Electric Vehicles: Future Roadmap for India

Electric Cars Roadmap India

The International Conference on “Electric Vehicles: Future Roadmap for India” was jam packed with industry experts sharing their thoughts on India’s readiness and adoption of electro-mobility, and also on procedural troubles in realizing the ultimate vision of the auto industry going emission-free.

As the entire globe is moving towards electric mobility in a big way, with technological push by the industry and incentives provided by governments for their faster adoption, the Indian automotive industry is at the cross-roads now. Electric mobility is not just a technological shift, but warrants a comprehensive introspection of how mobility is being perceived by the industry and society, and kindles whole new imaginations and possibilities on its entire supply chain and business models altogether. It is expected to be disruptive like never before. To ride this transformative wave in a smooth and sustainable fashion, Indian auto industry and governments must embrace an innovative and pragmatic approach based on our own market scenario, per-capita income, purchasing power, and strategic social development goals.

In this regard, three key documents (or rather approaches) that outline India’s agenda and policy needs to adopt electric mobility constitute the baseline for any discussions and debates on the matter for now. First one is the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (2013), which aims to usher in 7 million EVs on Indian roads by 2020. The second document is the NITI Aayog’s transformative mobility report (2017) that sets out shared-connected-electric mobility approach, by which 100% public transport vehicles and 40% of private vehicles are to become all-electric by 2030. Lastly, the SIAM’s white paper on electric vehicles (December 2017) that aims to achieve new vehicle sales in the country to be 100 percent pure electric vehicles (BEV and FCV) on the 100th anniversary of India’s independence, i.e. 2047.

Also Read: Sustainable Mobility: A Global Vision In Indian Context

In a bid to elicit more clarity on India’s blueprint for adoption of EVs, ASSOCHAM recently organized a one-day International Conference on “Electric Vehicles: Future Roadmap for India” on 19th December, 2017 at New Delhi. It offered all important stakeholders a common platform to deliberate around EVs in India, and debated on what is the right way or approach to EV adoption in the country. Speaking at the inaugural session, Mr. R S Kalsi, Chairman of ASSOCHAM National Council on Auto and Auto Ancillaries, observed that the EV transformation in the auto industry is a global certainty and is already happening, but “Indian industry cannot afford to watch the trend and assimilate as we did in previous technology revolutions, but be an active player to gain strategic leverage.

Chicken or Egg Conundrum

Speakers at the conference agreed that India being one of the largest producer ICE vehicles should take lead in EV vehicle and component manufacturing. Yet, to gain through the EV revolution, most of them consented that the industry and government should be ‘technology-agnostic’ as pure-electrics are not the only and cost-effective means to cut fuel imports and vehicular emissions in the country. Both the customers and the automakers should have enough leeway to make logical choices that is affordable, practical, and sustainable.

Reflecting a similar tone, Mr. Rahul Bharti, Senior Vice President, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, vouched for Hydrogen Fuel cell technology along with battery-electrics as a practical answer to zero-emission mobility debates. On local manufacturing of EVs, he argued for a ‘360-degree approach’ that is “consumer-centric and environmentally sustainable, by taking into account safety and recycling aspects of battery technologies, and also involving economies of scale by taking-up cell-level manufacturing to sustain the business”.

EVs in India

However, what is going to be the stakeholders opening move? Which should come first – EV manufacturing or the charging infrastructure? Will more and more EVs on road push for its charging ecosystem, or should the automakers wait for the EV infrastructure to mature enough to sustain their new products? “Creating an infrastructure that is future-proof is the key to this conundrum” said Dr. K.N. Sreevatsa, Vice President, ABB Limited. “It’s safe to follow global standards while making essential learnings and tweaking to local requirements, wherein some standardization and consolidation will help industry to brisk up EV production” he added.

“The catch-22 situation on EVs and infrastructure demands proper problem definition” observed Dr. K. Balasubramanian, Director, NFTDC. Technology is ‘knowledge integration’ he said, adding that affordable and efficient EV technologies can be locally developed and pooled together to overcome capital expenditure and initial ownership costs. Adding to the discussion, Mr. Debi Prasad Dash, Director of India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) stressed on high-levels of localization as vital for EV boom in the Indian market, more so in the battery technologies, wherein certain local alternatives to Li-ion that are affordable and capable yet to be tried-out by the industry.

