Second showroom for Lamborghini in India

Lamborghini India are trying to be “bull”ish in their approach of the Indian market. The company which is located in Santa Agata is now looking to increase its reach in the Indian car market by appointing another dealer for its Mumbai operations. The candle has been passed onto Mumbai based Bafna Motors. Currently Lamborghini is represented in India by a single dealer and that is Exclusive Motors in New Delhi.

Seeing the demand that the its parent company Audi are receiving for the Audi R8 in India, Lamborghini are also on the expansion mode. Over the 2 years that it has been in the country, Lamborghini have been selling about 10-12 cars. News is that the new Lamborghini Aventador which was recently showcased at the Geneva Motor Show has completed its quota for the calendar year 2011 and the 11 cars alloted for India have been already taken up. Out of these 2 buyers are from Mumbai whereas the rest of them are from Delhi. Even initially, there were about 3 cars sold to Mumbai customers.

Strike at GM’s Halol facility

The General in India is affected by a uprising and this uprising could well be a road block in its way of becoming one of the top 5 manufacturers in India. The road block has come in the form of labour unrest in GM’s Halol plant in Gujarat. It may be noted that a few months ago a labour union unrest had happened in the same facility and it was sorted out by the GM management here in India. More than 700 workers have joined this indefinite strike which is going on at the facility and about 285 vehicles per day losses are going on. As of now, the entire strength of the workforce at the Halol facility is 1600, out of which more than 1000 people are at the worker level. The union that the striking workers have joined is known as INTUC.

The immediate reason for the strike is said to be excessive workload been put on the workers. Moreover, the workers also allege that GM also violates rules of Industrial Safety and Health Act, PF act, health hazards and also gratuity norms. In its defense GM’s Vice President for India, P Balendran has clarified that there was a strike about 3-4 months back wherein GM had consented to almost all of the demands of the workers and the workers had even signed up a three year agreement in which they had said that they wouldn’t go on a strike. P Balendran also said that the workers had violated this agreement and only a board meeting would decide the next course of action. He refuted allegations by few of the workers saying that there were many health related issues in the plant. Mr Balendran is still adamant on this words about the 3 year agreement which was signed in the presence of the Labour Commission.

Mahindra Reva demand rises

With the Government of India declaring big time incentives for the electric vehicles sold or made in India, the well known electric car in India, the Maini or Mahindra Reva has witnessed a 3 fold increase in demand. The 20 percent subsidy figure was announced by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) way back in November 2010. Usually Mahindra manages to sell only 600 electric cars every year however its rumored that this figure has been already crossed for the year 2011 and Mahindra has now set a new sales target of 3000 units every year and the company is very hopeful that this target would be achieved with surplus sales coming in its way. The company however is tight lipped about the number of units sold so far in this fiscal.

The Reva i has got a discount of Rs 75,000 going for it with the new subsidies in place. The top end electric car with AC now goes for Rs 3.7 lakhs whereas the base non AC version now retails at Rs 3.2 lakhs. This figures are a drastic cut from the earlier Rs 4.5 lakhs and Rs 3.9 lakhs respectively. The excise duties have been however increased and this has resulted in excise duties rising from the previous 4% to 5 % now. This has resulted in a slight increase in the price of electric cars now. VAT however has been abolished for the electric cars and hence the costs are more or less leveled.

Maruti crosses 1 crore cars mark in India

India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India Limited has converged on yet another milestone by producing 1 crore cars in India on 15th March 2011. It was in 1984 that the company first rolled out the historic Maruti 800 car for the Indian market and ever since has tastes success big time. However in a show of humanity, the company has deferred its 1 crore cars celebration due to the devastation caused in its parent company’s country, Japan. R C Bhargava, the Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Limited said that at this time of grief, the company cannot think of celebrating its 1 crore mark and would rather defer it to happier times.

It may be noted that Suzuki is the least affected of all its Japanese counterparts from the mass devastation caused by the earthquake and the subsequent Tsunami that hit Japan recently. However with the start of two new plants by Maruti Suzuki in India, it is expected that the company would achieve the mark of 1 crore cars within the next 6-7 years as opposed to the 27 years that it took now. There would be two new plants coming up in Manesar.

