46,000 units set for 2010. <br />"Yes, we are facing stiff competition. There is a possibility of us falling short of our sales target of 46,000 units set for this year," Fiat India's president and CEO Rajeev Kapoor told said in Mumbai. <br />The company had targeted doubling its sales in 2010 to 46,000 units from 23,000 units sold in 2009. It is now looking at new strategies to boost the sales of its two premium cars -- Punto and Linea. "We have adopted some new strategies to boost our sales and are hopeful of success in the coming days," Kapoor said. <br />Tata Motors and Fiat had inked an equal joint venture in 2007 to build cars and also produce transmission sets and engines at the Ranjangaon facility near Pune. <br />Fiat India has launched the Fiat 500, Linea sedan and the Grande Punto hatchback. These cars are sold through Tata Motors dealerships. So far, Fiat India has sold close to 47,000 units. The company has a 175-strong dealership network pan-India. <br />The company also has plans to develop a small car specifically for the Indian market. <br />"Fiat plans to develop a small car for the Indian market in Italy with the help of an Indian team. It will be launched here with our joint venture partner, Tata Motors, with about 80-85 per localization<br />Tata Motors to start selling Nano in 6 more states<br />MUMBAI: India's Tata Motors said on Friday it will start selling its small car Tata Nano in six more states across the country from Nov. 22. <br />The vehicle maker said it will now open sales in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.<br />Tata-owned Jaguar unveils electric concept car<br />LOS ANGELES: Tata Motors-owned Jaguar has unveiled a electric concept car that can run 900 km to a charge with a top speed of 320 km per hour. <br />Christened C-X75, it has been created to celebrate 75 years of the company, says Ian Callum, design director of Jaguar Cars. <br />Callum said that he was very "excited about the car and loved its design. <br />He said the concept car had everything a Jaguar should be. The car which would be put on display at the prestigious Los Angles Auto Show beginning tomorrow has created waves in the last few days after being exhibited in some parts of this city of Hollywood. <br />"It possesses remarkable poise and grace yet at the same time has the excitement and potency of a true supercar", Callum said. <br />"This is as close to a pure art form as a concept car and get and is a worthy homage to 75 years of iconic Jaguar design," he said. <br />Top Jaguar executives insist C-X75 was only a concept car and not for commercial sale while conceding they have been receiving a lot of inquiries from serious potential buyers. <br />Built with lightweight aluminum panels and chassis, the C-X75 is a 4WD vehicle.<br />Besides being powered by 145kw electric motors at all wheels, it has a pair of micro gas-turbines that provide another 140Kw of charge and extend the range to 900 km. <br />Top speed is over 320 km/h and the two-seater can sprint from 0-100 km/h in just over 3.0 seconds. <br />The super car was first put to public display at the Paris Auto show recently and now at the Los Angeles Auto Show. From here it would travel to China, before it goes back to its garage at London.<br />M&M to pay Rs 2,105 crore to acquire 70% in Ssangyong<br />NEW DELHI: Mahindra &amp; Mahindra today said it has signed a definitive agreement with Ssangyong Motor Company Limited (SYMC) to acquire 70 per cent stake in the ailing South Korean auto maker at a total cost of USD 463 million (about Rs 2,105 crore). <br />The company said in a statement that it expected the deal to be concluded by March 2011. <br />Mahindra will acquire 70 per cent stake in Ssangyong and out of the total cost of acquisition of USD 463 million, USD 378 million will be in in new stocks and USD 85 million in corporate bonds, it added. <br />"The coming together of Mahindra and Ssangyong will result in a competitive global UV player. Together with its financial capability, Mahindra offers competence in sourcing and marketing strategy while Ssangyong has strong capabilities in technology," M&M President, Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors, Pawan Goenka said. <br />He said there was also an opportunity to introduce a premium portfolio of SUVs in the Indian market, providing a new growth avenue for Ssangyong and "further strengthen our dominant position in the UV segment". <br />Commenting on the deal, Receiver of SYMC Yooil Lee said: "The securing of a solid partner who has both financial capability and is engaged in diverse markets will allow