Audi Projects Indian Auto Market to Achieve 3mn Sales by 2014

The Indian auto industry has been performing really well for the last few years, with many industry experts expecting this trend to continue. German manufacturer of luxury cars Audi is one of the many companies who expect the Indian auto market to grow further.

The company expects the demand for automobiles in the Indian market to grow by above 3mn by 2014, primarily as the increasing middle class in support of individual mobility continues to rise. The company reportedly stated in its annual report that currently around 14mn Indians own cars. Of these two million were sold in the year 2010 alone, and they expect this number to further increase to above 3mn in the year 2014.

The report also mentioned that traffic volumes and population have been increasing at a predominantly rapid pace in countries like India and China. According to a United Nations forecast, Mumbai, which had 20mn residents last year, is about to have 26mn residents by the year 2025, a fact which was also stated in the company’s annual report, adding that with this, the demand among the growing middle class towards individual mobility also increases.

The chairman of Audi AG’s Board of Management, Rupert Stadler, was quoted as saying that as a result of these developments, they are faced with completely new difficulties regarding consistent individual mobility. They are currently projecting their brand values in tomorrow’s world with models like their e-tron family and Q5 hybrid Quattro, their answers for future types of individual mobility, which are already making waves in the industry.

The company reportedly manufactured around 16,48,193 engines and 11,50,018 cars in the year 2010, in comparision to the 13,84,240 engines and 9,32,260 cars that they produced the year before that.

Yuvraj Presented Audi Q5 for Stellar Performance in 2011 ICC World Cup

The Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh was recently presented with an Audi Q5 from Audi India. The gift was to award his performance and as recognition of the cricketers remarkable performance in the 2011 ICC World Cup.

Yuvraj was presented the keys to this wonderful car by cricketing legend, Ravi Shastri, along with the head of Audi India, Michael Perschke. Ravi Shastri, was the first person in India to get an Audi.


Shastri said that he was very happy to see Audi India carrying forward the tradition in this way and continuing to distinguish the various achievements by champions in the field of cricketing.

Split Details of Changan Ford Mazda Partnership to be confirmed by Year End

The Changan Ford Mazda might be one of the few tri party partnerships; however reports have been circulating that this may soon come to an end within this year. The party had reportedly made the decision of splitting into two separate individual ventures in 2010. Mazda will reportedly be moving their resources to Nanjing.

Reports stated the chairman of the Changan Automobile Co., Xu Liuping, as having confirmed the split during the recent 2011 Auto Expo in Shanghai, which still awaits a final decision from the national reform and development commission. Mazda and Ford will inherit a 50% share of the current partnership.

According to reports, after the spilt has been finalized, the Changan Mazda partnership will begin their investment in their first model, the Mazda SUV CX-5, as a new independent joint venture.

Hyundai Witnesses 47% Increase in Overall Net Profits in Q1

Hyundai Motor witnessed a sharp increase in their net profits for the first quarter, as they managed huge sales in their overseas markets which include United States and China. South Korea”s largest auto manufacturer witnessed net profits of 1.87 trillion won or $1.7bn. This is an increase of 47% in comparison to its net profits of last year.

While the company’s operating profit increased by 45%, the revenue of the company saw a gain of 21%, collecting 18.23 trillion won for the January to March period. The Korean manufacturer managed to sell 919,000 vehicles in its home market as well as abroad, in the year’s first quarter, an increase of 9.2% in comparision to last year’s as the company faced increasing demand from its Chinese market, where their sales increased by 29%.

The company also stated their sales in the American market increased by 28% following great performance of their new Avante vehicle. Hyundai along with Kia Motors, its group company, are enjoying a great run in the market since the last few years.

Toyota Kirloskar Reports 61% Increase in April Sales

Toyota Kirloskar Motors reported on Monday their monthly sales figures for April. Toyota Motors witnessed an increase of 61% in sales, selling 9,681 units in comparision to the 6,001 units it sold in the same period, last year. TKM which is a JV between Kirloskar Group and Toyota Motors attributed their healthy sales growth to their latest Etios sedan.

