Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hero MotoCorp Maestro to be launched in India soon

Hero MotoCorp will soon be launching Maestro – their all new 109 cc motor scooter in the Indian two wheeler industry. Maestro is powered by an all new single cylinder air cooled four stroke engine featuring AMI – Advanced Microprocessor Ignition system that generates 8.2 bhp @ 7500 rpm.
AutoCar India has previewed the yet to be launched Hero MotoCorp Maestro motor scooter and thanks to them we now know what to expect from Maestro. From the images, Maestro looks pleasing to the eye. It is also not as tall as Honda Activa, which will be appreciated by average Indian riders.
Maestro has an LCD display which has a speedometer, service due indicator, and fuel meter. Then there is a manual choke knob and a shutter for the ignition key slot. Bi-color mirrors along with standard equipments and palm grip complete the handle bar of Maestro.
Under the seat you will find a huge storage space which can easily accommodate your helmet and some other items. You will also see a bag hook under the seat. Overall, Hero MotoCorp Maestro looks like a perfect motor scooter which will compete with Honda Activa and Honda Dio in the segment.

KTM Duke 200 launched in Malaysia - Photos & Video

Click here to view our story on Indian Launch of KTM Duke 200

Well, its launched, but not launched in India yet! Yes you heard it right. Conceptualized in Austria, Made in India, and ladies and gentlemen,  launched first in Malaysia!

KTM Duke 200 has been officially launched in Malaysia by none other than the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mr Najib Razak. At an event held in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, KTM launched their Duke 125 and Duke 200 variant. These variants are specially manufactured for the Asian market, including India.
KTM Duke 200 Malaysia Launch
The Malaysian price is supposedly  RM15k-RM18k, which is a good 10% lower that the CBR250R price there. Considering that both the bikes are being made here, it could be fair to assume at least 10-15% price cut. This means a price band of around INR 110,000 to INR 135,000.
Once launched, KTM Duke 200 will compete with the newly launched Honda CBR250R in the Indian market. It will also compete with Yamaha's new R15 which is scheduled to be launched on 6th September.
KTM will enter Indian bike industry in collaboration with Bajaj Auto. Once again Bajaj plans to start a price war as compared to competitors, KTM Duke 200 will be priced very low.
The video embedded below will reveal the further details about the bike and will also reveal to us your review on the bike. 

M&M to set up new automobile plant in Tamil Nadu

Auto major Mahindra and Mahindra is all set to establish an automobile manufacturing plant with a testing facility at Cheyyar, about 100 km from here, for which it has entered into an MoU with theTamil Nadu government.  The Mou was signed early this year to set up the plant on 400 acres at Cheyyar at an investment of Rs 1,800 crore.

Mahindra and Mahindra, Automotive and Farm Equipment sector President Pawan Goenka said they would also be setting up a testing facility on 150 acres land.  "It is 400 acres land. In the first phase we will set up a proving ground -- a testing facility on 150 acres, which will require minimal investments of Rs 100-Rs 150 crore," he said.

"We have committed investments of Rs 1,800 crore spread over seven years. Right now the focus is on adding to our Chakan plant. After that we will focus on Cheyyar plant.In the second phase we will also have an automotive plant," he said.

On sales of mid-size sedan Mahindra Verito, rebranded from Logan after end of their association with French auto major Renault, he said sales were very encouraging.

"Last year in July-August we sold about 400-500 units. This year consistently we are selling about 1500 vehicles. We are very happy to see changes we have made (in Verito)," he said.

He said the main launch would be sometime in April, 2012. "We will have significant changes in styling", he said.

Mahindra which is currently also reported to be working on Mini Xylo and a sub 3 Lac car will also roll out from Tamil Nadu plant ?

Skoda launches petrol version of Laura RS at 15,99,069 INR

Luxury car-maker Skoda Auto India on Wednesday launched petrol version of its mid-level premium Sedan Laura RS priced at Rs 15,99,069 (ex-showroom Maharashtra) here. 

"The new Laura RS is a performance-oriented product aimed at car enthusiasts who have an emotional connect with their car. It's not a product you choose on pure rationale as the RS badge evokes tremendous passion amongst the owners," SkodaAuto India Board Member and Director for Sales & Marketing Thomas Kuehl said in a statement here. 

