Already 1000 bookings of the Etios Liva reported by Toyota

Its just been days since the Toyota Etios Liva was launched and it already has generated a huge response. So much so that, just before a week could be completed from its launch date, the Liva has garnered about a 1000 confirmed bookings from all over the country. Top officials from Toyota say that they have so far received about 15k enquiries for the Liva and more are being counted in. More than 40k Etios sedans and 20k Etios Liva units are expected to sell this fiscal. Waiting periods of the Etios sedan have been reduced to a mere 30 days from the earlier 3-4 months. The Liva price in Mumbai (ex-show room) starts from Rs 4.12 lakhs.

Moreover, Toyota are currently in an expansion mode and want to hire about 2000 people for their facilities in India. Top officials from Toyota say that they aim to capture about 15 percent of the market share by the year 2015.

No to Petrol on 1st July 2011

Automobiles are close to any automobile enthusiasts heart. But then the rising price of fuel is compelling many to actually sell their vehicles or keep them at home and use public transport. Looks like the Government of India doesn’t pay any heed to all this and infact, just two week back, the price of petrol was increased, once again in the same year. In protest of this, a “No Petrol” day is being observed pan India on 1st July 2011. It is said that the petrol companies stand to lose about Rs 4.8 billion on this very day if no one buys petrol from their outlets. The rates of petrol from some other countries like Pakistan stand at Rs 44.80, Russia at Rs 42.27, UAE at Rs 15.6, China at Rs 31.30, Saudi at Rs 5, US at Rs 44.2, Canada at Rs 57 and the one taking the piece of the cake is Venezuela with a ridiculously low Rs 2.12. Finally India stands at an all time high of Rs 70. All the prices are on a per liter basis.

Indiandrives joins the initiative of “No to Petrol on 1st July 2011” and all employees of Indiandrives and its fans are requested not to tank up on 1st July 2011.

In the future, diesel engines to be the key for Ford India

Rising fuel prices have contributed to a majority of slump in sales of cars in India. However, buyers are getting more attracted to diesel cars simply because of the reason that price of diesel don’t increase to hyperventilating levels like those of petrol. One company which has taken due note of this is Ford India. They have taken a sort of pledge that most of their future car launches in India would mainly be diesel ones. Nigel Wark, their Executive Director has said that as the prices of petrol are touching the sky with each coming day, more and more buyers are concentrating on getting diesel engines and thus, in the future, more and more companies would be shifting momentum to diesel cars.

In 2010, Ford India sold close to 85 thousand cars and this year, the company, so far, has clocked in about 60k units. Nigel was optimistic that Ford India would definitely cross the 1 lakh units barrier this year. Ford India also plans to export as many as cars possible from its Indian facility. Their small car, the Figo really made a very good impression on the domestic market and this has helped them in achieving good sales numbers. It is said that Ford India are selling the Figo in close to about 45 countries across the world and most of these countries get Indian manufactured cars.

Rs 4000 crore plant to be setup by Peugeot in Tamil Nadu

After much speculations on whether Peugeot Citroen would setup shop in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat or Tamil Nadu, the French car maker has finally selected the latter for its manufacturing facility in India. This plant is being constructed at a whopping cost of Rs 4000 crores. Peugeot joins the rank of manufacturers like Ford, Hyundai, Renault-Nissan and also BMW who have setup their facilities in this state. The Peugeot chosen site is near to the one where Hyundai have currently set up their facility, Sriperumbudur. Initially, the company would be manufacturing close to 3 lakh cars each year. Later on, the capacity can be ramped upto 3.8 lakh cars every year. These cars would not only be sold in India but also suitably exported.

More than 20k people in India would reportedly stand to gain employment from this venture. Peugeot are moving along on their own in India and this is their second innings here. Peugeot are also one of the leading car manufacturers in the continent of Europe. Globally, they are ranked in as the 6th biggest car manufacturer. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister assured Peugeot Citroen of the government’s full co-operation for their future investments as also endeavors in India.

