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Is Silicon Valley the future of the US car?

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After Tesla and Google, Apple appears to be readying for a plunge into the industry long rooted far away in the steel belt of the US upper Midwest. According to various media reports, the maker of iPhones and iPads has created a special unit baptized “Titan” with hundreds of staff to begin developing an electric car, with 2020 the target date. Apple remains silent on the project, but the reports were partially backed up by a lawsuit filed against the tech giant. Battery maker 123 Systems has accused Apple of aggressively poaching its staff. But it puts Apple in line…

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Isuzu adventure to Tip of Borneo

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When my editor assigned me to accompany Isuzu Malaysia’s third Dura-Mission, which saw the expedition heading up to the literal Tip of Borneo and into the mists on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu, I was a little apprehensive. Although I had gone on other off-roading trips as a passenger/observer, this would be the first time I was onboard as a driver and added to that, the last time I had driven anything manual was over a decade ago. The media convoy consisted of 10 vehicles — the latest Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0L diesels, along with eight crew vehicles, including two…

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Honda man explains why HR-V was born

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Known as the Honda Vezel in Japan, the third generation HR-V made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2014 and more recently here in Malaysia on Feb 5. The HR-V was first seen as a concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1997 and subsequently went into production with the first batch going on sale in Japan in 1998 as the Verno. It came equipped with a 1.6L engine mated to a continuously variable transmission and even featured a four-wheel drive (4WD) drivetrain. The HR-V (Hip & Smart Runabout Vehicle) maintains itself as the smaller sibling to…

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From Reel to Real cars

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For children growing up on a diet of cartoons in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s, this was a rich time for fantastic vehicles on those old cathode ray tube television screens. Whether you were wealthy enough to see it in colour or made do with black and white TVs, I am sure you were enthralled by the likes of Fred Flintstone’s feet-powered car (the first environmentally-friend car bar none – no fossil fuels involved) and the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The bulk of these fantasy vehicles came from the creative minds behind the all-but-name-defunct Hanna-Barbera…

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Pick-up trucks for work and play

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Long gone are the days when pick-up trucks were utility vehicles meant only for hauling loads, and had spartan-looking cabins and stiff suspensions that were far from being comfort-oriented. Today, new-generation pick-up trucks have interiors that have executive car-like ambience, and a ride quality geared towards occupant comfort. Who says workhorses have to be bone-jarring and austere affairs? A legal consultant, who wanted to be known only as Yap, is a happy owner of a seven-year old Toyota Hilux. Yap does not drive off-road, and uses his Hilux as a family vehicle. He said he bought a pick-up truck due…

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What to look out for at Geneva show (updated with Gallery)

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Although the most prestigious event of the annual autoshow agenda doesn’t officially open its doors to the public until March 5, many car companies have already offered a sneak peek of what to expect, and this year it’s shaping up to be all about hot hatches and hypercars. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a host of new SUVs, crossovers or intelligently packaged city cars on display. Indeed, BMW has chosen Geneva as the venue for the official unveiling of its premium compact seven-seat MPV, the 2 Series Gran Tourer. But, as clever as it is, the 2 Series…

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Thrashing out car prices ahead of GST

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I am not kidding, says Datuk Aishah Ahmad, president of the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA). “Car companies make only a very small profit margin. It is about 4% to 6%. The dealer has to make a margin, the distributor has to make a margin. It is very small,” she says. The industry is concerned about how the GST is going to affect them, particularly during the transition period, because the automotive industry is structured very differently compared to other industries. Currently, the automotive industry is already paying a 10% sales tax on cars so when the GST comes in April…

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Hot for mini SUVs

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In the weeks before Honda Malaysia launched the HR-V in early February, automania.my writers were bombarded by queries from friends and colleagues regarding the new mini SUV (sport utility vehicle). The 1.8-litre HR-V, which stands for Hip and Smart Runaround Vehicle, is representative of the buzz surrounding the passenger car industry’s new darling – subcompact crossovers or mini SUVs. According to Honda Malaysia, it had received 1,500 bookings for the HR-V as of launch date and is aiming to sell 700 units each month. This means that the HR-V is expected to account for 9% to 10% of Honda Malaysia’s…

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Honda CEO shrugs off critics, will see through his supply reforms

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Honda Motor CEO Takanobu Ito, under fire for how he is dismantling the traditional way the Japanese car maker sources parts and technologies, has resisted moves for his ouster and will fight on for another two-year term, according to four people with direct knowledge of the matter. Ito took over in 2009, and for the past three years has shaken up Honda’s decades-old, tightly-knit supply chain, looking to trim costs while finding more cutting-edge technologies. That’s rankled long-term local suppliers, and some former Honda chiefs, and the pressure on Ito has been ratcheted higher by mass recalls over quality issues.…

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Ford!

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Valentine’s Day can be stressful – there’s a lot to prepare to set the right tone and get through the day’s celebrations without a hitch, and our vehicles can play an important role in making sure the journey is a smooth one. Ford cars can help you plan the perfect Valentine’s Day, from setting the mood with colourful Ambient Lighting to finding the nearest flower shop on the way home from work. Here are some tips on how to make an impression with your Ford on Valentine’s Day: Don’t be late for your date! Start your date off on the…

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