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  • Geely’s revitalisation of Volvo augurs well for Proton

    Zhejiang Geely offered an insight into the company’s background at the announcement of the Proton-Geely deal yesterday, and one of the presentation slides made note of Volvo Cars and of its revival and current growth, something the Chinese automaker was naturally proud to highlight, albeit subtly.

    For good reason – when it purchased the Swedish automaker from Ford in August 2010 for US$1.5 billion in cash and debt, Volvo wasn’t in the pink of health, the company shifting just 335,000 units in 2009. Many didn’t think that the acquisition would amount to much in terms of success, that the brand could be saved by the Chinese company.

    As developments have shown, the gamble paid off, and handsomely at that. Geely accomplished the turnaround with an injection of capital to the tune of US$11 billion, the investment used to revitalise the line-up with fresh models and develop innovative technologies. Key Volvo personnel were retained, which helped stability and continuity.

    Products and technologies brought about by the transformation programme include the XC90, S90 and V90 as well as new modular platforms, the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and Compact Modular Architecture (CMA). Developed for larger and smaller cars respectively, both vehicle platforms are capable of incorporating either hybrid or fully electric car technologies.

    An emphasis on electrification has also come about. In October 2015, the automaker announced a comprehensive series of electrification strategies, and these will see the introduction of plug-in hybrids across its entire range, the development of an entirely new range of electrified smaller cars and the advent of a fully electric car by 2019.

    Underpinned by the CMA platform, the latter is set to be built in China for global export. The lofty ambitions on this front also targets to introduce up to a million electrified vehicles into the market by 2025.

    All this has been reflected in strong sales growth over the last few years. By 2014, sales had climbed to 466,000 cars, and 2015 saw the automaker registering 503,127 units, the first time Volvo sold more than half a million cars in its 89-year history. Last year, it achieved its aim for a hat-trick of annual record sales, with 2016 sales amounting to 534,332 units.

    The success Geely has had with Volvo augurs well for a similar transformation to take place with Proton. The Chinese company has stated it aims to revitalise Proton, and has pledged to make its global resources, knowledge and management skills available to the national carmaker.

    Do you think Geely will be able to achieve its target of making Proton the number one Malaysian brand again, and into a leading brand in Southeast Asia? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

     
  • BARU: Artikel terkini dalam Bahasa Malaysia

  • DRIVEN: 2017 Proton Iriz first impressions review

    Remember the Proton Iriz? I’m sure you do – it was launched three years ago to much hype and fanfare, and was supposed to herald a new beginning for the national carmaker. We certainly tempered our expectations when we drove it (we’ve been down this road many times before), but we emerged with the impression that despite a number of minor niggles, it was still a very impressive effort, with plenty going for it.

    I don’t need to bore you with the details of what happened in the ensuing years, but in short, the market pretty much turned away from the handsome little hatchback. The combination of those small flaws (sluggish CVT, refinement issues) coupled with a spate of quality and reliability complaints from customers meant that Malaysians went back to doing what they’ve been doing for the past 12 years – buying Myvis.

    Proton has worked hard to fix those errors, first with last year’s Persona sedan, then with the updated 2017 Iriz you see here. And while we can’t tell you what the ownership experience will be like a few years from now, this preview drive has allowed us to experience just how deep these improvements run, and you’ll know what our impressions are later on.

    Strangely, however, this also feels like a bit of a swansong. Just hours prior to the media preview, it was confirmed that Geely will swoop in to acquire Proton, with sweeping plans to turn the company around. So in many ways, this will likely be one of Proton’s final products as an independent carmaker – our last truly homegrown car. How does it fare under our judgement? Read on to find out.

    Read our first impressions of the 2017 Proton Iriz here.

     
  • Shell and Waze launch Asia’s first accident area alerts

    Malaysians love a good mobile app, and where navigation app Waze is concerned, we’ve been ranked as having the highest number of users in Southeast Asia. Despite also being ranked the best place in ASEAN to drive by Waze’s own Driver Satisfaction Index, we could all still do with help getting around the urban sprawl, and to that end Waze has collaborated with Shell Helix to alert users of accident-prone areas.

    “Using the crowdsourced data contributed by Wazers, we have identified the top crash locations that reflect the real situations on Malaysian roads. We are delighted to work with Shell Helix to launch this initiative that reminds drivers to stay extra safe. By reducing crashes, we also reduce traffic jams and this benefits everyone,” said Edward Ling, business manager for Waze Malaysia.

