The Truth About Cars » India The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » India Tata To Enter Global Passenger Market With Help Of Jaguar Land Rover Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:44 +0000 Tata-Xenon-11

Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs. reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, managing director of importer Fusion Automotive, assures that no badge engineering would occur between the two brands.

What would be shared, according to Bowler, would be platforms and engines, such as the global platform underpinning the upcoming Nexon SUV that could “be used as an Evoque… a Tata, [or] a Jaguar,” as well as the Ingenium family of four-cylinder engines that will soon turn up under the bonnet of many a JLR product.

In the meantime, Tata Australia plans to tackle the medium- and heavy-duty markets with the Ultra and Prima, both joining the light-duty Xenon.

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Akerson: Barra Did Not Know About Ignition Defect Before Becoming CEO Thu, 29 May 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Dan Akerson

Automotive News reports former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson proclaimed in an interview with Forbes magazine that current CEO Mary Barra had no knowledge of the out-of-spec ignition switch that led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles, going as far as to bet his own life on the statement. Barra added the fallout from the recall is a chance for GM to not only “do the right thing and serve the customer well through” the crisis, but “to accelerate cultural change” within the company. Akerson passed the torch to Barra in December 2013 to take time to care for his ailing wife, and has since rejoined Carlyle Group as vice chairman on its board of directors.

Within the company, Detroit Free Press reports morale is up despite the numerous recalls levied upon the automaker, according to global product boss Mark Reuss. He states the results of an internal survey among GM’s global employees are higher than those found in 2012, citing a renewed focus on corporate transparency since the recall crisis began. Finally, Reuss told reporters at an event focused upon this weekend’s Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix that the C8 Corvette is now being developed, and did not rule out the possibility for electric and/or hybrid power for the upcoming sports car.

Speaking of GM’s recall parade, Ward’s Auto says the automaker released a document of its recall activities thus far in 2014, which is available to interested parties through a special site set up by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The document focuses on recalls in the United States and North America through Q1 and Q2 2014, with the current totals as of May 21, 2014 standing at 13.8 million in the U.S. and 15.8 in North America.

In compact car news, Automotive News reports GM India will begin exporting compact and subcompact vehicles during the second half of 2014 to help better use capacity of the Talegaon plant as the local market slows down. LHD variants of the Chevrolet Beat — Spark in the U.S. — will be the first to see a trip to the docks, destined to arrive in Chile Q1 2015, a reflection of the boosted confidence in quality at the plant, according to president Arvind Saxena. GM’s utilization rate is the lowest among all automakers in India at 28 percent, contributing to an overall local industry total of 55 percent production capacity used in 2013; the automaker’s two factories produce a combined capacity of 282,000 annually.

Finally, CarNewsChina has new spy shots of the upcoming Chevrolet Aveo hatchback set to enter the market July 10. The automaker’s best-selling compact will retain the 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines of the outgoing models, with five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions available to deliver between 103 and 121 horsepower to the front wheels. The hatch will follow the redesigned sedan, the latter due next month.

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GM Moves EV Pack Production In-House, Almost Had A Commodore EV Thu, 15 May 2014 13:00:21 +0000 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-003

Automotive News reports General Motors will bring production of the Chevrolet Spark EV’s battery pack in-house to its Brownstown Township plant in the Detroit metro area, having already moved the subcompact’s 85-kilowatt electric motors to White Marsh, Md. in 2013. The pack was originally assembled by A123 Systems before Wanxiang Group picked up the torch. No new jobs will be created as a result of the move, spokesman Dave Darovitz stating GM would add jobs “if consumer demand requires it.” The packs for the 2015 Spark EV — whose market will expand to include California and Oregon later this year — will be 86 pounds lighter than the outgoing units, and will have a storage capacity of 19 kilowatts held within 192 lithium ion cells.

Speaking of GM EVs, GoAuto reports the Holden Commodore almost had an EV variant that would have been priced for $10,000 AUD ($9,400 USD) less than the Volt. Only seven pre-production units made it out of the joint venture between Axiflux, EV Engineering, Bosch Australia, Better Place, GE Finance and Air International before Holden announced it would end all local production by 2017. The announcement, along with the collapse and withdrawals among a majority of the project’s partners, led to Axiflux acquiring EV Engineering’s assets. The company plans to focus on industrial applications for the developed technology until the right partner comes along to pick up where the project left off for an automotive joint venture.

The Detroit Press says GM’s board of directors has retained New York-based Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to give an “independent assessment” of the automaker’s inner workings. An unnamed source familiar with the announcement says the decision “was a good governance practice” aimed to deliver sound advice to GM’s senior management. The firm is the latest third-party to join GM’s cadre of attorneys, including Anton Valukas and Ken Feinberg, as the automaker navigates the legal waters in the wake of the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

Finally, Just-Auto reports GM is planning to expand its Indian operations into a global base of operations for small-car exports to Latin America and beyond. The exports will begin with 2,000 to 2,500 Beats to Chile in October from the automaker’s factory in Talegon, with some 30,000 to 33,000 units to leave annually for Latin America within two years. GM expects Mexico to receive the biggest imports from India, with over 12,000 units shipped annually.