Ssangyong to emerge as a global SUV player through the strengthening of R&D, investments in product development, better business competitiveness and global sales expansion." <br />M&M said it has also signed a tripartite agreement the labour union of SYMC and SYMC, which contains provisions for employment protection, long-term investment and commitment for no labor dispute. <br />It said that it has already deposited 10 per cent of the final purchasing price per terms of the definitive agreement, with the remaining balance to be deposited three days prior to SYMC's stakeholder meeting. <br />SYMC will update its corporate rehabilitation plan to include reference to repaying liabilities with cash-in from the deal, and will be required to receive approval from creditors and the court on the updated plan. After completing all the acquisition procedures and the repayment of rehabilitation claims, the corporate rehabilitation process is likely to be finished by March, 2011, the statement added. <br />The creditors are expected to approve the revised corporate rehabilitation plan by January 2011, it added. <br />Ssangyong Motors is a premier manufacturer of sports utility vehicles (SUV) and recreational vehicles (RV), with models such as Musso and Korando C, which was launched in export markets in October 2010<br />Tata Motors expects 50% jump in LCV sales on robust demand<br />NEW DELHI: Tata Motors today said it is expecting over 50 per cent jump in the sale of its Ace family light commercial vehicles (LCV) in the current fiscal, on account of robust demand. <br />This translates into upto 2.5 lakh units for sale. "Last year, we sold about 1.6 lakh unit of our Ace family. This fiscal we are targeting upto 2.5 lakh unit, including exports," Tata Motors Head (Sales Commercial Vehicles) Sandeep Kumar told reporters here. <br />Tata Motors will launch two light commercial vehicles--- Venture and Iris-- early next year. <br />The Ace family comprises light commercial vehicles Magic, Winger and Ace. These are manufactured at the Panth Nagar facility. <br />The company today launched a new variant of its Winger, priced between Rs 6.98 lakh- Rs 7.35 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).<br />Nissan's electric Leaf rated at 99 miles per gallon equivalent<br />DETROIT: US regulators have rated the electric Nissan Motor Co Ltd Leaf car at an equivalent of 99 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, the Japanese automaker said on Monday. <br />The Leaf's driving range was rated at 73 miles by the US Environmental Protection Agency for a window sticker required on any new vehicle to be sold to consumers, Nissan said. <br />Nissan has designed the Leaf for a 100-mile (160 kilometer) range rated under a method used in California that differs from the system used by the EPA. <br />The Leaf is one of a handful of mass-market fully electric or extended range plug-in vehicles that are slated to reach consumers in the next year. Nissan is the first automaker to disclose an EPA rating on one of the vehicles. <br />General Motors Co expects to begin shipping Chevrolet Volt plug-in cars to customers in December. Ford Motor Co expects to deliver its first electric Focus compact cars late next year. <br />Nissan said the EPA label includes a seven-hour charging time for the Leaf, which carries a $32,780 retail price. The price to consumers will be reduced substantially by a $7,500 federal tax credit and state incentives. The Leaf will be eligible for $5,000 of incentives from the state of California, making the electric car price competitive with the industry's top-selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius. <br />The Leaf is scheduled to go on sale in December in five US states: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Tennessee. Nissan plans to sell it in Texas and Hawaii starting in January and add other US markets later in the year. <br />The EPA sticker rates the Leaf at the equivalent of 106 miles per gallon in city driving and 92 in highway driving to reach the combined rating.