Thursday, June 11, 2020

June 11, 2020


Honda has begun the groundwork on introducing an all-new SUV to its India line-up. According to sources, the Honda HR-V SUV will see its India launch sometime this year – mostly likely around the Diwali festival. Back in October 2017, we reported that the Honda HR-V is expected to be one of six new launches from the brand for India, out of which we have already seen the introduction of the new CR-V, Civic and the second-gen Amaze. Honda has been evaluating the India launch of the HR-V for some time now but, due to the limited amount of localised components, the model has been a tough business case for the brand.

According to company sources, Honda has finally decided to take the plunge and give the model a go-ahead for its India launch. The HR-V will sit between the larger CR-V and the smaller BR-V in the carmaker’s India line-up. The current-gen Honda HR-V first went on sale back in 2013 and received its first mid-cycle update in 2018. India will get a refreshed version of the HR-V that comes with front styling similar to the CR-V, along with 17-inch alloys, LED headlamps, and tail-lamps with LED bits. On the inside, the SUV is likely to mimic the Civic's infotainment system and other features,
 including a sunroof that will be offered on the higher-spec variant. The HR-V is 4,295mm long, 1,770mm wide and 1,605mm high, and comes with a 2,610mm wheelbase. In comparison, the Hyundai Creta is slightly shorter at 4,270mm, a bit wider at 1,780mm and taller at 1,630mm, and comes with a slightly shorter 2,590mm wheelbase. The Honda gets a rounded coupe-like design and comes with a ground clearance of 180mm, while the Creta has a more upright SUV-like design and stands a bit taller, at 190mm ground clearance, which makes the HR-V look smaller than it actually is.

 According to sources, Honda is likely to price the HR-V just below the Civic sedan, which means a starting price of around Rs 15 lakh (ex-showroom) could be expected. While this may not justify the price-to-size ratio for the HR-V, the company will market the SUV at the slightly higher end of the segment. This means it will also take on the likes of the Jeep Compass petrol and the upcoming MG Hector petrol, to some extent.

Monday, June 8, 2020

June 08, 2020


The two carmakers have been talking about everything, from engine and platform sharing to SUVs, sedans and even electric cars. And the big news is that we are likely to see the first fruits of this partnership by the end of 2020. Why it is likely to succeed is because it isn’t merely a badge-engineering exercise. Far from it, in fact. Unlike the all-new XUV500 or W601, which is currently being co-developed by Mahindra and SsangYong, Ford’s version will have an all-new exterior, a new interior and even a slightly different (and improved) chassis. “It will drive like a Ford,” insist insiders. On the outside, only the doors, windows and windscreen are expected to be common between the two carmakers’ SUVs.

 Ford’s C-SUV is likely to have a large cowl, a wide Ford grille, the design may feature slender, high-mounted headlamps, and get nicely fleshed-out wheel arches. Ford’s version is also likely to come with larger and wider wheels, LED lights and a bit more cladding. Sources in the industry say that “the look and feel of the insides will be quite different,” and it will also be more upmarket, in comparison. Part-leather seats (again of a different design) are thought to be on the cards, and Ford is expected to launch a seven-seater, as well as a more upmarket six-seater version.
      All-New 2020 Ford Explorer Premium SUV Revealed
Mahindra’s W601 is likely to have longer wheelbase and a larger rear overhang compared to the current XUV500. One thing that the two SUVs will share will be the touchscreen. An automatic transmission will be part of the range as well, while traction control, ESP and hill descent control are also expected to be present in the tech suite. The new Ford C-SUV will be special as it will be the first SUV to be predominantly developed by the India Product Development team at Ford.

Yes, there will be a lot of input from APAC PD, based out of Australia – especially when it comes to tuning the springs, dampers and steering – but the bulk of the work will happen out of India, and that will also help Ford price the SUV competitively. There’s no clarity on what Ford will call its new SUV, but one thing’s for sure, the name is likely to start with the letter E, like the majority of its SUVs.

Friday, June 5, 2020

June 05, 2020


The Ford Kuga has been redesigned from the ground up in a bid to attract more buyers to the still-booming family SUV sector, and the new model will be offered with plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains, along with conventional petrol and diesel offerings.The hybrid line-up, in particular, is expected to be key to attracting new customers, with the interest in electrified powertrains escalating exponentially. The new Kuga won’t go on sale in the UK until early next year, but Ford should still beat many of its rivals to the market with its plug-in option, which mates a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and 10.3kWh battery pack to deliver 225hp. The model can travel up to 54km on electric range alone. Buyers will also be able to choose a self-charging hybrid setup, akin to the Prius’s hybrid system, which links the 2.5-litre petrol engine to an electric motor and smaller battery.