The Parsi way of maintaining cars

Other than automobile scribes and journalists, there are the other clan namely the Parsis who care about their cars the more. Moreover most of the Parsis are doctors and this makes a strong case for themselves. However have you ever wondered as to how they clean this cars and make them look as if they just stepped out of the production line, even after years and years of use. Hindi movies are rife with scenes of Bawas ferociously protecting their cars and even giving up their lives in instances. Hmm! that is fodder for thought. So I got one of my Parsi friends, Firoz Engineer who owns a Maruti Alto from the 2003 batch but it looks as new as it was when it must have just got off the assembly line. Not a scratch or peeling paint can be found anywhere on this car. This prompted me on asking him as to how they keep their cars so squeaky clean. At first he rattled off that this was in their blood and all sorts of stuff. But those weren’t making any sense since I wanted to extract the real secret behind this and finally with some coaxing he told me the recipe. Couldn’t resist sharing with you guys. I got them out in points here.

I would start with the exteriors first as they guarantee you the maximum attention. Use your weekend or atleast a day in the week to hose down your car. Shampoo it twice in a month. Reputed manufacturers have got sponges and shampoos for washing cars however if you are one of the types of Bawas who is stingy (mind you, there are many, Firoz himself is one) then you can use a mild hair shampoo. The reason for selecting a mild shampoo is because it wouldn’t harm the car’s paint job and at the same time give it a squeaking clean look. Use pressure water cleaning for removing all the grime and dirt from the exteriors.

Keeping the tyre rims clean also project a lot about the overall looks of the car. Avoid shampoos here, even the mild ones. Go for soap water instead first of all, pour water on the wheels and then apply the soap water liberally. Then use a washing scrub or even an old toothbrush to clean the difficult to see areas. The reason behind cleaning the difficult to spot areas is because once the car is rolling along, the water dripping from those areas would eventually come down to the tyres and make them look dirty again. Use a pressure wash system to wash away the dirt.

Open the hood of the car and give it a light dusting with a soft cloth. Remember to disconnect the battery from its terminal. After the initial dusting is done, wipe the engine bay with a wet cloth and some soap water. Pressure washes be better avoided inside the engine bay. Water sprayed on spark plugs or even in some of the ECU components would result in a clean car but one which wouldn’t start. Here as well, you can dip the old toothbrush in soap water and clean the difficult to reach areas. Once the cleaning job has been down, remember to remove the excess water by either using pressurized air or even a vacuum cleaner. After all the cleaning wiping has been done, apply some plastic polish over the engine bay and other plastic bits.

Now, your tyres and the rims also need some attention. Not just cleaning and hosing them would bring back the factory look. If you car has the steel wheels, then apply some rim polish on them whereas if they are of the alloy types, then spray and alloy wheel polish on them. This would make the alloys look new and very much clean. Wheel polishes are also available and this would give the tyres a fresh new look. An option called as extreme wheel polish is available in the market and this gives a better texture to the overall wheel look. However it is very expensive but still is worth the extra bucks. A caution here though. Don’t use wheel polish too often or it would reduce the tyre life over time. Applying on tread pattern would also result in some of the tyre grip loss.

External panel gaps, mud flaps, front grille or even the body mouldings need to be cleaned as well. Using ear buds, muslin cloth or toothpicks would be a nice option to clean the difficult to reach areas. After that is done, use plastic polish to give them an overall shiny look that comes from a new car. I am sure that most of you don’t want clean cars with dull plastics.

Now comes the time to “wax” the entire car. By “wax”, I meant polishing the car to protect the factory paint job. Carnauba wax is a favorite thing with car polishers. Many reputed brands like Formula1, Armor All, Autoglym and Soft 99 have Carnauba wax as their base element in polishes and give that new car look. However before applying the wax, ensure that your car is totally dry. The wax should be applied in a circular motion and and in shade. It should be applied using a sponge. Having a buffer system or even a buffing wheel helps as it gives a smooth finish to the waxing job done. However don’t apply wax every time you wash the car. Instead do it once every three months. Moreover every alternate week, while washing your car, add zip wax to the water. If you are adding zip wax, then there is no need to use soap in that water.