<br />BMW planning to increase investments in India to Rs 1.8 bn<br />CHENNAI: German luxury car maker BMW proposed to increase its investments in India to Rs 1.8 billion by end of 2012. <br />The company, which commenced its Indian operations by setting up a production plant near Chennai in March 2007, has invested close to Rs 1.1 billion, BMW India said in a statement here. <br />"Till September 2010,BMW Group has invested Rs 1.1 billion. BMW Group's investment in India will be increased to Rs 1.8 billion by the end of 2012", it said.. <br />The BMW Chennai unit produces the BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series sedans in petrol and diesel variants. By end of this year, the Chennai plant would also produce BMW X1, it said. <br />The Chennai facility has the capacity to produce 5,400 units per year on a single shift basis and the unit employs about 400 people.Besides the Production plant, the company also has a central spare parts warehouse unit in Mumbai. <br />The company said it rolled out its 10,000th unit from the Chennai facility,today. <br />For 2011, the company also planned to ramp up dealership network from the present 18 to 21 outlets and would create 1,200 jobs in dealer and service network, it said. <br />"Having taken the lead in the premium segment for the first time last year, we aim to maintain our leading position in the Indian market by now embarking on the second wave of our India strategy.", BMW India President Andreas Schaaf said. <br />On the roll out of the 10,000th car here, BMW Chennai Plant Managing Director Juergen Eder said "The BMW Plant Chennai team is very excited with the achievement of this milestone in less than four years and looks forward to fulfil the increasing demand for BMW cars in India.". <br />Including the Chennai plant, the company has 24 production facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries with an employee base of over 96,000<br />Tatas launch mini-truck in Thailand, to enter car segment next<br />BANGKOK: India's auto major Tata Motors today launched its mini-truck ' Ace Super City Giant . in Thailand and also disclosed plans to enter the Thai car market in the next "couple of years". <br />The company is also looking to tap opportunities in the Malaysia and Indonesia. <br />"We would like to get into the car market here soon. Small car is the largest segment here and in a couple of year's time we expect to be there," Tata Motors Thailand CEO Ajit Venkataraman said at the Thailand International Motor Expo here. <br />The company said it was also actively working to enter medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCV) segment here. <br />Commenting on the entry into the Thailand's mini-truck market, Tata Motors Thailand General Manager Sompong Polchitcharoon said the company expected to sell about 150 units a month of the Ace Super City Giant. <br />This mini-truck, he said, is priced at 3,49,000 Baht (about Rs 5.28 lakhs) aiming to take away half of what Japanese rival Suzuki sells right now. <br />The Thai auto market is expected to touch volumes of 7,20,000 units in 2010, out of which the pick up and small cars have 45 per cent each and the rest is accounted for by the other vehicles segment. <br />When asked about the period when Tata plans to launch cars in Thai market, Venkataraman declined to give exact timeline and also the possible models that the company is likely to launch here. <br />"It is a very competitive market here and we have to pick and choose our models correctly. But once we have established our self in the market, we will go to the mass market," Venkataraman said. Polchitcharoon said the ideal time for the firm to enter the cars segment would only be when it has established a good dealer and service network. "Right now, we have 40 dealers and we would need that to be at least 70 before we enter the car market here<br />Nissan to unveil diesel variant of Micra in India<br />BANGALORE: Japanese automobile joint venture Nissan Motor India Limited will unveil the diesel variant of its Micra compact hatchback car in December second week, a top company official said here Thursday. <br />"India will be the first country to have the 1.5-litre K9K diesel version of Micra hatchback with intelligent key, immobilizer, a push-button engine start-stop system and electric foldable mirror," Nissan Motor India chief executive Kiminobu Tokuyama told reporters here. <br />Nissan Indian rolled out the petrol variant of Micra in July and sold about 5,000 units during the last four-five months. <br />"The success of the petrol powered Micra in the Indian market has given us confidence to introduce the diesel variant within six months of its launch in response to popular demand," Tokuyama said at a pre-launch briefing. <br />Nissan formed the 50:50 joint venture with French automaker Renault to set up a manufacturing plant at Oragadam near Chennai with an upfront investment of Rs2,300 crore (about $500 million). "We signed an agreement with the Tamil Nadu government in February 2008 to invest a total of Rs.4,500 crore (about $980 million) over the next seven years for ramping up the annual production