Latest Stories

  • Hyundai Xcient hydrogen fuel cell trucks, with over 1m km European mileage, will soon hit California roads

    Here’s another milestone for Hyundai, one of the biggest proponents of hydrogen fuel cell tech in the industry. The Korean company has announced its plan to deploy hydrogen fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks in California, for two publicly funded projects to improve the air quality in the US state.

    The demo trucks that Hyundai will bring into the Golden State are developed based on Xcient Fuel Cell, the world’s first mass-produced, heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen that debut last year. The Xcient FC has proven its commercial viability through more than one million km of driving in real-world conditions in Europe. The US model has a maximum driving range of 800 km.

    Hyundai teamed with public and private partners in the US to operate 30 units of the Class 8 trucks, with a 6×4 drive axle configuration, starting from Q2 2023. This will be the largest commercial deployment of Class 8 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks in the US.

    A consortium led by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) and Hyundai recently won US$22 million (RM93 million) in grants from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), and US$7 million (RM29.6 million) in additional grants from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in support of the NorCal Zero project.

    The project, officially known as Zero-Emission Regional Truck Operations with Fuel Cell Electric Trucks, will see logistics service provider Glovis America be the fleet operator of the hydrogen trucks. Macquarie’s Specialized and Asset Finance business, part of its Commodities and Global Markets division, will finance the trucks through a lease to the operator.

    The CTE-Hyundai consortium also plans to establish a high-capacity hydrogen refuelling station in Oakland, California that will be able to support as many as 50 trucks with an average fill of 30 kg.

    Down in SoCal, Hyundai was awarded a US$500,000 (RM2.1 million) grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to demonstrate in Southern California two Class 8 Xcient Fuel Cell trucks. Largely funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project contributes to the attainment of clean air standards in the South Coast Air Basin by reducing emissions from diesel trucks.

    Hyundai and its fleet partner plan to start operating these trucks in August. They will be used for long-haul freight operations between warehouses in the region for a 12-month period. Hyundai will also work with the market leader in hydrogen refuelling stations in California, First Element Fuel (FEF), to utilise three hydrogen stations in the 12-month pilot programme.

    In 2020, Hyundai announced its plan to deliver 1,600 Xcient Fuel Cell trucks to Europe by 2025. The first 46 units were delivered to Switzerland last year, and they have cumulatively driven more than one million km in 11 months of service. During that time, the fleet has reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 630 tonnes, compared to diesel-powered trucks, Hyundai claims.

    Hyundai will leverage insights gained from these public projects to develop its zero-emission commercial fleet business in the US and establish local partnerships across the value chain, the company says. Hyundai is already in talks with multiple logistics and commercial companies interested in leveraging hydrogen tech for their freight delivery and drayage services.

    Click on these links for more on Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell applications in car showrooms and on the race track.

  • Renault 5 Turbo 3 debuts as a 400 hp restomod tribute

    In the 1980s, Renault wanted to emulate the rallying success of the mid-engine Lancia Stratos and decided to inject some venom into the Renault 5 Alpine, which is the hot hatch version of its supermini at the time.

    The result was the Renault 5 Turbo, with 400 units being produced to comply with Group 4 regulations of the FIA World Rally Championship. Unlike the car it is based on, the R5 Turbo featured a new rear bodywork that was styled by Marc Deschamps at Bertone, which became instantly one of its most recognisable traits

    The redesign was necessary to fit turbocharged Cléon-Fonte engine behind the driver, which sent drive to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. This was opposite of the front-engine, front-wheel drive setup found in the Renault 5 Alpine, and in 1981, a competition-spec R5 Turbo driven by Jean Ragnotti won the Monte Carlo on its first outing in the WRC.

    When Renault was done with the homologation models, a second version called the Turbo 2 was introduced that used more conventional parts to bring down the price tag. While cheaper, it still retained many of the go-fast parts of the Turbo 1, so there was still plenty of performance on offer.

