Chevrolet Cruze Safety features

Not many people know that Chevrolet or indeed General Motors was the first to introduce the air bag concept in a car way back in 1930. General Motors has infact been air bags as standard equipment in all their cars even in India and this lead us to write this article about one of the safest cars in the General Motors arsenal now. And no, General Motors hasn’t paid us to write this article.

The Chevrolet Cruze is one of the cars from General Motors’s global platform and has been first unveiled in India of all the places. This car immediately became the best seller in its segment for its killer looks, good engine and excellent ride and handling package. That is one of the safest cars in its class is often overlooked. It is an excellent demonstration of the many active and passive safety features that the car possess.

To start with, one would look at the stopping power of a car this powerful. The Chevrolet Cruze has powerful disc brakes on all the four wheels. These brakes are also assisted by anti-lock brakes or ABS. ABS ensures that the wheels of the car don’t lock up inspite of heavy braking and hence one can maintain control of the steering even in emergency or slippery surfaces. Complementing the ABS is Electronic Stability Program {ESP} and traction control. These are managed by General Motors’s GMLAN. This system communicates between the different systems in a car in an urgent manner, 500 times a second to be precise.

Even if you couldn’t avoid that inadvertent crash, the Chevrolet Cruze has a strong and rigid safety cage which has reinforced pillars with tubular bars. The front and rear ends feature crumple zones which absorb the energy from an impact and don’t transmit it to the passenger bay. In the event of a crash, there is a possibility that the electronic power windows or the doors may get locked up. The Chevrolet Cruze has an emergency exit system to counter this. This emergency exit is through the boot of the car, it opens through a lever which can be accessed by the rear seat passengers using the 60:40 split seat arrangement.

The Chevrolet Cruze also cares about one’s young ones and has provision for putting up a child seat on all the three rear seats. Child safety locks are also present in the cabin. To protect the front occupants, there are two supplementary restraint system {SRS} air bags which inflate in the even of a crash. 3 point Seat belts are given for all the 5 occupants in the Chevrolet Cruze and this have anti whiplash properties as well. It also features a collapsible steering wheel which prevents damage to the driver’s chest in the event of a crash.

Not only does the Chevrolet Cruze protect the occupants of the car, it also looks out for pedestrian safety as well. Its low set bumpers and body design cause minimum damage to pedestrians in case of an impact. The Chevrolet Cruze also keeps itself safe with the simple fact that it has an engine immobilizer as well as anti-theft mechanism. If some one tries to break into your Chevrolet Cruze, then the car wouldn’t start unless the correct key combination is entered. The car, if it detects an intrusion, starts all four blinkers as well as the horn is enabled to attract attention from the owner.

It can be safely said that the Chevrolet Cruze from General Motors is one of the safest vehicles in its class and off course this side of the might Mercedes or safety god for automobiles, Volvo Motors.

In a brief, the safety features in the Chevrolet Cruze are the safety cage, pedestrian protection, emergency exit system, front and rear crumple zones, all wheel disc brakes, child safety locks and provision for child seats, collapsible steering wheel, dual air bags, ABS, ESP and traction control.

Indian navigation maps on BMW 7 series

We have seen many of the manufacturers offering navigation system in their premium offerings in India. Examples can be taken from the German trio of Mercedes, Audi and BMW. However little notice has been taken to see if they actually benefit customers or they if they still carry the navigation indicators for German roads. Even if they do have the Indian roads in them, the voice recognition system is usually an American or European one and fails to recognize the Indian accent. One of those innovative Germans{ read BMW India} have recognized this flaw and have worked to get it right for the Indian market. Their efforts have brought forth the Indian navigation maps on their flag ship, the BMW 7 series.

This navigation system is called BMW Navigation Professional Global Positioning System { GPS} and would be standard on all the new BMW 7 series starting from November 5, 2010. BMW India have promised us that they would make this as a standard on all their other cars like the 3,5 and SUV series. Amongst these standard features are a full color, fixed 10.3 inch display with a resolution of 1284 x 480 pixel controlled by BMW Idrive system with direction selection buttons. A 9.2 inch extended info display is present in the instrument cluster. There is also a 12 GB memory hard disc supported system. Since most of the BMW 7 series are likely to be chauffer driven, the rear passengers also get their own DVD screen wherein which they can also control the navigation system.

