Latest Stories

  • VinFast’s first EV seen testing – November 2020 debut

    It was previously reported that VinFast has plans to export electric vehicles to the United States in 2021, and we’re finally getting our first look at one of those offering, as several images of a camouflaged prototype were recently posted on the public OTO+ Facebook group.

    The vehicle in question appears to take the form of crossover that is said to be smaller than a C-segment SUV, with styling done by Pininfarina, which was also responsible for existing VinFast models like the LUX A2.0 sedan and LUX SA2.0 SUV.

    As such, it gets cues like the company’s signature slim headlamps and V-shaped grille, although the latter has lesser inlets as the car lacks a conventional internal combustion engine, although a petrol-powered version is said to be on the cards as well.

    The company has yet to provide detailed information about the electric powertrain used, but reports indicate the crossover will come with 402 hp (300 kW) in its most powerful configuration. A range of 500 km is also expected, with battery cells made by South Korea’s LG Chem, Reuters reports.

    In a statement to the international news organisation, VinFast says it plans to officially debut the crossover at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show in November. This will be followed by a test programme in January next year and mass production will begin by July 2021.

  • VIDEO: KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and Chris Birch

    12 Hours with the 1290 Super Adventure R

    12 Hours with the 1290 Super Adventure R. This bike really is a beast, 160hp in a super capable chassis. The roads are open once more and exploring from home couldn't be more fun!#SayNotoSlow

    Posted by Chris Birch – Off Road Coach on Khamis, 28 Mei 2020

    With the conditional movement control order (CMCO) still putting a damper on riding motorcycles casually, many Malaysian riders are awaiting the lifting of movement restrictions. Meanwhile, while we’re all practicing social distancing and staying home, avoiding going outdoors unless necessary – you are doing that aren’t you? – here’s a video of off-road coach Chris Birch putting the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, priced at RM119,800, through the paces.

    The 1290 Super Adventure R and Birch are almost synonymous, with Birch’s “Say No To Slow” off-road riding clinics being ever popular. A session with Birch was held by KTM Malaysia in 2018 and it was enlightening to see Birch hustle the almost 245 kg beast up and down the slopes at the Sungai Ular, Selangor, track.

    In this video, the New Zealand countryside features prominently and Birch tackles the varied terrain on the 1290 Super Adventure R with aplomb. Coming with a liquid-cooled, 1,301 cc, 75-degree V-twin, the Super Adventure R puts out 160 hp or power and 140 Nm of torque.

    Power gets to the ground via a six-speed gearbox and PASC slipper clutch to prevent engine power overwhelming the rear tyre during hard downshifts. Designed for long stints in the saddle with its 23-litre fuel tank, the Super Adventure R also feature two-position adjustable handlebars, manually adjustable windshield, five lever reach positions and two-position footpegs.

    Inside the cockpit, a 6.5-inch TFT-LCD display with anti-glare glass displays all the necessary information the rider needs. A full suite of rider aids – when riding KTM motorcycles, this is something very necessary as when the author reviewed the KTM Super Duke R – is standard, including traction control and four ride modes, with a fifth “off” mode for those riders who like their fun going sideways.


  • Volkswagen invests two billion euros in China – new acquisitions are part of its electrification strategy

    Volkswagen has announced some big moves in China as part of its electrification strategy in the world’s largest auto market. The German giant plans to increase its share in JAC Volkswagen, its joint venture for e-mobility. Around one billion euros is to be invested for this purpose.

    The amount includes the acquisition of 50% of the Anhui government-owned entity JAG, the parent company of Volkswagen’s JV partner JAC, and an increase of its stake in JAC Volkswagen (the JV company) from 50 to 75%. By gaining management control of the latter, VW is paving the way for more electric models and infrastructure. The parties intend to close the deal by the end of the year, subject to customary regulatory approvals.

    Founded in 2017, the JAC Volkswagen joint venture is an all-electric company which develops, produces and sells new energy vehicles (NEVs). A portfolio expansion of up to five additional full EV models by 2025 is planned, as well as building a full-scale e-model factory and finishing the R&D centre in Hefei.

    Separately, Volkswagen will acquire a 26% stake in battery manufacturer Gotion High-Tech for around 1.1 billion euros, becoming the company’s largest shareholder.

