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  • Shell experiencing technical issues with its system – customers unable to perform credit card transactions

    Shell has confirmed that it is experiencing technical glitches with its site system, which has affected operations at hundreds of its stations nationwide.

    According to a statement released by the company, the issue started at approximately 1am on January 16, where customers were unable to perform credit card transactions to purchase fuel.

    As of current, 230 Shell stations have returned to operating normally, accepting both cash and credit card transactions. Meanwhile, other stations will still continue to accept cash payments.

    The company is currently working with its IT vendor to identify the cause and extent of the issue. It also stated that it will work tirelessly to resolve the matter, and apologises for any inconvenience caused to customers and retailers.

  • Brabus bodykit, tuning for the W213 Mercedes E-Class

    Brabus has revealed its usual bodykit, accessories and tuning packages for the W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The “exclusive refinement program” also includes the company’s Monoblock wheels, suspension solutions and interior customisation options.

    The new E-Class comes with two bumper designs, and both get the Brabus treatment here. Exclusive and Avantgarde cars get a front spoiler, which brings a distinctive face and reduces lift on the front axle, the tuner claims. There are also surrounds for the side air intakes and a Brabus rear bumper insert with a diffuser look. Cutouts at each end allow the quad exhausts to peek out. The rear spoiler on the trunk lid fits all models.

    For the AMG Line sedan, Brabus’ front spoiler attaches to the lower part of the factory bumper. The outer sections of the component are shaped like flaps for an even more dynamic appearance. Vertical surrounds for the outer air intakes also add a dash of sporty. The rear diffuser has three vertical fins to further optimise airflow. Monoblock wheels range from 18 to 21 inches.

    For those looking beyond cosmetics, Bottrop is making available sport springs that lower the ride height by 30 mm. There’s also a special control module for models equipped with Air Body Control air suspension to match the conversion to high-performance tyres.

    Lastly, power. Let’s start from the E 200, which gets PowerXtra B20 tuning. The plug-and-play module boosts the entry four-cylinder turbo’s output to 225 hp and 330 Nm, from 184 hp/300 Nm. The base E 220d’s PowerXtra D3 module raises output by 27 hp and 50 Nm, while the D6 S kit for the E 350d boosts things by 51 hp and 100 Nm. This translates to a new peak torque of 720 Nm, available from 1,600 to 2,400 rpm. Thus equipped, it does 0-100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

    The tuner’s sport exhausts with four chrome-plated pipes are available for all variants. There’s also a variant with actively controlled exhaust flaps for the E 43, which allow altering the exhaust note at the touch of a button.

    Inside, options range from stainless steel scuff plates with backlit Brabus logo in 64 colours (just like the standard ambient lighting) to aluminium accessories such as pedals and door pins. Also available is the “soft yet durable” Brabus Mastik leather and Alcantara in any desired colour.

  • KTM wins 2017 Dakar Rally – 16th straight victory

    It was a KTM 1-2 at the Dakar Rally 2017 with the top two places going to Red Bull KTM factory riders Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and Matthias Walkner of Austria. Third place went to Spaniard Gerard Farres Guell, also riding a KTM.

    This is the 16th time in a row that KTM has won this gruelling off-road, multi-stage rally. After racing almost 9,000 km across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, Sunderland won the 12-stage rally with a final time of 32:06.22 on his specially prepared KTM 450 Rally.

    The 2017 Dakar Rally saw two stage cancellations and also reductions, due to weather conditions and a landslide. The rally – which ran from January 2 to 14 – began in Asuncion, Paraguay, and went through Bolivia and Argentina before the final special stage from Rio Cuarto to Buenos Aries, Argentina.

    Traditionally dominated by European riders, Sunderland is the first British winner of the Dakar rally, in any category. In fourth place overall was Adrien van Beveren of Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, riding a Yamaha WR450F.

    A mistake made during refuelling in Stage 4 saw Honda’s Joan Barreda and Pablo Gonçalves drop out of contention, coming in fifth and sixth, respectively. Female racer Laia Sanz, riding for KTM Spain, came in sixteenth overall, one spot shy of her goal of finishing in fifteenth place.

    In the car category, Peugeot took a 1-2-3 win as well, with the Peugeot 3008 DKR. Driven by Stéphane Peterhansel and co-piloted by Jean-Paul Cottret, the podium was also graced by nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb and five-time bike Dakar winner Cyril Despres, in second and third.