capacity to 400,000 units from the present 100,000 units and introduce a range of models for domestic and export markets," Tokuyama said. <br />Though the company has achieved around 85 per cent of localisation, engine and the five-speed gearbox are imported from its plants across Asia, including Japan and China. <br />To be positioned in the B+ segment and priced at Rs.560,000-620,000, the Micra diesel will be powered with the 1.5 litre common rail direct injection, mounted on Nissan's V platform. "The wide gear coverage enables the engine to achieve quick acceleration in city driving conditions. The eight-valve four-cylinder engine generates 47kw power at 4,000 revolutions per minute (rpm)," said Nissan R&D centre assistant chief vehicle engineer Gary Kirby. <br />The company has also started to export, in small numbers, the petrol variant to Europe, Middle East and Africa since October. <br />"We will ramp-up exports to about 100 countries, including South Africa by October 2011 after meeting the domestic demand by scaling up the production to 200,000 units per annum," said an official.<br />Ford, Gujarat govt officials to meet next week for 2nd plant<br />AHMEDABAD: Car maker Ford India is understood to be in discussion with the Gujarat government to set up its second manufacturing plant in the country, as it gears up to introduce eight new products by 2015. <br />Officials from the state government and the company are likely to meet next week to discuss setting up a plant in the state, government sources said here. <br />"Gujarat government has invited officials of Ford India for a meeting in Hyderabad on the sidelines of its roadshow on December 3. They are likely to explore possibility of the company setting up a plant in Gujarat," a state industry department official, who asked not to be identified, said. <br />When contacted, Ford India President and Managing Director Michael Boneham declined to confirm the development. <br />"We had announced to launch eight models in India in the next five year. Accordingly, we will expand our capacities and we are exploring various options, but nothing has been finalised." <br />"All the names of locations that are being mentioned at present are speculative. We will announce when a decision is finalised," Boneham told PTI. <br />In August, Ford had announced to launch eight new models in India by 2015 in a bid to tap the burgeoning domestic car market, which is over 15 lakh units annually. <br />The introduction of the new vehicles would be a part of the company's plan to bring more products from its global portfolio and other Asia Pacific and African markets. <br />Ford India had earlier this year introduced a small car 'Figo', which has seen sales of over 50,000 units so far. <br />The company has already invested USD 500 million to expand its production capacity to two lakh units annually at the Chennai facility. It also has an engine manufacturing unit, with an installed annual capacity of 2.5 lakh units. <br />Ford has so far invested over USD 1 billion in India in the last one decade.<br />Honda to launch small car 'Brio' in India in 2011 for below Rs 5 lakh<br />BANGKOK: Japanese auto giant Honda Motor Co on Tuesday unveiled the prototype of its small car 'Brio', which will be introduced in India in 2011 with a price tag of less than Rs 5 lakh. <br />The company said it will use the vendor base of its two-wheeler business in India to make the car price competitive. <br />"This car has been developed for Thailand and Indian markets. While the basic design is same, the vehicle has been tailored to meet requirement of each market," Honda Motor Co President and CEO Takanobu Ito told reporters here. <br />He said mass production of the car will start in Thailand in March, 2011. <br />Commenting on the Indian launch, Ito said: "In India, we want to launch the car within 2011, with price less than Rs 5 lakh." <br />To make 'Brio' a competitive product, the company, which is present in India through a joint venture with the Siel Group, is looking to localise 80 per cent of the components. <br />"For this vehicle, Honda will leverage the resources that it has cultivated through its motorcycle business and utilise local sourcing of parts and materials such as sheet," Ito said. <br />The company operates its two-wheeler business through the wholly-owned subsidiary Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, which has a manufacturing facility in Haryana and currently constructing the second plant in Rajasthan. It is also reportedly scouting for location to set up a third facility. <br />Honda also has a