Cars, International News

Singapore announces electric push – rebate for EVs, charging network expansion to 28,000 points by 2030


Singapore has announced it is making a push to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) beginning from next year, as it makes the move towards phasing out the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2040.

New measures to make EVs a more attractive proposition were announced by the country’s deputy prime minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech earlier today. This includes expanding the EV charging infrastructure in the republic from 1,600 points presently to 28,000 island-wise by 2030. It will also include an early-adoption incentive scheme for EVs, which will be in place from 2021 to 2023.

“We are placing a significant bet on EVs, and leaning policy in that direction because it is the most promising technology. Our vision is to phase out ICE vehicles and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040,” he said.

The country already has a Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) in place. Introduced in 2018 and valid till December 31 this year, this provides an upfront rebate of up to S$20,000 (RM59,700) for the cleanest, low-emission vehicles. This is set to be replaced with the introduction of an EV early adoption incentive scheme, which will see a rebate of 45% off the vehicle’s additional registration fee (ARF), capped at an identical S$20,000 (RM59,700).

According to the country’s Land Transport Authority (LTA), the new scheme – whjch is expected to cost the government an estimated S$71 million over the next three years – will lower the upfront cost of an electric car by an average of 11% and narrow the upfront cost gap between electric and ICE cars.

UPDATE: Earlier, Singaporean publication Today reported that the early adoption incentive would provide further rebates on top of that offered by the VES, but this is not the case, based on the information offered by the LTA. There is also no mention that the VES will be extended, and the story has been updated accordingly.

A Commercial Vehicle Emissions Scheme for light goods vehicles, similar to VES – which is applicable for cars and taxis – will also be introduced, with details of that plan expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

The government is also set to revise the method of calculating road tax for EVs. which is tiered by power rating, from January 2021. According to the LTA, this will lead to an across-the-board reduction in this variable component of road tax for EVs and some hybrids.

However, a lump-sum tax will be imposed For EVs to offset the loss of fuel excise duties, which yields the government a significant revenue of around S$1 billion a year. This additional tax will be phased in over three years, beginning next January at a rate of S$200 (RM597), then S$400 (RM1,193) in 2022 and S$700 (RM2,088) from 2023 onwards.

“Ideally, we would like to implement a usage-based tax on EVs as an alternative to fuel excise duties. But the technology to do this properly on EVs is the next generation ERP (electronic road pricing) system, and distance-based charging using ERP is still several years away,” Heng said.

“Total road tax, after the revision in methodology and the new lump-sum tax, will be higher for some EV models. However, EV buyers can expect to enjoy substantial cost savings because of the significant EV early adoption incentive,” he explained. The LTA says that under the revised road tax framework, mass market EVs will incur an annual usage cost which will still be about 9% lower than their ICE equivalents.

Malaysia is set to unveil its National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020 this Friday, February 21. Will we see a similar line of thought towards electrification in our revised policy?

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Cars, International News, Toyota

Toyota teases new B-segment SUV – debuts in Geneva


Click to enlarge

Toyota has previously stated that it would introduce a SUV positioned below the C-HR, and we won’t need to wait long to see it in full. The Japanese carmaker recently announced that its new B-segment SUV will make its global debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

Details of the unnamed model are scarce for now, but it is said to blend “Toyota’s extensive small car experience with its strong SUV heritage.” The SUV is also described as having a raised ground clearance, all-wheel drive, and will benefit from the company’s hybrid powertrain technology.

Based on prior reports, the SUV will be underpinned by the TNGA-B platform, which is also used for the fourth-generation Yaris. As Toyota’s release suggests, the model could receive the same powertrain offerings as the Yaris, including a M15A 1.5 litre M15A Dynamic Force three-cylinder engine that can be mated to either a Direct Shift-CVT or six-speed manual gearbox.