    In honour of the homologation special, a French, Los Angeles-based company called Légende Automobiles has revealed a new restomod dubbed the Renault 5 Turbo 3, which it says combines the best bits of both cars – the Turbo 1 and Turbo 2 – with a good heaping of modern technology to improve it even further.

    At first glance, there’s no doubt that the firm got the looks right. The R5 Turbo 3’s design closely mimics the classics mentioned, albeit with contemporary touches like LED lighting all around. Additionally, the body is hand-built using carbon-fibre and the staggered wheels (16-inch front and 17-inch rear) are available in two different designs.

    Moving towards the rear, you’ll find air curtains incorporated into the C-pillars as a nod to the past, while the rear side glass is framed in carbon-fibre. The company also added an extended rear wing on the roof and a two-piece diffuser, the latter featuring custom-made square exhaust tips.

    The exhaust system is linked to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that reportedly makes over 400 hp, and in keeping with heritage, is paired with a manual transmission driving the rear wheels. The company notes that the R5 Turbo 3 uses the latest version of the front and rear double wishbone geometry from the competition Maxi Turbo, making the car wider and more capable than its predecessors.

    Inside, the general layout of the cabin has been retained for the restomod, but there’s now a fully digital instrument cluster display in place of the analogue dials. The controls for the dual-zone automatic climate control are also modern, while orange accents are applied throughout the interior. A pair of thin seats with racing harnesses and a roll cage completes the living space, along with exposed mechanicals for the gear lever.

    “In a world that has become increasingly more digital, we were yearning for a time-machine that could transport us back to the analogue 80’s whenever modern life became a bit bland,” the company said. “We ignored all financial advice and spared no expense in making sure that this is the best possible version of the B-segment icon. In doing so, we created something unapologetically uncompromised,” it added. There’s no official pricing yet, but don’t expect it to come cheap, as with most restomods.


  • 2021 Suzuki GSX-R1000R comes in Matte Mechanical Grey colour option for Japanese domestic market

    Set for official release in the Japanese domestic market (JDM) come July 30th is the 2021 Suzuki GSX-R1000R in a Glass Matte Mechanical Grey/Matte Black Metallic No 2 colour option. This new paint scheme with the code CB8 joins the current Suzuki liter-class superbike colours of Triton Blue Metallic/Mystic Silver Metallic (code GUL) and Matte Black Metallic No 2 (code 4TX) with pricing at 1.96 million yen (RM75,325) excluding Japanese consumption tax.

    Producing 197 PS at 13,200 rpm and 117 Nm of torque at 10,800 rpm, the GSX-R1000R carries it’s liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder in a diamond frame, with 46 mm throttle bodies fed by twin injectors. Variable length intakes are used on the number 1 and 4 cylinders, with the middle cylinders having fixed length intakes to improve low and medium range torque while producing top-end power at maximum revs along with a smooth power delivery.

    More power gains are realised with Suzuki Racing Variable Valve Timing (SR-VVT) that uses steel balls activated by centrifugal force, optimising intake cam timing. On the exhaust side, a servo-controlled butterfly valve balances flow through the interconnected exhaust pipes, optimising exhaust back pressure and improving engine torque.

    Three riding modes are available on the GSX-R1000R, called Suzuki Drive Mode Selectro (S-DMS), switchable using the left handlebar pod. This is combined with 10-mode traction control and a six-axis inertial management unit giving 30 possible ride settings.

    Other riding aids include low RPM assist that prevents engine stall in first gear and at very low speeds, as well as single-push engine start. For racetrack duty and fast road riding, the GSX-R1000R comes with launch control and two-mode bi-directional quickshifter.

  • Car models – are names or alphanumerics preferred?

    A car’s model designation is its name, which is at the top, or at least near the top of a list of elements that make up its identity, and certainly one among few that make impressions the soonest.

    Like reputation, a name tends to precede an entity; the phrase “Have you seen the just-launched [insert car name]?” or similar indicates that what the car is known by tends to come before everything else about it. Car model designations tend to fall into one of two camps – alphanumeric or a more evocative name, though often combinations of the two are used.