    An important part of an EV is the battery, and VW acknowledges that securing future battery supply to meet demand will require increased localisation. With the stake in Gotion, VW is the first global automaker to invest directly in a Chinese battery supplier. The deal will not affect ongoing contracts with other battery suppliers, VW says.

    According to Wolfsburg, the partnership is an opportunity for it to achieve deeper know-how in the field of batteries. Gotion maintains various current and future projects over the entire battery value chain from sourcing, development and production to recycling. The company is in the process of becoming a certified VW Group battery supplier in China, including supplies for local Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) vehicles.

    “I am delighted with this strategic milestone in our mutual and trusted relations as Volkswagen takes a strategic role in a state-owned company for the first time, as well as investing direct in a Chinese battery supplier. These investments shape the character of Volkswagen in China, making it a more localised, more sustainability-focused mobility company. By opening up the market, China is giving Volkswagen new business opportunities,” said Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China.

    Volkswagen Group China has already outlined its route to becoming a net carbon-neutral company. In 2025, around 1.5 million NEVs are planned for delivery to customers across the country, which is also the world’s biggest market for e-mobility.

  • 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe teased – not just a facelift, SUV gets a new platform and hybrid, PHEV options

    Click to enlarge

    Hyundai has released teaser images of the new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. They show an even bolder front end than the current fourth-generation TM, which sports three tiers of lighting.

    Like today’s car, the super slim top tier houses LED daytime running lights, but the light signatures are now T-shaped, and are visually connected to the lower tier. There, the stem of the T bisects what looks like twin projector main lamps, which are now visually part of the grille. The effect is a full width grille.

    Speaking of the grille, Hyundai released images of two grille patterns – one’s a chain link style that’s rather similar to today’s grille, while the other appears like cascading scales. It’s a very bold and aggressive look.

    Click to enlarge

    But what’s more interesting is under the skin. There’s a new “Integrated Architecture” with hybrid and plug-in hybrid options for the first time in the Santa Fe. This may be perceived as just a “midlife facelift” (today’s car first surfaced in February 2018), but there’s a new platform under there.

    The Korean carmaker says that the new Santa Fe will be the first Hyundai model in Europe and first Hyundai SUV globally based on the all-new third-generation vehicle platform. It allows for significant improvements in performance, handling and safety, as well as facilitating electrified powertrains, it’s claimed. The underpinnings in question here should be similar to that in the fourth-generation 2021 Kia Sorento that was revealed in March.

    Besides a “dignified and charismatic exterior design”, the upcoming Santa Fe’s interior design updates will “provide premium sensibility and comfort”. Set to reach European showrooms from September, more information will be revealed in the coming weeks. The new Kia Sorento is a very handsome SUV, and the Santa Fe should fare well in looks department as well. Stay tuned.

    GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe in Malaysia

  • 2020 Fuller Moto 2029 is a rolling work of 3D art

    Custom motorcycles cover a very wide range of definitions, not limited to the traditional metalworking techniques giving rise to a cookie cutter series of cruisers and bobbers carrying V-twin engines. Applying modern production techniques such as 3D printing and CAD/CAM design has given rise to the 2020 Fuller Moto 1929 custom motorcycle.

    Taking inspiration from a French motorcycle of the 1920s, the 1929 Majestic, the Fuller Moto 1929 follows a streamlined, Art Deco style that embodies an era of stylised design and curving shapes. Built to debut at the Handbuilt Show in November, 2020, the 1929 is a one-off custom motorcycle commissioned by the Haas Collection in Dallas, Texas.

    The basis of the 1929 is a Zero Motorcycles FXS electric bike, with a peak power delivery of 20 kW and peak torque of 106 Nm. Fuller Moto faced issues during the build of 1929, with the FXS’ battery pack being too tall, so the location of the batteries and motor was flipped, giving the 1929 its sleek shape.

    Clad in 3003 aluminium, the 1929 features hub-centre steering, taken off a Bimota Tesi. Tying things together are components and parts made from 3D-printed titanium, allowing the 1929 to have an organic, grown from metal look like the bio-mechanical designs of H R Giger.

    The front swingarm is a 3D-printed piece, as is the handlebars. Designed by Bryan Heidt, lead metal fabricator at Fuller Moto, movie concept artist Nick Pugh, who had previously worked on Star Wars, an Oerlikon 3D-printer was used to fabricate the components.