There’s also a hybrid version that sees the M15A being paired with the Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) in either front-wheel drive or E-Four (electric all-wheel drive) configurations. A third option is a 1KR 1.0 litre three-cylinder that goes with a Super CVT-i transmission.

Design-wise, Toyota’s earlier teaser sketch showed a rather angular-looking vehicle with squared-off wheel arches and a distinct window line that is kinked near the C-pillar. This latest announcement comes with a shadowy view of the vehicle in its final form, with notable cues being a rakish rear window and slim taillights. At first glance, there’s certainly an air of the current RAV4 in the SUV’s design, at least from the rear.

When launched, Toyota’s new B-segment SUV will compete against other models like the Renault Captur, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Juke. Look forward to the Geneva Motor Show, where Toyota will finally reveal all.

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Cars, International News, Nissan

2020 Nissan Navara N-Guard debuts in Europe – new Electric Blue paint, NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay


Nissan has launched the updated Navara N-Guard in Europe, with the flagship variant receiving four exterior paint options include the new electric blue colour. This joins other existing shades which are black, white, and grey. It also gets contrast blue stitching for the interior leather upholstery and door cards, as well as illuminated footwell.

For functionality, the load bed features a spray-on liner which Nissan claims to absorb shocks and sound. It’s also more weather resistant, making it ideal for work and play. Like before, the eight-inch NissanConnect touchscreen display with NissanConnect Services is available, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionalities. There’s over-the-air software updates and advanced GPS navigation, too.

In terms of powertrain, the Navara is powered by a twin-turbo 2.3 litre four-cylinder diesel engine, making 190 PS at 3,750 rpm and 450 Nm of torque at 1,500 to 2,500 rpm. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while a seven-speed automatic transmission can be had. Of course, both gearboxes come with a part-time four-wheel drive system with low-ratio for added off-road capabilities.

Key performance figures include a nought to 100 km/h sprint time of 11.2 seconds, plus a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 kg or 1,100 kg of cargo. The new four-disc braking system and revised rear suspension from a prior update is present here as well.

For safety, the range-topping Navara N-Guard gets a host of advanced Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies as standard, including Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Assist, Electronic Limited-Slip Differential (eLSD) with cut-off, and Hill Descent Control, just to name a few. A rear differential lock is optional.

Nissan Europe’s light commercial vehicle general manager, Soufiane Elkhomri said: “With its refreshed look, advanced connectivity and dependable off-road talent, the new Nissan Navara N-Guard really allows this pickup to be a workhorse during the weekday and a stylish companion in the evening and on the weekend.

“This all-round versatility and appeal has made the Navara N-Guard a highly popular choice with customers, and we look forward to seeing customers enjoy everything that this renewed version has to offer.”

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Cars, International News, Volkswagen

Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTD to debut at Geneva event


At next month’s Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen will unveil the new Golf GTD, the high-performance, oil-burning version of the eighth-generation hatchback. As before, the GTD will be the range-topping diesel variant within the Mk8 Golf range, continuing the company’s legacy that began with the first Golf GTD that debuted back in 1982.

According to the German carmaker, the GTD will feature the most powerful turbo diesel injection (TDI) engine ever to be installed in a Golf. Additionally, the four-cylinder TDI engine is also claimed to be one of the cleanest combustion engines in the world.

The powerplant will boast a new twin dosing SCR (selective catalytic reduction) with double AdBlue injection, which is said to reduce NOx emissions by a significant margin when compared to the previous, Mk7-based GTD model.

Other details such as output figures are a mystery for now, but an earlier leak posted in January revealed that the new GTD will come with 197 hp (200 PS or 147 kW). By comparison, its predecessor’s 2.0 litre TDI mill provided 181 hp (184 PS or 135 kW) and 380 Nm of torque.

The leak at the time also showed the GTD’s front-end, which features a blacked-out, wide-width front intake units arranged in chequered pattern (a la Renault Sport) in the corners. The sole teaser sketch released by Volkswagen confirms this styling cue and it is likely the petrol-powered GTI model will get the same treatment, as the leak and prior iterations suggest.