There are various entry formats for the BMW Navigation Professional Global Positioning System and these include the Postal Identification Number {PIN}, previous destinations or destinatons frequently visited and even spelling entry for a location. The system even calculates the best route and one with minimal traffic. It gives you a step by step guidance to the desired destination. The digital maps also allow the desired area to be viewed with a pinch and zoom function on the touch screen display. The so called visual instructions are given via easy to follow arrows and even through an audible system which is placed just above the music speakers. You can also update the maps twice a year at BMW dealerships. This takes hardly 30 minutes of one’s precious time. This would update the data stored in the hard disc and keep it more up to date with one way or u turn restrictions recently applied, more cities at a detailed level.

The optional features include the TV function{which currently displays only DD channels}, heads up display for the navigation system and an Indianised voice controlled navigation display system just like the one for the European markets. All this is available to new BMW 7 series owners at no additional cost. The ones prior to November 5th can get this navigation system added to their cars at an extra cost of Rs.30,000.

Skoda Yeti – two new variants to flow in

On the other hand, Skoda Auto India are quite happy that their first SUV and that too a compact crossover has been welcomed well by the Indian customers. They have reportedly received over 2000 bookings of the Skoda Yeti within a week of its launch. Not one to rest on its laurels, Skoda Auto India are contemplating bringing in two more variants of the Skoda Yeti in India. Those would be a 1.6 liter diesel from the Volkswagen Vento and the other would be an all new 1.2 liter TSI motor which would be from its international line up. The former would be in the same state of tune as the Volkswagen Vento and would make 105 bhp of peak power and 25.5 kgm of peak torque. These figures are enough to propel the Skoda Yeti from 0-100 kmph in 12.3 seconds. Importantly, it would be offered only in 2 wheel drive and also a 5 speed manual gear box. Top speed is said to be 176 kmph.

The latter engine would make 104 Bhp of power and about 23.6 kgm of torque. This would propel the Skoda Yeti from 0-100 kmph in 11 seconds and its top speed would be 175 kmph. This would also be offered with a 5 speed manual and 2 wheel drive mode only. However for the 1.2 TSI engine, Skoda Auto India aren’t sure if it can withstand the Indian fuel or not. Currently tests are been undergone and we would definitely have an answer on it come early 2011.

Bringing these two engines to India would give the Indian consumers a wide range of choices from Skoda Auto India’s wide arsenal of engines. It would also help lower the asking price of the Skoda Yeti. For the 1.2 TSI, Skoda would charge an asking price of Rs. 13 lakhs to 14 lakhs for the 1.6 liter diesel engine. This would make it a value for money proposition. Also Skoda Auto India are bucking up by introducing new show rooms as well as ramping up their much flaked service centers.

3M Car Care job

Yes, you do have a brand new car as of now however after a few days or may be weeks, its novelty would fade a bit depending on the elements it has been exposed to. This is quite common for any car or bike. While buying an automobile, buyers would usually want it to retain its gleaming paint job even after the many years it it supposed to be in duty. Not many however succeed in this and eventually after a few years, they just neglect it. The pangs return when your neighbor purchases a new car and you know that your current financial situation doesn’t support a new car purchase. That’s when you start spitting and polishing your car to make it appear now. Most probably your best attempts would show some gleam in the car but not entirely a new paint job like gleam. Don’t worry because there is a world renowned professional to take care of this and they are known as 3M Car Care.

I had a personal experience with 3M Car Care that I would like to share. I have a 2 year old Skoda Octavia and had the aforementioned pangs when my neighbor brought in a new Honda Civic. Now, I knew that my Skoda Octavia was way better than his Honda Civic however when I saw the gleaming red paint of the Honda Civic and my sort of buffed paint, I was jealous. I wanted to change the entire color of my Skoda Octavia however when I enquired for it at the Skoda service center, the service personnel were quick to point out that it would cost me a cool Rs. 54,000. While I was just meddling my thoughts as to what was the next cheaper option, bang, I was right in front of the 3M Car Care center. Taking a cue, I asked the friendly sales person how much would it take to restore the shine in my car and he made a quick look over of my car and quoted the figure of Rs.5000.