    Shell is keen to further enhance road safety for drivers and travel with better peace of mind, via its collaboration with the community-based traffic and navigation mobile app, said Alex Lim, marketing manager for Shell Lubricants Malaysia and Singapore. Because the alerts function as pop-ups within the app, the alerts will appear on any Waze-compatible device.

    “Shell Malaysia has been synonymous with various road safety initiatives throughout our more than 125-year presence in Malaysia. This cooperation with Waze reflects our desire to take our commitment in road safety to the next level by engaging drivers in real-time,” Lim said.

    This collaboration for accident-prone area alerts take effect from May 16 until July 15 2017 for the Hari Raya festive season, and will function as a Shell Helix-branded pop up on the Waze app. The pop-ups will appear when the Waze user approaches any of the 50 accident-prone areas in Peninsular Malaysia, as identified by historical accident data submitted by Waze users.

    Shell Helix will also be running a special oil change promotion for Waze users with pop-up messages as indicated when approaching the accident-prone hotspots; this is only for the pre-peak period, which is before the week leading up to Hari Raya. For safety reasons, the pop-ups will only appear when the Waze user is deemed to be stationary.

    By presenting the promo code which appears as the pop-up, users stand will receive a RM30 discount towards their oil change at participating Shell Helix-branded workshops and Lubebay service outlets at Shell retail stations.

     
  • Peugeot Traveller previewed in Malaysia – 2.0L diesel, eight-seater MPV, CKD launching in Q3

    The Peugeot Traveller has been officially previewed in Malaysia by distributor Nasim Sdn Bhd. Previously announced and spotted in the country, the Traveller is part of the fleet of cars Nasim and parent company Naza is providing to the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games and Para Games that will be held in August. The Traveller was present at the official car handover ceremony at Peugeot’s Glenmarie showroom today.

    Nasim officials were tight lipped on the eventual specs, but the Travellers on display came with spec sheets, which matched the SEA Games liveried units. The MPV seen here is powered by a 2.0 litre turbodiesel engine with 150 hp and 370 Nm of torque from 1,750 rpm. The oil burner is paired to an Aisin-sourced EAT6 Quickshift six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox with steering paddles.

    This Traveller measures 4,956 mm long with a 3,275 mm wheelbase, which means that it’s the Standard variant. Elsewhere, the MPV comes in 4,606 mm Compact and 5,309 mm Long forms. To compare, a current-generation Toyota Alphard is 41 mm shorter (4,915 mm) and has a 275 mm shorter wheelbase (3,000 mm), so you’re looking at a giant people carrier.

    Like the footprint, the Traveller’s cabin comes in various configurations in Europe. The unit you see here comes with three individual sliding seats in the second and third rows, making the Peugeot an eight-seater in a 2-3-3 formation. Each of the six seats in rows two and three has its own three-point seatbelt and Isofix mount for child seats.

    It’s very well-equipped. Listed equipment includes directional bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, 17-inch “Phoenix” alloys, twin electric sliding doors, keyless entry and push start, front/rear parking sensors with 180-degree reverse camera, leather seats, dual panoramic roof, second row window blinds, plus a seven-inch touchscreen head unit with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink.

    Also in are eight-way electric seats for the driver and front passenger, head-up display, and a three-zone air con with second- and third-row air diffusion (ceiling-mounted vents). Safety wise, the Peugeot Traveller comes with six airbags, ESP, hill start assist, blind spot monitoring, Driver Attention Alert and tyre pressure monitoring.

    The Peugeot Traveller is expected to be launched in the third quarter, as early as July, in CKD form.

     
  • Tun Mahathir saddened by Proton-Geely agreement

    Former Proton chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has shared his thoughts relating to the recent Proton-Geely deal in a posting on his personal blog.

    Describing Proton as his “child,” he stated that with the done deed, “Proton can no longer be national” and that any success it experiences is nothing to be proud of, as it doesn’t “belong to me or my country.”

    Yesterday, Geely was announced as Proton’s foreign strategic partner, and will acquire a 49.9% stake in the national carmaker, as well as a 51% stake in Lotus. Both parties are expected to sign a definitive agreement before the end of July 2017.

    “With a strategic partner, Proton would be able to elevate the brand value and consumer confidence, have access to the latest technology, achieve higher economies of scale and have the ability to access bigger markets beyond Malaysia,” said second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani in a report by The Star, citing examples such as Tata with Jaguar Land Rover as well as BMW with MINI and Rolls-Royce.