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Cars, International News, Maserati

New Maserati SUV officially announced for 2021 debut


Maserati recently announced its plans for the development and production of its new electrified range of vehicles, which will begin with a hybrid version of the Ghibli due this year. The carmaker’s release also mentions a new SUV that will make its debut later on, with the first pre-production units expected to arrive by 2021.

Details about the new SUV are limited for now but it is confirmed that it will be assembled at a new facility in Cassino, and will reportedly be positioned below the Levante. Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin at the end of the first quarter of 2020 and will see an investment of about 800 million euros.

As for the rest of the plans in the pipeline, production of the next-generation GranTurismo and GranCabrio – the company’s first EVs – is expected to commence in 2021. This will take place at the Mirafiori production hub, which will also receive an 800 million-euro investment to realign the assembly line to produce the brand’s new electrified cars.

Meanwhile, Maserati’s home base in Modena will be responsible for a new super sports car in 2020, which the company says will be “brimming with technology and evoking the brand’s traditional values.”

This is likely the production version of the much-awaited Alfieri that will be offered with an electric powertrain. Maserati has previously teased it would reveal something special in May this year, and the supposed flagship model could very well be just that.

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BMW, Cars, International News

BMW M2 Competition turned into art by Futura 2000


No stranger to the world of art, BMW is presenting a new collaboration at the second Frieze Los Angeles art fair this week – an M2 Competition painted by renown graffiti artist Futura 2000. While not officially a BMW Art Car per se, this one goes one further as it will spawn two more affiliated vehicles, along with a limited edition model that will be offered to the buying public.

The first show car sports white paint flecks, white lines that appear to resemble lighting bolts, as well as saw blade graphics throughout the exterior. The theme is repeated on the decorative interior trim, while the seats are upholstered in black and white Dakota leather with polar blue perforations and stitching. There’s also Alcantara trim on the door cards and steering wheel, the latter with a grey 12 o’clock marker.

A similar interior will be fitted to the limited edition models, which will also bear unique door sill plates featuring Futura 2000’s signature and the serial number of the 500-unit run. The exterior will get a reduced version of the show car’s paint job, which will appear on the front and rear aprons and side sills. Bear in mind that as the cars will be individually hand painted, the designs may vary from car to car. Finishing off the aesthetic are black 19-inch five Y-spoke alloy wheels.

The rest of the car remains unchanged, so power continues to come from an S55 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged straight-six, producing a heady 410 PS and 550 Nm of torque. All this is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the standard M2 Competition), allowing it to get from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds.

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Cars, Formula 1, International News, Mercedes-Benz, Motorsports

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W11 EQ Performance debuts as team, Hamilton chase seventh titles in 2020


We’re eagerly awaiting the start of the 2020 Formula 1 season, which kicks off in Australia on March 15. To whet our appetite, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team has just released images of its latest challenger, the F1 W11 EQ Performance.

No details have been released just yet, but the car appears to be an evolution of last year’s W10, with hallmarks including a conventional front wing design, aerodynamic wing mirror shrouds and a large air box surrounding a triangular crash structure. There are a few notable changes, such as a new nose “cape” design and even tighter sidepod packaging, the inlet now situated above the side impact structure.

The livery has been revised with red accents derived from chemicals producer Ineos, which signed a major five-year sponsorship deal. Elsewhere, the silver and black design is similar to last year’s car, with the Petronas green stripe now a solid one; the array of three-pointed stars at the back of the engine cover now also gets one red star to honour former chairman Niki Lauda, who passed away last May. Eagle-eyed readers will also notice another new sponsor in the form of AMD, which jumped ship from Ferrari.

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport will field an unchanged lineup of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Both the team and Hamilton are chasing their seventh titles this year, before an overhaul of the current regulations takes effect in 2021. What do you think of the new car and livery?

