Archive for the ‘Asia Pacific’ Category

No More What If: Mazda Bringing Out a Faster Miata

Engineers squeeze out a 17% power increase.

by on Jun.20, 2018

The 2019 Mazda Miata gets a bunch of new safety tech, but more importantly: a 17% boost in power.

The Mazda Miata has always been a “but what if…” car.

The “what if?” What if it had more power? It’s a roadster and that generally means that the car is more about the experience of driving rather than how far back are you being pressed into your seat when you push the go pedal to the floor.

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Well, Mazda’s heard enough “what ifs” apparently since it it’s now upping the power in the latest iteration of the MX-5, known casually as the Miata. Mazda’s engineers enriched Miata’s SkyActiv-G 2.0-liter engine with the goals of improved response, performance, feel and efficiency.  (more…)

Hyundai, Kia Announce Global Reorganization Plans

Korean carmakers will get more regional autonomy in U.S., Europe.

by on Jun.18, 2018

The new organization is aimed at making the two brands more responsive to local markets.

Hyundai and sibling Korean carmaker Kia already operate as largely autonomous entities. Now, their regional operations in the U.S. and Europe will operate as largely independent operations to “spur sustainable growth and enhance innovation.”

The move to boost regional autonomy by Korea’s largest automaker is no surprise and follows in the footsteps of what has already been done by major Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Nissan. The first step will come with the establishment of new North American regional headquarters for each of the brands on July 2. Europe will follow shortly afterwards, as will other key global regions.

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In a statement, the Hyundai Motor Group – which includes both Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. – said the move will impact “every aspect of the business, ranging from product planning, marketing, sales, and manufacturing,”

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Byton Taking Second Byte at the Apple with New Concept

New model predicted to be available in 2021.

by on Jun.15, 2018

Byton introduced its second EV concept, the K-Byte, at CES Shanghai.

With a newly gained $500 million in its pocket, electric carmaker Byton rolled out the new K-Byte, an autonomous electric vehicle concept, at CES Shanghai.

The K-Byte is the company’s second concept. At CES 2018, it debuted its first-ever vehicle, a crossover-style EV that now gets the moniker M-Byte.

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The new K-Byte would seem to be just another of a slew of newly minted autonomous battery-electric concepts that have been unveiled in the last 12 months, but this one is a little different. Byton officials claim it will be capable of Level 4 autonomy when it hits the road in 2021. (more…)

Electrifying Jaguar I-Pace Sets a Benchmark Even Tesla Will Have to Clear

Performance, handling, style and spaciousness come together to redefine the BEV.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Whether on a track or a back country road the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is a real game-changer.

I have seen – and driven – the future, and it is electric.

And I found it in a place you normally wouldn’t go looking, Faro, in the heart of Portugal’s Algarve region. When my plane touched down there, earlier this week, I was looking forward to some pleasant driving time. It’s beautiful countryside with lots of winding, lightly traveled mountain roads that pass through pastoral villages almost lost in time. As for the vehicle I’d crossed the ocean to test out, the new Jaguar I-Pace was, if nothing else, distinctively styled, both inside and out. Whether it would deliver that sometimes intangible concept we describe as “fun-to-drive” was going to be the real question.

When the first mass market battery-electric vehicles came to market early in this decade, about the most you could say for them was that they were environmentally friendly. They were slow, stodgy and required you to keep a constant eye on the range gauge lest you find yourself stranded miles from home. Tesla kicked it up a big notch by offering range comparable to a gas-powered vehicle and, with the optional Ludicrous Mode, blindingly fast acceleration. That said, the Models S, X and 3 each have their shortfalls. For most of us, they’re still not quite serious alternatives to conventional vehicles.

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The I-Pace, on the other hand, changes the equation. It is easy to fall back on clichés when trying to describe Jaguar’s first all-electric model, but it truly is electrifying, and by virtually every measure, it not only sets a benchmark for future battery-electric vehicles but also shows that BEVs can pose a direct challenge to conventional gas-powered models when it comes to not only design, interior space, comfort and utility, but performance and handling, as well.

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Toyota Latest to Push Into Ride-Sharing

Japanese maker investing $1B in Southeast Asia’s Grab.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Toyota invested $1 billion into Grab Holdings to bolster its ride-sharing operations.

Toyota will join a growing list of automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, making bets on the anticipated explosion in ride-sharing services.

The Japanese giant plans to invest $1 billion in Grab Taxi Holdings Inc., a Singapore-based technology company operating ride-hailing services in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Originally launched as a taxi company, it is now positioning itself as a regional powerhouse after acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asian operations earlier this year.

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For its part, Toyota was a relative latecomer to emerging mobility services, including ride-sharing and self-driving vehicles. But it has launched a number of investments during the last several years, both in the form of outside alliances and by setting up its own technology subsidiary, the Toyota Research Institute, or TRI. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Lexus ES 350

Bigger, faster, roomier — better.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The new Lexus ES is bigger, more powerful and has more tech than its predecessor.