    The following is the blog posting by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in full:

    1. Proton has been sold. It has been sold to foreigners.

    2. They say Proton is my brainchild. Now the child of my brain has been sold.

    3. Yes. I am sad. I can cry. But the deed is done. Proton can no longer be national. No national car now. We Malaysians are glad to be rid of this pesky car. I am sure Proton will do well. It will be a commercial success. It will be sold all over the world. The Proton name will be everywhere.

    4. It will be like Singapore. Malaysians are proud of this great city-state. If it had not been sold it would be, perhaps, as well developed as Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis. Then we cannot be proud of Singapore.

    5. Now we can be proud of Proton. With money and superior technology it will compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley.

    6. But I cannot be proud of its success. I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country. Maybe other Malaysians will, but not me. Come to think of it, if our country is sold to others, to the very rich people of other countries, I am sure our country will become well developed too. It can even be a fully developed country – exceeding the expectations of Vision 2020.

    7. It will be a great country with super highways, high-speed rail (HSR), gleaming skyscrapers, shining new towns, beautifully landscaped and lighted. But I can’t be proud! Can I be proud to be living on the fringes of this great country so well developed by the buyers.

    8. I will die soon. I am already beyond average age. And as I slip into my final years, or month or days, I will watch as our beloved country is sold to foreigners to settle the trillion Ringgits that we owe. We will have to sell more and more of our country.

    9. What are our assets? Our land of course!! That was what we did in the past. We sold chunks of our country. We lost the land we sold. That is what we are doing now. And that will be what we will have to do – or forfeit our country; like we forfeit Proton.

    10. Proton the child of my brain has been sold. It is probably the beginning of the great sell-out. The process is inexorable. No other way can we earn the billions to pay our debts. The only way is to sell our assets. And eventually we will lose our country, a great country no doubt, but owned by others.

    11. I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country.

    12. Please excuse me.

     
  • Vehicle warranty void with third-party mods – Perodua

    In response to inquiries from customers on vehicle modification, Perodua has released an official statement to provide some clarity on the issue.

    According to Perodua Sales managing director Datuk Dr Zahari Husin, vehicle owners who “perform any alteration to the vehicle via a third party” will result in their vehicle warranty being null and void. Keep in mind that this is standard practice for many car brands, as unwarranted modifications can result in unwanted liability.

    Instead, he suggested that those who are looking to customise their Perodua vehicle should opt for current accessory items listed in its GearUp or Perodua accessories’ catalogues.

    “Our well-trained and experienced aftersales team is also capable of evaluating whether your vehicle can support further upgrades in terms of your entertainment needs or other electronic requirements in a safe manner,” Zahari noted.

    He adds that customer safety is paramount to Perodua, and discourages owners from installing any performance-modifying accessories such as bodykits, engines parts and electrical systems.

     
  • Zhejiang Geely – a brief insight into Proton’s FSP

    At the announcement of the Proton-Geely deal, officials from Zhejiang Geely were present to provide the media with a little insight into the company’s background. Here’s a bit of trivia to start: the company was founded in 1986 as a refrigerator maker.

    In terms of financials, Geely’s revenue has continuously grown over the years, from US$23 billion in 2011, to US$25.7 billion in 2014 and US$30.4 billion in 2016. The company was listed as a Fortune 500 company in 2016 (410th place), which also represents its fifth consecutive year it appeared on the acclaimed list by Fortune Magazine.

    Furthermore, Geely’s share price on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (0175.HK) has increased from HK$2.56 on May 23, 2012 to nearly five times that amount, HK$12.38 on April 23, 2017. As for May 19, 2017, Geely’s share price stands at HK$11.20, with a market capitalisation of HK$99.88 billion.

    Geely’s growing sales volume is a strong factor for its good financials, where in 2016, the company managed to sell 765,851 vehicles, a 50% year-on-year increase. For 2017, the company’s sales target is set at one million units, while in the coming years, that number will balloon to 2.2 million vehicles yearly.

    As most of you are aware, Volvo is also part of the Geely umbrella, after being fully acquired back in 2010. With strong support from Geely, Volvo has managed to develop many new models like the XC90, S90 and XC60. This has also helped boost Volvo’s sales volume from 335,000 in 2009, to 534,000 in 2016.