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Cars, Geely, International News

All Geely cars to come with Intelligent Air Purification System (IAPS) from March, same level as N95 mask


After announcing earlier this month that it has earmarked 370 million RMB (RM218 million) to further the development of “healthy, intelligent vehicles” Geely is now saying that all of its future vehicles will be equipped with the G-Clean Intelligent Air Purification System (IAPS), a new system that is able to automatically filter out harmful particulates.

Geely says that its IAPS system was developed in just 20 days, spurred by the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak that’s gripping China. Geely’s engineers worked non-stop with suppliers to bring the concept from the drawing board to future production vehicles in record time, the carmaker said, adding that IAPS will be available in production cars from March 2020.

At the core of the IAPS system is a new active carbon chemical filter that can effectively absorb harmful gases such as formaldehyde as it enters the vehicle. It’s also able to filter out bad odour and harmful pollutants once they are detected by the system automatically.

IAPS also comes with a negative ion generator that’s able to sterilise and deodorise the in-car air. This works towards the removal of airborne viruses, bacteria, fungi and mould. Geely says that this is the same level of air filtration as an N95 respiration system.

Geely has already introduced the new IAPS system into 150 Geely Jiaji MPVs that have been given to frontline workers battling the Covid-19 coronavirus across China.

Under the Geely Healthy Car programme, the carmaker has pledged to invest 370 million RMB (RM218 million) to the development of healthier vehicles. There are three phases – in the first phase, Geely will introduce short term solutions such as the IAPS system. In phases two and three, Geely will be partnering with leading medical agencies and material companies to develop clean materials for interior and exterior parts such as buttons and grab handles, parts that can harbour harmful bacteria and virus.

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Aston Martin, Cars, International News

2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster debuts – gets AMG’s 4.0L V8, 510 PS & 685 Nm, 0-60 mph in 3.7s!


After giving us an early glimpse of the car last October, British luxury automaker Aston Martin has finally unveiled the Vantage Roadster, which joins the Coupe model launched in 2018.

The droptop two-seater sports car shares the same AMG-sourced M177 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 engine, producing 510 PS and 685 Nm of torque. A rear-mounted eight-speed ZF automatic is standard, enabling the rear-wheel drive Vantage to sprint from 0-97 km/h in 3.7 seconds. Top speed is rated at 306 km/h (with the roof raised), or just 8 km/h shy of the Coupe.

What’s unique about the Vantage Roadster is the lightweight Z-fold mechanised fabric roof, which only increases weight by 60 kg compared to the Coupe. As a result of this, the roof can be lowered in 6.7 seconds, or raised in 6.8 seconds at speeds of up to 50kmh.

Aston Martin claims that this is the fastest operating cycle of any automatic automotive convertible system, which isn’t hard to believe. But just like any folding top mechanism, it eats slightly into the boot space – the Vantage Roadster offers 200 litres of space, down from the Coupe’s 350-litre mark. You could still fit a full-sized golf bag and accessories, though.

This being a convertible, minor chassis revisions had to be done to ensure that rigidity is not compromised. New shear panels have been made, which help retain the Vantage’s dynamic ability and refinement. There’s also the same adaptive dampers, dynamic stability control, dynamic torque vectoring and electronic rear differential as the Vantage Coupe, but tweaked slightly to suit the Roadster. The rear dampers have its own unique tuning, as well as the Adaptive Damping System software and ESP calibration.

Some of the drive modes have also been tuned specifically for the Roadster, such as Sport, Sport+ and Track modes. Aston Martin says despite being a convertible, it still has a “tremendous breadth of ability and feels equally at home on road or race track.”

The cabin is identical to the coupe, and can be customised to anyone’s liking

Along with its debut come a new range of options such as the iconic ‘vane’ radiator grille, new alloy wheel designs, and of course the option of having a seven-speed manual transmission, although this is only available on the Coupe for the time being. The manual gearbox was first introduced on the limited-edition Vantage AMR. This is all part of Vantage’s 70th anniversary celebration, by the way.

