Hyundai Posts 37% Rise in Q2 Net Profits

Hyundai recently posted a rise of 37% in their net quarterly profits, after it logged in its global sales of vehicles and increased market share following its rival Japanese companies reeling from the natural disaster on March 11.

Hyundai, which is the fifth biggest car manufacturer in the world, along with Kia Motors, its affiliate, reported a net profit of 2.3 trillion won or $2.2bn, for the quarter of April to June. This is a growth of 1.7 trillion won in comparison to a year before, and 1.9 trillion won in Q1.

According to reports, the South Korean auto company has been recording earning based on consolidation for reflecting its affiliate’s earnings as well, which includes fiscal operations from the new accounting rules. According to the company, their market share in US increased to 5.5% in Q2, from the corresponding quarter last year, when its market share stood at 4.7%, driven largely by the sales of the Elantra compact car, and the Sonata sedan, whereas its Japanese auto rivals suffered disruptions in production. The company recently raised their sales target in US by 6% to 624,000 models for this fiscal year.

Toyota to Invest INR 1,650 Crores for Increasing Localisation, Capacity

Toyota recently announced that they would be making an investment of INR 1,650 crores for increasing their production capacity in their Indian operations to 1 lakh vehicles per annum. They also plan on increasing local components in their vehicles by 2014.

Toyota, present in India through their JV with Kirloskar Group, will make an investment to the tune of INR 898 crores for expanding their production capacity in their existing two facilities in India by 2013. Another group company will also invest an additional INR 750 crores for opening machining and aluminium casting lines by 2014.

According to a statement released by the company, the company plans to increase their production capacity to about 3,10,000 vehicles per annum by 2013. This expansion will be possible with the investment of INR 898 crores approx. and will also generate new opportunities of employment.

The company is presently expanding their capacity in their plants in Bangalore from the current 1.5 lakh vehicles to 2.1 lakh vehicles by 2012. The first facility will produce the MPV, the Innova and the SUV Fortuner. Their second plant will produce the Corolla Altis and Etios sedans, and their Liva hatchback.

The MD of the company, Hiroshi Nakagawa, was quoted as saying that to keep with the increasing demand for their vehicles, they have decided on further increasing their production in India. The demand for their Etios Liva and Etios has been quite encouraging, and they are gearing to cater a higher number of customers.

Last month, the company made the decision of launching their small car Liva in India, which has so far got 4,000 bookings. Their Etios sedan that was launched back in December 2011, also received a great response, forcing Toyota to increase their capacity earlier than they had planned.

The company also said that they would be increasing the use of local components in the Liva and Etios, with their auto parts company planning on commissioning and installing machining and aluminum casting lines by 2014. It added that this installation will witness a further investment to the tune of INR 750 crores, and also bring in new opportunities of employment.

The lines will be installed in the company’s new Liva and Etios engine plant that is scheduled to begin operations in 2012’s third quarter. The company had earlier made an announcement of opening an engine facility and increasing their production capapcity for transmissions so as to cater to the increased demand for their Liva and Etios models, with a total investment of INR 500 crores.

In addition to this, the company will also begin manufacturing transmissions for the Liva and Etios in 2013. They are also planning on exporting these gears to overseas markets. The chairman of the company, Vikram Kirloskar stated that the Etios Liva and Etios are designed to specifically suit the Indian auto market. It is vital to have a localisation project for providing the best quality vehicle at an economical price.

First Edition of 2011 Mahindra Monsoon Challenge a Success

The 2011 Mahindra Monsoon Challenge’s first edition recently concluded, following great driving skills around untamed tracks and treacherous tracks, the winners definitely made this event’s first edition an adventure to remember.

The event began in Aurangabad with almost 50 cars taking part in the race, with the adrenaline levels quite high. According to Mahindra, the climate at the event was quite perfect and went along well with the moods of the participants which included a mother-son duo to businessmen. The event, which took place over a three day time frame, saw participants beginning from Aurangabad and reaching Goa via the NH 17.