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TTAC Salutes The Maruti 800 Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:00:11 +0000 Maruti800_manhan



Despite an ailing presence in North America, Suzuki has been a pioneer in the Indian marketplace, with its Maruti Suzuki subsidiary selling over 10 million vehicles since inception in 1981, with the Maruti 800 serving as its core product.

Based on the tiny, Japanese-market Suzuki Fronte, the 800 used the Fronte’s chassis, with the body of a second-generation Suzuki Alto and a diminutive 800cc engine. For a low cost car in a developing country, this was fairly advanced, given that the Fronte was powered by a two-stroke engine at one point in its life.

By Western standards, the 800 is laughably spartan, packing just 37 horsepower and devoid of air-conditioning, power features, an automatic transmission, side mirrors or any hope of surviving a traffic accident. But it was the 800, not the Hindustan Ambassador, that mobilized India’s middle class, with many 800s serving as driving school vehicles, family transportation and in many cases, a step up from motoring on two wheels. Before the Datsun Go and Dacia Logan, the Maruti 800 was the original low cost car.

Like many other antiquated designs, the Maruti 800 has fallen victim to stricter standards, specifically emissions regulations that would require expensive upgrades to its powertrain. Given the substantial amount of road deaths in India, the chance for a safer alternative to take its place isn’t such a bad thing either.

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Datsun Go Production Launched In India Thu, 06 Feb 2014 15:35:54 +0000 Datsun redi-GO Concept

Just in time for the 2014 Delhi Motor Show — where the above Datsun Redi-Go concept made its debut this weekRenault-Nissan launches production of the revived brand’s Go subcompact at their plant in Chennai, India.

Datsun returns from a three-decade absence on the global stage with a market debut in the Indian market featuring the five-door, four-passenger vehicle, set to go on sale in late February 2014. The Go will be sold at Nissan dealerships at first until a separate Datsun network is established. The price of admission will be less than $9,300.

Two more Datsun models are in the offing in the next two years, while the brand will soon expand to Indonesia, South Africa and Russia by the end of this year. Datsun is expected to move 300,000 units annually by 2016.

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Tata Debuts Bolt, Zest Subcompacts Tue, 04 Feb 2014 19:30:45 +0000 BJ1A0145

Debuting their first new cars in four years, Tata took the wraps off the Bolt and Zest subcompacts, which are designed specifically to sneak in under four meters in length, to get around vehicle taxation schemes.


While the Bolt hatchback is rather conventional looking, the severely truncated rear of the Zest sedan is evidence of Tata’s desire to strictly adhere to the sub-four meter rule. Tata is hoping that the new cars will lift slumping sales, which have been down nearly 40 percent recently. For more, check out our friends at Motorbeam.

_MG_0001 _MG_0002 _MG_0003 _MG_0004 _MG_0005 _MG_0006 _MG_0007 _MG_0008 _MG_0009 _MG_0010 _MG_0011 _MG_0012 _MG_0013 _MG_0014 _MG_0015 _MG_0016 _MG_0017 _MG_0018 _MG_0019 _MG_0020 BJ1A0094 BJ1A0098 BJ1A0099 BJ1A0117 BJ1A0127 BJ1A0145 BJ1A0147 Bolt Zest ]]> 7
Ford Figo Debuts In India Mon, 03 Feb 2014 19:18:00 +0000 Ford-Figo-Compact-Sedan

Our friends at Motorbeam in India snagged these live shots of the Ford Figo, aka the sedan version of the next Ford Ka and EcoSport. Designed as a world car to be sold in BRIC markets, the Figo is officially a concept, but is as production ready as a concept gets. For more, check out Motorbeam editor (and TTAC contributor) Faisal Ali Khan’s take on the Figo.


2014-Ford-Figo-Sedan 2015-Ford-Figo-Concept Ford-Figo-2015 Ford-Figo-Compact-Sedan Ford-Figo-Concept Ford-Figo-Concept-Sedan Ford-Figo-Sedan IMG_7186 IMG_7187 IMG_7188 IMG_7189 IMG_7192 Second-Generation-Ford-Figo ]]> 26
Datsun to Unveil Concept at 2014 Delhi Auto Expo Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:32:14 +0000 Datsun Concept India

Should you happen to be in India two weeks from now, Datsun will unveil the above concept at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo during a conference held by the offshoot automaker.

The concept heralds a possible expansion of Datsun’s current lineup, aimed at the young customers in South Africa, Russia, India and other high-growth markets. The concept appears to be a three-door hatch slotted just below the Go five-door supermini, with the Go+ MPV completing the future trio.

As far as production is concerned, the hatch will be underpinned by Renault-Nissan’s Compact Module Family platform. The flexible platform is expected to support up to 14 vehicles within the Franco-Japanese alliance’s complete range.

The concept will debut at Datsun’s press conference February 5.