Wow! Since I always carry cash in excess of Rs.5000 with me, I agreed to it. The waiting period given was a cool 4 hours. Since I had nothing much to do that day, I opted to wait at their waiting lounge and also check the proceedings through the glass area. First of all, my Skoda Octavia was given a thorough car wash. The service personnel informed me that this was done to remove the fine abrasive particles which can scratch the paint during later stages of treatment. To remove all the grime and dirt, pressure washing as well as 3M Car Care’s special car shampoo and all-purpose cleaner were applied. It was then given a shower and then dried using 3M Car Care’s special drying technology. A layer of their special clay named 3M Car Care cleaner spray was applied to remove any paint contaminants and over spray. While doing all this, care was taken to ensure that all the chrome parts, glass area and even the badges were masked with a tape. This was done to prevent them from getting scuffed.

The second last stage, as the professional turned to explain to me, was the rubbing compound been applied onto the car now. It was applied uniformly on the car and then buffed using the buffer broom. This evened out the surface of the car and formed a protective layer on the paint surface. This off course is invisible to the naked eye. After 30 minutes or so, a final wax coat was applied and the buffer broom treatment continues. After 30 more minutes, the car is driven out and then handed over to me for an inspection. I pointed out that few of the scratches haven’t gone. The service personnel told me that this car treatment doesn’t take care of it and I would have to opt for a paint one to take care of that. It would cost me an additional Rs.3000 for that. I was fine with those scratches{man, how many would you endure in a day and that too to make your car look new?}. The service personnel handed me a receipt stating the date on which this treatment was done and also a guarantee saying that this lustrous coat would last upto 60 washes. He even confirmed that paint is now been protected from harsh sunlight, dust and even water-dirt combination. With my wallet lighter by Rs.5000, I rolled out of their service outlet and onto the road. I notice something apart from the lighter wallet, it was those glances that I was receiving from pedestrians and other car owners as well. My half successful mission was completed when my neighbor{the new Honda Civic one} also complemented my car and said that it looked like a new one.

Thanks to 3M Car Care, I have got my car “renewed”.

Buying a used Honda Civic

The Honda Civic when first launched in India around 2006 was one of the best looking cars. Not that much has changed 4 years down the line. Buyers in this segment are more than happy to accommodate the Honda in their garages. However with the advent of time, as expected, some of the novelty has worn off and you can now find used Honda Civic’s in the used car market. The primary reason for this is that the Civic, even though a looker inside out, isn’t too practical for the Indian roads. However for some of you who still fancy that space age look of the Honda Civic however don’t have the moolah for a new Honda Civic can satisfy themselves with a used Honda Civic. However when buying a used car, one has to be more alert than buying a new specimen. The Honda Civic was launched in India with a single engine option and is offered in as many as 8 variants including the Honda Civic Hybrid. These variants are the Honda Civic 1.8 S MT, Honda Civic 1.8 V MT, Honda Civic 1.8 V AT, Honda Civic 1.8 V Elegance, Honda Civic 1.8 S Elegance, Honda Civic 1.8 V Inspire and the Honda Civic 1.8 S Inspire  Here are some of the tips for buying the used Honda Civic that you were eyeing for long but somehow didn’t have the courage to buy.

Paperwork:

The first and foremost thing to check for in an used Honda Civic is whether all the registration documents, PUC certificates and service history are in place. Also the numbers on the car’s number plate and those under the bonnet match with the registration certificate. The car, if was financed, should also have a hypothetication mark included in the registration certificate. The registration plates shouldn’t also be broken or in any vernacular language other than English. It should also have the correct spacing as specified by the RTO. The screws holding the number plates should be tight. Confirm that the mileages tally and if the figures on the odometer and those by checking out the make of the car don’t tally, just walk away from this car.

Bodywork:

The Honda Civic shouldn’t be painted with a different color as opposed to what is mentioned on its papers. Check for uneven paint marks as this is sign that the car has been in an accident. There might be minor scuffs and marks and this isn’t something which a good polish cannot take care off. There shouldn’t be any uneven panel gaps. Some of the earlier Honda Civics were prone to rusting however the ones after 2007 were coated with an anti rust spray. Be sure to check out the body aperture as well as under the bonnet for signs of repainting. If you find any shunt or major dent, be sure to ask the owner the reason for it and why it wasn’t repaired. If his answer isn’t satisfactory, just move away.