The company also stated that the last round of the 2011 Mahindra Monsoon Challenge was quite adventurous from the treacherous ghats to canopied NH 17, where every turn was met with a lot of caution. Few of the participants also had to face serious issues with their cars.

The overall price money of INR 13 lakhs was handed out under separate categories. The overall category winners were Nirav Mehta and Somdev Chanda. Meanwhile the 1st runners up included S. Shankaranand and Karthik Maruthi, while the 2nd runners up included T. Nagarajan and Ganesh Moorthy.

M&M to Sell Luxury Tractors on Invitation in India

Many super luxury auto manufacturers sell out their cars on invitation only basis, however Indian utility manufacturer, M&M is getting ready to launch their super premium farm tiller on an invitation basis that is probably a first in the industry.

India’s largest manufacturer of tractors will soon introduce their new premium product, named the Arjun International in India by year end. The tractor is a premium category, exclusively crafter model that will be available for sale only on invitation.

The tractor is powered by a high power engine, featuring an air cooled cab for better driver comfort in the hot Indian summer. The tractor is expected to have a price ranging between INR 14,00,000 to INR 16,00,0000, which is almost double in comparison to the market’s most expensive tractor, and on par with what one buys the Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta and Honda Civic for in India.

With the launch of their new Arjun International, the manufacturer is aiming at rich farmers who own large lands as well as serve customers who are on both ends of the scale. M&M have been building tractors for more than 4 decades now.

The company’s Sr. VP of marketing and AppliTrac, Sanjeev Goyle said that Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, has a couple of rich farmers that own large lands. These farmers need a tractor that will match their status. Their new Arjun International tractor will be able to tackle this demand.

According to reports, the new premium tractor has been developed on M&M’s existing Arjun International 75757 tractor. This tractor will deliver a max power of 80bhp that is considerably more powerful when compared to the high selling regular tractors in the market, which have a max power of 35 to 50bhp.

Goyle however, refused to give out more details, regarding the price of the tractor and the vehicle’s expected volumes. This vehicle’s target customer is not a buyer looking to buy his first tractor. According to Goyle, the buyer of this tractor will be one, who already owns many other tractors and is looking to buy a more suitable one, particularly one that will set his status benchmark in the owner’s locality.

According to reports, with the launch of their premium tractor, the company is not going for huge volumes, a product that they will sell to selected buyers in limited numbers. The company’s idea was to showcase this technology in global markets like that of Australia and US.

Goyle added that for their product, a typical customer would be one, whose land area is between 75 to 300 acres, is well respected in his community, leads a luxurious lifestyle and is an indulgent farmer. It is also the ideal product for those who lead a successful life in city, and own land in villages, personally wishing to get engaged in agriculture, even though this is their secondary income.

M&M, which owns a 43% market share in India, is hoping to provide vehicles for both ends of market by this launch. The company had launched the Yuvraj tractor, which priced at INR 1,75,000 is the cheapest tractor available in India. During the last fiscal year alone, the company has managed to sell around 6,000 units of this tractor, which they hope to treble this year.

They are also looking forward to increasing their market share and entering into more states, as they hope to end the year with the sales of around 18,000 Yuvraj tractor models. The company witnessed a 22% growth in their overall sales of tractors last year, selling 2,13,653 models, in comparison to 2009’s 1,74,634 models. M&M has set a growth target of 15% this year following strong monsoon sales.

Auto Investments to Decrease Following Sluggish Demand in the Market

According to a recent report from SIAM or Society of Indian Auto Manufacturers, the sluggish demand currently faced in the Indian auto market may make many companies put off from making any new investments in their additional facilities.

As the lending rates for vehicle loans increased to the highest ever since two years, add to that the increased cost of fuel that put a dent in retail demand, automobile manufacturers were reviewing their expansion plans.

