Could Jeep introduce new model based on Fiat Panda Cross?

When Chrysler and Fiat announced that they were planning to join forces to better attack the worldwide auto market, the first question on all of our minds was which vehicles from Fiat the American side would import to the States? Much of the attention was focused on the little Fiat 500, and deservedly so. Small cars like the smart fortwo and MINI Cooper have proven that Americans will buy little machines as long as they are stylish, loaded with features and fun to drive.

Another vehicle that many enthusiasts are keenly interested in is the Fiat Panda, especially in its jacked-up off-road Cross trim. The overactive internet rumormill is now working on the idea that there's a possibility that the Panda Cross may make it Stateside wearing a Jeep badge. As long as we're dreaming, how 'bout throwing in the little 1.3L turbocharged diesel engine that powers it in Europe?

Chrysler's viability plan did include the introduction of a new Jeep in 2011, and the timing would be perfect to help the SUV maker meet looming fuel economy requirements. Before any of that can happen, though, the automaker has until the end of the month to prove it can survive as a viable company that's capable of repaying taxpayer-funded loans.

New York auto show: EV Innovations to introduce two electric cars

According to a report on AutoWeek, EV Innovations (which used to be called Hybrid Technologies) has plans to introduce two new electric vehicles at the 2009 New York Auto Show next month. We've been hearing about the Inizio supercar for a while and we're thinking it's the production version of the sportscar prototype that was sold to one lucky Sam's Club member late last year. The quoted specifications are extremely impressive, with the Inizio reportedly able to hit 60 mph in just 4 seconds, a top speed of 170 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles per charge. Price? $139,000. If true, that's a great deal for a vehicle with that kind of performance.

The second EV that's scheduled to be shown is called the Wave. We're not sure if this is a completely new vehicle or if it's based on an existing platform, but it's reportedly able to hit a top speed of 80 mph with a range of 170 miles per charge. Again, the reported asking price of $34,900 sounds too good to be true. Deliveries are scheduled for "sometime in 2010." We'll know more when we get to NY in a few weeks.

Kia Debuts World First LPG-fueled Hybrid Electric Car

Kia has introduced Forte LPI hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), it’s first mass production hybrid car, to the South Korean consumers yesterday. In addition to that, Kia also unveiled its new eco-friendly sub-brand, Eco-Dynamics, an initiative which will bring a host of new eco-friendly technologies and models to the international markets.

The Forte LPI hybrid electric vehicle is powered by an economical mild-hybrid drive system consisting of 1.6L gasoline engine and electric motor. The Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) engine generates 114 horsepower, while electric motor brings additional 20 hp. Equipped with this kind of hybrid system and continuously variable transmission, the Forte achieves a very competitive fuel economy rating of 17.2 kilometers per liter of LPG fuel (41 MPG US), which is equivalent to 21.5 kilometers per liter fuel economy in terms of gasoline, the company said.

To differentiate the Forte hybrid from it’s non-hybrid variants and improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics, some changes have been implemented to the existing exterior design. In front, you will notice a slightly different corporate Kia grille and a restyled front bumper with larger air intake and attractive fog lights design, while at rear, Forte now features a radically redesigned rear bumper and LED equipped taillights. On the inside, Forte LPI hybrid features a Super Vision instrument cluster for hybrid system data and a navigation display.

Kia’s Forte LPI hybrid will also be the world’s first hybrid vehicle to utilize the highly advanced lithium polymer (Li–poly) battery, which is lighter and smaller but has higher output than nickel-metal hydride batteries. Those will be supplied by Korean battery supplier LG Chem, the world’s fourth largest rechargeable battery producer. The LG Chem will also supply similar battery pack to GM’s Chevy Volt.

Following it’s recent announcement that the company will focus on developing of eco-friendly vehicles, Kia also revealed it plans to bring the first full-hybrid car - probably based on the next generation Optima sedan- to the market in late 2010 and it’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered car in 2012. Expected to hit the global markets in the same year is the plug-in hybrid sedan.