Tyres:

This signify the way the Honda Civic has been treated and if it was driven sanely or with much enthusiasm. Honda Civic manuals say that the tyres are good for 40k kms. If the model you are looking at is below this mark and the tyres have been replaced, ask the reason. It may be that the odometer has been tampered with. If the car still runs on stock tyres, you should check if it has plenty of tread on it and the wear is even across the face and all the way to the circumference of the tyre. Also look out for tears, gouges and bulges in the side walls. Measure the tread depth of the tyre using a 1 rupee coin. If it shows more than 75% of the coin, it means that the tyre needs to be replaced.

Exhaust:

An exhaust is something which bears the brunt of a car even if it has been sanely driven. It has to be replaced some time or the other. A noisy exhaust other than those after market ones should mean an abused car. There shouldn’t be any rust or holes on the silencer. Also the exhaust should be securely bolted on and not loose or sagging.

Interiors:

The Civic has a beige interiors and this should get soiled easily however its nothing which a simple wash and wipe cannot set straight. The Honda Civic has easy to use controls as well as long lasting ones. Take a look at the seat belts and they shouldn’t be sagging or broken. The carpets have to be removed and then checked if there is any rust in the inner body. The power goodies should work perfectly fine and if they aren’t then replacing them would be a costly affair. The car’s butterfly like wipers should also be in good working condition and there shouldn’t be any chips or cracks in the windscreen.

Lights and Electrics:

There are numerous lights in a car and the Honda Civic is no exception. Check if the head lights are in working condition. Check for both upper as well as lower beams. The turn indicators, hazard lights, tail lamps, brake lamps as also the lighting on the number plates. Also check the aircon blower at full speed and even the heater.

Test ride:

Honda Civics have softer suspension setups and this means that the car should ride well. It has an excellent handling as well. The gearbox is a smooth shifting unit both on the auto as well as in manual model. Lest I forget, the Honda Civic comes in automatic as well as manual version. The automatic is the more fun to drive since it also has paddle shifts behind the steering wheel for manual control. The car shouldn’t be pulling to one side as this would mean that either there is a problem with the suspension or with the steering. Watch out for any unusual noises coming from the suspension or the tie rods.

Engine bay:

This is one of the most important things to be considered while buying a used car. However given Honda’s fool proof reliability, this shouldn’t be a major problem. Check for an unusually clean engine bay as this is a sign that the owner is trying to hide something. Open the oil filler cap and check for the look of the oil. It should be light green in color and not blackish. Also the cap shouldn’t have brown residue inside. This means engine damage and one which is expensive to replace. The other lookouts should be any loose wiring or pipes inside the engine bay. There shouldn’t be any burning smell from inside the engine bay.

There was a Honda Civic Hybrid launched in India with a 1.3 liter engine mated to an electric one. There wouldn’t be any such samples in the market as this is a collectors item. Buy one from Honda’s used car facility as this would give you peace of mind as these samples go through a 100 point check point and carry Honda’s assurance policy for 6 months. Also visit First Choice mart’s as even they offer 6 months or upto 1 year free warranty. The fuel efficiency to expect from the used Honda Civic would be approximately 9.4 kmpl in the city and 14.0 kmpl on the highway. The 1.8 liter gives out 132 Bhp and loves to be revved. Regular maintenance may be on the costly side considering Honda’s high service standards. Spare parts would also be costlier than others in its class. Difference between the variants would be in some features. For a 2007 model Honda Civic, you are expected to pay about Rs.8,500,00 for the manual version and about a lakh more for the automatic version. This signals Honda high resale value and one can be rest assured that there wouldn’t be much of a depreciation if one intends to sell the car after 2-3 years.

Honda Civic Models

Honda Civic 1.8 S MT: This is the base variant and comes with some basic features like airconditioner, power windows and split seats.

Honda Civic 1.8 V MT: It offers additional features than the base variant and those are Cruise Control, Out Door Mirrors with Turn Indicator, Leather Upholstery, Front Fog Lamps, Chrome Door Trims, Chrome Finished Outside Door Handles, etc.

Honda Civic 1.8 V AT: Other than the features of the 1.8 V MT, the only difference is the presence of automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Honda Civic 1.8 V Elegance: This package offers Illuminated Side Step Garnish, rear door sunshade and Door Visior.