Lexus has built its reputation on the quality, reliability and durability of its luxury cars and utility vehicles. But now, with the new vehicles such as the ES, Lexus is reaching out to match its German and Japanese competitors in styling and overall performance.

For one thing, the new 2019 ES 350 is impressive looking all the way around. The new exterior sheet metal is clean and gives the car a sportier and more up-to-date appearance that should wear well over the years. The front fascia on the new 2019 Lexus ES also more refined and just looks better than the previous generation and car just looks handsome when it is sitting at the curb or in motion.

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Each of the three variants of the ES – the standard, the new F-Sport and the hybrid – are separated by design details but overall the differences, to my eye, are relatively minor. (more…)

Kia Shows Off Latest Niro Model: the EV

New EV expected to compete with Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The Kia Niro EV made its public debut at the Busan Motor Show in South Korea.

Kia Motors is giving the public a look at what many in the media have already seen: the Niro EV. Introduced at the 2018 Busan auto show in South Korea, the new battery-electric Niro is a reminder that the mainstream EV market is getting more and more crowded.

The original concept was unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show with the production version being shown to the media in South Korea last month, helping to round out the Niro line-up, which already has gas-powered and hybrid models.

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“The Niro EV will be Kia’s second globally-sold electric vehicle, following the immensely popular Soul EV. It demonstrates the progress Kia has made in delivering comfortable, practical and fun-to-drive vehicles that lead the way in zero-emissions driving,” said Han-Woo Park, president and CEO of Kia Motors Corp. (more…)

EVs at the Tipping Point? Global Sales Could Surge 25% to 1.6m in 2018

Nearly 200 electrified vehicles already on the market.

by on Jun.05, 2018

Automakers are planning to launch as many as 400 electrified vehicles by decade's end, including an all-electric version of the upcoming Maserati Alfieri.

After a painfully slow start, sales of electrified vehicles finally seem to be gaining some desperately needed traction, a new study suggesting global sales of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles will reach 1.6 million this year, a 25% increase from 2017.

The shift comes at a critical time for the auto industry considering even manufacturers like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, long skeptical of battery-based technologies, are ramping up production plans. About 165 models are already available in various markets worldwide, according to the study by London-based ReportBuyer, and that will grow to “more than 400 models” by 2025.

We're Clearing the Air!

“If all the announcements made so far were to come true, there will be about 25 million EVs sold by 2025 or 20% of all cars sold would be EVs,” the electrified vehicle study forecast. While that includes a mix of different products, many of which combine gas and electric powertrains on one platform, other studies have forecast that BEVs alone could account for 20% of the total world vehicle market by 2030.

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Lexus Isn’t About to Give up on Cars

Commitment remains despite moves of other automakers.

by on Jun.04, 2018

Lexus, like its parent Toyota, remains committed to selling sedans as other automakers bail out of the segment.

Even though utility vehicles accounted for more than two thirds of Lexus’ sales in May, Toyota’s luxury vehicle unit, Lexus, isn’t about to give up on the passenger cars that built its reputation even as American car makers walk away from the sedan segments.

“The fact is there is and will continue to be a very important role for sedans,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing, as he showed off the new, seventh generation Lexus ES during a press event in Nashville, Tennessee. “Half the buyers of SUVs also own a sedan,” he said.

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Sales in the “near luxury” segment, where the ES competes against the cars such as BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Acura TLX, totaled more than 400,000 units last year, which is a substantial market. In addition, like its competitors, Lexus sells the ES in dozens of markets around the world, making it easier to justify the cost of designing, engineering and developing a new model. (more…)

FCA Planning to Plug In

After slow start, automaker reveals big plans for electrification.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The production version of this Maserati Alfieri concept will use an electrified drivetrain to launch from 0 to 60 in barely 2 seconds.

Sergio Marchionne isn’t much of a fan of battery power, or at least he hasn’t been until recently. When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles launched its first all-electric model, five years ago, the CEO actually urged motorists not to buy it, admitting FCA lost about $25,000 on every one of them.

But at the automaker’s “Capital Day,” in Milan on Friday, Marchionne and his management team were far more upbeat, announcing plans to add dozens of electrified vehicles – everything from mild hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles – into the FCA line-up over the next give years.

Electrifying!

The economics still aren’t great, noted Mark Chernoby, the automaker’s head of technology compliance, but in an era of increasingly stringent emissions and mileage regulations, it’s the only real day to meet targets being set in markets as diverse as the U.S., Europe, China and Brazil. That’s all the more so as FCA continues to migrate from traditional sedans and coupes to the less efficient SUVs and CUVs that will overwhelmingly dominate its global line-up.

(more…)

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