Together with it’s parent company Hyundai Motor Co, Kia plans to spend nearly $6 billion on research and development this year, with majority of money pumped into development of new hybrid and fuel cell electric cars such as Kia Forte LPI hybrid and Borrego FCEV.

Volkswagen Golf GTI MkVI in Depth

Perhaps the next best thing after driving a Golf GTI up and down scenic mountain passes is watching a video clip of someone else doing it.

In 1976 the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI was the budget driver's dream car with its 4-speed gearbox and 81 kW (110 PS) 1.6-litre engine. Today the GTI makes 155kW (210PS) and 280Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre TSI engine. It will go from 0 - 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph). VW says it uses an average of 7.3 litres of fuel per 100km (38.7 mpg UK). Standard issue wheels are 17-inches but there are 18s available as options.

VW is harking back to this icon with the new GTI. Unveiled as a concept to the public for the first time at the 2008 Paris International Motor Show the Mk VI GTI boasts plenty of garb that many bigger more expensive cars cannot match. In styling the car the team kept the original car in mind. The red frame around the outer front grille is typical GTI and sets it apart from "lesser" Golf models. It has single chrome tailpipes on either side, a GTI rear spoiler, a rear air diffuser, an electronic diff lock, smoked taillights and green tinted windows. The brake calipers are painted red.

The GTI moniker appears on the left instead of the right as it was previously done. The car itself is longer and wider, and it looks more muscular as well. The interior features things like stainless steel pedals, radio/ navigation with a touch screen and heated front seats.

In a few days sales of the new 2009 GTI begin in Germany, in Europe within the next couple of weeks, and America and Asia follow towards the end of the summer.

'Will the Nano change India's auto industry?'

It signals a major jump in the global acceptance of India as a hub for small cars, but maintaining this will require a lot more including, for starters, large production volumes.

Jagdish Khattar
Chairman & Managing Director, Carnation Auto

‘India has emerged as an attractive hub for making compact cars - the Nano means the world will now accept India’s expertise in design values and frugal engineering’

The Nano promises to provide a safe and environment-friendly mode of transport to a large segment of the population who, till now, did not have that option. This will give a major fillip to the Indian automobile industry. Despite liberalisation during the last decade, the penetration of automobiles in India has just reached about seven per thousand people, compared to double digits in even Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It was in early 1980s, when the Maruti 800 was launched, that we saw the first major “people’s car”, giving customers an alternative to choose from apart from the Ambassador and Padmini. That car not only exceeded its objective but also brought about a major change in the manufacturing sector as a whole.

With the launch of the Nano we will experience many new important facets. It is now well-accepted that India has emerged as an attractive hub for the manufacturing of compact cars. But with the launch of the Nano, the world will also accept India’s competence in design values and frugal engineering. The world will also accept the capabilities of the component manufacturers who have developed the parts at low prices. India could now start supplying to the automobile plants of the major international car manufacturers abroad.

So what does Nano mean to the economy at large?

* Employment opportunities to millions in this era of recession not only in manufacturing but in sales, service, finance, insurance etc.
* A boost to the rural economy because this car, along with improved roads, will help increase mobility.
* Empowerment and liberation of women in smaller towns.
* In India over 300,000 auto rickshaws are sold in a year for about the same price as the Nano. The Nano is a substitute for public transport which is safer, far more environment-friendly and convenient.

Some argue that the introduction of the Nano may further congest cities further. While this possibility can’t be ignored, one should not favour restricting its sales. The Central and state governments are trying their best to improve the road network and connectivity. What is also required is an efficient and cost-effective option in public transport. As the Nano customer-profile includes current two-wheeler owners, the state agencies should take proactive actions to ensure that they are trained on issues pertaining to proper driving skills and road safety.

The management of Tata Motors, I am sure, would have worked out their strategies to meet the challenges of sales and after-sales. The first is to meet the high demand that is likely to get created. As there would be many first-time customers, the sales force will have to advise them on issues like running and maintenance of the car. A service network with a much bigger spread would also be needed. Since two-wheeler owners are used to getting 60-70 km per litre, as compared to the Nano’s 20+, the cost of ownership of a Nano is likely to be far higher than that of a two-wheeler — two-wheelers also have many neighbourhood workshops. The proposed rural marketing will also require a network that is as near the customer as possible.

