Wednesday, 22 July 2009

2011 Hyundai Veloster to be re-engineered for RHD markets

Hyundai will re-engineer its forthcoming 3 door Veloster coupe specifically for right-hand drive markets, a Hyundai source has confirmed.

The Hyundai Veloster – a replacement for the soon to be discontinued Hyundai Coupe – has three physical hinged doors, similar in concept to the Mini Clubman but unlike the Mini, Hyundai will change the design for RHD markets despite the huge cost of retooling involved.

“There are some big markets out there for RHD such as the UK and Australia so it will be worth the cost of re-engineering,” said the source. “It’s going to be quite innovative in the way it’s laid out.” First seen at the 2007 Seoul motorshow, the Veloster is Hyundai’s answer to the Volkswagen Scirocco. It is a similar size to the Scirocco, measuring 4,285mm long and 1,790mm wide, and will share much of its platform with the front-wheel drive i30 hatchback. Internally, Hyundai describe the Veloster as a “compact utility vehicle; a stylish coupe with hatchback practicality.” The 2+2 Hyundai Veloster’s flagship engine will be the 168bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged 4 cylinder petrol engine, complete with stop-start technology and direct fuel-injection.

The source described the new engine as “economical but also very quick” and the Veloster “is smaller than the current Coupe but it’s a more sophisticated car with lots of innovative technology.”

The Veloster will go on-sale in the UK at the beginning of 2011 with prices set to start at around £18,000.

Toyota sales down 26% (EU)

Toyota’s European sales were down 26% year-on-year in the first half of 2009, the company has announced.

“The automotive industry has faced extraordinary business conditions this year,” said Tadashi Arashima, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe (TME). “On the plus side, our sales in Western Europe have been bolstered by Government stimulus packages and our ability to adjust production volumes swiftly.”

TME produced 231,800 cars between January and June. Its most successful model was the Yaris with 109,403 examples were sold, 19% fewer than in the same period last year.

Hyundai i10 orders reach 10,000 (UK)

Hyundai has received more than 10,000 orders for its i10 city car since the UK’s scrappage incentive started.

The Korean car firm claims that 1 in every 12 scrappage orders placed across all manufacturers has been for an i10. Hyundai has taken more than 17,000 orders across its range since scrappage started, around 300 per day.

Hyundai has managed to secure extra i10s from its factory in Korea to ensure it can keep up with demand. Hyundais import centre in Tilbury, Essex is working extra hours to try and maintain stock levels.

Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai’s managing director, said, “It’s crucial that we get the cars out to buyers as soon as possible and not only because the customers want their nice new car. The Government funds are fast running out and we want to make sure Hyundai buyers can secure their slice of the scrappage handout before the scheme ends.”

The i20 has also sold well under the scheme as it has received more than 5,000 orders.

Hyundai says the most popular cars it has traded in towards a new model are the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra, with 1,406 and 1,076 trade-ins respectively.

Skoda Yeti pricing announced (UK)

The Skoda Yeti will start from £13,750, rising to £22,120 for the flagship 2.0 TDi 4WD Elegance. The new crossover will be available in four trim levels with a choice of five engines and either two or four wheel drive. A dual-clutch DSG transmission will be available with the 1.2 TSI 105bhp petrol engine.

Entry-level Yeti E gets air conditioning, remote central locking, 6 airbags, CD player, 16 inch alloy wheels and front electric windows.

Mid spec Yeti S starts at £14,250 and adds front fog lights, rear electric windows and driver's knee airbag.

The SE gets dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, integrated touchscreen 6-CD player, rear parking sensors and 17" alloy wheels for £15,650.

Range-topping Yeti Elegance starts at £17,600 and is available with a choice of five engines – including the 2.0 TDI common-rail 170bhp 4x4. Additional kit the over Yeti SE includes an off-road button with the 4x4 transmission, ESP, bi-xenon headlights with cornering function, full leather upholstery and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Engines range from the 1.2 TSI with 105bhp to the 170bhp 2.0 TDI CR and the Yeti goes on sale from September.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Land Rover Discovery 4 & RR Sport pricing announced (UK)

Following in suit of the 2010 Range Rover, Land Rover has announced prices for the 2010 Range Rover Sport and the new Discovery 4.

The Range Rover Sport will start at £44,895, while the Discovery 4 starts at £31,995. Both models will go on sale on Tuesday 1st September.

The entry-level TDV6 SE Range Rover Sport gets a 3.0 litre V6 engine, LED front and rear lights, 19" alloy wheels, 9 speaker Harmon/Kardon w/ iPod/USB & Bluetooth connectivity, push-button start, leather seats, touch-screen hard-disc satellite navigation and a diesel misfuel protection device. £50,595 gets you the HSE and adds 20" alloys, rear view parking camera, DAB radio and leather/alcantara seat facings. Flagship 5.0 litre V8 S/C HSE starts at £61,995. It gets the supercharged V8 engine, as well as high-performance sports brakes and premium leather seats inside.

Standard equipment on the 2.7 litre TDV6 GS Discovery includes four-corner independent air suspension, dynamic stability control, 6 speed manual transmission, Bluetooth, 18" alloy wheels and LED front and rear lights. The mid-level XS model adds a 3.0 litre TDV6 diesel engine, 9 speaker audio system, leather seats, iPod/USB connection, touch screen sat nav and rain sensing wipers at £40,495. Starting at £47,995, the range-topping 3.0 litre TDV6 HSE gets 19" alloy wheels, automatic high beam assist bi-xenon front headlamps, rear view camera with parking aid, keyless entry, electric front sunroof with two fixed glass rear roofs, premium leather seat facings, premium carpet mats, wood finish end caps and centre console uprights, 8 way adjustable electric driver and passenger seats, electrically adjustable side bolsters for driver's seat, Harman/Kardon premium audio system with 14 speakers and DSP amplifier, premium hard-disc drive navigation with TMC 4x4 interface and voice control.