The president of SIAM, Pawan Goenka, said that right now the market is a wait and watch strategy. Many companies are more watchful, with their approach being more cautious. There is also some delay increasing new capacities.

In spite of the many fiscal measures taken by the government, the inflation is still strong by more than quarters. The growth for passenger cars in the first quarter had decreased by as much as 9%. The segment of cars posted its slowest growth ever last month since as much as 27 months, with the market recording a growth of only 1.2%.

SIAM is also expected to carry out an additional downward revision for their sales forecast for this year of the industry, which will be its second revision. Goenka added that the Reserve Bank of India hike in rates has shocked the industry. The hike in interest rates would only further damage growth in this sector causing a spiraling trend.

This statement from SIAM comes at a time, when both Toyota Kirloskar and Ford India made commitments of almost INR 5,000 crores this week as part of expansion activities. While Ford India will open an engine and vehicle manufacturing facility in Gujarat, the other auto company, Toyota, will nearly double their capacity at their manufacturing plant in Bangalore.

Meanwhile, even Maruti Suzuki is carrying out work on their new facility in Manesar according to schedule. The leader in the car marker, in fact, even recorded a dismal 3% growth during the Q1, having shortened the launch date from November as they had announced earlier to September.

Even still, the companies had already scheduled their expansion plans months ago. As the plans got delayed, the companies were forced to face constraints in production, increasing the wait period for their popular models.

The market leader in SUVs, Mahindra & Mahindra is reported to have re-examined their investment plans for their second phase of their expansion plans of their facility in Chakan, close to Pune.

The company also expressed their displeasure that the government of Maharashtra had decided to withdraw their VAT or value added tax set off, which is provided to M&M vehicle sold in markets outside Maharashtra.

Goenka added that they had many talks with the officials of different levels from the government. They are quite concerned since the past 4 months. In spite of the continuous dialogue, there is no improvement on this issue. Because of this fact, he added that the company would have a hard time thinking about future investments in this state. They will re-look at their second investment phase in their Chakan facility to know if it is financially viable for them.

The company was scheduled to carry out the final part of their investment phase in the Chakan facility for expansion, where they manufacturer trucks and SUV’s. He also added that it’s been a long time since the state saw any big ticket investment, which has instead gone to the other states. The Chakan project, which was inaugurated in 2010, is spread over 700 acres, with an installed production capacity of around 300,000 vehicles a year.

Ford India to Shift Headquarters to New Delhi

Ford India will soon shift their headquarters to New Delhi. The president of Ford Africa and Asia Pacific, Joseph Henrichs said during a press conference that Ford India would be shifting their headquarters to New Delhi, while they would open a new facility in Gujarat. These actions form part of their new operation plans in India.

The market share of the company in India has almost tripled since the past 2 years. Back in 2009, the company’s share was less than 1%. Currently the market share of the company in India has grown to 3%.

Henrichs also added that they plan to introduce 8 new cars in this market by 2015. Of these, most will be available in the same range as the Figo as in India, the small car market is the one which has been witnessing growth. 70% of the passenger car sales in this market were generated from the category of small cars, a figure, which is only expected to grow further.

Hyundai to Hold Monthly Medal Round Golf Tournament at Classic Golf Resorts

Hyundai Motor India, the second biggest car maker and largest exporter of cars in India recently announced about the 2011-12 Monthly Medal Round to be held in Manesar at the Classic Golf Resort. The tournament, which has been organised for invitees and Classic members, will be known as the 2011-12 Hyundai Classic Monthly Medal Round from now on. The tournament is scheduled to begin on July 30, 2011.

The company’s director of marketing and sales, Arvind Saxena, said that he was delighted about announcing their association with the 2011-12 Classic Monthly Medal Round. Golf is a sport that has been gradually gaining importance in India, with the country having great potential in golfing talent. By this endeavour they hope to support the games development in India, and remain committed to their efforts in bringing excitement in sports.