  • Takata to pay US$1 billion settlement to victims and carmakers, plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing

    The legal case surrounding the world’s biggest automotive safety recall caused by Takata’s airbag inflators is reaching a conclusion. Reuters reports that the Japanese company has agreed to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing and to pay US$1 billion to resolve a US Justice Department investigation into the issue.

    The deal was announced last week, hours after prosecutors in Detroit charged three former senior Takata executives with falsifying test results to conceal the inflator defect, which has been linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide, including several cases in Malaysia.

    Takata will pay a $25 million fine, $125 million in a victim compensation fund, including for future incidents, and $850 million to compensate automakers for massive recall costs, the US Justice Department said. To date, the recalls have affected 19 carmakers.

    The auto parts supplier will also be required to make significant reforms and be on probation and under the oversight of an independent monitor for three years. The settlement must still be approved by a federal judge in Detroit. This is a different deal from the one on 2015, when Takata admitted in a $70 million settlement with US auto safety regulators that it was aware of a defect in its airbag inflators, but did not issue a recall.

    “Reaching this agreement is a major step toward resolving the airbag inflator issue and a key milestone in the ongoing process to secure investment in Takata,” said Shigehisa Takada, chairman and CEO of the auto parts supplier. The company “deeply regrets the circumstances that have led to this situation and remains fully committed to being part of the solution,” he added.

    Separately, a federal grand jury indicted three longtime Takata executives after a more than two-year US criminal probe. Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima, and Tsuneo Chikaraishi were indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly convincing automakers to buy “faulty, inferior, non-performing, non-compliant or dangerous inflators” through false reports.”

    The Justice Department said the three Japanese citizens were suspended in 2015 and are not currently working for Takata. The six-count indictment said they knew around 2000 that the inflators were not performing to automakers specifications and were failing during testing, but they provided false test reports to the car companies.

    In the US, Takata’s faulty airbag inflators have been linked to 11 deaths and 184 injuries. There have been several deaths related to the company’s rupturing inflators in Malaysia too – all in Hondas – and Honda Malaysia has put in considerable effort to create awareness on the matter, urging owners of affected vehicles to bring their car in for part replacement, and making it as convenient as possible for them to do so.

    As of December 2016, Honda Malaysia says that it has only managed to replace 71% of affected driver front airbag inflators (stock availability at 100%), with a large number of affected cars yet to respond to the recall. The completion ratio for passenger airbag inflator replacements stood at 50% as of end-November. Please respond already, if your car is affected.

  • SPYSHOTS: Jaguar E-Pace – F-Pace’s smaller sibling

    The Jaguar E-Pace has been spotted again, this time wearing its production body unlike previously, where it wore Range Rover Evoque overalls. The E-Pace will be the brand’s second SUV, and will slot in under the larger F-Pace, hence the suggested name.

    Despite the camouflage applied on this prototype, many of the F-Pace’s design cues appear to be adopted by the Evoque-sized SUV, which will ride on same LR-MS platform used by the new Land Rover Discovery Sport.

    As such, the E-Pace will have Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) range of Ingenium petrol and diesel engines to choose from, paired with a ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic transmission. Front- and all-wheel drive models will most likely be offered, with the possibility of an all-electric version joining the line-up in the future.

    Exterior highlights visible here include a rectangular-shaped front grille, slim headlamps and taillights and a five-door body. Elsewhere, we see a high shoulder line, steeply-raked rear windscreen like its larger sibling and some pretty sizeable alloy wheels.

    When it finally debuts (likely at the end of 2017 or early next year), the E-Pace will look to take on the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. The E-Pace isn’t the only SUV that Jaguar is working on, as the all-electric I-Pace is also in its pipeline, first previewed at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.

  • Bentley chairman, CEO outlines future ideas – owners’ club with more than one vehicle, OLED overlays

    Not content with the idea of being left in the past as an old-school luxury marque for the elderly, Bentley has big ideas for the future of no-expenses-spared mobility, laid out by chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.

    During his speech, Dürheimer talked about the vast challenges that lay ahead for luxury carmakers. “The next 10 years will be transformational for luxury carmakers. We will see customer demographics broaden and change dramatically to incorporate millennials, the rising affluent in developing economies and members of Generation ‘C’ – the connected generation where attitude, rather than age, is the defining characteristic.