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Indian Car Market Sees First Yearly Sales Decline Since 2002 Sun, 12 Jan 2014 16:17:02 +0000 ford-ecosport

For the first time in more than a decade, new car sales in India have failed to post a year-over-year increase. Instead, a sharp drop in sales spells bad news for carmakers with heavy investments in that important developing market.

According to information released by the Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers and reported by the WSJ, passenger car sales declined by 9.6 percent in 2013 to around 1.8 million units. Total passenger vehicle sales were down 7.2 percent to 2.55 million units. Many factors contributed to the decline, but inflation is the primary culprit. This past year in India saw a slowing of economic growth as prices surged, squeezing the purchasing power of the burgeoning middle class. Besides the spike in new-vehicle prices, the general cost of ownership has also risen. The rollback of government controls on fuel prices has led to higher costs for gasoline. Loan rates have also risen, giving many consumers second thoughts about purchasing a new car. The decline of new car sales illustrates the pitfalls of investing in emerging markets, which demonstrate strong aggregate growth but are often volatile in nature.

Ford, Honda, Hyundai, and Suzuki have all invested heavily in the Indian market in recent years. If growth remains stagnant or declines, it could lead to retrenchment from manufacturers who previously bet big on the emerging economy. Instead of increased domestic sales, manufacturers may turn to exporting. Ford in particular has spent nearly a billion dollars to expand Indian manufacturing capacity in the anticipation of future growth. The introduction of the EcoSport SUV helped lift overall December sales for Ford India, with a 2.84 percent increase over the previous year. But that sales increase came from a nearly 10 percent decline in domestic sales a 22 percent rise in exports. If Ford’s (or any other company’s) plans for Indian domestic growth don’t pan out, it could lead to all kinds of interesting arrangements in an attempt to maximize sunk capital investments. Indian-built EcoSport for the American market, anyone?

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Akio Toyoda Sees Emerging Markets’ Growth Slowing, Uncertainties in China, Japan Thu, 02 Jan 2014 13:00:58 +0000 TOYOTA/

Bloomberg is reporting that Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. and scion of its founding family said that a slowdown in emerging markets and uncertainty over demand in both China and the Japanese home market makes 2014 “unpredictable”.

While the weaker yen increased earnings for Japanese exporters, those profits are being offset by slowing demand in India, Thailand, Brazil, and Russia. Japanese automakers also continue to face a potential repeat of Chinese consumers rejecting their products, as happened last year as tensions between those countries’ governments increased over who owns a group of Islands under dispute.

“It may be impossible” to shield against tensions between the two countries, Toyoda had told reporters earlier in December. “But we will work to minimize the impact.”

Slowing sales in emerging markets caused Honda Motor Co. to miss analysts’ forecasts for its first-half earnings this year. Nissan Motor Co., which is looking to make Mexico a hub for exports, reduced projected full-year earnings by 15 percent to reflect slower than anticipated sales in the developing world.

Toyota’s own operating profits were down in Asia, excepting Japan, in the third quarter, as Thailand ended government incentives for first-time car purchases. Akio Toyoda was pessimistic about Japan as well because of that country’s planned increase in the national sales tax rate from 5% to 8%. The Toyota president said, on behalf of JAMA, that automakers would like to see a stable yen since production cannot be shifted around the world as quickly as currency values change. The Japanese currency is currently at a five year low against the American dollar.

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Tata to Base “Global” Range of Cars On Advanced Modular Platform That It Says Will “Leapfrog” VW’s MQB Thu, 14 Nov 2013 18:00:49 +0000 Tata-Manza-Karl-SlymAccording to Tata Motors’ managing director, Karl Slym, the company is developing a new modular platform, to be the basis of a “global” range of vehicles that it claims will “leapfrog” VW’s MBQ technology. The new vehicles will be rolled out over the next six years.

Though Tata has had more success selling commercial vehicles than cars, Tata says that it is going to build a family of world class passenger vehicles based on what it’s calling the Advanced Modular Platform (AMP). Tata badly needs new product to replace an ageing lineup of cars which has been doing poorly as the Indian market has experienced a downturn.

Tim Leverton, Tata Motors’ head of R&D, told the Sydney Morning Herald that it had taken VW “six or seven generations” of products to get to MBQ, but that Tata would “go directly to a very interesting solution” and “leapfrog” the Volkswagen group. Leverton said that the AMP is scaleable in both length and width, making it possible to use the platform for a variety of size vehicles, from subcompacts to crossovers.

The Indian press is reporting that Slym said that the company began planning to make Tata a global automotive brand last year and that all of the cars in the pipeline based on the AMP are being designed for sale globally and will meet applicable emission and crash standards.

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2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe to Debut at LA Auto Show Wed, 06 Nov 2013 14:11:08 +0000 F Type Coupe

For those of us who love the Jaguar’s F-Type’s zazz but would prefer to keep the wind out of our hair (along with the rain, sleet and snow) on a more permanent basis, Jaguar now has an option for you.

The hardtop iteration of the British-Indian automaker’s halo car will make its global debut in Los Angeles November 19 at an exclusive party for VIP customers and media types prior to taking the floor at the LA Auto Show a day later.