    Of note are the 23-inch wheels, which feature transparent polycarbonate discs to connect wheel rims to the hubs. Bobby Haas, owner of the Haas Moto Museum and Sculpture Gallery, says, “We know we are doing something that has never been done before. There is no actual blueprint. We are not doing a production cycle. We are doing a piece of work that is rolling art. It is unique.”

  • 2021 Acura TLX revealed – bespoke platform, front double wishbones, turbo engines, return of Type S

    The Acura TLX is ripe for a renewal, and this time Honda’s luxury division is pulling out all the stops with its core sedan model. After decades of utilising off-the-shelf Honda chassis, Acura has finally treated itself to a bespoke sports sedan platform to give the car a more premium look and a distinguished driving experience.

    Yes, the new TLX is still front-wheel drive as standard and has a transversely-mounted engine, but the company says the body structure is the most rigid ever found on a regular Acura, bested only by the NSX sports car. Better yet, this new model heralds the return of front double wishbone suspension, a staple of past performance Acuras (and Hondas) like the Integra and both generations of the NSX.

    The new platform has also enabled a massive remodelling of the car’s proportions. The TLX is 56 mm wider and 15 mm lower and has a 94 mm longer wheelbase than before, but the important dimension to note is the dash-to-axle length, which has grown by a staggering 198 mm. The resultant longer bonnet gives the car a sportier, more imposing appearance, on top of its wider stance.

    In terms of design, the TLX closely resembles the Type S Concept, borrowing its strong front and rear haunches, steeply-raked shoulder line and upswept window line. Acura’s signature “diamond pentagon” grille continues to be found up front, flanked by slim LED headlights with “Chicane” daytime running lights. Accent lines at the corners of the bumper frame the large air intakes.

    The sloping glasshouse is positioned further rearward and has an increased tumblehome to further emphasise the car’s broad stance; the roof also features twin grooves for a more dynamic look. The rear overhang is also shorter than before, and this pert rump is nicely finished with inverted L-shaped tail lights – which also carry the “Chicane” graphic – and a visible pair of rectangular tailpipes.

    The sportier-looking A-Spec trim level continues to be offered, adding darkened head- and tail lights, gloss black accents front and rear and a prominent bootlid lip spoiler, along with unique 19-inch Shark Grey alloy wheels. The wider TLX range will be fitted with 18-inch wheels as standard, one inch larger than before.

    The far-reaching makeover continues inside, with a wraparound dashboard design and a tall, wide centre console that clearly demarcates the driver and passenger sides of the cabin. Acura says the TLX’s interior can be finished in authentic materials, such as open-pore wood, aluminium and full-grain Milano leather.

    Comfort at the front of the cabin is enhanced by the 16-way power-adjustable sports seats and the wider body, which is claimed to offer segment-leading hip and shoulder room – although we can’t imagine the longer bonnet doing rear legroom any favours. Acura is also touting increased forward visibility and, for the A-Spec, a thick flat-bottomed steering wheel with metal paddle shifters.

    The TLX also comes with the RDX‘s True Touchpad Interface which, as the name suggests, uses a touchpad to control the freestanding 10.2-inch centre display. Aside from the new wrist rest, the latest version features more accurate swipe zones and handwriting recognition, along with other performance enhancements. A seven-inch multi-info display and AcuraLink connected features are also standard-fit, while a 10.5-inch head-up display and an ELS Premium 3D sound system with roof-mounted speakers are available as options.

    Under the skin, the TLX’s structure – 56% of which is made from lightweight materials like aluminium and press-hardened steel, more than any other Acura sedan – is said to deliver a 50% increase in overall torsional stiffness, going up to 100% where the suspension meets the body.

    This is due to the new central tunnel, triangulated strut tower bars, front and rear underfloor bracing, a one-piece rear bulkhead stiffener and cast aluminium strut tower mounts. Weight distribution has been improved thanks to extensive aluminium usage at the front and the repositioning of the battery to the rear.