The tournament will include one event held every month, with the 2011 round beginning from today. This year’s tournament will go on till December 10, 2011. The 2012 Round will begin on January till June, 2012. During this tournament, Hyundai would prominently display their Sonata Transform and the Santa Fe throughout the course of the tournament.

Being a dynamic auto brand, the company has always connected itself with important sporting events. Hyundai recently organised many initiatives such as the Hyundai ICC Last and First Ball Tour, and Hyundai Fan Parks during the 2011 ICC World Cup for generating excitement during the duration of the game, as well as promoting their brand.

Maserati Granturismo in India Preview

India has finally got a whole list of supercar manufacturers vying with each other for the cheque books from the Indian millionaires. The likes of Koenigsegg and also Aston Martin and others have joined the rank. We also have got the famous Italian manufacturer, managed by Fiat, Maserati. In Indian, Maserati may not be that well known, however, they definitely have got some sort of foothold due to the existence of Fiat in here. Needless to say, another subsidiary, Ferrari have also marked their presence in the Indian car industry. So, its an any man’s game out here. Long before Maserati could actually deliver their first car to their Indian customer, here are a few details about the much talked about Maserati Granturismo in India. Starting from the tag Granturismo or even GT for that matter, there are very less cars with that tag with the exception being the Porsche Carrera GT and the BMW 5GT.

Outlandish speed claims, loud styling and a bunch of even louder exhausts is what would define supercars. They are those type of cars which everyone would want to own but would be afraid to drive in the usual traffic. Even after being a product from the land of automobile design, Italy, Maserati have been pretty much quiet about their design philosophies and stuff plus they also have got  GrandPrix and Motorsport history to back them. Maserati have being in existence from the last 100 years and during this times, they have changed the ownership reigns many a times. Maserati are more closer to Ferrari than they are with Alfa Romeo, another of Fiat’s acquisitions. Most of the supercars can be called as related to both the track as also being adopted for everyday use. They virtually eliminate the need for separate cars for track and road use. In comes the Maserati Granturismo with the last name giving it the sense of being a true road going vehicle. This car is Maserati’s fastest production car till date and looks the part. It has got a low stance so critical for sportscars or even hyper cars. Then there is the race car inspired front splitter and matt black gorgeous 20 inch wheels. Well, wheels are always the specialty of the Italians and if you don’t believe us, then take a close look at the wheels of the Linea and Punto. A 1950s Formula 1 car is what one can term the nose job on the GT as . At the rear, there is an integrated spoiler with blacked out inserts and then, just like the Lamborghini Aventador, the twin tail pipes are mounted right in between the rear bumper. The tail lamps are also very artistically done. Moving onto the interiors reveal that there are race seats with Alacantra outlines to them.

Carbon fiber trimming is the other thing which seems to be the mantra inside. The best part is that none of it would be changed when the car would finally be coming down to India and were it not for the endless list of options that Maserati are giving away this car with, then almost all the cars reaching here would be having the same interior trim, the factory spec one. Unlike other sports cars, Maserati hopes that its customer would visit the race track once in a week and have provided race strapped harness. These also look very sporty, to say the least. Seating for only two is provided and unlike many of the sportscars sold here, there is no optional rear seating arrangement. So, the basic competitor would be the Audi R8. Interior materials may not feel that rich to look at, however, they do have a feeling of long lasting quality. Plus true to the sports car format, there aren’t too many buttons around to distract the driver. The steering wheel is a big unit compared to the many other sports cars which come with smaller ones. The audio, cruise functions are located on the steering wheel and there is a combination of black and white. A few chrome pieces are strewn here and there inside the cabin. A small analog clock sits in the middle of the dashboard, a la VW Passat style.

There is no dearth of space and the seats do hug one tightly. There is enough of support and also the snug configuration enables the driver to be stuck onto the seat even when cornering hard enough. As for the boot space, who cares about one in a sports car.