    For some automakers, one approach has been favoured over the other, such as Proton with the Persona, Iriz, Exora, Saga and the like. However, the national car brand appears to be pivoting towards alphanumerics, at least with the recently introduced SUV model lines which are the X70 and X50.

    While Proton has added alphanumerics to its existing model range through the introduction of the X50 and X70, Volvo is will be doing away with them, with the Concept Recharge the first of its new direction

    By way of Geely, brand relative Volvo has gone the opposite direction with its naming convention, as it has just elected to dispense with its traditional S, V and XC prefixes as well as variant designations such as T8 that have historically comprised the vast majority of its product line. There have been exceptions, such as the 121/131/221 ranges which were collectively also known as the Amazon. What say you, readers – would switching to specific names be a good idea for Volvo?

    Fellow Swedish brand Koenigsegg appears to have steered towards a similar direction. The supercar maker’s early years featured the CC of 1996 two years after the company, Koenigsegg Automotive was formed, which gave rise to derivatives CC8S, CCX and CCXR before the advent of the Agera in 2010, marking the start of ‘proper’ names such as the Regera, Jesko and Gemera.

    Also at the luxury end of the automotive spectrum is Rolls-Royce, which uses names almost exclusively for its production vehicles such as the Phantom, Ghost and Wraith, even for special editions such as Black Badge, Neon Lights and Iridescent Opulence.

    Among luxury marques, Rolls-Royce uses names almost exclusively, while Ferrari uses a combination of names and alphanumerics

    Meanwhile, Ferrari has used a combination of the two right from its formative years, the 166 Inter of 1948 coming shortly after the 125 S and 159 S racers of the year before.

    More recently, the Italian marque appeared to alternate between name-and-alphanumeric and just alphanumerics; the F430 of 2004 broke with convention from the 355 Berlinetta and 360 Modena of 1994 and 1999 respectively, then going back to using a combination of the two with the 458 Italia of 2009 and the F12 Berlinetta of 2012.

    There are exceptions to the rule of course; track-focused edition Ferraris add names to alphanumerics, such as the 430 Scuderia and the 488 Pista to name just two, or switch out the names of the regular versions such as 360 Modena and 458 Italia for the Challenge Stradale and Speciale, respectively.

    In the case of the Prancing Horse, its naming method where numbers are involved is varied, and changes from model to model. The 355 Berlinetta was so named for its capacity of 3.5 litres, for the first two digits, and its five valve-per-cylinder engine head, for the final ‘5’.

    Here’s a car with a name to suit its wheelbase

    The formula changes regularly because while the 360 designation largely corresponds to engine displacement, it wouldn’t be given the ‘5’ digit even if it retained five-valve cylinder heads because there has already been a Ferrari 365, while the ‘8’ in the 458 denotes number of cylinders in its 4.5 litre engine.

    Alphanumerics are used in the mainstream segments largely out of necessity. Automakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have vast model ranges, most of each with just as prolific powertrain combinations, and thus the alphanumeric method is the most efficient way of distinguishing between each variant.

    Most of the time, variant names remain succinct as with the BMW 530i, though there are oddities. In contrast with the concision of a name such as the Ferrari LaFerrari, this method could give rise to some truly long phrases when a car is called by its full, official name. Welcome the – draw a breath now – BMW Individual M760Li xDrive Model V12 Excellence The Next 100 Years, which premiered in 2016.

    All that said, what is your preferred type of model designation, dear readers? For this writer, names take the vote, and in Italian for good measure. How else would “four-door” turn out to be as emotive as Quattroporte?

  • W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift teased for M’sia

    Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) has begun teasing the arrival of the new W213 E-Class facelift, which first made its global debut in March last year. The company did not provide an official launch date for the refreshed sedan, but you can register your interest if you plan to buy one.