The 1.8-litre Laura RS will be available in four sporty shades of sprint yellow, race blue, candy white and magic black, he said.

 The technical specifications and other details of the car are presented below.

Technical specifications
1.8 TSI/118 kW
Engine type
1.8 TSI, turbocharged petrol engine, in-line, liquid cooling system, direct injection, 16V DOHC, transverse in front
Displacement [cm3]
Max. power/revs [kW(bhp) at rpm]
118(160) / 4500–6200
Max. torque/revs [Nm at rpm]
250 / 1500–4500
Wheel drive
Front wheel drive
Manual 6-speed fully synchronized
Front axle
McPherson suspension with lower triangular links and torsion stabiliser
Rear axle
Multi-element axle, with one longitudinal and three transverse links, with torsion stabiliser
Braking system
Hydraulic dual-diagonal circuit braking system vacuum assisted with Dual Rate system
Brake – front
Disc brakes with inner cooling, with single/piston floating caliper
Brake – rear
Disc brakes
Steering system
Direct rack and pinion steering with electro mechanic power steering
205/55 R16
Outside dimensions
Length [mm]
Width [mm]
Height [mm]
Wheel base [mm]
Ground clearance [mm]
Inside Dimensions
Storage capacity [l]
Storage capacity with rear seatback folded down [l]
Kerb weight [kg]
Gross weight [kg]
Tank capacity [l]
Turning circle diameter [m]

Toyota to launch much awaited Diesel variants of Etios and Liva on 9th September

Toyota has finally announced the launch date of their much awaited Diesel version of Etios and Liva cars. These cars were launched last year in the petrol variants but their diesel version were due to be launched.

"Yes, we are launching the diesel variants of the two cars on September 9. We aimed to introduce the two versions in August, but had to postpone by a month due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan," Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Deputy Managing Director Sandeep Singh (Marketing) said.

He, however, declined to share further details such as engine specifications and price, saying these information will be announced on the day of launch.
When asked about the production plans, Singh said: "At present we are making about 6,000 units of Etios and Liva. We are ramping up the production volume to 6,800-7,000 units by the October that will include the diesel versions also. Singh had earlier said the company is planning to sell 60,000 units of both Etios and Liva, of which over 20,000 units are likely to be Liva. Last month, the company had announced an investment of nearly Rs 1,650 crore to ramp up the production capacity by one lakh units and for increasing localisation of components by 2014.  The capacity at the first plant will be hiked to 1,00,000 units from 90,000 units, while the output at the second plant will be increased to 2,10,000 units from 1,20,000 units.

US Subprime Car Loans on rise again !!!

US is out of Subprime crisis. We all remember what the situation was at that time, after that time and even until nowa few hours before when Experian Automotive analyst came out with the results that US Car Loan lenders have again lending more car loans, reversing the cautious approach they adopted after the credit crisis, Melinda Zabritski, director of Automotive credit at Experian Pls. said.

The portion of car loans made to subprime borrowers rose to 40.8% in the second quarter from 37.2% a year earlier, according to Experian Automotive, a unit of credit bureau and research firm Experian Plc. The data shows how keen lenders are to boost their loan books amid a sluggish US economy.   In mid 2007, loans to subprime borrowers made up 46.2% of the total.

Car loans are seen by lenders as relatively safe, because they are collateralized and repossessing cars is easier than foreclosing on homes. Average credit scores for borrowers declined and the average term for their loans extended by one month to 63 months on new cars and 59 months on used cars. 

Loans delinquent by 30 days fell to 2.59% of those outstanding in the second quarter of this year.

PSA Peugeot Citroen to set up Rs 4,000 Cr facility in Sanand - Official

French Automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen will set up a Rs 4,000 Crore manufacturing facility at Sanand, 40 Kms from Ahmedabad. Sanand is emerging as a huge Auto hub in India. Already well placed Auto hubs in India includes Gurgaon(North Cluster), Pune(West Cluster), Chennai(South Cluster). 

Sanand which already includes Automakers like Tata Motors Nano plant, General Motors facility at Halol and also has in news investment lined up from Ford Motors, Maruti Suzuki and now even from PSA Peugeot Citroen. 