Though little is known about what’s under the bonnet or the glass roof panels, the all-aluminium cat most likely won’t have the C-X16′s KERS-inspired hybrid drivetrain. Rumors are abundant that a manual gearbox will debut along with the coupe. The coupe will debut in showrooms across the United States in the spring of 2014.

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GM Found Responsible For Using “Ringer” Engines in Indian Emissions Testing, Tavera Production Resumes Thu, 24 Oct 2013 11:30:33 +0000 Chevrolet-Tavera-Neo-3-Engine

The Times of India and the Hindustan Times are reporting that a panel appointed by the Indian government to look into General Motors’ recall last summer of 114,000 Chevrolet Tavera multiple use vehicles says that the company violated testing regulations, according to a government official who has seen the report. The recall came after a surprise check by the Automotive Research Association of India, an industry group that works with India’s Ministry of Transportation, found that the Tavera’s production diesel engines were not consistent with those that GM had supplied for testing.

The official told the news agency that the fault was GM’s not the lab doing the testing. Speaking on background, the official said, “The report has pointed out that it is in the nature of corporate fraud. It says only the [automaker] was responsible for whatever happened,” and that the automaker’s Indian subsidiary could be fined as much as 100 million rupees ($1.6 million) under current regulations.  GM India released a statement saying that company policies had been violated and that it had identified those resposible.

Back in July, GM recalled the Indian made Tavera SUVs over the emission issue and also stopped production. At the time, The Economic Times of India reported that GM had told government investigators that employees had fitted vehicles sent for testing with ‘ringer’ engines, engines known to meet the standards.

Sam Winegarden, GM’s vice president for global engine engineering, and several other employees were fired when the scandal broke for unspecified “violations of company policy”.

“We determined there was an emissions problem,” GM India said in a statement on Tuesday. “We investigated it and identified violations of company policy. We held people accountable. And, we advised Indian authorities. Beyond that, we’re not able to comment as we’ve not heard from the government or seen the report.”

The company also reported to Reuters that it has received regulatory approvals and restarted production of the Tavera BS III models at its plant in Halol in the state of Gujarat state. GM India Vice President P. Balendran said, “GM India has already received BS III 7,8,9 and 10 seater type approvals and production has also started. BS IV approval is under process and approval is expected anytime now and will start production soon.”

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Renault Duster Starts Losing Steam To Ford EcoSport Sat, 28 Sep 2013 14:59:21 +0000 Nissan-Terrano

Renault launched the Duster in India last year and it immediately became a strong seller. The response to the Duster was so good that the compact SUV overtook India’s best selling SUV, Mahindra Scorpio, to become the segment’s best seller. All was well for Renault until Ford crashed the French automaker’s party with the launch of the EcoSport. Ford not only undercut the Duster’s price by a cool $3000 but also offered way more equipment, helping them to get 50,000 orders in a matter of just two months.

Ford has launched the EcoSport in Europe, although in limited numbers. The EcoSport won’t be sold in the U.S. as the vehicle is too small for that market. The main markets for the EcoSport are Brazil (being sold since 2003), China and India. The EcoSport is basically a jacked up Fiesta with high ground clearance as the underpinnings, mechanicals, engines and interiors are all the same.

Renault and Nissan badge engineer products in India but to little success. After seeing the tremendous response to the Duster, Nissan has decided to bring their own version. The car you see on this post is the Terrano which is nothing but a Duster underneath with cosmetic changes. Nissan plans to sell the Terrano at a $1000 premium over the Duster in India. Doesn’t seem like such a smart move as sales of the Duster are falling so why would anyone pay more to buy the same car with a different badge?



Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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You Can Buy A New Stingray Right Now For Only $7,000! Sun, 25 Aug 2013 18:30:07 +0000  


Production on the all new seventh generation 2014 Corvette Stingray has begun, though they haven’t officially gone on sale yet while the inventory pipeline fills. It’s the first time in decades that the Stingray name has been used by the Corvette.  However, it turns out that you can buy a brand new Stingray right now, and for only about $7,000. There’s just one catch. It’s not a Corvette, made by Chevy or even sold in the United States.

Just yesterday we covered news about Tesla’s trademark troubles in China and potential conflicts with Ford over their registration of the Model E name here in the United States. It’s possible that Chevrolet may face a similar problem if it wants to expand the Corvette brand globally.

Today, in the comments to my post about Elio Motors, the question was raised, why is Elio building their own engine instead of buying it from a car company or engine manufacturer? I started to check out which car companies build 1 liter 3 cylinder engines to see just who could sell Elio Motors their, well, motors. Ford isn’t going to be selling anyone their one liter EcoBoost engine as they roll out the all new engine in their own cars, and GM’s new small 3 cylinder won’t see production for a while. I decided to check out what Suzuki is making, since the Elio prototype uses a Suzuki engine pulled out of something like a Geo Metro.