Rakesh Batra
Partner, Ernst & Young

This is a big achievement but the auto market has been changing over the years anyway. To sustain this requires production volumes, great after-sales and product-acceptance’

In a sense, Tata Motors has already changed the face of the Indian automobile industry by developing a product that no manufacturer has so far been able to do across the world. This is an achievement of Indian innovation at its best across design, engineering, manufacturing and the supply base. Time magazine has listed the Nano in the dozen most important cars in the world since 1908. The Indian automobile industry has clearly established its place as the ultra-low cost car centre globally and the Nano is likely to spur greater activity in the years to come. Truly, an innovation of this enormity should get the success it deserves.

That said, the face of the Indian automobile market has been changing over the years and will change once again after the Nano. We will have a whole new set of customers, both in urban and rural areas, for whom a car will symbolise a dream that can be realised.

Car-ownership is considered to be a symbol of economic progress and is therefore very high on a consumer’s aspirational list of products. Given the sizeable Indian population and the low cost of owning and using the Nano, the car is likely to attract a large cross-section of potential customers, many of them first-time car-owners.

As the market expands further, prices of small used-cars will fall, a trend we are already witnessing with declines of around 35 per cent, making affordability still higher.

The Nano could also have an impact on vehicles used for passenger transportation, particularly three-wheelers which, in some cases, cost more than the Nano. The latter presents a viable alternative with greater driver- and passenger-comfort, and protection from the vagaries of the weather.

The Tata Ace, which was launched in 2005, managed to change the dynamics of the three-wheeler transportation market.

Vehicle distribution, sales and service may also see changes in the post-Nano world. Keeping in line with its ultra-low-cost positioning, there will be a need to keep marketing and distribution costs significantly lower.

Tata Motors has already begun using internet marketing through social networking websites and is potentially considering online sales. One day, in the not very distant future, you may be able to order the car online and track the progress of your order through manufacturing and delivery to a local dealer or retailer.

While these are some of the changes which will impact the Indian auto market, they will certainly not happen overnight. Beyond the initial buzz and the excitement around the launch, it will take some time for sufficient volumes to be produced and sold — this could take anywhere up to around 2-3 years.

Further, the Indian consumer is very discerning and the product and after-sales service quality will need to live up to the consumers’ expectations for the Nano to be successful.

Tata Nano Prices and booking amount with technical

Tata Motors today announced that the Tata Nano Standard version (BS2) will be priced at Rs.1 lakh ex Factory Pantnagar (excluding transportation charges and VAT) thereby delivering on the promise made at the unveiling of the car at the Auto Expo in New Delhi last year on January 10th 2008.

The Company announced the price at the launch ceremony in Mumbai this evening in the presence of Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors.

Prices: Ex-showroom The prices of the three trim levels of the Tata Nano launched today are:
Trim level/ Variant Ex-Showroom Pant Nagar Ex-Showroom Delhi Ex-Showroom Mumbai
Tata Nano Std (BS2 ) Rs. 112735 NA NA
Tata Nano Std (BS3 ) Rs. 120960 Rs. 123360 Rs. 134250
Tata Nano CX Solid Paint (BS2) Rs. 139780 NA NA
Tata Nano CX Metallic Paint (BS2) Rs. 142780 NA NA
Tata Nano CX Solid Paint (BS3) Rs. 145725 Rs. 148360 Rs. 160320
Tata Nano CX Metallic Paint (BS3) Rs. 148725 Rs. 151360 Rs. 163320
Tata Nano LX Metallic Paint (BS3) Rs. 170335 Rs. 172360 Rs. 185375

The booking amount of the three trim levels will be the same across the country as follows:
Trim level /Variant Booking amount
Tata Nano Std. ( BS2 and BS3) Rs. 95000
Tata Nano CX ( BS2 & BS3) Rs. 120000
Tata Nano LX ( BS3) Rs. 140000

The sale of application forms and acceptance of booking will start from April 9th 2009 till the end of day April 25th 2009. The application forms will be available at a price of Rs. 300, with a range of offers from select associate Tata Group companies. The application forms will be available at over 30,000 locations in about 1,000 cities through Tata Motors Passenger Car dealerships, State Bank of India and its branches, its subsidiaries and associates, other preferred financiers, and outlets of Westside, Croma, ‘World of Titan’ and Tata Indicom exclusive stores.