An announcement is likely in three days, the official said. "A Peugeot delegation, including Gregoire Olivier, CEO (Asian operations) and Frederic Fabre, managing director of PSA Peugeot (India project), will be coming to Ahmedabad on Thursday to sign a memorandum of understanding for the car project," he said. 

This will be Peugeot's re-entry in India after a decade. Earlier, it had a partnership with the erstwhile Premier family and formed a joint venture Peugeot PAL India. It pulled out from the JV in 2001. Now, the company plans to manufacture a mid-sized sedan in Gujarat with a 3 lakh cars per annum capacity.

A Peugeot delegation met chief minister Narendra Modi two months ago and was given the option of three locations which included Sanand and two places in central Gujarat which has a huge land bank.

Maruti Suzuki India resumes partial operations at Manesar unit

Maruti Suzuki India has finally informed that they have started partial operations at its Manesar unit. Maruti's management has made it very clear that the company is not going to suffer any more due to workers. The company also said that this is the peak volumes season, this is the time when the company needs to build as much inventories as possible because the demand highly surges due to the festive season.

Moreover, the company's big bet during this time is their newly launched Swift which gets manufactured at Manesar unit only. The Swift already comes with a huge waiting period, as high as 3-4 months.

The company has partially started its operations on Tuesday with its Contractual workers and few of its permanent workers who have agreed to sign the code of conduct for good behavior. The company had already spared 13 days of its production during June for the reason of labor unrest and also 3-4 days for maintenance shut down which was also scheduled during June.

However, nobody can really predict what's gonna be the exact situation two days hence and when exactly will the labor issues gets resolved. We can just hope that the company soon gets into full production mode as Maruti contributes around 42% to the Automotive market share and automobile sector itself is a major chunk(75%) of our Sectoral Classification of IIP.

For other details on Maruti's strike, Images & Video please refer to our previous posts on the News Update section.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Hero MotoCorp Impulse preview prior to its India launch (Photos)

Hero along with its partner Honda launched their first offroading Motorbike in India about a decade ago – CBZ. The bike became very popular in India. About a decade after the historic launch and more importantly when the Hero Honda is no longer with Honda and is now officially called Hero MotorCorp, is all set to launch another offroading bike – “IMPULSE”
Prior to the Official launch, we are providing you the Pictures of the motor bike (thanks to AutoCar India). The pictures below seems to clearly tell that the bike is launched for the younger generation of India with age group of 25-35 years. Also Hero MotoCorp must have kept in mind the potholes on the road and the overall Infrastructure in India and has finally launched an off roader in India.
Hero MotoCorp Impulse is powered by a single cylinder 149.2 cc air cooled engine with an alloy casing. The engine is powerful as it generates 13.2 bhp @ 7.500 rpm. Chain drive is exposed, has a 5 speed gearbox and available with an option of kick start of self start and 19" alloys are some of the features of Impulse. 

Nissan releases two images of Sunny on Facebook

Though Wheelomania, readers would already be known with the pictures of Nissan Sunny by the way of spy pics and then official pics at its launch on 03rd August and also today when the company has started the production today at Chennai plant(see previous post for more details).

But for those, who have still not seen the images of Nissan Sunny, here are the two official images of Nissan Sunny being released by the Company on its Facebook page, seems the trend is changing these days, this also shows how eager the company is to publicize the vehicle for which FB is the best medium - Maximum reach in minimum time.



Just to brief all the viewers on the details, the company has officially launched the vehicle in India on 03rd August however the technical details of the car is yet to be released by the company. The company earlier today confirmed that it has started the production of the car today at its Chennai plant.

The company also said that it has 85 percent local content out of which 40 percent is being sourced within Chennai. It means the car would be very cost competitive afterall it has to compete with the Market Leaders like Dzire and Etios.