A 48V mild-hybrid set-up is mated to a 150hp, 2.0-litre diesel engine. Conventional 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel variants will also be available, mated to either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic gearbox. Two- and all-wheel-drive options will be available. Also striking is the new, more sophisticated and less boxy look of the third-generation Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson rival. The styling takes Ford’s design language in the direction of the more contoured lines seen on the latest Fiesta and Focus. The interior also follows those cars, delivering an uncluttered, sweeping look despite the raft of technological functions that are offered, the majority of which are controlled via the central touchscreen.
The Kuga sits on the same C2 platform as the new Focus, and is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase – and therefore improved stability and dynamics – than the car it replaces. The platform is also said to be 10 percent torsionally stiffer than the outgoing car’s, as well as supporting the basis for a more aerodynamic design and allowing weight savings of up to 90kg over the model that's on sale currently. In particular, the new Kuga is said to deliver more interior room than before, including what Ford says is class-leading space for rear-seat passengers thanks to an 89mm increase in length. Those seated at the front get 43mm more shoulder room and 57mm more hip room than in the current model,

 while in the rear there is a 20mm increase in shoulder room and 36mm more hip room, while the seats, split 70:30, slide fore and aft as standard. This increased rear accommodation has been achieved in part by setting the dashboard closer to the engine bay bulkhead and positioning it more upright than before, allowing front seat passengers to be seated farther forward. Despite sporting a dramatic, sloping roofline and an overall height that is lower by 20mm than that of the outgoing car, the new Kuga also offers 13mm more headroom in the front and 35mm in the rear, thanks to clever interior packaging.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

May 31, 2020


Ford is set to update the Figo and bring it in line with its compact sedan sibling. Prices for the new Figo facelift start at Rs 5.15 lakh, and go up to Rs 8.09 lakh (ex-showroom, India). Here is what you should know about the updated hatchback:  New petrol engines and auto gearbox, The Figo receives the new 1.2- and 1.5-litre petrol motors from the Aspire. The new 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit is good for 96hp and 120Nm of torque and comes paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard. The larger 1.5-litre unit, on the other hand, is good for 123hp and 150Nm of torque and is available solely with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The auto ’box is also new.

The 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel carries forward from the pre-facelift model and is only available with a manual gearbox. Styling in line with the Aspire, The mid-cycle update sees the Figo get stylistic elements similar to those seen on the Aspire compact sedan. Additionally the top trim levels feature blacked-out styling elements such as the wheels, door mirrors, grille and roof to give it a sportier look. The cabin has been updated too, with a revised centre console and new control surfaces.  Available in only three trim levels, While the pre-facelift Figo was available in a choice of five trim levels – Ambiente, Trend, Titanium, Titanium+ and Sports Edition.
All three variants are available with the 1.2-litre petrol and the old 1.5-litre diesel engine options; while the Titanium trim also has the new and more powerful 1.5-litre petrol paired with the automatic gearbox on offer.  More equipment on offer, Ford already offered the Figo with some essential safety kit like dual airbags as standard, with the top variants featuring six. With the facelift, the car now gets ABS, a speed-alert system, seat-belt reminders and rear parking sensors as part of the standard kit to comply with upcoming regulations.

In terms of convenience features, the car now gets kit such as keyless entry, push-button start, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a reverse camera and a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and navigation. The Ford SYNC3 infotainment system from the Aspire, though, has been given a miss. It has been priced at par with the segment, although the top-spec petrol-automatic variant is fairly pricey. However, the new facelift is up to Rs 74,000 cheaper than the outgoing model, depending on the variant in question.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020


An electrified stretch of highway has been inaugurated in Germany, featuring overhead cables that can be used to supply electricity to big trucks via a pantograph. The stretch of highway, which is about 10km long, is located between Frankfurt airport and a nearby industrial park in the state of Hesse, Germany. Developed by tech giant Siemens AG, electrified cables can be used to connect to big rig trucks travelling up to a speed of 90kph. The German government has also spent about 70 million Euros to develop special electric and hybrid trucks that can use this system with the help of a top-mounted pantograph – a similar setup as the one seen on local trains in India.

 While this is the first of such public tests on Germany roads, similar tests have been carried out in parts of Sweden and in the United States, especially near port areas. Siemens claims that this type of network can help save close to 20,000 Euros in fuel costs for every one lakh kilometres travelled by the big rig trucks. Of course, lower emissions from these trucks – which have higher pollutant levels as compared to passenger cars – will also help reduce air pollution.
The hybrid and electric vehicles designed to use these electrified roads will also be equipped with an array of sensors that will sense overhead electric lines and automatically raise the pantograph mounted on top of the truck cabin to draw power from the grid. While this is the first of such setups in Germany, there are two similar electrified highways being planned for the near future, both of which will be co-developed by the German government in collaboration with Siemens.While such electrified roads are still a ways away in terms of a global acceptance, the basic concept is not a new one.

 In fact, a very similar system was used by the BEST for public transport decades ago using buses made by Skoda (pictured above). These buses also had a pantograph mounted up top, which helped them draw power from the tram lines that were in use in Mumbai (or erstwhile Bombay) in the past. The buses were also fitted with a small internal battery pack in case of outages or emergencies. That being said, with road transport of goods by trucks being one of the lifelines of India, having our own electrified lane on long distance expressways might most certainly be an idea worth exploring, once again.