The stock GT has also got a Stradale version. This version is said to have tighter body control and the steering feel is also exemplary. BMW, pre the electronic power steering revamp, anyone? The nose of this car stands in attention once one turns the steering and it is more like an eager puppy. The front and the rear wheels are in sync and it is said that the lack of any body roll would be disconcerting to first time sports car buyers. By the way, the stock car does exhibit body roll and is more of in sync for newer sports car buyers than its Stradale version. Handling can be quantified or rather termed as progressive enough for the amount of money that one is paying to own one of these specimens. For all this handling prowess, Maserati have tuned the adaptive dampers to be equally pliant in the ride quality stakes. Moreover, the sports car, just like others in its ilk does have a low ground clearance. This would definitely be a no-no for the Indian roads but then the millionaire buying it would obviously wouldn’t want to take it out for a spin almost everyday. For the everyday use, there would be the ubiquitous 7 series or even a Maybach. Sports car like wail is prevalent at all speeds and this is something which the owners would have to live with.

The V8 motor that has been used under the hood has been borrowed from the Ferrari range and the F430’s to be precise. This 4.7 liter engine produces a huge 450 Bhp of power at 7k rpm while the torque of 520 Nm is delivered at an equally lofty 4800 rpm. Just like the way Lamborghini uses a sequential robotized manual gearbox, in the exact same fashion, even Maserati make use of this. There is always this menacing growl that the engine produces right from startup and this lets one to know that there is something big under the hood and which is raring to go. Though it hasn’t got that Ferrari like high pitched trumpeting blare and neither does it have the mad top end towards the end of the power band. This car more than gives an invitation to come and play with it. The throttle response is terrific and while the R8 may seem like a civilized car, the Maserati Granturismo in India would be an edge of the seat types car. Rewarding the driver with a sweet sound is what this car promises to do and not only does it go from 0-100 kmph in a claimed 4.3 seconds, it also breaches the supercar mark of 300 kmph very easily, within 33 seconds. The Race mode is better suited for the track and is akin to launch control. The weight distribution on this car is more towards the rear with a 48:52 bias. Steering the car on full throttle is what it loves and though the power delivery can sometimes turn out to be peaky enough, it is manageable, unlike some Lambos out there which require a deft hand to be managed.

Carbon ceramic as also fiber brakes are being offered with this car. It has got the sharp claws digging into it to rein in any speed. Moreover with the kind of power that the car is capable of, it is but anything to expect the finesse that is required to stop this 1770 kgs car. Electronic nannies are definitely present in substance for ensuring that things don’t get out of hand and this is one of the few sports cars available which have got the traction control system to be entirely turned off. Now, that would call for some tail sliding antics for sure. Maserati haven’t persisted with the all wheel drive system that many of the sports car manufacturers go in for. We suppose it’s a sticky job and when you have a car which handles and behaves the way a BMW does, then there is no need for all wheel drive systems which would add up to the overall weight factor and in all would blunt performance for sure. There are many aftermarket accessories being offered, the first being dual aftermarket exhausts and ones which would go in for some kind of trumpet blasting for sure and be loud enough to wake up the entire neighborhood one fine sunny morning.

Expected fuel efficiency that the GT would return falls in the 4.5-5.2 kmpl range. Considering that the fuel tank holds a good 90 liters of fuel, the range of 350 kms isn’t a far reality before the car needing a refuel. Maserati are very keen on marketing this car in the right way and for a good starter, it isn’t being done through the Tata-Fiat coalitions. Moreover, Maserati plan to have about 6 dealerships by the end of 2012 and this would point to a better sign of things. The Maserati Granturismo price in India would be approximately Rs 1.37 crores. This amount is applicable all over India and is the ex-show room amount. Moreover, the waiting period after ordering one Maserati GT is approximately 6 months due to the fact that these cars are hand made and once a customer places an order, the car is moved into the assembly line. Well, its atleast less than a Ferrari which usually takes about a year or so to be delivered and during this time, strangely enough, the customer gets the owner’s manual and also some greeting cards.