The Deputy MD of TKM said that their last month’s growth can be credited to their new Etios sedan’s encouraging sales. They have sold around 12,758 units ever since they first launched the Etios last December. In April alone they managed to sell around 4,657 Etios sedans.


Meanwhile, their other products saw in decrease in sales because of the production adjustment being observed since April 25 till June 4 this year, because of the shortage of parts supply plaguing most of the Japanese auto companies since the natural crisis that struck Japan on March 11, this year.

Singh further added that they have witnessed losses of approx. 2,900 units last month, because of adjusting their production output. However, the authentic impact of the temporary cut in production will only be fully realized by May, as they will then be operating at only 30% of their normal capacity.

Tata Witnesses 13% Growth in April, Boosted by the 10,000 Nano’s sold

Tata Motor’s witnessed their highest sales for the month of April, including the export figures. They sold a total number of 64,383 vehicles a rise of around 53%, in comparision to the 57,199 vehicles that were sold in the same period last year.

And it was none other than Tata’s Nano, which helped to boost the company’s sales figures. The Nano which was built with the aim of replacing the middle class man’s two-wheeler was the cheapest car available in the world according to the company. After facing many delays and recalls and bringing much flack for the company, the Nano has proved its mettle in one of India’s largest companies by selling 10,012 units all over India in April.

This is an increase of a whopping 184% in comparision to same period last year in which 3,525 units were sold. The sales were also significantly higher than in March when around 8,700 Nano models were sold, which are wholesome sales including dealer dispatches and not the actual sales.

The Nano had received a lot of negative publicity because of the production delays during the early stage of the Nano as well as some fire accidents which affected the sales of the Nano. In fact, in November, last year, the sales of the Nano had fallen to a miserable 500 vehicles, which looked dismal for the future of the Nano.

However, the company began offering new warranty plans, and also began to investigate the cause behind the fire accidents so to prove that there was nothing wrong with Tata’s engineering. With the opening of many different avenues, offering many innovative offers like the sales at Big Bazaar, and expanding into the rural markets, the company began to see a rise in their Nano sales.

From being one of Tata’s most disappointing products, the Nano has now helped to boost the sales of the company. The domestic sales of Tata passenger and commercial vehicles saw an increase of 11 percent with 60,125 units sold last April, in comparision to the 54,062 vehicles sold during the same period, last year.

The company’s overall sales of their commercial vehicles for April 2011 were 36,738 vehicles in the domestic segment, which is a growth of 19% in comparision to the 30,963 units sold in the same period last year. Meanwhile, Tata’s Indica range managed to sell around 4,250 units which were 53% lower in comparision to the same period in 2010. The sales of the Indigo range were 5,282 vehicles which was a low of 27% in comparision to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Tata’s Venture, Aria, Safari, and Sumo range were responsible for selling 3,843 units, a growth of 15% in comparision to April 2010. Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover series has continued to showcase its upward trend. Tata’s export sales were 4,258 vehicles last month, which was a 36% growth in comparision to the 3,137 units sold last year in April.

GM India to Begin LCV Production by 2012 Q1

GM India, the subsidiary of the American auto giant GM is currently looking towards producing new Light Commercial Vehicles LCVs as they had planned earlier, in the 2012 Q1. This announcement by GM came a day after the worker’s strike of 54 days ended at their Halol plant located in the Panchmahals district of Gujarat.

The company’s Corporate Affairs Vice President, P. Balendran was quoted as saying that their expansion project worth $300mn or Rs. 1,350 crore is projected to be finished by the coming December. This project will increase their production capacity to 1.10 lakh units from the earlier 85,000 units. They expect to roll out their first LCV by the Q1 of 2012.

During the peaceful 42 working day strike, the company lost production of around 2500 units; however their expansion project was not halted. The strike which was perhaps one of the longest in two decades in an industry and labour friendly State, began on March 1 during the second shift, drawing support from many labour unions. The strike ended last Thursday after the employees resumed work following intervention from the State Labour Department. The employees were protesting against the alleged health hazards they were exposed to in the plant.