Nissan Motors begins production of Sunny Sedan in India (Expected launch-Last week of September)

Earlier today, Nissan Motors at its Oragadam manufacturing plant at Chennai officially started the production of the yet to be launched sedan “Nissan Sunny”.
We already talked about a couple of hours ago that the company is working round the hours to make the launch of Nissan Sunny possible during the festival season. The above statement was confirmed by Mr. Kiminobu Tokuyama, Nissan Motor India Managing director and Chief Executive Officer quoted “Start of production of Sunny is a significant milestone for Nissan in India. We wanted the mid-sized sedan to be available during the festive season and we successfully accelerated our work programme to make that schedule”.  
Tokuyama San also quoted “Sunny is being rolled out with 85 percent local content, of which 40 percent are sourced from Chennai. Production of Sunny reinstates our commitment to the Indian market and is the second of the many other local products to come”.
Nissan Sunny was earlier preview to the local market on 03rd August 2011, where the technical details were not specified which has still also not been done. The company has said that the launch of the vehicle would be in last week of September.
The Sunny was designed at the Nissan design centre in Japan along with inputs from 170 countries, where it would be sold. The car made its debut at the 8th China (Guangzhou) international auto expo last December. The 10th generation car is based on the popular V-(Versatile) platform, the same used in the Nissan Micra. 

Nissan Motor India is a fully-owned subsidiary of Nissan Motor of Japan. In February 2008, Nissan, with its global alliance partner Renault, had signed an MoU with Tamil Nadu to set up a plant at Oragadam, near Chennai with an investment of Rs 4,500 crore. The plant has an initial capacity of 2,00,000 units which can be scaled up to 4,00,000 units per annum.

Peugeot showcases HXI Concept car Images before its official launch at Frankfurt Motor show

French car maker, Peugeot has unveiled images of the HX1 concept over the internet. The car is scheduled for an official unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show which kicks off on the 13th September 2011. This is a low-slung MPV/crossover that offers enough room for six passengers and measures 4.954 m. It is 1.990 m wide and a height of only 1.373 m.
The car uses the company’s Hybrid4 technology so the HX1 is an AWD diesel-electric vehicle that comes with a 2.2-liter HDi engine that generates 201 hp (204 PS / 150 kW) that powers the front wheels while the electric motor that has 95 hp (95 PS / 70 kW) powers the rear wheels. The combined total output of the HX1 is 295 hp (299 PS / 220 kW). In all-electric mode, the car can be driven for up to 30 km and manages to return 73.5 mpg (88 mpg UK or 3.2 liters / 100 km), while CO2 emissions are only 83 g/km
The car is official to make a debut on 13th September at Frankfurt Motor show, but we will still have to wait for final words from company to see whether this concept would be put into production.

Nissan launches Official Stand alone website for Sunny sedan to be launched by October

Nissan Sunny coming soon
Nissan India after a huge campaign with lots of gathering at Mumbai has finally launched the Official stand alone website for the car “Nissan Sunny”. There were some controversies in the starting that the car might get a different name in India as the name is already registered by Bajaj for their moped. But Nissan came out with the name stating no conflicts over nomenclature as these two are entirely different segments.  At the event, Nissan India promised to its fans that the car will be launched in India before this year ends, the company is targeting the youth with little over budget than buying a hatch back.

Once launched, the car would compete with Swift Dzire and Toyota Etios. Meanwhile both its competitors are also gearing up as New Swift Dzire will be launched somewhere in yearend whereas the Toyota is also gearing up for their much awaited and much needed Diesel model.

Media has also flown rumors that Nissan is working round the clock to launch the car during festive season. As per the history goes, the car sales shoot up during the festival season.

Nissan has just given the tagline “It’s not just a car” for its Sunny sedan. Click at the below link to visit the Official website of Nissan Sunny sedan.

You may also visit the Video below to have a look of the car.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Mercedes new C Class to be launched in India on 1st September

Mercedes has disclosed that seeing at the demand of luxury cars in India, the company would be launching its new variant of C-class in India on 1st September 2011. The company had expected to be ready with the launch somewhere in first half of September, but the company says it is ahead of the schedule this time.

The C-class also has a refurbished rival list to race with. The Audi A4 has been caught testing at Europe and also BMW is ready with next generation 3-series which will now bow in during the Frankfurt Motor show.

Existing powertrain is likely to be carried over to new Merc C-class and marketing material will further talk about changed exteriors and interiors.

Hyundai HA-800 finally has a nomenclature - Hyundai "EON"

Hyundai's small car codenamed HA-800 got some clarity today on its nomenclature when Hormazd Sorabjee through his tweet gave some clarity on the nomenclature that the car would be known as "Hyundai Eon". The biggest rival of the small car would be Maruti Suzuki Alto which is the India's largest selling car. The segment is known to be ruled by Maruti Suzuki since its inception in India, which has recently gained focus of leading automakers in India. VW UP, Fiat small car, Mahindra small car and now officially Hyundai Eon will be launched in the market thus heating up the segment very soon.