Honda Civic 1.8 S Elegance: All the features of the Elegance trim plus front fog lamps.

Honda Civic 1.8 V Inspire: This package offers Front Under Spoiler, Rear Under Spoiler Trunk Spoiler and Side Under Spoiler.

Honda Civic 1.8 S Inspire: The only addition to this is the front fog lamps in lieu of the features of the V Inspire package.

Technical Specifications Of Honda Civic 1.8

Engine Type: In-Line Engine
Engine Description: 1799 cc i-VTEC petrol
No. of Cylinders: 4
Maximum Power: 132 Bhp  @ 6,300 rpm
Maximum Torque: 150 Nm @ 4,300 rpm
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Fuel Supply System: Programmed Fuel Injection or PGM-FI
Bore x Stroke: 82 x 86.3 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.6:1
Transmission and gearbox: 5 Speed Manual or 5 speed automatic with paddle shifters
Drive Type: FWD
Rear Suspension: Double Wishbone, Coil spring and Torsion Bar
Front Suspension: McPherson Strut, Coil Spring and Torsion Bar
Steering details: Electronic Power Assisted Rack & Pinion, collapsible
Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.6 m
Rear Brake Type: Solid Disc
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Top Speed: 208 kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 9.3 seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 9.6
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 14.8
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 55
Emission Norm Compliance: Bharat Stage III
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial Tyre
Tyre Size: 195/65 R15
Wheel Size: 15 x 6J
Cargo Volume: 405 litres
No of Doors: 4
Seating Capacity: 5

Skoda Fabia vs Volkswagen Polo in India – New Found Brothers Battle it Out (Part II)

Well last week I covered the first half of an in-depth comparison of two of India’s most fierce rivals in the hatchback segment – the Fabia and the Polo. This week you will find out who comes out on top in that duel and with the cars neck and neck at the half way stage this could go either way. Well what are you waiting for…?

Round 4: Performance & Mileage

With both cars battling it out closely this is going to be a decisive round and both cars start off well as there is barely anything to choose between their respective weights with the Polo weighting about 45 kgs more than the Fabia. This keeps power-to-weight ratios similar and therefore performance figures.

The VW Polo gets from 0-100 kmph in 16.16 seconds while the Skoda Fabia managed to do it in 16.9 seconds. The difference between the cars’ times being within a sec can be put down to the fact that the Polo has larger tires. Both vehicles have a similar top speed of around 165 km/hr and the configuration of the tall gear ratios does not provide much low end acceleration but bodes well for fuel efficiency.

Where the Polo manages to beat the Fabia though is in the mileage figures giving 22.2 kmpl for the highway and 15.8 kmpl in the city. Comparatively the Fabia gets 14.2 kmpl in the city and 19.2 kmpl when driving on the highway. The variation in figures is quite unexpected given the fact that both cars are powered by very similar engines and this is confirmed by ARAI figures that put the Polo at 22.1 kmpl and the Fabia at 21 kmpl. The performance of both cars was really close but the fuel consumption ratings had some difference allowing the Polo to come out on top in this round.

Round 5: Driving Dynamics

Since Volkswagen is the parent company of Skoda Auto, they used shared components and both vehicles are built on the Volkswagen PQ25 platform and employ MacPherson struts at the front and torsion beams for the rear suspension. The ride and handling of both cars are very comparable although the Fabia feels better in the city owing to its smaller tires that allows the wheels to absorb any bumps and creases present on the road surface.

The drive of the Volkswagen is slightly stiffer and the vibrations from uneven roads do get passed on to the cabin, but the stiff suspension does pay dividends as speed builds up. In actuality the control that the driver feels in the Polo at higher speeds is so sure that you get the impression you are driving a bigger vehicle and this should inspire a lot of confidence in any driver. The higher speed actually also makes the ride more comfortable and her German pedigree comes to the fore allowing the driver to literally beat any road into submission.

This is not saying that the Skoda Fabia is a softy as it still has one of the more stiffer set-ups in its class that also benefits it at speed. Handling of the Fabia is also very good but when compared to the Polo falls short as the Polo has more body control, tighter roll and the ability to carry its speed through corners due to the wider tires she sits on.