Speaking of pulling out, Suzuki has exited the U.S. car market, but there is one place in the world where they are the market leader, India. Decades ago when the then socialist government in India wanted to jumpstart an indigenous automobile industry, they invited Suzuki to join the Indian government in setting up Maruti Suzuki. As the Indian economy moved to more of a free-market system, the government has divested its shares, but Suzuki is still the best selling brand in India. So I checked out the Marti Suzuki retail web site for India, and what do I see?


They’re indeed selling a 1 liter 3 cylinder engine in India, and it’s available in four door hatchback called the Stingray that starts at just over 423,000 rupees, about $6,700, close to the suggested price of the Elio Motors three wheeler. I’ll have to check with our man on the subcontinent, Faisal Ali Khan, but I believe that the Suzuki Stingray competes with the Chevy Sail U-VA hatchback, at least on price.


As just referenced, Chevrolet does have a presence in India and GM has been expanding its production capacity in that country, for both local demand and for giving it options as an export hub should building cars in Korea get too expensive. It doesn’t, however sell the Corvette there, at least officially. The Captiva SUV is the most expensive Chevrolet branded vehicle on sale in India, starting at 2,349,802 rupees, about $37,000 in U.S. dollars. Still, there probably is at least a small market for the Vette in India. Luxury and high performance car makers have expanded their presence there. Porsche has seven dealers there. Jaguar, which is owned by Tata, an Indian company, has fifteen dealers. People may think of India as a poor country but some of its billion or so residents are rather wealthy. Not long ago an Indian father was arrested for letting his 9 year old son drive the family’s Ferrari 430 as a birthday present.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Mahindra Tweaks Car To Evade SUV Tax Sun, 04 Aug 2013 18:16:50 +0000 Mahindra-XUV5OO

The Indian government is bizarre. A few months back, a new tax was applied on SUVs, resulting in 3% extra excise duty on them. The government justified the move saying that SUVs occupy more space on the road, although the truth is that large sedans occupy more space than SUVs. A criteria was set and if a vehicle fits into all three, then it is classified as an SUV. Thus an SUV is a vehicle which is more than 4-metres in length, having an engine larger than 1.5-litres and a ground clearance of more than 170 mm. Indian roads are pathetic and you really need good ground clearance to prevent scraping the underbody on large and unmarked speed-breakers.

Mahindra’s flagship vehicle, the XUV500 (we had a look at it earlier HERE )saw an immediate price increase due to the SUV tax. Sales started to fall because of the increased prices (also because of increase in competition). Now Mahindra is mainly a utility vehicle manufacturer and almost all its vehicles were affected by the SUV tax. In order to evade the SUV tax on the XUV500, the company made a very minor change.

Mahindra went ahead and added a stone guard which became the lowest point of the vehicle, resulting in a reduced ground clearance of 160 mm (from 200 mm). The XUV500 is no longer classified as an SUV and the company has reduced prices by up to Rs. 33,000/- ($550). Smart move by employing a very cost-effective solution. Now buyers can get rid of the stone guard if they wish to, as the vehicle won’t be taxed after sale.



Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Suzuki Denies Renewed Talks With VW Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:00:22 +0000 suzuki-volkswagen-partnership

Not so fast…again

Though recent reports claim that VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech and Suzuki President Osamu Suzuki are involved in board level talks to resolve the differences in their on again off again relationship, at a news conference for quarterly earnings, Suzuki Executive Vice President Toshihiro Suzuki denied any such talks have taken place. According to Reuters, Suzuki claimed that “There have been various reports, but there absolutely are no such facts, so there is nothing I can talk about on this topic.”

In 2009 VW paid $2.3 billion for a 20% stake in Suzuki. VW wanted access to India, where Suzuki is the market leader and Suzuki wanted access to VW’s fuel saving tech. The VW said Suzuki broke the contract by trying to buy diesel engines from Fiat. In return, Suzuki said VW had withheld hybrid technology covered in the agreement. Suzuki then filed for international arbitration in 2011 after the German automaker refused to sell back its shares in Suzuki.


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GM Names Chief Transmission Engineer Interim Head of Global Powertrain Operations in Wake of Indian Emissions Testing Scandal Wed, 31 Jul 2013 10:00:00 +0000 GMRenaissanceCenter27-medium

GM tabbed the automaker’s head transmission engineer to be interim chief of the firm’s global powertrain operations while the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement for Sam Winegarden, who was fired in the wake of an emissions testing scandal in India.

Jim Lanzon, 62,  is currently vice president of GM, global transmissions, a position he’s held for 11 years and had an important role in negotiating the recently announced agreement between GM and Ford Motor Co. over jointly developing new 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions. Like Winegarden, Lanzon has been a longtime GM employee.

GM acknowledged to Indian authorities that there were irregularities in their compliance testing, two popular models have been pulled from the market and at least one model has been recalled. India media has reported that GM India employees substituted ringer engines with superior emissions performance in SUVs and cars submitted for testing.