    The facelift is easily identified by its new grille, which is slimmer than before and comes in different shapes depending on the accompanying trim package (Avantgarde Line, Exclusive Line or AMG Line). Besides the tweaked nose, the update also includes smaller and more angular headlamps that sport an L-shaped daytime running light signature at the top of the cluster – similar to latest CLA and CLS.

    At the rear, wide, two-piece taillights replace the outgoing model’s vertical-oriented clusters. These now extend into the boot lid and feature a diode-like light signature within them. Moving inside, expect the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system to be fitted, which can be configured with two 10.25-inch or 12.3-inch displays.

    Other changes inside the cabin should include new steering wheel designs that correspond to the chosen trim package, along with new upholstery, trim and equipment options. The new E-Class also comes with a variety of driver assist systems, although we’ll have to wait and see just how feature-packed the offered variants will be.

    Similarly, we’ll have to wait for the launch to find out if we’ll get the newer M254 engine that replaces the M264 unit used in the current, pre-facelift E-Class range. The M254 is a four-cylinder engine that delivers up to 272 PS (268 hp) and 400 Nm of torque, and is supplemented by an EQ Boost 48-volt mild hybrid system with an integrated starter-generator (ISG) that provides a 20 PS (20 hp) and 180 Nm boost when required.

    W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift with AMG Line

    W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift with Exclusive Line

  • Puspakom’s August 2021 schedule for mobile inspection unit and Sabah/Sarawak off-site tests

    Puspakom has released the August 2021 schedule for its mobile inspection unit for Peninsular Malaysia, and off-site testing for Sabah and Sarawak.

    The mobile inspection unit truck will visit Perak, Johor, Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan. The purpose of this initiative is to serve those living far away from Puspakom branches. Services offered include routine, transfer of ownership and voluntary vehicle inspections, among other tests.

    There’s no fancy “transformers” truck in East Malaysia, but personnel and equipment for off-site tests will visit Ranau, Kudat, Kota Belud, Kunak, Kapit, Limbang and Marudi, among other smaller towns in Sabah and Sarawak.

    Click to enlarge schedules

    The vehicle inspection company says that customers can go straight to the stated locations at the set dates, without needing to make an online appointment, as one would have to do for Puspakom branches. The mobile inspection unit’s operation hours are from 8am to 6pm. Remember to follow SOPs and maintain social distancing.

    On another note, Puspakom says that its Sungai Petani branch remains closed. Customers who recently visited the outlet and feel unwell or have Covid-19 symptoms are advised to go for tests. Meanwhile, the Seremban branch that was closed due to an EMCO on the area restarted operations on July 23.

  • BMW Group Classic showcases the ZBF-7er concept

    BMW Group Classic previously gave us a tour of the Integrated Concept Engineering (ICE), which is a concept car that was never shown to the public. In that video, the ICE was joined by the ZBF-7er, which was another obscure concept, although we didn’t get much information about it at the time.

    However, the branch responsible for all activities concerning the history of BMW has now released another video that focuses on the ZBF-7er, with longtime BMW designer Joji Nagashima on hand to give us a better insight. Aside from the concept, the 30-plus-year veteran was also responsible for the E36 and E90 versions of the 3 Series, the E39 5 Series and the Z3.

    According to Nagashima, the name ZBF stands for “Zukunft BMW Familie” or “Future BMW Family.” Built in 1996, BMW first created a full-size clay model of the concept before shipping it to Italy, where coachbuilders would hand-beat aluminium sheets to create the body. “Such a futuristic concept car done in a method which was very old and traditional,” said Nagashima.

    The body isn’t the only bespoke thing on the ZBF-7er, as the tyres were also custom-made for it. Nagashima said that at the time, they couldn’t find production tyres that would fit onto the concept, as 19-inch wheels were the largest back then. As a result, BMW had to ask Dunlop to create custom tyres to fit the concept’s 20-inch wheels, which featured hand-cut treads designed by Nagashima.

    Size-wise, the concept is described as being larger than the third-generation E38 7 Series, while the design featured relatively simple surfaces along the sides. There are some standout cues though, including gigantic side scuttles to make things “less boring,” flush door handles, while cameras replaced side mirrors long before we will see them on production cars.