When choosing between the Fabia or the Polo based on its handling and driving dynamics the decision ultimately comes down to preference of driving style. If you prefer to drive at a more comfortable speed and cruise round city streets then the drive of the Fabia would suit you better, but if you are looking for a car that handles better especially at speed and is suited to carving up city streets then the Polo will do a better job in serving you. If it was up to me personally I would give the round to the Polo as I prefer a faster more engaging drive but being a fair person (smiles to self) I have to call this round a tie as well as each car has its own benefits.

Verdict

Normally comparing two cars is not too difficult as there are a number of discerning differences, but this was a tough comparison as both vehicles roll off the same line and are essentially built similar. There are still differences though in their styling, suspension tuning, interior setup and materials and as well as with their positioning. On the international stage Volkswagen is a premium brand in the Volkswagen group’s range of vehicles while Skoda is considered a more budget brand.

The viewpoint of the Skoda in India is different though which makes it harder for the Polo to trounce the Fabia. Skoda has managed to achieve premium status in the Indian automotive market as a brand as a result of is Octavia and Laura vehicles more so for the quality of their diesel engines. With Volkswagen’s entry into this big Asian market, Skoda has had to relinquish its image as a premium player and move into a more value-conscious type of brand. This can only benefit the car manufacturer as well as the Indian buyer.

The Fabia starts out from a price of Rs. 5.41 lakhs for its base model the Fabia Classic 1.2 TDi although the fact that all Skoda’s come with driver side airbag as standard and mandatory, ensure that the cost of the base model of the Polo, its Trendline trim, is comparable at 5.42 lakhs. Top of the line models have a slightly bigger difference with the Polo Highline starting at 6.82 lakhs compared with the Fabia Elegance which retails for 6.69 lakhs. The prices are ex-Delhi and will vary depending on location in India. Making a choice based on the prices of the vehicle is quite out of the question given their miniscule differences but there has to be a winner. My pick would still be the Volkswagen Polo as it has the better build quality, better styling, better handling and driving dynamics and the added value of a better, bigger brand. It is more of a case of the Polo telling the Fabia ‘Do not teach grandmother to suck eggs’ and putting the Skoda in its place.

Skoda Fabia – 3.5 Stars
Volkswagen Polo – 4 stars

Comparison OF Volkswagen Polo Highline and Skoda Fabia Elegance Specifications

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Skoda Fabia vs Volkswagen Polo – New Found Brothers Battle it Out (Part I)

Training academy by Volkswagen in Pune

Not one to suffice with the introduction of their world class cars in India, Volkswagen India have now decided that they would provide Indian aspiring auto technicians with their commendable knowledge. They have opened an automotive technical knowledge center in Pune and this is the first of the many more in the offing. This is a 1500 square foot facility. The automotive technical knowledge center will provide for both theoretical as well as practical training for production technologies and vehicle production means. There are many halls for seminars as well as different section for information on vehicle technology as well as production details.

There would be also separate discourses and focus would also be given on customer serivce personnel, professional development of Volkswagen employees, personality development as also vocational training about Volkswagen in India. The opening of this automotive technical knowledge center was done at the auspicious hands of Lower Saxony’s Minister President, David McAllister and the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Dr. Martin Winterkorn. They both flew in specially for this occasion. The many polytechnic colleges in and around Pune can rejoice as the Volkswagen Group are looking to tie up with them for this vocational training course.

Mr. David McAllister mentioned that since the Volkswagen group are giving livelihood to many of the Indian families and this training center wasn’t only a brand building exercise and all the investment wasn’t only about bringing in machinery or ramp up of production but also invest in the people of India. He also notified that for the continued economic development of a country and for its personnel , vocational training is the key force.

Dr. Martin Winterkorn also corroborated this fact by letting the world know that Volkswagen Group wants to become the topmost automotive employer across the world. He said that they don’t differentiate between the developing and the developed regions. He said that Volkswagen’s high quality products can be manufactured only by highly skilled technicians across the world. He also added that all this professional development of the employees and world class vocational training provides strength to its employees and subsequently the entire region as well as the Volkswagen Group company.