Technical Specification:
Engine Type 624 cc, 2 cylinder, MPFI
Maximum Engine Output 35 PS @ 5250 rpm
Maximum Torque 48 NM @ 3000 +/-500 rpm
Maximum Speed 105 kmph
Transmission Synchromesh on all forward gears, sliding mesh on reverse gear with overdrive on 4th gear
No. of Gears 4 Forward + 1 Reverse
Brake Type Dual Circuit, Vertical Split operated by tandem master cylinder
Nano CX With Vacuum Booster
Nano LX With Vacuum Booster
Front 180 mm dia. drum brake
Rear 180 mm dia. drum brake
Tyre Type Radial & Tubeless
Front Tyre size 135/70 R12
Rear tyre size 155/65 R12
Spare tyre size 135/70 R12
Wheels 4 B x 12
Overall Length 3099 mm
Overall Width 1495 mm (& 1620 mm with ORVM)
Overall Height 1652 mm
Wheelbase 2230 mm
Ground clearance 180 mm
Min. Turning Circle Radius 4 m
Seating Capacity 4 persons
Fuel Tank Capacity 15 Liters
Kerb Weight
Nano 600 kg
Nano CX 615 kg
Nano LX 635 kg
Payload 300 kg

Mercedes advocates three types of power

Mercedes introduces a concept that can integrate all three systems more sustainable use of electricity in a car. Electric lithium-ion batteries, electric autonomy extended by a small gasoline engine and, of course, hydrogen fuel cell. It is a perfect way to be able to address the future without having to choose one way or another.

BlueZero under the name of the German brand introduces a concept very close to reality and their production. A vehicle with sandwich-type structure as the one developed for the Mercedes A Class for mounting at the bottom of some mechanical and interior offer maximum livability.

However, the most important aspect of this concept is its mechanical aspect. Under the name of BlueZero offered three alternatives. On the one hand the E-CELL, which basically consists of a vehicle operated by an electric motor. The energy required for movement is provided by the lithium-ion batteries cooled liquid.

With these batteries, the BlueZero can travel up to 200 kilometers, a range so far not announced any other manufacturer for an electric vehicle only. In addition, these batteries are recharged simply by connecting it to a normal power plug. In a time of one hour is enough to get a surcharge to travel over 50 kilometers.

The second variant of this concept is eco-CELL-F. In this case, it uses a hydrogen fuel cell to supply the electric motor. In this case, a technology already well studied and tested in various units of the Mercedes Class A, self rises up to 400 kilometers.

Finally, to provide power all variants which are currently emerging as more viable, it also offers an option called widespread autonomy. Under the name E-CELL Plus, the E-CELL version of electric motor and lithium-ion batteries is added an auxiliary gasoline engine. This is not used to move the car but merely to generate electricity when the batteries are actually exhausted. This propellant is located in the rear.

The gasoline engine used is a small and very reliable engine, the one-liter turbocharged engines used in the Smart. With its 68 hp at a speed of 3500 rpm produces enough electricity to move the vehicle with ease and independence then increased to 600 kilometers, of which the first 100 are in use only with no electricity, without putting start the gasoline engine.

With this concept very similar to the existing Class A and B, but with a touch of something more modern, Mercedes proves that their solution is ready to launch and market a new model more in line with sustainable development. And besides, what is with all the possibilities today are more viable. The BlueZero has a length of 4.22 meters, which is very similar to the current Class B, which also shares its forms.

Just add a few more details of the new concept: the electric motor has a maximum power of 136 hp and maximum torque is 320 Nm. Thanks to this engine accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in 11 sec. and its top speed is limited electronically to 150 km / h. And its trunk has a capacity of 500 liters. And an electric car viable.