Tips on buying a second hand Premier Padmini in India

Premier Padmini cars were amongst the first cars in India and many wouldn’t even believe it that this cars commanded a 6 months or even 2 years waiting period back then. Cut to the present and people would scoff at these cars for their rudimentary technology. Many, however, would still be in love with this classics and are ready to give and arm and leg in the process. However for buying a second hand Premier Padmini, one doesn’t have to let go of their arm and leg. Infact buying one would cost just half of a middle class person’s salary or sometimes, even a quarter of it. But then finding one in good and repairable condition is an Herculean task. We have listed out some tips on what to check out when buying a used Premier Padmini.

The body of a Premier Padmini is prone to rust due to the rudimentary, as compared to today, technologies. So if you find rust everywhere, don’t panic as this is something which is to be expected. This can be taken care of by some 3M coating. The head lamps inspite of their age, don’t tend to black out and this is a good thing. However, it is a dirt cheap thing to repair, even if they would have blacked out. Glasses are available for as low as Rs 350 per glass. Many of the earlier users may have fit in front bumpers to a car, which is matchbox in design. These bumpers, also tend to rust out. The wheels of the Premier Padmini were of the thin kinds and hence wear issue was common. Many of the Premier Padmini tyres didn’t even make it to the first 10k kms. Replacing them is also cheap as these tyres or even wide ones are available at a reasonable price compared to the present lot of cars which come shod with expensive rubber. Inside, it would be as basic as it can get. First up, the steering wheel is of the roller and worm kinds. It usually develops a play after 10k kms. This play can be adjusted via a screw and lock nut which is present on the gearbox of the steering. Radial play can also be noticed in the cars which have crossed the 1 lakh kms mark. This happens due to a sector shaft bush wearing out. Rough roads can be termed as the reason why this happens. Unfortunately, they require a time consuming replacement procedure, which can come out as a bit expensive as well, approximately Rs 3k. The roller and worm also get worn out completely and this also needs to be replaced.

Fiat had ensured that the Padmini comes with the best of the suspension available in its time. This included coil springs for the lower arm and a robust suspension package. The A-arms of this car had ball joints as also bushings, which need to be replaced at periodic intervals of 35k kms. A stabilizer bar was also present in the front suspension and this one was generally a trouble free unit and hence only requires a peak into it post the 80k kms mark. To control body roll, there is a stabilizer bar towards the rear suspension as well. An axle beam and also the leaf spring made up for the rear suspension. Here too, the parts which are subject to wear and tear, are the leaf spring bushes. Whilst out on a test drive, the car should behave normally, even steering the car at very fast speeds shouldn’t yield a tail inducing action. The Premier Padmini was a rear wheel drive, which in its times, was a rarity.

Brakes in the Premier Padmini were a disappointment, however given the measly amount of power the car made, it was okay. The brakes were of the drum type and not of the self adjusting types but of the internally expanding range. In each service interval or periodically, the brakes need to be checked into. Most of the time a second hand Premier Padmini user would have to pump the brakes several times before any stopping action could be induced. If the brakes aren’t adjusted to act upon at the same time, the car may veer excessively to the left or right, depending on which wheel gets more retardation force. The brake pads used to last for a good 20k kms, so when eyeing a used Premier Padmini, then look out for this factor. The parking brake, which is directly linked to the rear wheels, also needs some minor adjustment time and again.

The earlier 1.1 liter Premier Padmini would be history now and hence we wouldn’t concentrate on it. Instead, chances are more that a second hand Premier Padmini featuring the 1.1 liter Solex carburetor one would be more readily available. This engine is also called as the S1. The reason behind this is that a smaller valves cylinder head was introduced and also valve timing along with a cam profile which was revised were introduced. The ignition system used was of the contact breaker types. The engine distributor was always subject to attracting moisture in various forms and this made the Padmini a car which requires frequent care. Spraying a can of WD40 in the engine bay relieves the distributor of the moisture and allows it to function normally. There was also a diesel engine, which was introduced later on. This one requires its water pump to be changed after every 12k kms and also the engine requires an overhaul, since the piston rings are prone to damage once they cross the 25k kms. The original owner may had actually changed the water pump as also the design of the piston ring. This setup makes it easier for enhancing the reliability factor of the car.