    The technologies and platforms developed by Volvo and Geely will help both companies expand or improve their current product line-up, as Geely has demonstrated with its new MPV and D-segment sedan concepts.

    Geely has also acquired or introduced other brands to its portfolio with the likes of Lynk & Co as well as the London Taxi Company (formerly owned by Manganese Bronze Holdings). With several R&D centres as well as design studios in various countries, it appears Geely will have no shortage of resources at its disposal.

    The Chinese company currently has 65,000 employees in its workforce, led by its founder Li Shu Fu, who has over 30 years of experience in the investment and management of the automobile manufacturing business in China. Here’s what the automaker has in terms of models for its domestic market.

     
  • Engine downsizing trend to end soon – VW CEO Diess

    For a while now, engine downsizing appeared to be the way forward, particularly towards meeting emissions regulations. However, it is a trend that has peaked, according to Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess. “The reduction in the number of cylinders has achieved its goals. Whether it is moving from four cylinders to three or six to four, then we have achieved efficiency benefits while retaining the qualities of drivability,” he said.

    “That trend made a lot of sense — but it comes to an end now. If we go smaller, we will run into emissions and cost problems,” he added. The cost of developing diesel engines to meet new emissions regulations – estimated at around 1,000 euro (RM4,809.18) per car – also mean new buyers of these cars won’t accept the increased price of admission for the newfound gains, Diess said.

    Where powertrains are concerned, 48V hybrid systems are likely to gradually replace diesels in city cars and superminis as they can offer the same efficiency for less money, according to Diess. “The internal combustion engine has a long life ahead of it yet, but as we hit the limits of thermo-dynamics, then the cost of hybridisation will be less than that of pursuing gains without them,” he said.

    To that end, the company has indicated its approach with concepts shown at this year’s annual Wörthersee gathering, including a commemorative GTI concept with all-wheel drive and 410 PS.

     
  • Diesel no longer dominant choice in Europe – report

    Europe used to be a stronghold for diesel vehicles, where it accounted for half of all cars sold until April last year. Last month, however, that proportion dropped to 46%.

    “While there are several reasons for this shift, all evidence points to the Dieselgate scandal as the start of this decline,” said JATO Dynamics global automotive analyst Felipe Munoz. “Since the scandal, which broke in 2015, the fuel type has suffered major setbacks to its reputation as governments consider new legislation that directly affect diesel car owners – such as plans in the UK for a diesel scrappage scheme,” Munoz said.

    “In tandem with this, the media continues to advise consumers to avoid the fuel type wherever possible. When factoring in the ongoing push for electric/hybrid vehicles, which are particularly prevalent in markets like the UK, it is perhaps no surprise to see this decline in performance from diesel,” Munoz continued.

    Going by brands and their models, the Volkswagen Golf reclaimed its top spot on the sales chart, even though sales were down by 28.1% while the Polo fell 11.4% with third place. The Renault Clio took second place, recording a 7.1% drop. It wasn’t all downhill though, as the Citroen C3 took ninth place with a gain of 48.1%, while the VW Tiguan made even bigger strides with a 71.6% gain for fourth place.

    The biggest winners in this instance are Volkswagen Group and PSA Groupe, who, together, account for four out of ten car sales in Europe. The Peugeot 3008 immediately became the fifth best-selling SUV as it came to market, contributing its share of PSA Groupe’s European gains.

     
  • PSA Groupe in talks to build Aisin gearboxes in France

    French automaker group, PSA Groupe is in talks with transmission manufacturer Aisin for the building of transmissions at one of its own plants in France, according to a Reuters report. With Peugeot’s recent acquisition of Opel, the group’s enlarged scale helped Aisin ease into the negotiations, the report said.

    “We’re absolutely not averse to joint programs with non-Toyota companies,” president of Aisin Seiki, Yasumori Ihara said in January, reportedly around the same time as when PSA CEO Carlos Tavares told his staff at the Metz transmission plant that a production deal was being considered.

    Ihara’s statement of openness didn’t appear to make progress until PSA Groupe’s takeover of Opel, Reuters quoted a source as saying. “There’s easily enough room on the Metz site. They can come and install their tooling tomorrow if they want,” said Christian Lafaye, an official with the Force Ouvriere union.

    Currently, PSA Groupe buys six- and eight-speed transmissions for use in models in its Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, and if the transmissions are put together in the group’s native France, it would give better security in terms of supply and currency stability, as well as making better use of its existing plants.

     
 

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