    The use of double wishbones at the front is said to offer more precise handling, increased grip and greater mechanical compliance for improved ride quality, while the rear continues to utilise a multilink setup. The car also features variable ratio steering, the NSX’s brake-by-wire electric servo and optional adaptive dampers, all controlled using the Integrated Dynamics System dial with Comfort, Normal and Sport drive modes (plus a new, customisable Individual setting, just like the Germans). The tyres also offer 20% more lateral grip.

    Engine options have been overhauled with a pair of turbocharged powertrains, replacing the previous naturally-aspirated units. The base 2.0 litre four-cylinder makes 272 hp and 380 Nm of torque – increases of 66 hp and 133 Nm over the old 2.4 litre unit – and is paired to a new 10-speed automatic gearbox, offering a wider ratio range, more discrete gears, direct downshifts that can skip up to four gears and a lower first gear.

    For the first time, all variants of the TLX can be specified with Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), a rear-biased system that can send up to 70% of torque to the rear wheels under normal conditions, and then shuffle 100% of that torque side-to-side.

    The new TLX also marks the revival of the high-performance Type S variant, this time powered by a 3.0 litre V6 and featuring standard SH-AWD, a specially-tuned transmission and larger brake discs clamped by four-piston Brembo front callipers. Differentiating it from its more pedestrian brethren are a more open grille, larger side air intakes, a rear diffuser, quad round exhausts and 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels. An NSX-style Y-spoke lightweight option is available, shod with high-performance tyres.

    Whichever model you pick, the TLX comes as standard with the full AcuraWatch suite of driver assistance technologies. New features include traffic sign recognition, a driver awareness monitor and Traffic Jam Assist, which works with the adaptive cruise control system to keep the car centred in its lane at low speeds.

    The body structure also provides additional protection in a wider range of collision scenarios, while a new three-chamber front passenger airbag cradles the head like a baseball catcher’s mitt for more effective protection, mitigating potential injury in more steeply-angled frontal collisions.

  • Tesla Cybertruck stars in Jay Leno’s Garage episode

    The Tesla Cybertruck certainly garnered a lot of attention when it was first revealed in November last year, thanks to its futuristic styling, “bulletproof construction” and range of electric powertrain options. While the publicity for the pick-up truck has been more than encouraging, with plenty of bookings already racked up, Elon Musk isn’t done marketing the vehicle just yet.

    To bring even more attention to the Cybertruck (and to Tesla’s other products), the company’s CEO recently went on camera in an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, which is a highly popular and Emmy-winning series on CNBC.

    In the episode, the former talk show host and car collector pays a visit to Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, California to talk about things like the Semi and Roadster, while standing next to the Model Y.

    Following this, Musk brings out the Cybertruck out for Jay Leno to examine, giving us details that we already know, including the Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin and armoured glass used. We even get to see the powered bed cover retract itself, which can apparently hold the weight of a person with no issue. Built tough? It certainly looks that way – don’t mind the past incident with a steel ball.

    We also get a good look at the Cybertruck in broad daylight, so you can soak in all those sharp angles and highly minimalistic interior even better, with Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen giving some input. That’s not all, as Leno even gets to drive the Cybertruck, and make no mistake, it certainly stands out among of cars on public roads.

    The drive isn’t particularly eventful, save for the part where Musk wonders if the truck will fit when driven through the tunnel that The Boring Company due up near the SpaceX headquarters (they do). Throughout all of this, Musk talks to Leno about the vehicle, including plans to make it smaller to fit in regular parking lots and other changes.

    GALLERY: Tesla Cybertruck

  • Isuzu expects pick-up demand in Thailand to drop 35%

    With sales significantly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, Isuzu expects that the demand for pick-up trucks and other light commercial vehicles (LCV) in Thailand is likely to fall by 35% this year, Kyodo News reports.

    The Japanese automaker, which has the largest share of the segment in the country, at more than 30%, expects the entire demand for LCVs – mainly one-ton pickup trucks – in Thailand to drop to around 321,000 units in 2020 from the 492,000 units that wsa recorded last year.

    In an earnings report released earlier this week, it said that LCV demand in the Thai market will bottom out in the July-September period this year, but will begin recovering in the following quarter.

    It added that its LCV sales in the Kingdom is likely to be around 100,000 units this year. Its manufacturing unit in the country temporarily suspended production at its two factories near Bangkok in April and May due to the pandemic.