Bosch technology bible continued

Every now and then we bring to you, the Bosch technology bible which more or less refreshes one’s memory about the technologies that are in existence in the car world. Moreover, details of these are explained in simple as far as possible layman language.

Radiator Fan :

It is a plastic fan located on the inner side of a car’s radiator to blow cool air on the radiator to assist in the cooling of the engine. It is controlled by the electrical system of the car and is positioned according to the position of the engine.

Dipstick :

It is a long thin shaft which has got a hooked end which is utilized to pull it out of the engine bay. It is actually a tool which is used to measure the engine oil level as it is kept dipped inside the engine upto a calibrated level. The dipstick’s blade has a scale which is used to find out the exact volume of engine oil present inside the engine. The correct procedure is to remove it, clean it, insert back and pull out to check if the oil level is upto the recommended mark or not.

Connecting Rod :

The connecting rod or “conrod” transmits the piston load to the crank causing the crank to turn, thus, together they form a mechanism that converts the reciprocating motion of the piston to the rotary motion of the crankshaft. The lower end or the big end attached to the bearing journal on the crank pin while the smaller end eventually attaches to the piston pin which would swivel in the pin.

Crankshaft :

The crank is part of the crankshaft which receives via the cranks, efforts supplied by the piston to the connecting rods. All the auxiliary mechanisms with the mechanical transmission are geared in one way or the other to the crankshaft. To convert the reciprocating motion to rotational, the crank has additional bearing surfaces whose axis is offset from the crank to which the “big end” on the conrod is connected. It connects to a flywheel to negate the pulsating characteristic of an I.C Engine. A crankshaft is usually a steel forging but most of the makers now prefer to use a special type of cast iron or nickel alloys casting which are cheaper to produce and also have a good service life.

Top Dead Center :

Top Dead Center or TDC is the top most position of the piston during a compression stroke, towards the cover end side of the cylinder is called the top dead center. In case of horizontal engines, this is known as inner dead center.

Hydrolastic Suspension :

The suspension system is based on the compression of a solid mass of rubber. In this system, a separate spring and dampers are replaced by displacer units which are interconnected between the front and rear wheels by means of a fluid. In the displacer unit, a rubber is used as spring and fluid passing through rubber valves acts as a damping medium. When a front wheel encounters a bump, fluid is transferred to the corresponding rear displacer unit which raises the rear end of the car minimizing its pitch.

Fender Skirts :

A cover on the wheels which acts as a continuation of the body work is referred to as fender skirts, much like the Volkswagen XL 1.It is a design feature as also an aerodynamic aid which helps in reducing the drag created by air caught in the wheel cavity. These Fender Skirts are easily detachable allowing for removal of the wheel. The fender skirts usually cover the follower wheels which do not move laterally.

Special Porsche Cayman S Black Edition on Sale from July

Beginning July, you can expect to see a limited edition offering of the Cayman S Black mid-engine coupe available in the market. The special edition has been limited to only 500 models in the market. This coupe boasts of even greater performance, with an especially sumptuous equipment specification.

This special edition car is fitted with a six cylinder boxer 3.4l engine, with a power output of 330 hp, an increase of 10hp at 7400rpm. The max torque though remains the same at 370Nm at 4,750rpm. The acceleration time of this car has also seen an improvement by one-tenth of a second going from 0 to 100km/hr in 5.1 seconds, when paired with a manual six gear transmission and in 5.0 seconds when paired with the optional PDK.

If the Launch Control available on their Sport Chrono package is activated, then the acceleration time is reduced to 4.8 seconds. Meanwhile, the top speed of this car is 2kph faster than the Cayman S, at 279 km/h with the manual transmission and a top speed of 277km/h with the PDK.

This special edition car is quite sporty with its longitudinal dynamics. It is also able to cater to exacting demands because of its comprehensive and high quality equipment. Some of the basic specs of the car include Bi-Xenon headlights which have dynamic cornering lights, daytime LED running lights as well as anti-dazzle automatic exterior and interior mirrors which are integrated with a rain sensor.