2011 Audi A6 vs 2011 BMW 530d vs 2011 Mercedes E350 – diesel power

Earlier on, luxury car buyers didn’t have much of an option. Chose only the Mercedes and the occasional illegally imported Lexus. Now, it’s a different story altogether. Right from the entry level buyers to the top end luxury class, there is a spade of choices. For the entry level buyer, there is the Nano, Alto and other cars while for the top end luxury class buyer, there is the Maybach, Bentley and Rolls Royce awaiting them. So much for competition that these manufacturers don’t even advertise their products. Here we are referring to the top end ones and not the entry level. In between the midlevel executive class luxury buyer has got the choice of going in for the BMWs, Audis and also the Mercedes with the occasional Volvo or Jaguar thrown in for good measure. In the Indian market, there is a new launch and it is the 2011 Audi A6. No sooner after its launch, its inevitable that we don’t compare it with its other German compatriots. Well, it’s a known fact that even buyers in this segment go in for the diesel powered cars more than the petrol engined ones for the sheer fuel economy they provide. The 2011 BMW 530d in India and the 2011 Mercedes E350 in India are not too pleased with the 2011 Audi A6 in India and would want to sort out their issues via a duel. We just provided them a platform here. All these are top end diesel models even though the manufacturers provide lower variants with different engines and stuff.

Looks

All these cars here ape their bigger brother as far as the exteriors go. The E looks a lot like the S, the 5 looks similar to the 7 and the A6 is just about smaller than the A8. The new Audi A6 definitely is the longest as also the widest in this comparison, not that it would be felt immediately coz of the tight packaging done by Audi designers. As for being the hideous Goliath of the bunch, the BMW overshadows the Audi. With its designers showering their design frame with liberal strokes, the 5 series looks bulbous. The E and the A6 both looks slimmer than it. Infact, the E-class is the narrowest of all the cars featured here for the test and it looks the part as well. The alloy wheel design of all the three cars here is similar and the Audi sports the weediest tyres here with the size rating of 225/55-R17s. All the three cars also come with the proprietary LED technology for their headlamps. Moreover, their tail lamps are also fitted with the highest quality LED lamps. The BMW boasts of a clustered twin tail pipe configuration while the others have dual exhausts at both the sides. We personally favor the arrangement of the tail lamps in the BMW. The E-class has got a too modest tail lamp cluster. All the three have radio antenna clusters towards the rear windscreen, something which BMW started with their cars.

Interiors

Though its very tough to distinguish the exteriors of the old A6 and the new one for a layman, in the interiors, anyone would be able to tell apart the difference. The new 2011 Audi A6 in India has got the interior quality up from its previous generation model, though some flimsy bits like the plastics for the electric seat arrangement and stuff. But that’s easily dismissible, since most of the times, it’s the chauffer doing the driving here. The front seats are supportive and overall the dash looks sporty in its approach. We would have however liked a bit more of the lights gimmick found in the much more expensive Audi A8. However, Audi says that with the interior lighting package worth Rs 3lakhs extra, the interior can be brought upto the standards of the A8.The rear seats however, are not so promising. They do have enough of leg room as also head room but then the underthigh support can be found lacking.  This is immediately evident after one sits in the Audi after an excursion in both the Mercedes and BMW. The MMI interface in the Audi has far more clarity than the iDrive system in the BMW and also the useless COMAND system in the Mercedes. Overall the cabin fare in the Audi reeks of spaciousness and also a clear vision with almost no blind spots dialed in.