Buses and Masses

“Electric mobility should become the technology of the masses to be sustainable” opined Ms. Akshima Ghate, Associate Director – Transport and Urban Governance, TERI. Asserting that buses are critical to every energy and emission debates, she added that any roadmap on EV adoption in India must look at the institutional capacities of the STUs that run public transport in majority. Ms. Ghate also brought into discussion the importance of urban freight in EV debates, as an integral aspect of e-mobility vision.

Mr. Nishant Arya, Executive Director of JBM Group, from a bus maker point-of-view, underscored the product viability gap of electric buses as key deterrent to market adoption. Yet, he was positive that both the industry and government is moving in the right direction towards promotion of e-buses. He stressed on the need for stable fiscal incentives for buyers and export incentives for bus makers to make India a manufacturing hub.

Electric buses

Nevertheless, speakers concurred that India’s EV roadmap has to be pragmatic and realistic. Commenting on the ‘pure-electrics-only’ model that is dominating the future mobility discourses, Mr. Ashok Taneja, MD and CEO of Shriram Pistons and Rings Limited, said that the industry and government has to take into account a multitude of factors including per-capita costs of electrics, their efficiency, and access to masses. “None of us are opposed to EV shift, but the transition has to be a well-thought out, organic and practical”, he asserted, while asking the industry and governments to rationally view alternative fuels and hybrids in the Indian context.

Also Read: Electric Buses: Local and Affordable Solutions using Lead-Acid Batteries?

In a similar view, Mr. Vikram Gulati, Vice President, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, observed that no ‘one-fits-all’ approach can help the Indian case, and highlighted the need for a ‘family of EV technologies’ to realize the zero-emission vision in the upcoming decades. Mr. Vishvajit Sahay, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, advocated a ‘calibrated approach’ for the auto industry to make the EV transition a successful endeavor.

On the whole, the international conference called for a ‘paradigmatic shift’ in the way industry and governments consider mobility solutions. At the same time, the experts agreed that Indian has to act cautiously with a rational and technology-agnostic approach, so as to sustainably serve the mobility needs of Indian society during the transition.

*An edited version of this article has been published in the January 2018 edition of MotorIndia Magazine.

Tata Motors: 26 Smart Mobility solutions at Auto Expo 2018

To debut the next-generation IMPACT Design 2.0 for passenger vehicles. 

Tata Motors has revealed its big plans for the upcoming Auto Expo 2018, Greater Noida. The company will be demonstrating its prowess by presenting mobility solutions under the theme ‘Smart Mobility, Smart Cities’ at its pavilion at Hall No 14.

The company says that it committed to support Government of India’s vision to build smart cities, where everything is part of a connected eco-system. With its end-to-end integrated mobility solutions across commercial and passenger vehicles, Tata Motors is in a unique position to play a complimentary role in the smart cities of the future. From public transport to personal cars, from last mile connectivity to BRTS, from emergency response vehicles to commercial utility vehicles, from green and sustainable solutions to vehicles designed to simply amplify the thrill of the drive – Tata Motors has a product portfolio, connecting aspirations and every need of the discerning customers.

Tata Motors will showcase 26 smart mobility solutions across its passenger and commercial vehicles brought alive in a specially curated theme across the pavilion. Giving a sneak peek into the future with global premiere of some key models, the company will also reveal its new design language – IMPACT Design 2.0 in passenger vehicles. In commercial vehicles too, the automaker is set to redefine some segments, with design that reflects a sense of purpose coupled with strength and quality.

The ‘Smart Mobility’ pavilion of Tata Motors is divided into captivating and interactive zones like Residential zone, Sports zone, Smart Energy zone, Inter and Intracity zone. These zones with its digital engagements around the product exhibits will provide customers an engaging experience across the pavilion.

Also Read: Tata Motors demos Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in Prima, Signa

The year 2018 is a landmark year for Tata Group as it celebrates 150 years of nation building. As part of this journey, Tata Motors in its own way has been making significant contributions for the last 7 decades. The 2018 Auto Expo will make it more special as it marks a momentous occasion in Tata Motors’ journey towards developing Smart Mobility Solutions, connecting aspirations of its customers along the way.