    “And these future customers will have very different expectations and requirements to the luxury car buyer of today,” he said, adding that they will likely want an approach to technology and vehicle ownership that is a complete change from those that came before.

    “Our research tells us that they will, for example, demand instant, unobstructed access to technology, information and convenience; have an entirely different attitude towards vehicle ownership; and live in an increasingly urbanised world with all the mobility challenges and opportunities that this presents.”

    Dürheimer’s plans on engaging these new customers are aimed at safeguarding Bentley’s position in the upper echelons of the automotive industry for years to come. “Our belief is that technology on its own is not enough. Technology in isolation is cold and can never be truly luxurious. We must never lose the human touch,” he said.

    Wolfgang Durheimer, Bentley Motors

    The British brand’s global research, he claims, suggests that those shopping for luxury goods in the future will value tradition, heritage and craftsmanship highly, and demand beautiful, high-quality authentic design – with every material used being sustainable and serving a purpose.

    “As those of you who know our cars and our brand will agree,” Dürheimer said, “these are all traits that Bentley demonstrates in abundance. In particular the idea of authenticity. There is an unmistakable human touch about what we do; the ‘da Vinci’ in the detail that separates our cars from the rest.”

    The application of this approach in real life includes a number of potential features and ideas that the company could introduce in the future, Dürheimer added – including a club in which customers are no longer shackled to a single vehicle. Bentley has already announced a trial that allows customers to have their fuel delivered to them.

    “I believe there is a big future for more diverse and sophisticated concierge-style services that will enhance the lives of our customers,” he said. “We are also investigating a global Bentley customer network – a ‘club’ where ownership does not relate to a single vehicle, but rather it entitles you to a luxury mobility solution in selected cities around the world.”

    Dürheimer also posits new ways of integrating traditional materials and new technologies. “We will certainly use new technology to enhance traditional and authentic materials in new and contemporary ways. One possible example of this could be to overlay OLED screens across wood veneers. These ultra-thin screens would be invisible except when in use, for example, to control the audio or HVAC systems.”

  • GALLERY: Toyota 86 facelift with new Track Mode

    With the facelifted Toyota 86 having arrived in Europe, Toyota has released a considerable gallery of images of the revised sportscar.

    To recap, the updated 86 (badged GT86 in the UK) for the European market makes do without the intake and exhaust revisions which give the US- and Japanese-market cars a mild output increase to 207 PS and 212 Nm of torque; the European cars retain the pre-facelift model’s 200 PS and 205 Nm of torque.

    One of the key developments for the updated 86 is the inclusion of Track Mode, which gives the driver a wider scope with which to enjoy performance driving before the stability control systems intervene. “Detailed adjustments have been made to the suspension and damping,” and along with increased bodyshell rigidity, the 86 now benefits from improved handling, stability, and ride comfort, according to Toyota.

    Inside, the cabin has been updated with a smaller, multifunction steering wheel measuing 362 mm in diameter, while the rev counter in the middle of the instrument cluster has been reoriented to show 7,000 rpm (where peak power is made) at the 12 o’clock position. Fuel economy, journey distance, power and torque curves, a stopwatch as well as a G-force monitor can be displayed via a new 4.2-inch multifunction display.

    The driver-oriented car is a concept not lost on Toyota, least of all on its company chief, Akio Toyoda. “If it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car,” Toyoda said. Data and feedback gleaned from Toyota’s participation in the Nürburgring 24 Hours with Toyota Gazoo Racing has influenced the changes made towards the revised coupe for the 2017 model, the company says.

    Check out the 145-image gallery below. Like what you see of the updated Toyota 86?

  • Volkswagen Batu Pahat – new 3S centre in Johor

    Volkswagen Passengers Cars Malaysia (VPCM), together with SP Supreme Autohaus, officially launched the new Volkswagen Batu Pahat 3S centre today, which is said to be the only VW 3S centre in northern Johor.

    Built to cater and support Volkswagen sales and aftersales services in the areas of Batu Pahat, Muar, Kluang, Yong Peng, Segamat and other locations within the region, the 3S centre was built with an investment of RM6.5 million by SP Supreme Autohaus.