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GM Axes Global Powertrain Chief & Several Employees Over India Emissions Testing “Ringer Engines” Scandal Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:00:16 +0000 taveras

Tavera SUVs at GM India assembly plant

Automotive News is reporting that Sam Winegarden, GM’s vice president for global engine engineering, the company’s highest ranking powertrain executive, was fired this week along with about 10 other GM Powertrain employees in the U.S. and India, over cheating in GM’s emissions testing at its Indian subsidiary.


The problems have prompted the company to halt the sale of Chevy’s popular Sail hatchbacks and Tavera SUVs in that country. The local press has reported that GM has admitted to Indian authorities that some of their employees had fudged data on emissions tests in order to meet standards. The news comes at the same time that  GM has announced a recall of 114,000 Taveras to fix what it calls emissions and specifications problems.

In a statement, GM confirmed that it has “dismissed several employees” over “violations of company policy” related to the Indian recall but a company spokesman declined to comment about Winegarden.

“We take these matters very seriously and hold our leaders and employees to high standards,” GM’s statement says. “When those standards are not met, we will take the appropriate action to hold employees accountable.”


Sam Winegarden, GM’s now apparently former vice president for global engine engineering

Winegarden, apparently one of those held accountable, was GM’s top engine executive since 2004, and he had worked at the company for his entire adult life. He joined the automaker over 40 years ago as a co-op student at the Buick Motor Division while attending the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). His resume included a stint in the 1990s as chief engineer for the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Group where he oversaw the development of the Northstar V-8 and premium V-6 engine lines. He later presided over development of the very successful LS family of V8 engines.

The Indian business newspaper Economic Times reported that GM India admitted to Indian regulators that employees violated testing procedures. In some cases engine swaps were done with set-aside engines measured to have lower emissions so the “ringer” equipped SUVs would pass testing.

In a July 18 letter to Indian regulators, GM wrote: “Over a period of time some employees of the company engaged in the practice of identifying engines with lower emission which were fine-tuned and kept aside to be used for installation on vehicles during inspection,” according to the newspaper.

GM also admitted that the reported weight of several models was “manipulated” so the vehicles would be subject to less stringent emission regulations. The newspaper said that the Indian government has set up an investigative committee. GM could face fines and other penalties.

GM India halted production and sale of the Tavera recently, saying the issues were not safety related and that the company “has since identified a solution to the issues and performed the required engineering validation, and is awaiting regulatory approvals.” Last month, GM also stopped production of diesel versions of the Sail, mentioning unspecified quality-control issues. The company plans to start selling the Sail again by August, but so far no recall for affected vehicles has been announced, unlike with the Tavera.

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Jaguar F-Type V8S Costs More Than XKR-S In India Sat, 27 Jul 2013 11:00:32 +0000 Jaguar_F-Type_Paris_2012_7

Jaguar has launched the F-Type in India, priced at an insane Rs. 1.37 crore for the V6 S and Rs. 1.61 crore for the V8 S (no base V6 on offer).  Jaguar has almost confused Indians with the F-Type’s pricing as the 2-seater sportscar costs more than the XK in the country.

To put it into perspective, check out the Indian pricing of the F-Type and its competitors in US Dollar (converted as per today’s exchange rate 1$ = Rs. 59.80/-). The prices are in ascending order and on-road Mumbai, inclusive of registration and insurance charges.

  • Porsche Boxster – $161,666
  • Porsche Cayman – $169,136
  • Porsche Boxster S – $190,126
  • Porsche Cayman S – $195,255
  • Jaguar XKR Coupe – $255,955
  • Porsche 911 Carrera – $266,704
  • Audi R8 4.2 Coupe – $270,493
  • Jaguar XKR Convertible – $271,745
  • Porsche 911 Carrera 4 – $287,570
  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster – $295,894
  • Jaguar F-Type V6 S – $296,949
  • Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet – $302,770
  • Porsche 911 Carrera S – $311,373
  • Audi R8 V10 Coupe – $317,241
  • Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet – $323,574
  • Jaguar XKR-S – $327,247
  • Porsche 911 Carrera 4S – $332,177
  • Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet – $346,570
  • Audi R8 V10 Convertible – $348,640
  • Jaguar F-Type V8 S – $348,814
  • Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet – $367,084
  • Aston Martin DB9 Coupe – $387,449
  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe – $410,665
  • Aston Martin DB9 Volante – $417,967
  • Porsche 911 GT3 – $441,760
  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Coupe – $450,592
  • Porsche 911 Turbo – $454,002
  • Ferrari 458 Italia – $500,758
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 – $531,266
  • Audi R8 V10 Plus – $541,147
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S – $551,218

What do you think? Insane pricing or what? While we are at it, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport costs a whooping $25,94,147 in India.

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Renault-Nissan To Launch Modular Architecture For Low-Cost Cars Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:00:47 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

In India for the relaunched Datsun brand’s first car, the Go, CEO of the Renault-Nissan alliance, Carlos Ghosn, announced that Renault and Nissan will jointly develop a platform for low cost and ultra low cost cars aimed at India and other emerging markets, which Ghosn believes will make up 60% of the global automotive market by 2016. To do that, the alliance will spend another $5 billion on investments in their Indian operations over the next five years. Renault-Nissan is committed to using India as its global hub for emerging markets, developing the cars there as well as assembling and exporting them.