Why Fiat Punto Failed Euro NCAP Crash Test?

Fiat Punto Euro NCAP Crash Test

The deplorable crash performance of the aging car reflects that the driver aid techs and crash safety standards have gone up in recent years.

The crash test of 2017 Fiat Punto by Euro NCAP earlier this month was unprecedented, for both the Italian brand and the testing agency. Fiat is renowned for its solid-built and well-engineered cars, but its popular supermini hatchback has performed strangely bad in the latest crash test results. Embarrassingly, the third-gen Punto has snipped the needless limelight by becoming the first car to score zero rating in Euro NCAP. What’s gone wrong? Is it out of Fiat’s wrongdoing, or the independent crash tests becoming irrelevant and less pragmatic?

Also Read: 2019 Fiat Cronos (X6S) Sedan (Linea Successor)

Let’s delve a little further into the test results first. The crash tested model is a 2017 Fiat Punto 1.2 Easy variant (5-door) that weighs 1,030 kgs and equipped with dual frontal airbags, front seat belt pretensioner and loadlimiter as standard fitment. The result document summarizes the car’s passenger safety performance in four aspects – Adult occupant protection rated at 51 percent, Child occupant protection at 43 percent, Pedestrian protection pegged at 52 percent, and Safety assist (driver aid technologies) at zero percent. The test findings are applicable for all other variants of the Punto, Euro NCAP adds.

In terms of adult occupant protection, the frontal offset test has apparently revealed that Punto’s passenger compartment has remained stable. The knee and femur protection for both the driver and front passenger was good, but dashboard structures seem to present risk of injury. Protection of driver has been rated good for all critical body regions. Passenger’s chest protection was rated marginal, but weak for rear occupant. Front seats and head restraint tests have proved poor whiplash protection during rear-end collision. Lack of head-protection airbag for passengers in Punto meant that the side pole test was not performed.

Absence of i-size compatible seats reflects compromised child occupant safety. The agency has used 10 year and 6 year dummies to assess the protection levels. The head, neck, and chest protection of 10 year dummy was rated either poor or marginal, while the car earned ‘good’ for the other dummy. For pedestrian, the protection offered by the bonnet to his/ her head was predominantly poor or weak, although good in places. The
bumper provided good protection to the legs and pelvis area. The absence of any safety assist features was a huge let down, the Punto earning zero points in this particular category.

Critical Inference

Born in 2005, the Fiat Punto is a twelve-year old model that has seen very marginal design and equipment revision all these years. It was neither replaced with newer model in many global markets, as the brand was busy adopting a new “two-pronged model” approach, especially for Europe. This age factor is perhaps the major cause for the car’s feeble crash safety performance, as the Punto could not match the pace at which the industry standards on safety and willingness on part of manufacturers to offer safety package have gone up. In fact, the Punto has been rated 5-star in adult protection way back in 2005 by Euro NCAP, and 3-stars for both child occupant and pedestrian protection. As Michiel van Ratingen, NCAP’s secretary general, has rightly pointed out, the Punto is a classic example of a product that is sold well past its “best-before date at the expense of the unsuspecting buyer”.

Also Read: Why Mahindra Scorpio Failed Global NCAP Crash Test?

The Punto has still fairly performed in this crash test, but in an “old-school” fashion. The body shell has remained intact, there was hardly any structural deficiency, and the driver protection was earnest. But in the last decade, a lot of importance is given to crash avoidance as a basic tenet of crash safety in the Euro NCAP. This calls for active safety technologies like Blind Spot detection, Speed Alert, Lane Assist, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. The industry’s adoption towards such new standards is also evident. For instance, Fiat Punto’s rival cars in Europe like Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, and Seat Ibiza are all equipped with such driver assistance features as standard fitment. Fiat does not even offer these techs as optional feature in Punto, and the only standard equipment offered is a seat-belt reminder! This stark tech divide not in sync with the present-day safety norms has penalised the Fiat Punto’s rating to a great extent.

Fiat Punto Euro NCAP Crash Test
Fiat Punto has fairly performed in the crash test, but in an “old-school” fashion not in sync with the transforming safety standards.