President of the regional Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Mukesh Malhotra, was also present at this do. He also commented that this was a great move by the Volkswagen Group and one which would benefit the Indian community to a great extent. He also elaborated that this is a pilot project and one which many other manufacturers should take a leaf from and provide training to employees. In addition, there was a change in the Volkswagen Group’s top management for Volkswagen India. Joerg Mueller has been replaced by Frank Loschmann as the MD and President of Volkswagen India. This shuffle is part of the global one by the Volkswagen Group. Earlier Frank Loschmann was the MD of Engineering at Saschen Volkswagen.

Sales of Tata Nano decline

Tata Motors ambitious project in the Tata Nano had a positive effect and a vision which said that every motorcycle owner can now upgrade to a 4 wheeler and one which is known across the world. First there was the news that an uproar has occurred in West Bengal regarding the erection of the plant. Tata Motors had to subsequently shift base to Sanand in Gujarat and only then could the work on the Tata Nano begin. There was such a hype over the car and with international journalists praising it in galores, it was supposed to be a runaway success. The initial phase of production and selling was met with moderate success due to the limited number of cars been made and Tata Motors adamancy about not giving the car off the shelf.

However once the Sanand plant as well as the one in Maharashtra were fully organized, the cars were been provided off the shelf albeit in phases across some states. Sales figure in July 2010 for the Tata Nano were pegged at 9300 units. Subsequently though, Tata Nano sales declined through August, September and October with number of units been moved off shelfs , pegged at 8103, 5520 and 3065 respectively. November month recorded dismal figures at only 509 cars been dispatched to their new owners homes.

The reason for all this downfall is estimated to be the recent safety issues over the car burning incidents and also inadequate distribution network. It is also claimed that the Tata Nano doesn’t give the fuel efficiency as claimed by the company and even a regular Tata Indica would give the same average. Recent voluntary recall by Tata Motors to fit a heat guard over the silencers and to fit fuses for the same also may have marred the sales figures.

Tata Motors are taking serious heed of this issues and are looking to put out ad campaigns for the Tata Nano and also informing people that the cars are very safe and have been tested for the same across millions of miles.

Volkswagen Passat 2011 preview

Volkswagen India have plans to bring in the new Volkswagen Passat 2011 shown at the Paris Motor Show 2010, to India. The Volkswagen Passat 2011 has got the looks which are inspired by the flagship, Volkswagen Phaeton. Gone are the stately looks of the old Volkswagen Passat, the new one has a youthful zest to it. It has that familiar family grille to it however the front bumpers have been now heavily tweaked. The front bumper is a single piece unit now. It houses the quadrangular fog lamps instead of the round ones found earlier. The head lamps themselves are more angular now and have twin projector units. The design cues don’t end at the front and are carried over to the rear as well. The boot is substantially more wider and longer. Here also the Volkswagen Phaeton design cues are evident. The tail lamps are also clear lens units with LED elements in them.

The head lamps for the Volkswagen Passat 2011 deserve a special mention. They have bi-xenons with Dynamic Light Assist. This system detects oncoming traffic and automatically brightens or lowers itself so that others aren’t dazzled by its effect. This system comprises of a camera situated in the head lamp column and this automatically puts the lights on dipped beam on detecting an oncoming car or bike. The high beam is turned on again once the car has moved past. Another new feature on the outside of the Volkswagen Passat 2011 is the use of a keyless Access function. Apart from giving keyless entry into the car, it can even open the boot. The only requirement is that one should have the key in the pocket and just sweep your foot under the boot. The boot would open on its own accord. This system would suit those singles who would have their hands full of shopping items and have no one to help them out.

The changes don’t end with the external revisions. Most importantly, the significant changes have been made under the hood. There would be two engine options on offer. One would be the 1.4 TSI petrol motor offering 130 Ps of power. The second would be the 2.0 liter diesel motor with DSG gearbox. Both these motors are fitted with stop start technology and also active battery regenration technology. The petrol motor is said to offer class leading fuel efficiency figures of upto 17 kmpl. The diesel motor as we all are aware also offers class leading fuel efficiency numbers.