Minimalistic is the theme for both the Merc and BMW. The BMW’s cabin boasts of a having being focused on the driver part. For a driver, the most important thing is to concentrate on the job of driving rather than look around and try to understand which button stands for which. The wide and accommodating proportions of the BMW definitely are a good thing for those with minor back problems. The minor part was stressed on since the lower part of the seat is actually very hard. The sultry voice guidance system from the navigation part provided is soothing and also accurate. Ohh, the party trick in this car is the headsup display. The rear seats have got an ingress egress problem wherein one has to hop over the middle hump to have any sort of comfort. However, once seated there, its almost like a lounge. But then the high windowline and also the massive front seats in your face thing does make it a kinda cooped up.

Amongst all these cars, the Mercedes E350’s interior feel a bit boring. There is not much of lighting gimmick inside here and plus the muddy brown color is detested by many. But then on the practical side, it does work wonders considering that there is less of cleaning involved for them. Just like the Audi, use of materials is fantastic barring a few bits here and there. Looking at the 3 pointed star down the long bonnet has always got to be a special feeling. As discussed before, the Merc does fall short on various goodies offered by the others here with its spastic COMAND system also no navigation system , reverse camera and other stuff. But then the seats in the Mercedes are very comfortable and once in them, we immediately forgave the car for its lack of features. Boot space is more or less evenly handled by all the 3 here.

Handling and ride quality

Anyone going up against BMW in the handling front know that they would have a high standard to match to. That saying, over the years, the BMW 530d has lost much of its charm in this department. The biggest change is the adoption of an electronic power steering, something which dampens the entire feeling of driving a BMW car. For the off-center, the steering is sharp to respond. It has lost that heavy feeling at lower speeds. One more surprising thing is that this Beemer doesn’t seem to be liking high speeds and has some serious stability issues with all the testers remarking that the car seems to be wafting. Nothing wrong with the air pressure or even the run flats. At low speeds, surprisingly for a BMW, the ride quality was very compliant. However, much of vertical movement could be felt at higher speeds. The Audi A6’s adaptive suspension does the trick here with the car displaying a good ride quality at lower speeds and also being more absorbent as the speeds increase. However, the extensive use of aluminium has also brought about a lightness in the way things are handled and more often than not, the larger bumps are transmitted to the cabin. Moreover, the noise insulation in the Audi is not as good as that of the Mercedes or even the Beemer. The steering wheel of this car is not that confidence inspiring and is more like its predecessor.

For ride quality, it is always the Mercedes that seems composed of the lot. There are not many electronics guiding the shock absorbers and hence the traditional technology does the trick here. Though the steering wheel may not be the most communicative unit in the market right now, it has a surprisingly easy going feel to it and infact instills some confidence in the driver. Body roll is well controlled and though the car has a fondness for taking things slowly, its there but for sure. Something akin to the Mercedes asking you to take things in a slower manner rather than go outright and treat it as a racing machine. As far as NVH is concerned, the Mercedes is the quietest of the lot followed by BMW and then Audi.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

A 3.0 liter inline 6 cylinder engine is what comprises the BMW 530d’s engine. 245 Bhp and 550 Nm are the figures for the power and torque respectively. The gearbox used here is an 8 speed auto one. For the 2011 Audi A6 in its 3.0 liter diesel trim, the motor makes a similar to the BMW’s 245 Bhp and 510 Nm of torque. It uses a DSG 7 speed auto box. The E350 CDI in the meanwhile makes do with 231 Bhp and 550 Nm of torque. It uses the conventional torque converter with 7 ratios to play with. Though the E lacks in Bhp, it makes do with a higher torque rating and is an effortless thing to pilot around. When you want the kick in your back feeling, then the E would feel ashamed of itself and curl in a corner and die. Its not for those kick inducing actions but only for the usual cruising and commuting. For the kick action, its either the Beemer or even the Audi. The Audi has got a wide powerband, however, we could rarely use it to its redline. In stark contrast, the Beemer’s engine is far more rev happy and occasional visits to the redline could be seen. The Audi’s engine combines the best of both worlds in the sense that the panache of the Mercedes is there and also the urgency of the BMW. The DSG gearbox is also a good one and rarely are shifts mistimed or stuff.