The front passenger and driver seats have partial black leather seats which have Porsche crest on their headrests. The cabin is also equipped with climate control for ensuring comfortable temperature. The steering wheel has a sport design, while you also have a cruise control option which makes driving at one speed a more economical and comfortable experience.

The special edition sports coupe has a very consistent colour scheme. The dashboard trim, gear selector/ lever trim as well as the instrument cluster’s dials are in black. It also features the letters ”Black Edition” emblazoned in stainless steel on the door entry. The lid of the glove compartment also bears this badge to proclaim the cars limited special edition status.

The car is also offered with a Sound Package Plus, with the infotainment systems of the car being controlled by the Porsche Communication System. This includes a navigation module as well as universal audio interface. The car is also enabled with mobile phone integration. In short, this special Cayman S Black Edition features Porsche’s design, infotainment and comfort packages while also offering a reduced price in the bargain. Featuring country-specific equipment, the special Cayman S Black Edition will cost around €67,807 in Germany which includes VAT.

Skoda Yeti vs Skoda Laura

Skoda Auto has made quite a name for itself in India however the after sales part of Skoda Auto is a bit of worry in India. Well, why go for a Skoda product then? The reason is that they make some of the best engineered cars in India. They sell cars in hefty numbers as well. All this started with the Skoda Octavia and continues with the latest entrant into Skoda world, the Skoda Yeti. The Skoda Yeti is priced at almost Rs 16 lakhs and so is the Skoda Laura. Now the big question comes in is whether you would want to buy a SUV or a saloon? Skoda may have never thought of this however cannibalization of sales would definitely happen. A customer coming in for a Laura may be tempted by a Yeti and vice versa. We settle the war as to which would be a supreme buy and total value for money thing. It’s the Skoda Laura in India going up against the Skoda Yeti in India.

Looks

As far as the looks thing goes, the Skodas are known to be very elegant vehicles. While the Laura looks all set with it looking like hewn from a single slab of metal while on the other hand the Yeti looks more like a chocolate cake in its muddy brown color. It is a known fact that both the Skodas share the same platform however their design element is totally different. The Yeti doesn’t look like a Laura and nor does the Laura look like the Yeti. Well, the Yeti doesn’t even look like a Laura on stilts. Speaking of the Skoda Yeti in India design, it is a quirky odd ball one. Four head lamps or rather a head lamp and fog lamp pair make it look like a Bentley car from a distance. Ok, we were exaggerating on the Bentley part. The jaw or rather the aluminium skid plate is something which is another distinct character of this muscled Laura. The roof rails and all actually make this SUV look like a toy car. The Skoda Laura in India looks almost similar to the Skoda Superb but not like the Octavia from which it has evolved. The very prominent Skoda badge and those angular head lamps make quite an impression. The ORVMs have the turn indicators embedded into them while the rear with its LED configuration looks desirable. The front fog lamps however may not be to everyone’s liking as it’s very big and big always doesn’t mean beautiful.

The more balanced design theme is that of the Laura while the Yeti is a quirky one. Heads would definitely turn when the Yeti passes by however the Laura’s design would age more gracefully. Overall, we found the Laura’s design theme more alluring and one which would stand the test of time.

Interiors

The Skoda Yeti in India shares most of its interiors with the Skoda Laura in India. However the one on the Laura seem more plush. The wood finish on the central console in the Laura takes on a dark hue which we feel has been plucked from the Volkswagen Passat. The Yeti uses lighter materials whereas the Laura uses darker ones. The instrument binnacle in both is however very different. While the Laura gets straight faced dials, the Yeti boasts of two deeply embedded dials. A multi information display is present in both though which shows the average fuel efficiency and other important parameters. The Yeti however boasts of having a touch screen audio system while the Laura doesn’t have one. Seating position in the Yeti is a bit high however getting into it takes some effort while the Laura is more than accommodating. However once seated inside, both the cars are superbly comfortable. While the Laura can easily accommodate 3 passengers in the rear, the Yeti can accommodate only 2 with ease. The Yeti also feels slightly cramped as far as the rear leg room for taller passengers is concerned. The Laura has a cavernous boot space of 560 liters which can actually accommodate more than the weekend trip luggage but then the Yeti has a VarioFlex seating arrangement which means that one can dump the rear seats off their rails and get more than 1000 liters of boot capacity. Originally the Yeti’s boot space is only 416 liters. Storage spaces however are more in the Laura.  The steering wheel is shared between both the Skodas but then the Yeti gets steering mounted controls for its touch screen audio system.