As they say “Prevention is better than cure”, stands true to caring for your cars as well. While driving on the road avoid picking up scratches or even holing your car into gaps that don’t really exist. In the interests of your car and your safety, it is better to wait till the road clears up rather than trading up the paint of the car with fellow road users. Many would counter this by saying that they can go for after-market touch ups. Remember folks, the original paint job cannot be fixed up. After market jobs tend to botch it up. Moreover the latter also doesn’t guarantee a good gloss. Like discussed earlier, Firoz’s Maruti Alto doesn’t have a single scratch on it. This is because he is a very patient driver. Also try not going over puddles of water or even the roads which are extremely dusty. Check out for some other route if possible.

A clean car but with a blacked out head lamp or even a broken outside rear view mirror doesn’t look good. So it is better to replace all those turn indicators, head lamps, ORVMs, wheel caps or tail lamps which you know are going to fail very soon, if they already haven’t. Speakers on parcel tray is a strict no-no as is attaching those navigation kits or speaker phone gadgets on the dashboard. The dashboard in addition to looking cluttered also is bored and drilled. When after sometime you would want to remove those extra fitments, it would leave scars worth a battlefield on the dashboard. It would also lower the resale value of the car.

Since I am already on the interiors of a car, then the interiors also need to be cleaned. A nice looking car from outside but dirty all inside doesn’t look inviting. It would be more like “Judging a book by its cover”. First of all before cleaning a car make sure that you don’t make it dirty in the first place. Bawas have this habit of not allowing anyone inside a car unless they have clean shoes. Avoid bringing pets into the car or even eatables. If you are married with kids, then avoid getting the kids to have their food inside the car. Left overs would attract insects inside the car. In traffic or on dusty roads, using the air conditioner helps in keeping the car interiors clean. Cleaning the car carpets or upholstery with vacuum cleaner is a good option. Moreover, turning over the car for an interior shampoo job is also worth it. Apply the same plastic polish which you have used for the exterior plastic parts for the dashboard and other parts which are plastic. This would help stop the fade in the plastic color.

Well, these are just some of the tips that a Bawa will give you but mind you wrenching the details out from him or her is a mean task as I found out. I had to treat Firoz to a vegetarian fare at the Gupshup corner. Actually burnt a hole in my pocket. Well, it is worth it, I would say.

Thailand get the Honda Brio

The Honda Brio hatchback’s official launch in India may have been delayed however that doesn’t affect its Thailand launch. The car was unveiled in Thailand last night amidst grand show and pomp. The good thing is that by the looks of it, almost all the design cues from the concept have been retained in the production version. The jazzy alloy wheels have been excluded and the car somewhat looks more rounded than the radical concept version. As in India, the nomenclature of variants go, the same goes for the Thai version also. There are only two variants namely the S and V. while the former gets a manual gear box, a 5 speed one, the latter gets a CVT option. The engine is the same unit as found on the Indian Honda Jazz. The 1.2 liter motor develops 90 Bhp of peak power at 6000 rpm whereas the peak torque of 11.21 kgm is generated at 4800 rpm. It is very likely that for India, this figures may come down and the  Brio would develop close to 10 Bhp less.

The spacious interiors of the concept car have been retained and Honda has made the best utilization of the 2345 mm wheelbase and have given this car comfortable seating for 5. Speaking of the interiors, the Thailand market Honda Brio boasts of having an adjustable steering column, an Indian Honda City like music system without CD player but with USB and AUX input, electronic power steering and also engine immobilizer with security alarm. On the exteriors, the base version gets 14 inch steel wheels whereas the top end one gets alloys. There is a LED tail lamp with an inbuilt rear spoiler as also halogen head lamps. On the safety front, there is dual air bags, EBD and ABS. It however remains to be seen how many of these features Honda is ready to offer to the Indian customers, especially considering the targeted ex-show room price of Rs 5 lakhs. The launch date has been pushed to September 2011 for India.