    Earlier, the Federation of Thai Industries had said in late April that overall vehicle production in the country for 2020 is expected to be halved from last year, when it topped two million units, if Covid-19 lingered until the end of September.

    As for new vehicle sales, the federation’s automotive industry division said that the domestic sales target for the year would probably be cut from one million units to around 500,000 to 700,000 units, the figure including that of light commercial vehicles.

  • Hyundai signs deal with Sony Pictures – carmaker’s models to feature in upcoming Spider-Man movies

    Deals between carmakers and entertainment companies are not uncommon, as the exposure provided to the former can prove to be rather invaluable. For example, when Iron Man first appeared on the silver screen in 2008, the Audi R8 became affectionally known as “Iron Man’s car,” and sales in the United States saw growth.

    Hyundai is looking to replicate this success and has recently signed a multi-picture promotional deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which will see the Korean carmaker’s new models and technologies be featured in upcoming productions.

    These include five upcoming Sony Pictures films: the sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home (November 2021), the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (October 2022), Uncharted (July 2021), and other tentpoles to be announced. Of course, this isn’t the first time Hyundai has dabbled in the superhero world, as there was the Kona Iron Man Edition that was introduced in July 2018.

    The partnership is said to be advantageous for both parties, which includes leveraging Sony’s intellectual property for marketing content and entertainment purposes. There will also be collaborations on infrastructure and concepts for Sony Pictures movies, as well as co-creating virtual reality and gaming experiences.

    “This strategic partnership with Sony Pictures will allow customers to understand and experience our human-centered future mobility vision through innovative vehicles and technologies, illuminating a way forward for transforming how we move, interact, and design our lives for optimal benefits. We will offer various ways to inspire our customers and movie fans around the globe,” said Wonhong Cho, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor.

    “This deal embodies the true definition of the word partnership. The deal has many layers, including substantial marketing support, but its real potential and impact come from groundbreaking content that we will develop together,” commented Jeffrey Godsick, EVP of global partnerships and brand management, and head of location based entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

  • 2021 Volkswagen Nivus debuts – compact ‘SUV coupe’ on sale in Brazil next month, Europe next year

    The 2021 Volkswagen Nivus has made its debut ahead of going on sale in Brazil at the end of next month. Argentina will get the new model by the end of 2020. Designed and made in Brazil, the coupe-roofed compact crossover will also be made and sold in Europe in the second half of 2021.

    The Nivus sits on Volkswagen’s MQB A0 platform that also underpins several group products, including the current Polo and the T-Cross, VW’s junior SUV. The Nivus measures 4,266 mm long, 1,757 mm wide and 1,493 mm tall, with a 2,566 mm wheelbase.

    The latter is identical to the sixth-generation Polo hatchback that first surfaced in 2017. However, the Nivus is longer than the Polo (4,057 mm) and T-Cross (4,199 mm) and has the biggest boot of all at 415 litres (115L more than the Polo and 42L more than the T-Cross).

    Of course, the main difference between the Nivus and T-Cross is the new car’s roofline, which slopes down from rear doors onwards. The T-Cross is a conventionally-shaped small SUV.

    The dashboard is largely similar to the T-Cross’ but with slight changes to the shapes of the side AC vents and centre console. The VW logo is also the latest one. It’s properly modern in here with two 10-inch screens in the cockpit – one is the Active Info Display instrument panel and the other belongs to the new VW Play infotainment system.

    The latter, developed in Brazil, is a touchscreen with “virtual buttons” and is anti-scratch. Services, streaming and apps are promised, and there’s 10GB of memory. VW Play is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones and is the first car in Brazil with wireless mirroring, Volkswagen says.

    Notable equipment include adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, LED headlights and daytime running lights, Driver Alert System, Kessy keyless entry and start, reverse camera and 17-inch alloys. The hatch can be opened using a virtual button in VW Play.

    Under the hood is Volkswagen’s 1.0 litre TSI engine, branded as 200 TSI in Brazil. This EA211 family turbocharged engine has three cylinders, 128 hp and 200 Nm of torque, and is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Power goes to the front wheels – no 4Motion here. Typically for Latin America, it’s flexfuel ready.

    What do you think of VW’s latest SUV? Looks quite good with its Subaru XV-esque shape and Audi Q8-style rear end, no?


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Last Updated 23 May 2020


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