The E350 has a slow gearbox which has a mind of its own. We have repeated it in almost all the comparisons and tests that this gearbox is best left on its own, since putting it to semi manual mode rarely makes a difference to the throttle response or stuff. The BMW’s steering wheel may not be as communicative as the previous generation ones but then the 8 speed gearbox is definitely more at home on the highway. The same way the previous generation steering wheel had a telepathic effect, the same way the 8 speed autobox senses when the driver wants to downshift or even upshift. For the records, the 0-100 kmph dash is completed in the Audi before the BMW catches it up and then finally the Mercedes comes puffing to make the rear. Due to its taller 8th gear, the BMW is able to achieve a higher top speed as well.

As for the safety equipments, all the three cars here have got it in safe amounts with the Mercedes feeling sparsely equipped out of all the three cars here. Its got the PreSafe thing going for it wherein upon sensing a collision, all the doors are rechecked to see if they are bolted on properly and also the open windows and sunroof are also closed. There are no reverse cameras and stuff . 6 airbags is a common stuff for all the three cars here and all the cars here have an excellent crash test ratings from the European unions.

As for the fuel efficiency, the Audi trumps the others here. The Mercedes is the least fuel efficient returning an overall 11.3 kmpl compared to the 11.8 kmpl by the BMW and 12.2 kmpl by the Audi. Did anyone say that power and fuel efficiency don’t go hand in hand?

Verdict

Like we have always mentioned, all the manufacturers definitely try and up the game before they launch their products. Its actually a shamus that Mercedes are doing precious little in upgrading the power and fuel efficiency of their cars plus they are way behind in the interior trims and also the features. Also, Mercedes cars are charged a bomb as compared to the others here. We would wistfully lust after the Audi, were it not for the excess of aluminium used in the cabin which makes it somewhat unsuitable for the Indian roads since aluminium has a far greater displacement than steel. Of all these cars, the one with the least aluminium content is the Mercedes and its build quality still stands out. The BMW has a better build quality than the Audi. All said and done, Mercedes are the proved ones in the Indian market as of now and owning a 3 pointed star is definitely one of the highpoints of any person who wants to announce that they have arrived in life. The 2011 Audi A6 price in India for its 3.0 TDI engine is Rs 53.00 lakhs (this is the estimated price since Audi haven’t disclosed the price yet). The 2011 Mercedes E350 CDI price in India is Rs 51 lakhs while the 2011 BMW 530d price in India stands at Rs 48.50 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.

Workers Carry Out 1 Hour Tool Down Strike at Maruti’s Manesar Plant

Maruti Suzuki has been facing a lot of trouble this quarter. Following the 13 day long strike at its Manesar plant that resulted in an INR 630 crore loss, workers at the plant again went on a strike yesterday afternoon.

The workers reportedly resorted to a tool down strike following the suspension of five workers for allegedly assaulting one of the supervisors. According to reports, a supervisor at the plant allegedly assaulted one of the supervisors two days back. According to a spokesperson from the company, a supervisor was attacked by some workers, and they were suspended as part of the company’s disciplinary action, they struck works at the facility. However, this time only a few workers have gone in strike, compared to the last strike.

According to reports, the five workers who were suspended have been given a show cause notice from the company. However, the workers insisted that this strike was not a full scale one. A worker was quoted as saying that they observed a tool down strike for an hour to protest against the forcible eviction of four of their colleagues by the police.

Out of these employees, three of them were the office bearers of Maruti Suzuki Employees Union, including Shiv Kumar, the General Secretary of the union. The tool down strike that lasted for an hour resulted in a production loss of around 50 units. On June 4, a 13 day strike began at the same plant as the striking workers demanded the management to recognise their new Maruti Suzuki Employees Union.