two-wheeler joint venture with the Hero Group. Both the partners hold 26 per cent stake each in Hero Honda, India's largest two-wheeler maker. <br />Elaborating on the strategy to promote 'Brio' and other Honda products, Ito said: "We have a strong passion to reach a wider customer base for our products. To accomplish this, we have focused on creating an attractive package at an attractive price." <br />Earlier, the company had said that it will introduce two versions of the 'Brio' based on this prototype. <br />The company has a manufacturing facility at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh with an installed capacity of one lakh units. It had later committed an investment of Rs 1,200 crore to set up the second manufacturing facility at Tapukara in Rajasthan, with an installed capacity 60,000 units per annum.<br />Maruti Suzuki India Nov vehicle sales up 28%<br />Maruti Suzuki India November vehicle sales: <br />Nov 2010 Nov 2009 Pct Chg <br />TOTAL SALES 112,554 87,807 28.2 <br />DOMESTIC SALES 102,503 76,359 34.2 <br />EXPORTS 10,051 11,448 -12.2 <br />NOTE: Maruti Suzuki India, 54.2-per cent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, is India's leading car maker.<br />SkodaAuto India's November sales up 29% at 1,841 units<br />MUMBAI: SkodaAuto India on Wednesday said that it has clocked a sales growth of 29 per cent in November this year at 1,841 units. <br />In November 2009, it had clocked a sales of 1,425 units. SkodaAuto India is a fully-owned subsidiary of SkodaAuto a.s. Czech Republic. <br />"Skoda has registered impressive growth in this year riding on the success of the two new launches - the new Skoda Fabia and Skoda Yeti," the company said in a press release issued here. <br />"We are pleased with the overwhelming response we have received with the introduction of our two new cars in the Skoda lineage in India - the New Skoda Fabia and Skoda Yeti. The bookings of both these cars have been extremely encouraging. We are confident that these new additions by SkodaAuto will create more zeal and excitement for the customers," SkodaAuto India's Director & Board Member, Sales and Marketing, Thomas Kuehl, said. <br />SkodaAuto achieved another milestone with the roll-out of the 1,00,001 car from its plant at Aurangabad - a Yeti. <br />The company's Senior General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Ashutosh Dixit, said, "the overwhelming sales have been a result of our aggressive expansion strategy across India. Over the years SkodaAuto India has successfully established a well-knit dealer network which has enabled us to cater to the ever-growing demand for the Skoda cars." <br />SkodaIndia has four models on sale in India - the Skoda Superb, Skoda Laura, Skoda Fabia and Skoda Yeti. SkodaAuto India has a network of 66 dealerships and 7 boutique showrooms pan-India.<br />Tata Nano's Nov sales one-sixth of Oct figures<br />NEW DELHI: Automaker Tata Motor's much hyped 'world's cheapest' car Nano has failed to meet expectations as it witnessed a massive decline to 509 units in November this year compared to 3,065 units sold in the previous month. <br />The decline came during the month when the company had asked customers to bring back the people's car to add safety devices to prevent it from catching fire. <br />While the company had insisted it was not a 'recall', it said that the addition of safety devices, a lesson learnt from some of its brand new Nanos catching fire, was optional. <br />Even during October this year, Nano failed to enthuse buyers and witnessed only 2 per cent growth compared to the same month year ago. <br />Interestingly, Nano's sales stood at 5,520 units in September this year, up 61 per cent from the same month last year. <br />Even on a year-on-year basis, Nano's sales during November were down by 85 per cent over the same period last year. <br />In August, the sixth incident of a Nano catching fire since the car was commercially launched in March 2009, was reported in the national capital, three months after a company probe declared the car was "absolutely safe". <br />Five previous incidents were reported from across the country, including Mumbai, Lucknow, Delhi and near Vadodara in Gujarat. <br />However, the company witnessed a marginal increase of one per cent in its total sales at 54,622 units the month compared to 54,108 units sold in the year-ago period. <br />Its total passenger and commercial vehicle sales in the domestic market stood at 50,419 units in November, a jump of one per cent from the sale of 50,114 units in November last year, according to the company statement.<br />