    Inside, you’ll find an early version of BMW’s iDrive system, although this was controlled from the rear seats. It wouldn’t be until 2001 when iDrive would make its first debut in the Chris Bangle-designed, fourth-generation E65 7 Series. Even the dashboard shares some similarity to the E65 in some regard.

    Of course, the most noticeable thing on the concept is the giant kidney grille, which was a huge departure from the slim design seen on the E38, and it shows that BMW was toying with the idea long before it applied it on the latest 7 Series, 4 Series, M3 and M4.

    It’s clear that the ZBF-7er never made it to production as a successor to the E38 because we got the E65 instead, which was itself quite a huge departure from past BMW designs. By now, the past is the past, but imagine how differently BMWs would have evolved if the company’s top executives chose the other path many years ago.

  • Workhorse Speed Shop builds “Black Swan” and “FTR AMA”, based on Indian Motorcycle FTR flat tracker

    Readers might recall Workhorse Speed Shop from its build from last year, the Workhorse Appaloosa, based on the Indian Scout Bobber. The Belgium based outfit is now back with two speed oriented motorcycle builds using the Indian Motorcycle FTR.

    Still in the build phase, this pair of custom builds from Workhorse take inspiration from two branches of motorcycling – the road-going sportsbikes of the 1990s dubbed “Black Swan” and the 1980s era AMA SBK race bikes, called the “FTR AMA”. These customs belong to two brothers, the brother who commissioned Black Swan asking Workhorse to build another for his brother, the only stipulation being it have Martini Racing livery.

    Black Swan is built for road use, with a sporty intent and constructed from carbon-fibre. Rotobox will be supplying the carbon-fibre wheels for Black Swan, while German composite specialists Liteblox are providing a one-off carbon-fibre battery.

    Blacked out, the FTR V-twin engine is ceramic coated by Cerakite NI with the billet CNC machined parts done by Vinco Racing of Holland. Clay modelling for Black Swan is done in-house, with Workhorse principal Brice Hennebert sculpting half the bodywork after receiving renderings of the concept sketches from Axsent in Japan.

    After 3D scanning by Forame Design, Robert Colyns of 13.8 Composites then 3D-printed the bodywork for Black Swan from the CAD model, creating the masters for the carbon-fibre moulds and dies, resulting in bodywork that weighs just 1.8 kg. Further goodies for the Black Swan come in the form of custom Ohlins suspension and Behringer 4+ brake callipers.

    For FTR AMA, the AMA superbike raced in the 1980s by the likes of Wes Cooley and Fred Merkel provide the design inspiration. Form follows function in the FTR AMA, with twin aluminium fuel cells providing a total of 14-liters capacity, with one of the tanks located under the seat.

    The intake system has been redesigned to allow fitment of DNA air filters and the tail section now accommodates twin Ohlins shocks absorbers. JoNich Wheels from Italy provides the wheelset for FTR AMA, based on its Rush wheel design but omitting the carbon-fibre flanges.

    Hennebert says the wheels from JoNich reminded him of the vented wheels used in the Lancia Delta HF, which then set the tone for the rest of this custom motorcycle. The final design of the FTR AMA will be an amalgam of the Bol d’Or endurance racers and American muscle bikes, retaining the original FTR’s upright riding position.

    GALLERY: 2021 Indian Motorcycle FTR Workhorse FTR AMA

    GALLERY: 2021 Indian Motorcycle FTR Workhorse “Black Swan”

  • 2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X by Walkinshaw

    Click to enlarge

    The Volkswagen Amarok is really old now, having first hit the market back in 2010. There will be a sequel, and the next-generation Amarok will be based on the Ford Ranger. The Blue Oval is the lead partner in the project, but VW has promised significant differentiation. Expect an Australian launch in 2023.