The car is powered by three cylinder 800 cc engine and is expected to be priced sub 3-Lac for the starting version with ranging upto 3.75 Lac for the highest model.(We will still have to wait for the final car to be launched and its pricing in India). Those who have been following this car for a long time now, a good news for them the car might launch in India somewhere in October(official date yet to be announced). 

Will Maruti also be welcoming this car in the same manner as you are? Certainly, not. 

But the major question is "Will Hyundai Eon be able to capture the majority chunk of Volumes by Eon's Launch" ? Will it be the problem for the already suffering automobile major in India?

Extra police deployed at Maruti’s Manesar Unit - Video

Maruti has deployed around 250-300 police officers at its Manesar unit late on Sunday evening. We fear a lock out by the company on Monday,” said Shiv Kumar, secretary with MSEU”

The company management decided to make the workers sign the bond after suspending 10 workers, while five were dismissed, and another 6 trainees have been discontinued from services. This is the third production stoppage in three months at the factory at Manesar in the northern state of Haryana.

The plant is likely to be severely affected with the company on Monday enforcing workers to sign a 'good conduct bond' before entering the factory following alleged quality issues that arose last week.

"The company is asking its workers to sign a good conduct bond before entering the factory. Whosoever does not sign, will not be allowed to get inside the factory premises and work, and hence would be deemed to be on strike," a source in the management said. However, when contacted, Shiv Kumar, who had led the workers during the strike in June, said, "The management is forcing us to sign an undertaking that we will not indulge in any union-related activities under the influence from outside following the rejection of our application to form a union at the plant by the Haryana government."

"On August 24, 1,230 cars were planned to be produced, but only 437 were assembled. Out of which, just 96 cars could pass quality check," the source said.

Earlier in June, a 13-day strike demanding recognition of a new union -- Maruti Suzuki Employees Union  -- at the Manesar plant crippled the production with the company losing 12,600 cars, which were valued at about Rs 630 crore.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Tata Motors next SUV for India - Tata Merlin

Tata Motors is set to launch its new SUV in india – Tata Merlin. Tata Motors new SUV though based on Tata Safari but the company has confirmed that the name would not be Tata Safari Merlin, however it might be Tata Merlin. This did not came as a shock to us because we have been closely watching this strategy of Tata Motors. This is something what Tata Motors did while it launched Manza  based on Indigo sedan.

Drawing inspiration from the Land Rover, the Merlin sports a flatter front end, and a different read without the spare wheel. The engine is the enduring 2.2 litre DICOR turbo diesel unit affording 140 Bhp and 320 Nm. Interiors are pruned with premium looks with an uncanny resemblance to those of the recently launched TATA Aria. One can expect a 2 wheel and a four wheel drive option but an automatic gearbox seems unlikely. Other features include ABS, EBD and airbags which are the default safety apparatus on the Merlin.

Tata Motors has recently launched its SUV Tata Aria 4x2 version and also its hatchback Indica Vista with latest features and lots of Chrome. The hatch back will be available in the showrooms from September 01, on the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

Ford hints at cutting output - speaks Michael Boneham

Ford India is planning to adjust its vehicle production and its product mix to better handle the sudden slowdown in demand for petrol cars in the Indian market. The company is also using its exports to neutralize the huge drop in demand for petrol vehicles in the domestic market. 

However, its diesel vehicle production is facing a component supply shortage which has restricted Ford India's plans of ramping up production of diesel cars to meet the surge in demand. Speaking to TOI, Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India said: "Right now we're looking at adjustments of production mix between diesel and petrol vehicles. We need to adjust our production to the new demand scenario. Going forward, if due to further hikes in interest rates or fuel price the demand falls significantly, we will adjust our overall production accordingly. We will continue to make assessments and we're clear that we won't keep building stock." 