Safety has also been given top priority with the new Adaptive Cruise control coming into picture. What it does is maintain a set distance from the car in front and doesn’t need the driver to apply the brakes. If the car is running at 30 kmph, and a crash is imminent or if the driver doesn’t take to braking immediately, the automatic city emergency braking function comes into play. It will automatically brake the car and avoid the collision. This is quite similar to the safety features which we have seen in Volvo cars. Actually all this technology is taken under lease from Volvo Motors. Another noteworthy safety feature is the driver drowsy warning system. If the car determines that the driver is drowsy{which it does by checking on his driving habits and how many times has he crossed the markings}, then it gives him an audible as well as message warning on the dashboard. A tea cup would show up on the dash signaling the driver that it is time to take a break. If still the driver doesn’t pay attention, then the car would send shudders via the steering wheel and at the last stage, the car would stop on its own accord to prevent fatalities. When crash tested, the new Volkswagen Passat 2011 mirrored the scores from its outgoing model and that was a perfect 5. This means that the Volkswagen Passat 2011 is one of the safest cars in its class.

The Volkswagen Passat 2011 would be made in India at the company’s Aurangabad facility. Sharing its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Jetta would help its matter as well. The interiors would be as comfy as the previous generation one. They are said to be using a lighter color scheme than the ones on the current generation Volkswagen Passat. There is indicated to be a minimal year price increase to offset the rising prices of production. However for all the goodies that you would be getting, this is just a nominal price to pay. The car would make its Indian debut by May 2011.

Honda’s small car for India to be named as Honda Brio


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Honda Siel Motors Limited are one of the most successful car manufacturers in India. This despite pricing their cars at a sizeable premium than the others. All this attributed to their never say die attitude cars, be it anywhere in the world. Their cars epitomize reliability and cutting edge design at its best. It is rare to see a broken down Honda car by the road side. They are also the most fuel efficient in their class as well as the ones with most thrilling driving experience. They also have bullet proof engines. However all this hasn’t made Honda Siel Motors Limited as a volumes player in the fast emerging Indian market. The reason behind this is quite clear. They don’t have a small car in their portfolio and plus the lack of a diesel engine option also pinches.

The horizon would change soon for the Indian market as Honda Siel Motors Limited are going to introduce a small car for the Indian market and are naming it as the Honda Brio. Now, we know that the smallest car that Honda Siel Motors Limited has in India is the Honda Jazz, which isn’t small by any proportions. It has a length equivalent to the Honda City. The Honda Brio would be showcased at the 2010 Bangkok Motor Show. It would be one of Honda Siel Motors Limited’s most significant launch in the Indian market and this would be after that of the Honda City. The car’s code name is 2CV. It would be exactly as the concept car that Honda displayed at the Paris Motor Show. It is rumored that in India, the Honda Brio would be built in the company’s manufacturing facility in Noida or at Alwar in Rajasthan. It would have about 70% localization and only some components of the engine would be imported from Japan.

The New Honda Brio would be powered by the same unit as found on the Honda Jazz, albeit with a cylinder less. It would be a 3 cylinder engine which may or may not feature Honda’s i-Vtec technology. It would be down sized from the Honda Jazz’s capacity of 1200 cc to about 900 cc. It would make about 70 Bhp of power. Like the others of its ilk, it would have air bags and ABS as standard equipment however as seen in previous generation City, we expect Honda Siel Motors Limited to skimp on this piece of necessity as well. It may be offered as an option.

At launch there would be 2 engine options. The aforementioned one and the second would be a straight lift from the Honda Jazz’s 1.2 liter engine. It would be in the same state of tune as the latter. This engine, as we all know is quite fuel efficient as well as reasonably powered. The third engine would make its debut only by the end of 2011 and it would be the most awaited one as well. It would be a 1.5 liter diesel engine, Honda Siel Motors Limited’s first one in the country . This engine would eventually find its way under the hood of the Honda City as well as Honda Jazz. Whether it would come in the Honda Civic is unknown.

Now pricing has been always Honda Siel Motors Limited’s Achilles heel in India. They however can command a premium over others simply on the virtues of brand name. See for example the fact that Honda City’s are literally flying off shelfs given the Rs.1.5 lakhs that they command over a similarly specced Volkswagen Vento. The Honda Brio in India is expected to be priced at around Rs. 5 lakhs for the base variant and moving upwards to Rs.7 lakhs for the diesel variant. That is a lot of money for a Maruti Ritz sized car. Well, can Honda Siel Motors Limited break the ice in the small car market with this offering remains to be seen. Bookings are expected to start beginning February 2011.