Premier Padmini cars were available with both column mounted shifters and also floor mounted ones. The floor mounted ones are the ones to go for. They had reliable Nissan components in them and moreover, it was one of the best gearboxes to be ever found. It was only a 4 speed unit but was a good unit which made shifting gears an easy task. The gear engagement on this type of cars was the synchromesh types. Watch for clutch wear-out though. Clutches were known to pack out as early as 45k kms, however carefully driven. A clutch plate change would cost around Rs 3400. Spares are cheap but are relatively hard to find. As for the prices, the second hand Premier Padmini price would be anything between Rs 5k to Rs 45k. Don’t’ buy the ones coming with CNG or LPG kits, as this could lead to reliability issues. Fuel efficiency can be around 8 kmpl in city and 13 kmpl on the highway.

Chevrolet Beat diesel to be launched in July 2011


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There have long been speculations regarding the launch of the Beat in its diesel form, however GM have laid rest to the speculations with an announcement that the Chevrolet Beat diesel model would be launched in India next month. This would be the General’s smallest diesel engine ever, since the next one in the line is 2 liters and above. Well, this is actually the first sub 1 liter diesel engine in its class. It also has the best power to weight ratio for any sub 1 liter diesel outside India as well. Power from the 936 cc engine is said to be 59 Bhp while the torque figure is a good 150 Nm which comes in as low as 1700 rpm. A 5 speed manual transmission from the petrol Beat would be carried over to handle the transmission duties.

Some of the GM officials have revealed that the ARAI figures for the Beat diesel rank closer to the new Indica eV2. The launch month has been announced and GM would shortly declare the date and place where the car would be launched. Most likely, the base variant of the diesel would be priced atleast Rs 60k-80k more than that of the base petrol variant. There wouldn’t be any interior revisions but yes expect the suspension to be more beefed up to cope up with the additional weight of the diesel engine upfront. Watch this space for more dope on the Beat diesel.

Production capacity of 2011 Fluidic Verna to be ramped up

Seeing the response that they have received for the new 2011 Hyundai Fluidic Verna, Hyundai Motors India Limited is thinking of ramping up the production capacity of this very capable sedan. Till date, Hyundai has received more than 21k bookings from all over the country for this sedan and its just being a month ever since the car was launched. Hyundai definitely doesn’t want to go the Toyota way (Etios) and hence are increasing the number of units which would be shipped out from the factory on a daily basis.

Hyundai’s Sales and Marketing Director, Mr Arvind Saxena said that their dealerships all across the country are receiving overflowing bookings for this car and Hyundai doesn’t want to end up receiving the stick from the customers when they learn the waiting periods associated with the diesel models. The exact capacity ramp up is yet to be decided  by the company and details from the Sriperumbdur factory would be rolled out soon.

Facelifted Toyota Innova and Fortuner by 2012

The Toyota Innova was launched almost seven years ago, and the car will features a whole new refreshed look. While most cars usually go for a new generation model at this stage, that won’t be the case with the Innova. Following a minor facelifted variant back in 2009 and upgraded BS-IV complaint engine in 2010, the latest change to the Innova will probably be its most significant.

The exterior changes include new head lights with a day time element as well. The grille is also taller and features chrome slats running across it. The front bumper is also new and features new fog lights. The tail lights have clear lens. The rear end bumper is also integrated with parking sensors available in the high end V variant.

Seeing that the Innova is not seen a lot of changes in its interiors, it is likely that Toyota could take this chance to make some changes in the instrumentation and centre console, along with new trim levels. Toyota is also expected to make the Innova roomier than before including a new design for the seats or third row seating.

There are no changes expected in the engine offerings, as the intercooler was introduced last year itself. While no significant changes are expected, they will certainly be welcome.

Apart from the Innova, Toyota is also likely to introduce some changes in its Fortuner SUV. While the Fortuner was launched not more than two years back in India, it has been available in global markets far longer. Changes expected in this model are mostly cosmetic. This could include a larger grille that has horizontal chrome slats compared to the current honeycomb grille, a new bumper for the front and rear end with new fog lights and larger head lights.

