Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ambassador Set For A Comeback

For us Indians, there was a time when the word ‘car’ meant only Ambassador. Regardless of whichever luxury car you drive now, you can never forget those moments of comfort you enjoyed in an Amby, right? But Ambassador failed to survive amid the revolution in the Indian automobile industry.  Before Amby ended up in heritage car lovers’ garages, Hindustan Motors decided to act. They are coming up with not just one, but four new variants of the car that was once the favourite of India’s politicians and bureaucrats.
Although HM had made couple of not-so-successful efforts to revamp the iconic car, their tweaks were limited to just interiors and powertrains. The exterior design always remained the same and the retro looks failed to impress the GenX. Finally, the company has decided to give a complete new look to Amby and has roped in Pune-based design firm Onio Design for this purpose. The first variant would be ready by December.
All the new variants of the Ambassador will be available with an engine size ranging between 1500 cc to 2000 cc. Meanwhile, HM will work equally hard to preserve the traits of the Amby which is space, comfort and ease of maintenance.
Do you think the rejuvenated Amby can regain the lost charm?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christened C-X75 Tata-owned Jaguar unveils electric car

For the last 75 years, innovative design, legendary performance and unprecedented luxury have been the ideals that make Jaguar an icon. The same purity of engineering that defined Jaguar’s past is absolutely reflected in its future. Introducing the C-X75. It is a celebration of three quarters of a century of Jaguar design, looking into the future of automotive technology.

As a Range Extended Electric Vehicle, this supercar pushes the boundaries of both performance and sustainability. It is proof that the most beautiful, fast cars on earth can also be responsible. The C-X75 is today what other luxury cars will strive to be tomorrow.

Jaguar C-X75 concept (2010) diesel electric supercar


Jaguar delivered one of the surprises of the 2010 Paris motor show with the new C-X75 supercar concept car. The C-X75 is designed to showcase Jag’s new design direction now that the modern Ian Callum-led look has been rolled out across the Jag XF, XJ and XK sports cars.

But the new Jaguar C-X75 (‘C’ for concept, ‘X’ for experimental, ’75’ to mark the brand’s 75th anniversary) is also a technological statement. Jag has spotted the kudos granted to Porsche for stealing the Geneva 2010 show with the 918 Spyder – and realises that its graceful, paceful cars require a green balance. The C-X75 is that car.

Jaguar C-X75 at the Paris motor show 2010: the lowdown

Take good note of these first official pictures of the C-X75. It’s markedly different from the XJ/XF set. At the rear, you’ll spot hints of the E-type, particularly in the relationship between the back window and swollen hips. But only a fool would call this Jag supercar retro; it’s a thoroughly modern aesthetic, crisp and elegant and feels right for Jaguar.

The C-X75 is a two-seater supercar, but it’s biggest surprise is hidden under the bonnet.

A diesel range-extender Jaguar supercar!

You read that right. The C-X75 uses a pair of micro-turbines acting like a diesel-fed range-extender and Jaguar claims this solution means this concept car is even cleaner than contemporary hybrids with carbon dioxide emissions of just 28g/km.

No prizes for guessing the C-X75 is far from a production-ready concept car. This is an ideas model, one that will influence future design and tech but you won’t see it nestling in the corner of your nearest Jaguar dealer any time soon.

Tell us more about this turbine propulsion system in the Jag

The concept has been trialled before in the 1970s by American and Japanese car makers. But the C-X75 has a different take on turbine power, using the jets to charge the batteries in a range-extender fashion like the Chevy Volt; they rarely drive the four wheels, but can be called upon to provide more electricity for the four 145kW motors.

Each of the four electric motors nestles in the wheel hub (each weighs just 50kg) and the supercar element of the C-X75 becomes apparent when you look at the claimed performance figures: there’s 780bhp on tap and a frankly bonkers 1578lb ft. Figures we’re slowly getting used to in this electric age.

And here’s the clever bit: the batteries are charged by the pair of tiny turbines, which spin independently or in sequence at up to 80,000rpm to deliver a more modest 95bhp each and consequently are responsible – claims Jaguar – for just 28g/km of CO2. Clean, rabid fast performance? Yes please.

Sounds too good to be true. Can Jaguar do it?

Ah yes. Back in the real world, the turbine tech on the Jag C-X75 is far from ready. But speak to the engineers, as we have done, and you realise they’re deadly serious. Give it years – or a decade – of R&D and this could be a feasible solution, they suggest. The turbines suck in air (up to 40,000 litres a minute) from sill level and the C-X75 has been spotted with a ‘Beware of Blast’ sticker on the rear apron warning that bystanders might feel a 737-spec breeze if they get too close.