Auto industry opens shutters in Japan

The tremors from the earthquake that happened in Japan and the subsequent destruction that followed is something which many wouldn’t forget for the rest of their lives. However, as they say, life has to move on and so some of the major Japanese automobile sector players have taken a cue from this and have reopened their manufacturing plants. The plants would start off being partially open and then later on move onto full fledged production.  The companies that would restart their operations are Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi. It was reported in our column that many of the Japanese automobile companies have stopped or suspended their operations until further notice. Toyota was the first to send a batch of evaluators to their facilities to check out how much damage was done to their property. It was only after the evaluators confirmed that not much damage has occurred did Toyota give the go ahead to starting the plant again.

However majority of Toyota and Nissan factories would remain closed until the issue regarding the radiations from the nuclear plants is solved. Mitsubishi Motors on the other hand have confidently got all their plants up and running. In the meanwhile Mazda and Honda plants would remain closed until further notice. It seems that Honda have got some major setbacks from the natural disasters which happened recently. A positive thing is that many manufacturers would now be forced to think about their international production strategies.

Honda CR-V in India review

')">Honda cars have always intrigued me as also irritated me. The reason for that intrigueness is that they manage to be fuel efficient inspite of being fun to drive and fast. The irritation part is because they command a huge premium plus aren’t value for money propositions. Too less equipment for the price that you pay is also a deterrent, atleast to me it is. Even for Honda bikes, the same philosophy applies. Moreover, you have that waiting period on bikes. Nevertheless, my subject today is the Honda CR-V in India and finally a review is on place with an acquaintance of mine giving his CR-V to me for the review. I am no stranger to the Honda CR-V having done the comparison between the Honda CR-V in India versus BMW X1 in India however whenever I approach a car after a pretty much long time, I approach it as an entirely new prospect. Same happens with the CR-V which I am looking at with “Do I know you look?”. Check on Road Price

Looks

This soft roader has been the herald of almost all the soft roaders coming into India. It was the first one which actually paved the way for other soft roaders into the country. From a distance, the Honda face is very distinguishable with the twin chrome bar system and somewhat swoopy lines than the earlier somewhat boxy lines. The head lamps seem all over the place with their wide glass thing. The air dam is also integrated with the grille and the fog lamps are embedded deep into the front bumper, just like the old generation Honda Accord. A quick poll in our office resulted in split opinions on the front looks with many thinking that it is an ugly duckling whereas others contradicting it by saying that it is one of the most handsome SUVs that they have seen. Personally, I am with the former. But then move onto the sides of this SUV and you would notice the 185 mm ground clearance along with 225/65 R17 tyre configuration. The wheel arches are covered by a black plastic. Alloy wheel design? Nothing spectacular. The ORVMs however are big and have the turn indicators embedded into them.

The coupe like stance towards the rear with the quarter glass near the luggage area does signify its crossover roots. The rear however with its vertical tail lamps isn’t the industry standard now and the Honda CR-V in India now begs for a revamp overall. The bumper is also covered in black plastic. The reflectors rest on this black plastic covered bumper whereas the tail pipe seems out of place on this crossover.

Interiors

The Honda CR-V in India boasts of having one of those fantastic interiors that we get to see mostly in German cars. Part of this is due to the use of beige for the upholstery and as we all are aware, Indians love the beige color whereas in US, it is mostly black. Don’t know why they don’t like black people much. Instead of sounding racial here, I would rather concentrate on the interiors. Touching any surface doesn’t yield any nasty surprises. Infact, everything feels soft to touch. The Honda CR-V gets the much needed audio controls on the steering wheel. Like I said, don’t expect much in terms of features and so like all modern cars get Bluetooth function, this one doesn’t. Good that cruise control has been offered now.     The music system is a 6 CD changer with AUX and USB input. The steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable. Unlike the Honda Civic, there is no in your face digital readout. The front seats are 8 way adjustable and ingress/egress isn’t a problem here. The gear lever has been shifted to the dash and this liberates lot of space for various knip knacks. Storage spaces in and around the cabin abound in plenty. Plus the door map pockets are deep and don’t scratch the fingers when you delve deep. The rear seats are also very comfortable. More for taller people as I found out. It has got that 40:20:40 split seating arrangement which is not only comfortable for passengers but also for loading any heavy luggage. There are dedicated AC vents for the rear seat passengers and just below it, you get some storage space as well.

