Hyundai Rolls Out Eon Mini-Car in India – Amicars

Hyundai Motor Co. introduced its smallest car ever on Thursday, a three-cylinder, four-door, five-seat hatchback to be built and sold in India and compete squarely against the biggest-selling model of the country’s top car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
The car, called the Eon, is a few inches shorter than Hyundai’s i10, which for several years has been its smallest car and is made in India and sold there and in parts of Europe. It’s the exact length of Maruti’s Alto, the top-selling car in India by units, and slightly longer than Tata Motor Ltd.’s Nano, one of the world’s smallest cars.
For Hyundai, the Eon represents an effort to reach younger customers and those making their first purchase in one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets.
“We will be able to catch the consumer more at the entry level and then gradually move up with them,” said Arvind Saxena, Hyundai’s director for marketing and sales in India. “It allows us to complete our offerings in the India market.”
The Eon has a 814-cubic centimeter gasoline engine and the company claims the car will run 21.1 kilometers to one liter of gasoline.
Hyundai will sell the Eon in six versions. The base model that doesn’t have air-conditioning and power steering costs 269,999 rupees ($5,487) at showrooms in New Delhi, while the top-end model costs 371,869 rupees. The top-end model has features such as power steering, central locking, driver airbag, power windows as well as an audio system.
In an interview before the roll out, Mr. Saxena said Hyundai aims to sell about 150,000 units a year. That would be a sharp boost to the company’s sales volume, which amounted to 356,000 cars in India last year.
Maruti, a unit of Suzuki Motor Corp., sells about 25,000 units of the Alto car each month, whose prices start at 232,248 rupees at showrooms in New Delhi.
Hyundai will start producing 670,000 cars annually at its two factories in 2012, up from 630,000 cars currently, H.W. Park, managing director and chief executive for Hyundai in India said at the launch.
The company and its vendors have jointly spent 9 billion rupees to develop the Eon, which is the lowest investment ever made by the company to develop a car model, Mr. Saxena said separately at the launch.
Mr. Saxena said Hyundai hopes that the Eon’s design will help it stand out in a market niche known chiefly for boxy, unsexy-looking models.
“We are not fighting the price warriors,” he said. “We are trying to offer a good value proposition for the segment.”
Advances in steel fabrication allowed the company to add delicate changes in shape in the relatively small panels, giving the Eon’s exterior curves that are similar to the larger sedans it sells in the U.S. and other countries, a look that Hyundai calls “fluidic sculpture.”
“The overall form and surface design is something you don’t really get in a car of this segment and at this price,” said Casey Hyun, the Eon’s lead designer ahead of the launch.
Mr. Hyun said the car’s interior took several cues from research the company did on Indian art and culture. Seat fabric, with patterns of curving lines, was influenced by designs from Indian silk. The center console’s vase-like shape was influenced by Indian iconography.
Some of the hardest work went into giving the ultra-small car the appearance of something bigger. The car’s surfaces are stretched to the corners more than they are in larger vehicles, for instance. And inside, a high ceiling, long back doors and storage spaces and water bottle holders help give the car a more open feeling.
“The main point of design is making people feel like they’re in an interior space that is larger than the actual dimensions indicate,” Mr. Hyun said.
To get the dimensions of the car’s bottle holders just right, Hyundai shipped dozens of empty water and soda bottles from India to its South Korea design center. Designers determined that Indian consumers tend to drink water from larger bottles than those in Korea, the U.S. and other countries, not too surprising given India’s hot climate.
“We felt the bottle holder was one of the crucial parts to do well,” Mr. Hyun said.
Hyundai started taking customer orders for the Eon from Oct. 1. Company executives, however, didn’t disclose the number of the orders it has received so far.

Nissan Motor launches the all-new Nissan Almera in Thailand – Amicars

BANGKOK, Thailand (October 7, 2011) - Nissan Motor (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (NMT), a subsidiary of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., today celebrated the launch of the all-new Nissan Almera.
With this latest addition to its line-up, NMT will be the first automaker to introduce a sedan under the Thai government's eco-car program. Following the success achieved by the Nissan March as the first hatchback eco-car, NMT is aiming at being the leader of Thailand's eco-car segment. The Nissan Almera is the first model under NMT's new mid-term business plan, "NMT Power Up 2016", which was announced in July 2011.

"The ASEAN region is one of the keys to Nissan's future success. In particular, Thailand is a very important market and strategic base for the region," said Toshiyuki Shiga, Chief Operating Officer of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., at the launch event. "Our commitment to Thailand is further demonstrated by the launch of our innovative and exciting Nissan Almera today," Shiga added.

With a more stylish exterior and spacious interior compared to other sub-compact cars in the market, top-class comfort and convenience, and the use of Nissan's eco-friendly PURE DRIVE technology, the all-new Nissan Almera is designed to provide a more complete driving experience for our customers. This model was developed under Thailand's eco-car program that was initiated by the Thai Ministry of Industry's Board of Investment and meets all the requirements necessary to receive the "eco-car" designation.

The Almera is powered by a 1.2-liter, 3-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 79 PS (maximum torque of 106 Nm), available in both five-speed manual transmission and Nissan unique continuous variable transmission, the XTRONIC-CVT. It is also equipped with the Nissan's advanced technology, the Idling stop system and offers excellent benefits; smooth riding, low CO emissions of 120g/km and very good fuel consumption at 20km/l.

The Almera is built on the V-platform, which is designed to realize excellent fuel efficiency through its light weight and increased body rigidity. This new sedan is the second product based on this platform, following the Nissan March.

The March was introduced last year as the first eco-car in the Thai automotive market. Sales reached 28,000 units in its first year, far greater than the initial sales target. Within one and a half year the sales booking has already exceeded 50,000 units. It also won both Thailand's "Most Environmentally Friendly Car of the Year" and "Best Passenger Car under 1200 cc" awards in 2010.

"The launch of the Almera will strengthen Nissan's brand power as the leader of the eco-car segment in Thailand. This product will play an important role in achieving a great start to our new mid-term business plan," said Toru Hasegawa, NMT's president. "After the success we saw with the Nissan March last year, the Almera will be another high-quality addition to our line-up in Thailand. We believe it will satisfy all types of customers, especially those who are looking for an upscale, spacious, fuel efficient and low maintenance cost car for everyday driving. In short, it is truly a perfect choice for customers who buy it as their first car or as an additional car for the family," Hasegawa added.

The all-new Almera is produced at NMT's plant in Samutprakarn, Thailand, and is available in six grades, six different colors, from 429,000 baht to 599,000 baht (1.07 million yen to 1.50 million yen)2. The Almera goes on sale at Nissandealerships across Thailand from October 7, 2011.