    The 25,000 sq ft facility features a showroom capable of displaying up to five cars and a service centre with six service bays, supported by experienced staff and the latest diagnostic equipment. Meanwhile, a lounge with Wi-Fi connectivity and a cafe is also available for customers as they wait for their cars to be serviced.

    “As part of our efforts together with our dealer partners to continuously improve and boost infrastructure, we hope that this addition will further enhance the ownership experience of our customers in Batu Pahat and the surrounding areas,” said Erik Winter, managing director of VPCM.

    “We have come a long way since our first showroom launch in 2014, we are fully committed to our business and customer satisfaction. With our confidence in the brand, and with VPCM’s support, we plan to expand, and will be launching another 3S Centre in Permas Jaya next month,” added Sia Chai Lim, managing director of SP Supreme Autohaus.

    The Volkswagen Batu Pahat 3S Centre showroom and sales operates daily from 9am to 6pm, while aftersales services are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday from 9am to 4pm. Both sales and aftersales are closed on public holidays.

  • Nissan Note eco car launching in Thailand tomorrow

    The Thai auto market has started 2017 with a bang. We’re barely into the third week of the year and Honda has already kicked off proceedings with the launch of the City facelift. In an almost instant retaliation, Toyota will unveil a facelifted Vios this week. But of the three big Japanese players, Nissan could have the biggest say with the launch of the Note, which will happen tomorrow in Bangkok.

    Biggest not just because the Note is an all-new model for Thailand, but it’s an eco car with affordable pricing. As revealed earlier, the Thai eco car Note is based on the latest facelifted model that made its home market debut late last year. The roomy high-roofed hatch will come with the proven 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine that currently powers the March and Almera eco cars. The 79 PS/106 Nm HR12DE unit will be paired to an Xtronic CVT automatic gearbox. No manual option.

    The JDM Note e-Power comes with a unique hybrid system, and while Nissan recently brought Thai journalists to sample it in Japan, reports confirmed predictions that the hybrid powerplant will not make it to Thailand. Nissan is yet to test the e-Power system for global usage, but taxation and cost is the main reason why it won’t power the Thai eco car, which has to be affordable.

    The Thai Nissan Note will come in two variants, V and VL, and the top one will be packed with safety features that are unprecedented in the eco car segment. How about Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning and 360-degree Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection?

    All that will be on top of the expected family of airbags, ABS/EBD/BA, Vehicle Dynamics Control and Hill Start Assist. A very impressive package for an eco car, but we’ll have to wait on the pricing.

    Feeling envious? You would think that Honda’s success with the Jazz might might tempt Tan Chong into introducing the Note in Malaysia – which should fare well if priced right, as it’s a roomy and versatile car with relatively interesting design (the Nismo-tuned Note received huge attention on this website) – but despite official previews and local sightings, don’t count on that happening anytime soon.

    GALLERY: JDM Nissan Note e-Power

    GALLERY: Nissan Note Nismo, pre-facelift

  • Ford Bronco – Ranger-based, separate from Everest?

    It appears that while the much-awaited Ford Bronco SUV – which will arrive in the United States in 2020 – will be based on the Ranger, it will be a separate vehicle from the Everest that also shares the pick-up’s roots, according to comments made by Ford’s executive vice president of product planning Raj Nair.

    In an interview with Autoline Daily, Nair said that the Bronco will be a unique offering from the Everest sold over here, while retaining a body-on-frame construction. “It will be an incremental vehicle from the Everest,” he said. “The Everest serves…in the space the Explorer serves in the US, but with a body-on-frame construction and with a lot more off-road capability for the rest of the world.

    “This Bronco is going to be completely unique from that Everest,” Nair added, while also mentioning that the new SUV will be positioned in size between the original Bronco and the much larger Bronco II – the latter has since been replaced by the F-150-based Expedition.

    Nair’s comments run contrary to those made by a user on Reddit claiming to be working on the design of the new US-market Ranger, due in 2019. In his Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread, he claimed that the new Bronco will be essentially be a rebadged Everest, but with certain differences. Unlike the previous Broncos, the new one will also have four doors instead of two.

    Meanwhile, Nair also said that the US-market Ranger will be fundamentally identical to the global model that is sold here, but with a few changes to comply with regulations and buyers’ expectations in America. “[There will be] some changes for US laws, and also some aspects that US customers are looking for.”


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