Posted on Jul 13 2011 - 7:50am IST

Tata Motors have made it a point to launch the Nano in multiple markets that show similar characteristics as India. They had countless discussions with Taiwan and some African countries to launch the Nano in the overseas markets. After finally sending the Nano to Sri Lanka and Nepal, Tata Motors is planning manufacture Nano in Indonesia through an alliance.

Tata Nano

According to Bangkok Post, Tata Motors is reportedly in talks with PT Astra International, one of Indonesia’s leading auto makers, to produce the Nano for the third-largest car market in Southeast Asia – Indonesia

The overseas operations (Sri Lanka and Nepal) have achieved reasonable success with a total of 825 units sold within a few weeks. By having a plant in the south east, Tata Motors will be able to tap the growth and demand in both Indonesia and Thailand which are attracting huge foreign investment.

Tata Motors already makes Xenon – the pick-up truck, and Super Ace – a mini lorry, at a facility set up in association with the Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant in Thailand. So clearly, they are aware of the socio economic factors of the south east countries.

The company is expected to set up the 50,000 units per year plant near Jakarta that would also cater to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Considering global car makers such as Toyota, Daihatsu, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Isuzu are already present there, the journey will not be easy. Do you think Tata Motors will live up to the challenge?

India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki, in a circular sent out to dealers asks them to give customers the choice of upgrading to the new Swift which hits the market next month. Maruti dealers are asking customers if they can deliver the new Swift to them instead of the old model, the production of which has been halted.

2005 Suzuki Swift dashboard

Left – Old Swift looks like a tape recorder in an iPod store. Right – New Swift with revised dashboard looks upmarket

Production of the Swift India knows and loves reached its end last week as Maruti prepares lines to roll out the upgraded model. The Swift, like its booted counterpart is the segment leader. Both vehicles will be replaced by updated avatars. Maruti offers the Swift with 1.2 K Series petrol and 1.3 Multi-jet diesel engines paired to a 5-speed manual transmission, which will not change.

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Nissan Versa USA rearThe Nissan Sunny sedan, which is has been caught testing many times on the Indian Roads by IAB viewers, has been officially launched in the US.

Nissan calls it’s a Global Sedan which means they will be taking this car to many countries. The interesting part is that Nissan USA has decided to launch it at a base price of USD 10,990, which is approximately Rs 5,05,540 in INR in today’s exchange rate.

It is called the Versa in the US and weighs about 150 pounds less than its predecessor. It is powered by a 1.6-liter, four cylinder engine which uses variable valve timing (Nissan’s CVTC) to produce 109 bhp and 107 nm of torque.

The engine is mated to a 5 speed manual or a Xtronic CVT transmission. The Versa gives 10.62 kmpl in the city and 13.45 kmpl on the highway according to the American test cycles.

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Together with sister brand Kia, Hyundai is renewing and expanding its crossover offerings. In 2013 the successor to the Santa Fe (ix45) will be launched according to a report on German auto magazine AutoBILD.

Now Toyota should not only be afraid of the VW group and its constant efforts to reach the position of the world’s number one car manufacturer, but also Hyundai and its sister brand Kia. And all of this for good reason, because the Koreans have left the copied-design phase behind and have quickly learned the art of manufacturing in cutting costs and improving quality.

Hyundai Santa Fe rear

Although Hyundai has a full lineup of cars in Korea, its prime focus in Europe will be on the limited segments that bring high volumes.

Despite high growth rates with existing models, the model range will be expanded and an important role will be played by the ix-versions in which the x – unlike BMW – does not stand for the four-wheel drive, but for variable body dimensions offering more cabin space.

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ICML Rhino headlightDo you remember the Rhino MUV? Sure you do. It looked like the ugly cousin of the Toyota Qualis. Well now, the parent company has become a bit ambitious and has announced that they want to make a ‘World Class’ Sedan for the Indian masses.

International Cars & Motors Ltd (ICML), which is the passenger vehicle division of Sonalika Group, is planning to launch its first car by mid-2012. For now, the company is the second largest manufacturer in the Tractor segment and also makes a MUV called Rhino.

The new sedan will be a D segment product priced around Rs 15 lakh and will be powered by a refined two-litre CRDI diesel engine.