Renault-Nissan’s CMF Architecture

The new low cost cars will reach the market in 2015 and be engineered from the CMF-A platform, an iteration of the alliance’s  recently announced Common Module Platform. The CMF-A platform will be used across the alliance at the Renault, Nissan and Datsun brands. Don’t expect a CMF-A based Infiniti, as the platform is engineered for low cost, not luxury. The variant of the CMF was developed in India itself. Speaking to The Hindu at an event in Chennai, Ghosn said

We see India easily being in the top five markets for Renault and in the top ten markets for Nissan in future… The new platform was Indian designed, Indian engineered and made for Indians. This platform has been built ground up jointly by Renault and Nissan and it will be state-of-the-art and most innovative… We are breaking new ground with CMF-A to meet and exceed the high standards of consumers in the world’s fastest growing economies, particularly people buying a new car for the first time,.. Our frugal car will be at entry-level prices, if you understand what I mean. Our intention is to come out with a car that will be totally modern, Indian engineered and not have outdated technology, but let’s make it clear, we don’t want to compare ourselves to the Tata Nano, or benchmark against it.”

Much of the money for their investments in India will apparently come from the savings that Renault and Nissan are achieving through things like shared development costs. Christian Mardrus, Renault-Nissan managing director for logistics, said that the two companies together will save $4.57 billion (3.5 billion euros) in 2015 alone.

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Ford Shocks Renault With EcoSport Price In India Fri, 28 Jun 2013 18:57:43 +0000 Ford_EcoSport_Side

Did you know that the Duster is the highest selling Renault car in the first five months of 2013? The Duster has changed the fortunes of Renault India, selling 5000 units on an average every month, accounting for 80% of Renault’s sales in India. The Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport are big competitors all over the world. In Brazil, the EcoSport has been outselling the Duster. Both cars are compact SUVs with a front-wheel drive layout and monocoque chassis (the Duster is also offered with 4-wheel drive in select markets but not in India). The competition between both vehicles is extremely intense. Both cars are manufactured in India with heavy localisation (the Duster is already being exported to Europe, while the EcoSport will soon be exported to Australia, South Africa and Europe).


Just looking at the styling of both vehicles, the Duster looks more SUV with its flared wheel arches and muscular body style, while the EcoSport looks more like a jacked up hatchback with aggressive design and tail gate mounted spare wheel. Ford has launched the EcoSport in India, priced so aggressively that even Renault is shocked. The EcoSport range starts at Rs. 5.59 lakhs ($ 9391), going up to Rs. 9.00 lakhs ($ 15,120). There are 10 variants across 3 engines on offer. The Duster range starts at Rs. 7.90 lakhs ($ 13,272) and goes up all the way up to Rs. 12.18 lakhs ($ 20,462). These prices are pre-registration and insurance. The price difference between the top-end Duster and top-end EcoSport is a massive Rs. 3.49 lakhs ($ 5863).


The pricing from Ford is indeed jaw dropping, even other automakers are worried as the EcoSport now becomes an alternative to sedans and hatchbacks which are offered at similar prices. Even though the Duster is priced very high, Renault doesn’t offer much equipment. The Ford EcoSport has 6 airbags, climate control, button start, keyless entry, leather seats, SYNC system over the Duster. The higher priced variants of the Duster come with a more powerful diesel engine (1.5-litre k9k diesel is offered in two states of tunes – 85 PS and 110 PS, the EcoSport’s diesel engine produces 91 PS of power).


So how does Ford price the EcoSport so aggressively? The company has taken 18 months to launch the vehicle after first showcasing it. There has been extensive localisation on the EcoSport and if you have read my review HERE, you will notice cost cutting has been done very smartly (rear bumper is black and not painted, no engine guard or engine cover is offered, etc). The EcoSport is also a sub 4-metre vehicle which means it gets crucial excise duty benefits. While Renault pays 24% duty on the Duster, Ford only pays 12% (on all models except the one powered by the 1.5-litre petrol engine, i.e. the starting two petrol variants and Automatic variant).

Now Renault will have to respond with a price cut otherwise the EcoSport is sure to run away leaving the French automaker in dust. A quick visit to the Ford dealer tells the story. There are so many people standing in a queue with ready cash (full amount too), willing to pay a premium to get the car sooner. The waiting period is already 3 months and the car was just launched yesterday.


Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Nissan/Renault Join The Kit Car Age Thu, 20 Jun 2013 09:33:30 +0000

The first CMF-based cars will be produced in a new section of Nissan’s plant in Chennai, India

As you know, TTAC has been following the modularization trend in the industry with great interest. At TTAC, you received an early heads-up on Volkswagen’s MQB kit architecture four years ago, and we followed it ever since. TTAC was one of the first to tell you that Toyota is working on its own kit architecture, called “Toyota New Global Architecture,” TNGA for short. More than a year ago, we told you about Nissan’s Common Module Family (CMF). Now, everybody is talking about kits and modules. Let’s talk a little more.

