Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jaguar Land Rover opens its first overseas manufacturing plant

Jaguar Land Rover has opened its first overseas manufacturing facility in China. The award-winning Range Rover Evoque will be the first model to be built in a joint venture with Chinese auto company Chery Automobile Company Ltd worth RMB 10.9 billion. This is in fact the first Chinese-British automotive joint venture.

The 400,000 square-metres plant, is located in the Changshu Economic Development Zone north of Shanghai.

They expect to build three Jaguar Land Rover models with total production capacity of 130,000 units a year by 2016 (for the Chinese market only). The facility features highly-automated press shops – including cutting-edge aluminium and steel technologies – along with a steel body shop comprising 306 robots, an energy-efficient paint shop and an ergonomically-friendly final assembly line.

Some interesting information:

  • Jaguar Land Rover first established a presence in China just over a decade ago.
  • China is Jaguar Land Rover’s single largest market with over 100,000 vehicles sold in the last fiscal year
  • In addition to China, Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed plans to create a local manufacturing facility in Brazil and has a local assembly facility in Pune, India.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Buying a car with a budget of only RM65000 ++ in Malaysia

I was thankful that once we came back to Malaysia, a lot of people have been helping us out, especially our parents. Initially, we used my mother-in-law's old Proton Wira and later on was my dad's old Wira, which I am still using. Since both my wife and I are working and not at the same place, we needed to have two cars as I could not send and pick here up from her office. We start looking around for cars here and we decided to live within our means and set out a budget of RM 65000 for the new car. My wife also had one condition - that the car must be automatic as she was still recovering from her leg fracture. We also did not want a small Perodua car and we came up with a list of cars (in the so called popular B-segment) which we could buy with our limited budget, namely:

1. Honda City (starting at RM75800)
2. Toyota Vios (starting at RM73213)
3. Nissan Almera (starting at RM66827)and
4. Proton Preve (Starting RM61471)

Looking at the list, we realised that we could only afford the Proton and if we wanted a better car, we would have to increase our budget.
After driving a Volvo S40 in the UK for several years, we were not really looking forward to driving a Proton. However, the more research I did about the Proton Preve, the more impressed I was with the model. We went to see it at the Proton showroom near our house in Taman Megah, PJ and we decided that the Proton Preve Premium version was what we wanted. However, it was still beyond our budget at around RM72K (approx. £13650).

However, we were very fortunate because Proton suddenly announced a Merdeka/ Hari Raya discount of 5% across the complete range of models. This suddenly brought the Proton Preve Premium version within our range at around RM68,000 (solid colours) and really great value as had loads of features not present in the basic Honda, Toyota and Nissan models. This included Turbo engine, touch screen with built-in sat-nav, 6 air bags, push button start, automatic lights and wipers, etc.. The offer also included 3 years free service and range of gifts including free in-car wifi hub with access for a year, free SmartTAG, full tank fuel, etc.

So that's the story in brief about how my wife ended up with a Proton Preve 1.6 CFE CVT Premium car powered by the Campro CFE 1561cc turbo engine with 7 speed ProTronic transmission and mounted on great looking 17" alloy wheels with 215/45 R17 tyres.

Watch out for a more detailed review of the car later.

(updated 22 October 2014).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Snippets of a Study on the Future of Mobility

According to a recent Auto Study on the future of mobility conducted by New York based company MRY, via Whitman Insight Strategies, owning a car is still an important part of our day-to-day life.

This study surveyed 1,000 smartphone owners – 500 Millennials, 500 35+) and cover everything from consumers’ thoughts on the “connected car,” to which automakers are perceived to be the most innovative (and how that translates to sales).

The findings reveals that unsurprisingly that mobile phones matter a lot more to people, slightly less than cars. Among adults 35+: 94% say their cars are important vs 82% phones. But for Millennials, it’s 87% cars, 86% phones. Overall, SMS comes in at 72%, high def TV 55%, Facebook 47%, newspaper subscription 32%, and Twitter and Instagram around 20%.

Across ages, access to a car (90%) trumps helping others (77%), raising a family (73%), voting (68%), and being wealthy (43%). However, the youth just want to get rich as being wealthy is a FAR bigger deal for Millennials (53%) vs adults 35+ (33%) - one of the biggest value gaps MRY found in the study.

As for car ownership, 96% of surveyed individuals own or lease a vehicle, and 91% think that owning a car is still an important part of their day-to-day. Even 87% of the Millennial population, which is more aware of car-sharing services and other transportation options, agrees that owning a car is essential. This means that auto manufacturers need to keep people happy, because at least 40% of surveyed individuals are likely to use car-sharing services if offered in their communities.

To put things into perspective: new vehicle sales are around the 16 million mark, with the average sticker price north of $30,000 (See link). That’s $480 billion. A shift in attitude leads to changes in purchase behavior and even a 1% change could mean a $5 billion impact on sales.

However, car-sharing still has a long way to go. Even though Uber ranks above all of the major auto brands when measured against the intersection of innovation and personal connection, it is still a relatively unknown entity. Only 22% of surveyed individuals were familiar with Uber, falling behind Zip Car (33% familiar) and just ahead of Lyft (18% familiar).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Proton Iriz - pictures

Had the chance to try out the new Proton Iriz a few days after it was launched. There were three variants at the showroom at  Taman Megah, PJ, near my house in Malaysia.

Quite impressed - Proton has indeed come a long way.

The green one is the manual variant.

There was an automatic white car outside (for test drive). Loved the sound of the exhaust. They have tuned it to sound like a much more powerful sports car.

The grey one is the premium variant with six air bags, rear cameras, touch screen GPS, turbo engine and loads of other extras.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Strati -World's first 3 D printed car

Welcome to the age of printed cars. Arizona based car manufacturer Local Motors has come out with the World's first 3 D printed car - the Strati. It won the 2014 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in New York yesterday.

The car chassis/frame, exterior body, and interior features are made from ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fibres. The electric engine, wheels and other parts were sourced from Renault’s Twizy. It takes the company around 44 hours to print out.

It only has a top speed of about 40mph (60km/h) but I am sure the speeds will improve as time goes by. I am just thinking at the possibilities. In the future, you can probably print out spare parts at home.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The second generation Proton Perdana

The second generation Proton Perdana was unveiled last year and is only available exclusively to Malaysian Government officials. The car is available in 2.0 and 2.4 litre models and according to reports, is based on the 8th generation Honda Accord.

Saw one a few days back in PJ and it really looks nice.
Stuck at traffic lights when I took this picture.

2014 Proton Perdana Front Three Quarter CC BY-SA 3.0
Paul Tan's contribution to Wikimedia

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Proton Iriz Active concept car

Proton has come out with a concept called the Iriz Active. It was unveiled on the 28th of this month by Chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Alami Proton.

Supposed to be a crossover model.


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