If you think that is not enough, Sonalika has collaborated with Pininfarina (the design house responsible for the many great Ferrari designs) and Lotus (the go-to company if you want excellent ride and handling) to develop the sedan.

They have also collaborated with Rover but we will ignore that for now ;-)

The sedan will come out in the middle of next year. When ICML says it’ll give the features of a European sedan at half the price, we assume they are talking about the 30 lakh rupee Passat, 3 Series and C-Class. This new car could be the first product of a new brand dedicated to the personal car space.

The company plans to spend Rs 200 crore this year in adding capacity at home, product development and setting up new assembly units in Eastern Europe and a few African nations.

So Tata Motors did it, Mahindra did it, even Force Motors did it. Do you think Sonalika group will be able to turn around their fortunes with the world sedan?

Mahindra Verito Sales FiguresThe Logan was the first (and sadly the only) product that came from the Mahindra-Renault Partnership. The Logan is a very successful B segment sedan in the some European markets and was brought to India with the hope that it would act as a cornerstone in the M&M-Renault partnership.

Unfortunately, the JV did not work out and Renault decided that it wants to part ways with Mahindra. As a result, there was a lot of uncertainty looming over the future of Logan.

But last year, M&M purchased all rights for producing the Logan in India and decided to enter in the sedan market alone for the first time.

On April 26th, Mahindra re-badged the Logan to Verito, gave it some cosmetic changes and launched it at a price point of Rs 4.82 – 5.62 lakh. We really didn’t expect much from the Verito but boy were we wrong. Since April, the stagnated sales numbers of the Verito have suddenly got a boost. Shown above are the sales figures of the Logan/Verito since February 2011.

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Last week the entire blogosphere along with enthusiast forums were set afire with news of a leaked brochure image showing the new Camry. We were carrying a video of the unveiling (said to be at the dealer meet in Las Vegas) and didn’t pay much attention to it. Due to the shortage of good stories to write on, we revisited the leaked image this evening to see if it was legitimate.

2012 Toyota Camry headlamp2012 Toyota Camry front right

It turns out that the leaked image is an artist rendering and not from a brochure. In fact the image on the right has been living on the internet at least since May 7, 2011 in a forum post on mycarforum.com.

Check the two images carefully. The one on the left is from Akio Toyoda’s teaser clip while the right image is making the rounds as the brochure leak. If you notice the car on the left does not have any gap between the grille and the headlamp. Though the entire picture is not shown, one is able to make out the the grille starts from where the headlamp ends and continues to the other side. The leaked picture shows a bit of the bumper separating the headlamp and the grille.

Also notice the edge of the left headlamp on the right image showing some irregularity. The left hand side of the car does not correspond to the right hand side completely. This image was either drawn by someone who had seen the car or it was guess work by a Toyota enthusiast.

What do you think? Are both images alike?

Tata Indica e-XETA LPGMight be late to the party, but the latest to join the LPG bandwagon with so much to offer is the Indica. If you haven’t been following the LPG scene the Chevrolet Beat and Wagon R have been giving the LPG treatment in 2011. The Hyundai i10 LPG should join that list next month and the Volkswagen Polo Bi-Fuel is selling in Europe over the last 15 months.

Tata Motors has launched the refreshed Indica with LPG option. The e-XETA LPG sports features like remote keyless entry, power windows, music system with USB, Aux in and bluetooth connectivity and alloy wheels on the top-end model. The LPG model is offered in four variants are offered – GL, GLE, GLS and GLX. The GLX model is loaded with features such as central locking, fog lamps, body colored fitments, etc.

The BS3 version of the Indica LPG carries on in smaller towns and cities as the Indica V2 LPG. As fuel prices have hit the roof, manufacturers are now adding the LPG heart in all cities to make petrol variants enticing. Sales have petrol cars have taken a hit after the government announced a massive hike a few weeks back.

Tata Indica e-XETA LPG prices in rupees (ex-showroom Mumbai)

GL – 297,332
GLE – 321,550
GLS – 341,056
GLX – 365,771

In terms of space, fuel economy, range and price the Indica e-XETA LPG is the best value in its segment. The Indica’s poor fit and finish bundled with the taxicab image will create some aversion, but if you are able to overlook them the e-XETA, like it seems on paper, is the best petrol car in the market.