Though the Yeti feels a bit short in the comfort department, overall a person buying an SUV wouldn’t crib about the shortage of space. The Yeti is a more practical options as well if one intends to use it for hauling goods along. The Laura is more for the chauffer oriented ones while the Yeti is for the self driving bachelor.

Handling and ride quality

While both these cars use the same platform, the Skoda Yeti in India is more of a top heavy vehicle. This doesn’t mean that it is not an agile handler. Infact it handles a wee bit better than the Laura due to its intelligent all wheel drive configuration. The front wheel driven Skoda Laura in India has got a good steering wheel which lets the driver know as to what exactly are the Eagle NCT tyres upto. Though the steering wheel on the Yeti is also the same, it feels a bit heavier than the one on the Laura. However since you are seated high up in the Yeti and due to its short overhangs and compact dimensions, the Yeti is more easier to pilot in traffic than the Laura. The ride quality however is equally good in both the cars with the Laura being a bit more pliant than the Yeti. The Yeti bounces off sharp ruts on the road. NVH is equally good in both and hence no comparisons on that front. Parking is better in the SUV since it has rear parking sensors which the Laura doesn’t have.

The Yeti for handling a wee bit better and being the easier car to drive as also park.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The Skoda Laura as also the Skoda Yeti along with sharing their underpinnings, also share their engines. The 2.0 liter turbocharged common rail engine makes 140 Bhp of top power and 320 Nm of maximum torque. While the Laura gets a superb 6 speed DSG, the Yeti gets a 6 speed manual transmission. Both the Laura and the Yeti do tend to stall in traffic and you always have to keep the revs coming in. The Laura feels the livelier of the two with its lower kerb weight of 1465 kgs than the 1543 kgs weight of the Yeti. The 0-100 kmph mark is covered by the Laura in 9.3 seconds while the Yeti does it a whole second later. The Yeti also has a lower top speed of 185 kmph compared to the 200 done by the Laura. Turbo lag is a bit of issue in both but the shorter gearing more than makes up for it. Fuel efficiency is also a plus point in the Laura with it returning an overall 16.7 kmpl to the Yeti’s 15.6 kmpl.  Both the cars more or less travel the same distance with the Yeti having a 60 liters fuel tank while the Laura gets a 55 liters tank. Both the cars are rich in features as far as safety aids are concerned. The Laura gets ABS, EBD, ESP and so does the Yeti. There are almost 6 air bags on stakes for both along with a number of other aids.

The Laura wins this round due to its superior performance however the Yeti being a SUV does provide good performance.

Verdict

The Skoda Yeti and the Skoda Laura are both competent products. While the Yeti has no real competitor, the Laura does have its fair share of competitors. If that wasn’t enough, then the Laura has got competition from within its stables. Not only does the Yeti prove to be a handful to the Laura, it also shows it a thing or two in one or two parameters. Typically a customer looking to buy an Indigo E-cs would be tempted to try for the base version of the Tata Manza and a similar situation arises here as well. Finally, the question arises as to which car to select as the winner. While the Laura has no off-roading experience at its hands, the Skoda Yeti is a proven 4×4 vehicle. So when the going goes tough, it is the Yeti which would take you to that extra mile and this multi talented personality is our choice between the Laura and the Yeti. The Skoda Laura price in India range is from Rs 13.52 to 18.24 lakhs while the Skoda Yeti price in India is Rs 15.38 and goes upto Rs 16.76 lakhs.

Our top pick for the day is the Skoda Yeti in India.