Company president and CEO, Dr Andy Palmer said: “Open-top Aston Martins are always firm favourites with our customers, so it’s very exciting to introduce the Vantage Roadster. For many, driving with the roof down is the true definition of the sports car experience as it truly brings your senses to life. Vantage has always delivered the purest of thrills, but in Roadster form that adrenaline rush is set to go to the next level.”

Aston Martin chief engineer, Matt Becker, adds: “Convertible sports cars are often seen as compromised when compared to their Coupe equivalents, but the Vantage Roadster remains absolutely dedicated true to its mission of delivering precise, agile and expressive handling dynamics combined with stonking straight-line performance. And of course, there’s the added dimension of driving a great-sounding sports car with the roof down.”

Prices for the Vantage Roadster start from £126,950 (RM681k) in the UK, with first devlieres scheduled to begin in the second quarter of this year. Expect the Vantage Roadster to be displayed at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show next month, before finding its way to Malaysian shores later in the year. Which do you prefer, coupe or convertible?

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Cars, International News, Kia

2021 Kia Sorento official renders and interior shown


Kia has released official renders of its upcoming 2021 Kia Sorento. The very realistic renders fully match the spyshots we showed you last week, where the fourth-generation Sorento was caught totally undisguised in the middle of a photo shoot in South Korea. However, we get to see the SUV in red and blue here, as well as a first look at the new car’s interior.

“Powerful, progressive and spacious, the new Kia Sorento is as confident and desirable as ever – inside and out. The fourth-generation Sorento makes its debut at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show on 3 March,” the social media caption accompanying the images reads.

The new Sorento is very bold, sharp and handsome. Compared to the outgoing model, it’s more angular and features a greater use of sharp lines and faceted surfaces, most obviously at the rear.

Up front, you have the familiar “tiger nose” grille, now with far less chrome and fitted with U-shaped inserts. It flows neatly into the slim headlights (triple LED projectors), an effect made more pronounced by a continuous full-width chrome strip and L-shaped daytime running lights. This entire graphic is set within a concave surface, under which sits a large central air intake and L-shaped bumper corners.

Along the side, you can see an arching shoulder line that wraps around the front and rear ends, and below this is a chrome fillet on the front fenders and doors, sort of mimicking a fender vent. Above the line, there’s an unusual chrome “shark fin” aft of the rear doors, while the door mirrors have been separated from the A-pillars for a cleaner, more premium look.

The rear end is by far the most radical part of the car, with prominent creases on the tailgate surrounding the number plate area. The four vertical tail light bars are rather reminiscent of a Ford Mustang, and the entire look is finished off with a large black bumper insert and multiple fake vents. There are shades of the flagship Telluride here, in the vertical tail lamps and Sorento script badging.

Inside, Kia has gone for the long screen layout seen in Mercedes-Benz cars, with the instrument panel visually connected to the central display. The two-tier air vents look rather unique, and there’s a high centre console housing the drive mode controls and the gear selector – both are rotary knobs with a metal-like finish and knurling. Higher up are seat heating and ventilation buttons.

We also get a close up image of the infotainment screen, which still comes with physical controls – a good thing. The latter consists of touch panels and a knob either side of the wide touchscreen. The new dashboard creates a wide, expansive feel and looks more premium too.

The Sorento should also soldier on with the usual Hyundai-Kia engines, including turbocharged and naturally-aspirated 2.0 and 2.5 litre petrol engines and 2.0 litre and 2.2 litre turbodiesels. Kia has also reportedly confirmed hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants for this coming generation.

What do you think of the new Sorento’s looks? Is this the best looking and most muscular midsize/large SUV around?

GALLERY: 2021 Kia Sorento caught completely undisguised

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