The dual zone climate control also cools the cabin very quickly. Moreover with a slide lever, one can also move the rear seat according to one’s requirements. The Honda CR-V in India boasts of 565 liters of boot space. The hatch opens upwards and not sideways. Stow away the middle row seats and you are greeted with 955 liters of luggage space. Overall a feeling of ambience and space abounds inside the cabin of this SUV. The sloping coupe like roofline doesn’t hinder the head room even for taller passengers.

Honda CR-V Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=54]

Handling and ride quality

The Honda CR-V in India is built on the Honda Civic platform and its monocoque construction ensures that the CR-V is the easiest amongst the soft roaders to drive around. It steering wheel though light doesn’t give enough feedback when pushed around hard. Sufficient weight at high speeds is sometimes missing. However it is pretty direct for everyday use. The 185 mm ground clearance comes in handy when the going gets rough. But then it isn’t a true off-roader. There is no low ratio present as well. It however gets an on-demand 4 wheel drive system which senses which wheel is losing traction and accordingly sends power to that wheel. The handling is a revelation and the stiffly sprung suspension plays a big part in this. It is more like some one has elevated the height of the Honda Accord and its been made to attack corners with gusto. I remember the CR-V giving BMW X1 some tough competition in the handling stakes. For most of the buyers and even enthusiasts, this one should be a good handling taller Accord. Ride quality in the meanwhile is a bit lumpy at low speeds with the CR-V transmitting most of the bumps into the cabin. However up the speeds and very few bumps filter through into the cabin. I am sure most of the buyers would be ready to trade off this slight lumpy speed and take the handling of this soft roader instead as a bonus. NVH till speeds of 140 kmph are bearable and after that the Vtec roar is evident enough. However few of the owners would rarely go upto this speeds.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The Honda CR-V in India boasts of two engine options. While I had the higher spec 2.4 auto transmission with me, there is also another 2 liter engine as an option.The former makes 161 bhp at 5800 rpm whereas the torque figure reads as 22.2 kgm at 4200 rpm. It is mated with a 5 speed automatic transmission. This translates to 0-100 kmph timings of 10.33 seconds. The top speed is a bit over 200 kmph and the I-vtec engine doesn’t disappoint with its heady rush of acceleration towards the top of the rev range. However the conventional 5 speed auto transmission is a bit lazy to kickdown as I experienced. Overtaking maneuvers have to be taken with considerations on whether the transmission would be able to do it at a higher gear or not. However the gear box also incorporates a manual mode and I found out that overtaking ain’t a chore and nor is brisk progress in this mode. The taller gearing of the CR-V is more for highway runs. There is a 6 speed manual transmission also and this would make sense for those looking for thrills in the engine.

The 2.0 liter engine of the Honda CR-V makes 143 Bhp of peak power at 6000 rpm whereas the 190 Nm of torque is made at 4200 rpm. The 6 speed manual is standard here and there is no auto option. This engine though smaller is up for some good action from the driver. It races from 0-100 kmph in 12.38 seconds whereas the top speed is 180 kmph. Both the 2.0  and 2.4 liter engined CR-Vs get discs brakes along with Brake Assist, EBD and ABS. As far as safety is concerned, there are 6 air bags, Honda’s G-CON construction, seat belts with pretensioners and a collapsible steering column.Now brake bite from the discs was good, the brake pedal feel left a bit to be desired.It was a bit spongy. The Honda CR-V in India has got Achilles heels and not heel. The first one is the fuel efficiency and the second one, I would tell you later on when the verdict part comes. The fuel efficiency that I got with some careful driving was 8.6 kmpl in city and 11.3 kmpl on the highway. The manual transmission however gets this figure up by a notch by returning 8.8 kmpl in city and 11.6 kml on the highway. The 2.0 liter in the meanwhile offers fuel efficiency of 9.1 kmpl in city and 12.4 kmpl on the highway.