Ford India has seen a dramatic increase in the sales of its diesel vehicles in the last seven months. In December 2010, the diesel-petrol ratio of its sales was 55:45, riding mostly on the Figo. That has now changed to 75:25 thanks to the more-than-Rs 20 differential between diesel and petrol. For Ford, this sudden change in demand profile led to a 2.5 month waiting period on diesel vehicles. 

Worse, its suppliers could not keep up with the sudden surge in demand for diesel vehicles vis-a-vis petrol. "Powertrain suppliers have not kept up because the swing triggered by the change in the product mix has been dramatic and sudden," said Boneham. 

"Right now we're looking at adjustments of production mix between diesel and petrol vehicles. We need to adjust our production to the new demand scenario. If due to further hikes in interest rates or fuel price the demand falls significantly, we will adjust our overall production accordingly," says Michael Boneham.

Renault officially touches KOLEOS Chapter again on its Website - Concludes Trail production at Chennai plant

Sources have informed that Renault has finally concluded the trial production of its first ever SUV in India – “Renault Koleos”. The SUV market is the latest to witness a boom especially after the launch of Force One and the awaited launches of Mahindra W201, Tata Merlin to name a few. The information for celebration of Conclusion of Trail production comes at a time when Renault is busy celebrating its 100,000 vehicle production at its Oragadam plant in Chennai.
The company has meanwhile started Updating tidbits of information on its new SUV, the trend lately started by Maruti Suzuki for its Hatch “Swift”, better known as Teaser. We had already Updated all of you with the tidbits of information as and when it gets leaked by the company or to put it in a better way “as sharply spotted by our viewers”.
Sources have also informed that Renault could price the manual transmission Koleos at just under Rs 19 Lac. However, Renault will showcase the complete details of the car during the Frankfurt Motor show earlier in September 2011. Renault Koleos is expected to come in both 4x2 and 4x4 transmissions and is expected to have top notch features with both diesel and petrol engines. While we assume this, we will still have to wait for the first view of the vehicle during the Frankfurt Motor Show. 

Friday, 26 August 2011

Toyota expands Prius range with seven-seat variant

Toyota Motor Corp. will debut the Prius+, a seven-seat version of its Prius hybrid car, at the Frankfurt auto show next month, ahead of European sales beginning in the first half of 2012.
Designed to extend the appeal of the Prius range to families and those needing more space, the Prius+ offers a three-row seating format. The car is 155mm longer, 30mm wider and 85mm taller than the third-generation Prius hatchback, from which it is derived. The wheelbase has been extended by 80mm. Toyota said that the seven-seat configuration will provide 200 liters of cargo space, rising to 535 liters when the third row of seating is stowed away.
Adding additional seating has been made possible by the use of a new compact lithium ion battery pack, which is stored between the front seats within the center console.
The Prius+ has a 1.8-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor and is the first non-plug-in Toyota full hybrid to use a new compact lithium ion battery. Previous Toyota hybrids have used nickel-metal hydride batteries.
The Prius+ will join an expanded Toyota hybrid range in Europe that will include the Auris hybrid, the new plug-in hybrid Prius and the Yaris hybrid.

GM, LG to jointly develop electric cars

General Motors Co and LG Corp have struck a deal to develop electric cars together, a first-of-its-kind alliance between the top U.S. automaker and a leading Korean conglomerate that represents a major bet on battery technology.  LG Corp's LG Chem Ltd currently supplies the lithium-ion batteries that power GM's Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera plug-in hybrids which debuted in late 2010. 

Under the agreement signed on Wednesday by GM Chief Executive Daniel Akerson and LG President Juno Cho, the two companies said they would design a range of electric vehicles that would be sold in markets around the world.  The agreement does not involve an exchange of equity between the two sides. 

Under Akerson, GM has been pushing to expand its lineup of electric vehicles on the view that the high-profile launch of the rechargeable Volt has given it a lead in a key area of technology expected to be central to gains in fuel economy. 

Earlier this month, GM confirmed it was developing a plug-in hybrid for its luxury Cadillac brand. The automaker is also developing an all-electric small car that would be sold globally, people with knowledge of that effort said. GM and LG last year collaborated to build a demonstration fleet of Chevy Cruze small cars that were used at the G20 economic summit in Seoul. 

Dozens of GM and LG engineers have already begun work together in the United States, GM spokesman Kevin Kelly said.  Over time, GM engineers will also be dispatched to work at LG facilities in South Korea, he said. 