Yesterday, the Renault/Nissan Alliance formally announced what you had known for more than a year: That it will base future generations of their cars on “a Common Module Family (CMF,) an engineering architecture that covers Renault/Nissan Alliance vehicles, from one or more segments, based on the assembly of compatible Big Modules: engine bay, cockpit, front underbody, rear underbody and electrical/electronic architecture.”

Let’s cover a few things that may went overlooked.

Nissan/Renault is going to great pains to underline that “CMF is not a platform.” Technically less astute may not know the difference, and the kit-have-nots eagerly exploit this lack of know-how.

Again: A kit and its modules are not a platform by another name. You build on a platform, but you build with kits. Their modules plug together. Or as Nissan/Renault says: “A platform is a horizontal segmentation; a CMF is a cross-sector concept.”

A lot has been said about the phenomenal savings these kit architectures bring, and some said this is hype. It is important to understand where the savings are. Nissan/Renault expect a “20%-30% cost reduction in component purchasing.” And they hope for a “30-40% cost reduction in product + process engineering.” In other words: Some parts that go in a car should cost less, and the upfront development costs will be reduced. The car itself will not cost 30 percent less to produce.

A year ago, the people I talked to at Nissan already had said that government demands on safety and fuel efficiency raise the cost of a car, and that the savings from standardization pay for compliance with government rules.

New kit architectures also demand new factories – or completely rebuilt ones. Nissan/Renault stress that CMF is united with AIMS, a.k.a. the “Alliance Integrated Manufacturing System.” This process, says Nissan/Renault, “enables the same product to be manufactured at several different sites or many products to be manufactured at a single site. It simplifies planning, facilitates management, enables adjustments to global capacity and lowers entry costs.”

In other words: You no longer dedicate a plant to a car, you dedicate it to the kit architecture.

Interestingly, the first plant geared up for CMF will be Nissan’s new plant in Chennai, India, where, even more interestingly, the first new budget priced Datsuns will roll off the assembly line next month – and with it the beginnings of a new global small car.

Having covered the road to kits for the last four years, TTAC will hit the road and be in Chennai when the plant opens. TTAC will also be in Wolfsburg this coming week to hear more about Volkswagen’s MQB, MLB, MSB kit architectures (and maybe, report from the back seat of the Golf GTD, and the XL-1 – if it would have a back seat.)

Our jetlag, your gain.

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Nissan Terrano Is A Re-Badged Renault Duster Tue, 18 Jun 2013 11:51:11 +0000 2013-Nissan-Terrano-India

Renault and Nissan have a global alliance and in India both companies keep re-badging each other’s vehicles. While Renault has re-badged the Micra as the Pulse and Sunny as the Scala, Nissan will do it’s first re-badge exercise on a Renault product with the Terrano. The Nissan Terrano, as you can see in the above sketch, is a re-badged Renault Duster.

So what is the advantage of re-badging a product while keeping everything else the same? Well for starters, Renault and Nissan don’t have to bring in new products and that saves them quite a bit of investment. Even though the Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano are the same under the skin, there will be at least Rs. 60,000/- price difference between both ($1100). For the extra price you get a vehicle that looks slightly better with more features (likely to be leather seats).

This strategy could lead to the dreaded cannibalization, but Renault-Nissan are happy as long as overall sales increase.

Renault Duster. Photo courtesy Renault.

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Mahindra Chops Off Renault Logan’s Trunk Wed, 05 Jun 2013 17:01:08 +0000 Renault-Logan-Hatch

When Renault entered the Indian market a few years back, it had little experience. Thus the French automaker tied up with local automobile giant Mahindra. The first product to be launched was the Logan, priced a bit optimistically. The product didn’t sell, and Renault decided to part ways, giving Mahindra the rights to sell the Logan as its own product. Mahindra went solo with the Logan, re-badged it as the Verito and made some changes. The Logan started to sell better under the Mahindra umbrella.

Soon, competition started to get intense. A new segment of cars emerged, better known as sub 4-meter compact sedans. These vehicles measure less than 4-meters in length and are powered by engines which are less than 1.5-liter in capacity for diesel or less than 1.2-liter in capacity for gasoline. If the above criteria are met, the cars will be slapped with half the excise duty (12% against 24%), resulting in massive savings. Maruti Suzuki came up with the Swift sedan while Honda came up with the Brio sedan, both of which duck under 4-meters in length.

The Logan aka the Verito measured above 4-meters in length. In order to get excise benefits, Mahindra has made tweaks to the rear of the vehicle, bringing it under 4-meters. The result is the Verito Vibe, which gets a trunk with hinges (like sedans) and the rear windshield doesn’t open with the hatch door like it does in hatchbacks. The vertically stacked tail lights are quite old-fashioned, but the price is lower than the regular Verito due to the savings in duties (around $12000). The vehicle is powered by a 1.5-liter diesel engine producing 65 BHP and 160 Nm. Do you think the Verito Vibe looks appealing?




Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.a

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