Porsche's €1.75bn loan rejected (EU)

Porsche has had its application for a €1.75 bn (£1.5 billion) loan rejected by German state-controlled bank KFW. Porsche has a €9bn (£7.7 billion) debt mountain which it acquired in the course of a failed takeover attempt of Volkswagen.

After failing to secure a €1.75 bn (£1.5bn) loan from commercial banks, Porsche turned to KFW and submitted an application for an extraordinary loan.

Porsche said on Tuesday that KFW had rejected the loan application, adding it would not make another request for a loan with the bank.

Porsche is reported to be in talks to sell part of its VW stake to Qatar, and is under pressure to merge with VW.

Porsche working on diesel Panamera

Porsche is planning a diesel engined Panamera that will use existing VAG engines, according to sources within the company.

The firm will use a similar strategy to that applied to the diesel Cayenne, which is fitted with a 3.0 litre V6 diesel also used by Audi and Volkswagen.

When asked about the possibility of a Panamera diesel, a senior Porsche executive said, “There are V6 and V8 diesels within the VW Group that could be used as a basis.” That indicates to the same 240bhp 3.0 litre V6 from the Cayenne or even the 322bhp 4.2 litre V8 diesel from the Audi A8.

Porsche would almost certainly tune any VW diesel for its own use, reworking the power delivery for punchier acceleration rather than long-distance cruising ability. Porsche is also working on a flagship high-performance version of the Panamera, which will sit above the Turbo variant. Again it will mimic the equivalent Cayenne, the GTS, by doing away with the Panamera Turbo’s standard air suspension and replacing it with steel springs. The car could be badged as a Turbo S or even a GTS.

The Panamera’s influence on the rest of the Porsche range will be seen much more in other future models, meanwhile. The car’s interior, with its high centre console and switchgear arranged down either side of the gearshift, will influence the cabins of the next generation of Porsches.

SsangYong workers start violent clashes (SK)

More than 900 armed workers have stormed SsangYong's plant in Pyongtaek, South Korea.

This isn't the first time the Korean firm has had problems. In December 2008, SsangYong was unable to pay it's workers.

The strikers were armed with pipes and firebombs, and are reported to have attacked some of the 4,000 people who had re-entered the plant in a bid to get the assembly line back into operation following a shutdown while the company was in receivership.

More than 80 people are injured in the clashes and the plant is now reported to be under the control of the rioting workers. Reports suggest that support for the rioters is growing, as local people join their demonstrations against job cuts.

“We came to the conclusion that our efforts alone can no longer protect our plant so we decided to leave, even though it breaks our hearts,” said a statement released by SsangYong's administrators. “Our employees entered the plant to protect our work place with only their bare hands against armed strikers.”

The violence was sparked after a court appointed administrator said SsangYong had to axe 976 of its workforce at the plant, from a total of around 5,000. Of those facing the axe, around half were offered an improved redundancy package for early retirement and half were offered jobs with affiliated companies or in the SsangYong sales operations. Any remaining workers were told they would be rehired in 2012 if they hadn't found alternative work.

However, the union representing the workers rejected the offer, and workers have been occupying the plant since May.

Following the violent clashes as non-unionised workers tried to restart the plant, Ssangyong's administrators have said they will not try to restart the plant again, adding that the company would almost certainly go into administration as a result of the union workers' actions if they did not leave.

Ssangyong's management has until Wednesday 15th July to submit a viable restructuring plan to shareholders and the administration court. The court will make a ruling by 15th September whether to permit SsangYong to keep operating or liquidate its assets.

It is not yet clear how the strikes will affect production of SsangYong's vehicles, including the forthcoming C200 SUV.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Lancia launch very "unlikely" (UK)

Fiat has stalled plans to relaunch Lancia in the UK again and may cancel them altogether.

Right hand drive Lancias were scheduled to be sold in the UK in early 2010, with the all-new Delta leading sales but officially imports have been postponed now until at least 2011. However, Fiat UK marketing director Elena Bernadelli has revealed the relaunch of Lancia in the UK “is now very unlikely”. She added that right hand drive Lancias may now not be made.

In a separate interview, a Fiat spokesman conceded that the company’s alliance with Chrysler had diverted resources, and added that launching an expensive, niche premium-brand product-line in Europe is not currently a priority. The spokesman suggested that it is not financially viable to re-engineer cars including the Delta and forthcoming Ypsilon supermini for a right hand drive layout.

Ford transfers C-Max production to Spain

Ford will transfer production of its C-Max MPV to Spain from Germany. The new C-Max, which launches next year, will be built in Valencia. Ford says the new C-Max will be built exclusively at the plant "for all European markets and potentially for markets outside Europe". The current C-Max is built in Saarlouis, Germany.

However, Valencia will lose production of the Focus when the new generation car launches next year, as it will be built solely in Saarlouis. Ford Focus production was previously split between Saarlouis and Valencia. Both the Ford C-Max and Focus have been previewed by the Ford Iosis Max concept car.

John Fleming, Ford of Europe CEO, said the production changes would maximise manufacturing capacity.

"Our objective is to return to sustainable profitability as soon as we can," said Fleming. "We've already shown that we will make the necessary decisions and do whatever is required to ensure that Ford of Europe emerges from the downturn as a leaner and stronger company, ready to take on the opportunities presented once the economic situation finally improves."

Last month, the European Commission approved €51.9m (£44.5 million) of Spanish state aid for Ford to restructure the Valencia plant, which also builds the Fiesta.

Ford told the Commission it plans to invest €490m (£420 million) at the plant.
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