"This is a strategic development for LG and we fully support GM's goal to lead the industry in the electrification of the automobile," LG's Cho said in a statement. 

GM, which was saved by a U.S. government bailout in 2009, faces stiffer U.S. fuel economy regulations that double current standards to about 55 miles per gallon by 2025.  GM said the partnership would allow it to fast-track the development of more electric vehicles than it could develop on its own.  The announcement of the tie-up comes just three days after Ford Motor Co and Toyota Motor Co said they would collaborate to develop hybrid trucks and SUVs. 

"We're going to see relationships like this develop. The auto industry is changing and the manufacturers need to change with the changing technology," said Dennis Virag, president of the Automotive Consulting Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

"Electric vehicles are going to have to play a role in the really draconian cuts that have to made in terms of fuel consumption," he said.  The LG partnership was negotiated by GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, a former Wall Street banker who has been put in charge of the automaker's venture investments and partnerships. 

The Volt is built at a GM plant near Detroit with batteries supplied by LG Chem. The Volt is sold in North America and the Ampera in Europe. 

GM shares were down 3 cents at $22.34 on Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

BMW expands India output by 1,000 units; launches X3 SUV

German luxury car maker BMW on Thursday said it has increased annual output from its Chennai plant to 11,000 units with the start of second shift from June.  The company, which is present in India through a wholly owned subsidiary, today launched its sports utility vehicle X3 priced between Rs 41.2 lakh and Rs 47.9 lakh (ex-showroom, across India). 

"We have expanded our production facility by starting the second shift of production. The production has been expanded to 11,000 units annually from 10,000 units," BMW India President Andreas Schaaf told reporters here.  Earlier in March, the company had ramped up production capacity from 8,000 to 10,000 units per year in single shift operations. 

"If needed we can add another assembly line, if needed we can increase the output of the second shift and if needed we can add another production site. Everything is possible on our strategy for the next 10 years," Schaaf said.  He said the company was targeting to sell one lakh units every year in India, but declined to share any timeline. In March, BMW India had said it is targeting sales of up to 60,000 units in the next 10 years and will invest an additional Rs 70 crore by 2012. 

Last year, BMW retained its number one position in the Indian luxury car segment with sales of 6,246 units, which was up 73 per cent from the previous year. 

To expand its product portfolio in the country, BMW India today introduced its SUV X3 in diesel options. The vehicle will be produced at its Chennai plant as a completely knocked down unit. The sales of the car will start from next month. 

Commenting on the new model, Schaaf said: "The launch of the new BMW X3 is a significant milestone in our growth strategy in India... It will be a volume car for us." 

The company has recently increased the number of employees in to over 650.

Renault-Nissan rolls out 1L units

The alliance plant of Renault-Nissan automotive manufacturing facility in Oragadam, near Chennai, has crossed a milestone achievement of rolling out one lakh units. 

Nissan and Renault signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Tamil Nadu state government to set up a greenfield plant in 2008 with a combined investment of Rs 4500 crore. The plant now employs 4000 persons. 

"We started production in May last year. Between then and now we have rolled out one lakh cars from the Oragadam facility ," Kou Kimura, CEO and MD of Renault Nissan Automotive India said. The plant has achieved this milestone in 13 months. "This is the fastest roll out of one lakh cars in India." 

The facility -- only of its kind which makes vehicles for both Nissan and Renault makes Nissan Micra, a hatchback and assembles Renault's Fluence, a sedan. 

Work on the third shift began a couple of weeks ago. "At current levels we can make 2 lakh cars a year, which we will double and work for which will start sooner as we will reach saturation levels of our existing capacity," Kimura said. 

Renault has announced plans to launch 5 cars over the next 18 months, while Nissan has just launched its sedan Sunny and has announced making its light commercial vehicle as well from the Oragadam plant.

Toyota to invest Rs 3,800 cr in India

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), the Indian subsidiary of Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), said it would invest around R3,800 crore to expand its manufacturing facility in Bidadi near Bangalore. In a meeting with Karnataka chief minister Sadananda Gowda on Thursday, TKM managing director Hiroshi Nakagawa said the new investment will be made by 2013. The company has told the state government that around 5,300 persons will get jobs on account of the investment.

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