There are also some changes expected in the interior that will most likely involve the instrumentation and trims; however changes could be lesser than in the Innova. The facelifted models can be expected in the Indian auto market by early 2012 with slightly higher price tags.

Image source motoroids

Auto Manufacturers Call for Reforms in Labour Laws

The past few months, has seen the auto industry in the lime light albeit for a negative reason. While the auto industry in India has grown by leaps and bounds, with many global manufacturer now setting shop in India, in spite of things slowing down a bit. The industry has however, been marred by the number of problems breaking out, especially ones related to labour.

Only recently, workers at Maruti’s Manesar plant went on a strike that lasted for 13 days, delaying the vehicle production and loss for the company, as the waiting period for its popular models shop up. With the number of strikes taking place, many leading manufacturers have requested for proper labour reforms, while the trade unions are asking to implement existing rules more strictly for avoiding confrontations.

The Vice President of GM India, P Balendran, said that because of the rigidness of the laws, many companies are forced to outsource or employ on a contractual basis. What they need right now is more flexible labour reforms. The contractual employment system gives more autonomy to them when it comes to selecting or laying off employees. He also added that more than one union leads to problems and confusion, not to mention that in most places unions have affiliation to political parties and follow the ideology of the party.

Meanwhile, the senior VP Corporate Affairs and Finance of Hyundai Motors India, R. Sethuraman, said that the problem is not with the labour laws in India, and they will always welcome reforms. He however, said that when unions affiliated to political parties come to the forefront, the negotiations are usually never conduction with the workforce of the company.

He said that this was not healthy managements have to then negotiate with people who mostly create fear and distrust among the workforce for political reasons. Adding that just as trade unions have rights under the labour laws in India, so do the companies and they have the right with home to negotiate or talk with.

The leaders of trade unions in India have a different outlook on this problem, and say that formation of a union, multiple unions and unions with affiliations to political parties are allowed as per the labour laws in India.

The secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, D.L. Sachdev, said that most auto companies do not have respect for the labour laws in India and the union formations that are constitutional rights of workers. Their machineries for implementing labour laws are quiet weak, and they need to strengthen them.

One does not need to change the laws, but the management has to decide upon the union they want to talk/ negotiate with, when there are multiple unions present. Sachdev also said they should allow the registration process for unions to be done by an independent body, rather than a state, and should fix a max of 40 days for registering unions.

Gujarat Consumers to Pay More for CNG Following Price Hike

Following price hikes for diesel and LPG, consumers in Gujarat will now have to pay more for CNG as well. An oil & gas state run PSU, the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation announced a hike in prices of CNG on Monday of INR 3.25 per kg that will impact the industry as well as households in Gujarat.

An official from GSPC was quoted as saying that the price hike of INR 3.25kg for CNG will begin from today. CNG will now be available for INR 40.25 per kg across their 110 gas stations in Gujarat. Early last month, the PSU had increased the cost of CNG to INR 37 per kg from the earlier INR 34.45 per kg, which they accounted to non-allocation of the fuel of the Centre’s KG-D6 reserves.

In the last one year itself, the cost of CNG in Gujarat has increased by more than 35%. Adani Gas, a City Gas Distributor, which operates in Vadodara and Ahmedabad, also raised prices of CNG. Others include Sabarmati Gas, GSPC gas and Charotar Gas Sahakari Mandali. This move will have an adverse effect on auto users in Gujarat.

The reason cited for the recent price hike is because of an increase in prices of imported LNG. The cost of LNG is linked to fluctuations in crude price and it was therefore important to hike the cost of the gas for retail users as well, so that it would economically viable. While the PSU has increased prices by INR 3.25 per kg, Adani Gas, a private company has hiked price by INR 2.50 per kg, from the earlier INR 38 to INR 40.50. Another gas supplier, GSPC has increased prices to INR 37 per kg, from the earlier INR 34.45kg in May, 2011. Meanwhile, another distributor, Gujarat Gas has not hikes prices.

An official from the company said that they have not opted for a price hike as of now. This distributor has around 110 CNG stations in the state in comparison to Adani’s 54 stations. Both the companies sell about 500,000 kgs of CNG overall every day, in comparison to the state’s total consumption of 700,000 to 800,000 kgs.