Verdict

Well the review completed and now its time for some pondering. The Honda CR-V has been around almost in the same form since the time it was launched in India in 2003 and it still is the best selling soft roader in its segment by a good margin. Trust me, it’s a petrol motor or rather motors that we talking about. Other competitors have got only diesels (Chevy Captiva) or a mix of both (the recent BMW X1 being a good example). But then the Honda reliability and other factors are something which counts. The Honda refinement is also in a league of its own. Now coming back to the other Achilles heel of this car. It’s price. The Honda CR-V price in India strats at Rs 26.33 lakhs. This is for the automatic version whereas the manual would go for a lakh less. The 2.0 liter variant is priced at Rs 22.5 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai prices. The good thing is that inspite of all these high prices, the Honda CR-V still sells reasonably well. Can’t justify the premium that this car commands. Now Honda buckle up your shoes and get the prices down. Did I hear that Honda is thinking of raising prices? Yes, its true. If you want to buy a CR-V later on, then be prepared to shell out approximately Rs 30 lakhs for the top end petrol variant, on-road. If it is a diesel that you thinking of getting, then the price would be close to Rs 35 lakhs (its an estimate, knowing Honda and its pricing policies).

Tata Nano now in Big Bazaar


')">

Automobile companies are moving onto newer ways of promoting their products. Our staffers are regular visitors of R-mall in Mulund and have seen a BMW 330i parked inside the mall. It is there for a purpose. It is a display car. Well, Tata Motors have gone one step ahead and have got one of India’s biggest retail chain for consumers, namely the Future Group to display their small wonder car, the Tata Nano, at the firm’s Big Bazaar retail outlets. Sales of the Tata Nano have been on the rise as of late inspite of the recent fire catching incident. Last month, it is reported that Tata Motors sold about 8263 Tata Nanos. The Tata Nano featured in the 10 top selling cars in India last month after a big gap of 5 months. This is been heralded as a true sign of things to change for the small car. Tata Motors in a measure of assurance have also given the car a 4 year long warranty for the old and new customers of this car.

On why specifically, Tata Motors chose Big Bazaar as their marketing partner, a Tata Motors spokesperson said that as of now, Big Bazaar has the highest retail chain in the country, 148 to be exact. The Tata Nano would be displayed in almost 120 of them. People, who previously were shy to check out the car in show rooms can now check them out at the Big Bazaar outlet. The Nano also supports Big Bazaar’s theme of giving the customer the maximum at the lowest cost available. He also said that customers booking the Tata Nano from a Big Bazaar outlet would also get vouchers worth Rs 1500 or other gifts such as gold coins. We at Indiandrives support this venture and are sure that more and more customers would be attracted to the small car.

5 more dealerships in the offing by Volvo India

The only thing lacking in Volvo Motors Indian operation is their sales and service network. The automotive industry has witnessed that Volvo can build good and desirable products like the Volvo S60 and the Volvo XC60. The company has seen some good times here in India and in a bid to build upon the good faith displayed by the Indian customers, Volvo Motors India have decided to open up 5 more dealerships in India by the end of 2011. The new dealerships that would be opened would also boast of state of the art service centers and other Volvo related facilities. It may be recalled that the first dealership opened by Volvo Motors India was in 2008 and currently its dealerships can be located in Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Kochi, Coimbatore, Chandigarh and Hyderabad.

The new dealerships that would be coming up would be in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Jaipur and Chennai. It has been reported that Volvo India sold about 135 cars in India in the year 2010. Volvo expects the Indian luxury car market to increase by 2020 to about 50% of what it is today. Moreover the company’s Managing Director in India, Paul de Voijs is also hinting at the luxury car market to contribute to about 3 % of the total cars sales in India by 2020. Volvo India currently boast of having SUVs like the Volvo XC90, Volvo XC60, and sedans like Volvo S60 and Volvo S80. All these vehicles are the safest cars that you can get across the world. The Volvo S60 is the latest entrant in the Indian market which is priced between Rs 27 lakhs to Rs 34 lakhs.