The C-X75 can travel nearly 70 miles on zero-emissions e-drive mode, but Jag says that stretches out to nearer 560 miles with the turbines spooled up. Simply refuel with diesel to top up the range, or plug in for a recharge to bring the batteries back up to maximum charge.

What’s the Jag C-X75 made from?

Bodywork is carbonfibre, wrapped around an extruded and bonded Jag-spec aluminium chassis. The show car at the 2010 Paris show is in fact loosely based around the suspension of an XKR and the C-X75 stretches to 4647mm long. It weighs around 1350kg.

The doors rise like swan wings and the huge wheels are 21in alloys. Peer inside the rims and you’ll see the electric motors which are governed by Jaguar’s own proprietary software (it’s developing such systems for its production hybrids coming from 2013).

The 15kWh battery pack is a lithium ion unit weighing 185kg, snuggling mid-engined style between the two axles.

Jaguar C-X75: CAR’s verdict

One of of the surprises of the show: 0-62mph in 3.4sec, 205mph top speed and the shape of a supermodel, the C-X75 is one of the most intriguing new cars to come along this year.

Take a look inside, too. There’s no wood, no chrome, but a lot of polished and shot-blast aluminium. It’s very modern – reminds us of a newer take on the RD-6 concept car from a decade ago. It’s a line in the sand for Jaguar and we can’t wait to see the production cars that it sires.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Ferrari, Nano Have in Common

What’s the price you pay for the world’s cheapest car? Just under $2800 – and a  small chance that it might catch fire.

Last September, Ferrari S.p.A recalled all of its 458 Italia model – a total of around 1,250 cars – after three customers reported their cars caught fire. 

At least that is the conclusion some observers may have drawn as they followed the saga of Tata Motors Ltd.’s Nano—the most affordable car on the planet. Some reports of the car catching fire soon after it began to be delivered in the summer of 2009 led Tata Motors to launch two investigations between May and October.  A total of six incidents, some of which were smoking rather than fire incidents, have been reported, the company told India Real Time.
In a statement released Wednesday the company said it would offer additional safety equipment to its owners, free of charge.

But folks shouldn’t actually jump to the conclusion that this is a “cheap car” problem. Turns out it happened to some of the most expensive cars in the world too. Owners of the Tata Motors minicar might find some comfort in knowing that owners of the iconic Italian sports car share similar worries – despite having paid a  much higher price tag.
Last September, Italian luxury car maker Ferrari S.p.A recalled all of its 458 Italia model – a total of around 1,250 cars – after three customers reported their cars caught fire. “We gave (the three customers) brand new cars, and fixed the flaws in all the other 458 Italias,” Ferrari spokeperson Stefano Lai said in a phone interview. The base model of Ferrari’s 458 Italia stands at around $275 000 – about 100 times more than the Nano.
“The truth is – it happens to everyone, not just to Nanos or Ferrari,” said Mr. Lai, referring to incidents of overheating and fires.

Tata Motors Ltd. has said their investigation did not find manufacturing flaws in the Nano.

The Indian auto giant has stopped short of recalling its 70,000 minicars from customers across India and said their investigation did not find manufacturing flaws. Rather, problems with additional electrical fittings added after the purchase and material , such as newspaper scraps, found  in the exhaust system during the investigation probably caused the incidents, the company said.
Both companies say theirs cars are perfectly safe.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Renault can name new car Zoe as girls' case rejected

Renault can name a new car model Zoe, a French judge has ruled - throwing out a case brought by the parents of two girls called Zoe Renault.
The families had argued that their children - and to a lesser extent, other children who have the first name Zoe - could face a lifetime of mockery for sharing the name of a car.
But the judge found no evidence that it would cause the children "certain, direct and current harm".
The families say they plan to appeal.
"There's a line between living things and inanimate objects, and that line is defined by the first name," their lawyer David Koubbi told Associated Press.
"We're telling Renault one very simple thing: first names are for humans."
Following Wednesday's hearing, Mr Koubbi told reporters that the judge had accepted Renault's argument that Zoe "was not a first name, but just a common noun". He said that logic was perverse.
He also argued that all of France's thousands of Zoes could be affected, with playground teasing and, as they grow older, comments in bars such as "Can I see your airbags?" or "Can I shine your bumper?"
Serious business The all-electric Renault Zoe ZE (zero emission) is set for launch in 2012. Zoe - which means "life" in Greek - was apparently chosen to underline the car's environmental credentials.
Renault has already given several models women's names - including Clio and Megane - without facing any campaign of public opposition.
An unnamed Renault official told AP that the manufacturer had no plans to change the car's name.
"We're very happy with the judge's decision," the official said.
First names are taken very seriously in France - where parents used to be forced to select from an official list of approved names.
That is no longer the case, but officials can still argue against parents' choices if they feel they will subject children to harm or ridicule.