    Meanwhile, Wolfsburg’s original take on the compact pick-up truck soldiers on. In Australia, where the Amarok has a following, VW has enlisted Walkinshaw to dress up the old stager. The local tuner’s previous effort was the W580 from last year – now here’s the more hardcore, more off-road W580X.

    According to Aussie site CarExpert, the W580X will only go on sale in April 2022, and it’s an off-road version of the road-focused W580 and W580S, a rival of sorts to hardcore flagship variants such as the Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota Hilux Rugged X and Nissan Navara Warrior.

    A less hardcore version of the W580 is also available without the off-road kit

    The Amarok W580X sports front suspension lift, a set of off-road twin-tube MTV dampers, rock sliders, bash plates with Amarok branding. There’s also special Seikel underbody protection and breathers and an optional snorkel, plus 18-inch forged alloys with AT tyres.

    Also on the standard equipment list are a new front grille design, bumper inserts, LED fog lamps, velour seat trim with Walkinshaw branding, heated front seats, bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, dual-zone climate control, multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, black wing mirrors and rear bumper, tyre-pressure monitoring and an LED light bar below the number plate.

    No changes under the hood, where you’ll find a 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel with 255 hp and 580 Nm of torque. Power goes to all wheels via an eight-speed automatic and 4Motion AWD system. More on the upcoming Ranger-based next-gen Amarok here.

    GALLERY: Volkswagen Amarok W580 by Walkinshaw

    GALLERY: Volkswagen Amarok

  • Bentley unveils 22″ carbon-fibre wheel for Bentayga

    Do you own a Bentley Bentayga and love carbon-fibre? The British luxury marque has unveiled a 22-inch carbon-fibre wheel – the largest wheel made of the material – for its SUV, that offers a weight saving of six kg per wheel in unsprung mass compared to aluminium.

    Developed with composites manufacturer Bucci Composites, the 22-inch carbon-fibre wheel for the Bentayga is the first-ever carbon-fibre wheel to pass all tests in the TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverei – Technical Inspection Association) standards, which includes biaxial stress testing, radial and lateral impact testing for the simulation of potholes and cobblestones, tyre overpressure as well as excessive torque tests beyond the permitted limits.

    Concerns of carbon-fibre wheels shattering upon severe impact appear not to be an issue with the units made for the Bentayga, as Bentley says the wheels have been demonstrated to be “extremely safe” in light of the TUV impact test.

    Where a severe impact would crack or shatter an aluminium wheel and cause an explosive collapse, the carbon-fibre item allows a slow deflation of the tyre enabled by the layering of the fibre weaves, thus allowing the vehicle to come to a safe and controlled stop, says Bentley.

    In addition to the ride and handling benefits of offering reduced unsprung mass, Bentley says these carbon-fibre wheels also provide a more stable and consistent steering platform; by comparision, a forged aluminium rim can lose up to one degree of camber due to wheel flex, it says.

    The reduced bending also allows greater tyre stability and a more consistent contact patch, thus improving roadholding as well. For the completion of its development and final sign-off, the carbon-fibre wheel was run along the famous European performance testing ground that is the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

    A key innovation in the manufacturing process of the Bentayga’s carbon-fibre wheel is in the use of patented concepts along with the application of high-pressure resin transfer moulding (RTM). Here, the process first involves the carbon-fibre cloth being cut into the desired shapes, after which the weave segments are stacked, heated and draped into a mould to make three-dimensional preforms.

    These are then collated and arranged into a larger mould, and then resin and hardner are injected. The piece is then removed from the mould after curing at temperature, and its surfaces are machined to the correct finish before polishing, which finally yields the complete wheel.

    The 22-inch carbon-fibre wheel joins a group of carbon-fibre components which are already available for the Bentayga, including those part of the Styling Specification which is comprised of a carbon-fibre front splitter, sill extensions and rear diffuser, along with high-gloss carbon-fibre veneer parts for the interior. The new carbon-fibre wheel for the Bentayga will be available to order from late 2021, says Bentley.

    GALLERY: Bentley Bentayga Speed in Malaysia


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Last Updated 22 Jul 2021