Of course, we already knew that a modern replacement for the Punto hatch is already out – the Fiat Argo. In Europe, FCA is promoting the new Tipo 5-door as a premium alternative, so it is likely that they may pull-off the Punto very soon. But watch out, the devil is in developing markets, especially India, where there is hardly any announcements on the car’s replacement with a modern hatch in near future. On the contrary, Fiat India continues to offer multiple iterations of the car in India, and, that too without standard fitment of dual airbags and ABS with EBD across the range. With the proposed Bharat NCAP coming into effect next year, it is likely that our Fiat Punto Evo may perform poorer in the crash tests that we would expect it to.

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Hyundai Verna: Indian Car of the Year 2018

2017 Hyundai Verna (2)

Hyundai Verna scored 118 points to emerge as winner, outrunning Maruti Suzuki Dzire in just 1 solitary point!

The 13th edition of the prestigious Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) award, dubbed as the ‘Oscar’ of Indian car industry, has been announced for this year. A jury consisting of eighteen senior motoring journalists from various media houses has cast their votes of all new cars launched in 2017 calendar year. The cars were judged on various aspects such as price and value for money, styling, comfort, features, performance, fuel efficiency, practicality, technical superiority, and safety. Their fittingness for Indian buyers and local driving conditions was also considered.

Also Read: 2016 Best New Cars Of The Year

Of all the 16 new cars launched this year, nine models made it to the final jury round. They include Maruti Suzuki Ignis, Tata Nexon, Jeep Compass, Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Honda WR-V, Hyundai Verna, Renault Captur, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Skoda Kodiaq. The new-generation Hyundai Verna clinched the title by scoring a cumulative score of 118 points based on the various judging paramenters.

The new Maruti Suzuki Dzire narrowly missed the title by just 1 point, pointing out to the fierce competition between the two cars till the last moment. In fact, the Jeep Compass settled for third position with 87 points – look at the huge difference between the first/second and third positions. Clearly, these two cars have won the battle on all counts.

Why Hyundai Verna?

Launched in August this year, the Hyundai Verna is more of a shrunken-down Elantra than an improved Accent-era sedan, unlike most of its rivals. The car comes with an exemplary styling that is smart and well-executed. The fit and finish of the body and interiors are greatly improved than the previous generation, while the features and equipment list is value-for-money. Together with competitive pricing, the car makes a sensible package with lots of value addition.

2017 Hyundai Verna (1)
Hyundai Verna’s booking in India crossed 24,000 in less than 4 months, outpacing its chief rivals Honda City and Maruti Suzuki Ciaz.

The Verna is an exciting car to drive as well. Both its 1.6-litre CRDi diesel and 1.6-litre Gamma petrol engines show high levels of refinement, are pleasant to rev and play with on highways. The 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto gearboxes are pleasing enough for hassle-free driving. The handling dynamics and ride quality has been considerably improved from the previous car, although the rear seating and legroom is still an issue.

Antifreeze Coolant and Brake Fluid: “Fluid” Health of Automobiles

There is an essential link between regular fluid maintenance and enhanced vehicular life and safety, may it be cars or commercial vehicles.

In the initial years of liquid-cooled engines, a miscellany of simple compounds were tried as coolants, as mere water proved ineffective at extreme temperatures. Mostly household and kitchen ingredients, like honey, sugar, and molasses! The idea was to simply push the boiling and freezing points of the water to the extremes as much as possible, so that heat transfer from the engine case happens even at sizzling desert temperatures, while engine also catches up when cranked at freezing winters. Then came all-season `antifreeze´ coolant made from ethylene glycol sometime in the late 1920s. It is no exaggeration to say that this invention led to the advancement of internal combustion engine in the next 100 years to come even today. To the extent that our modern day automobiles doesn´t necessary have to boast their radiators in the windward side (front) of the vehicle, may it be rear-engined Volvo 9400 or mid-engined Porsche 911 GT1! The role of antifreeze coolants in an engine´s cooling system is phenomenal.

It is said that the coolant system wards-off almost 30 percent of combustion heat of heavy duty engines used in commercial vehicles, while more than 50 percent of premature engine failures in heavy vehicles are attributed to improper maintenance of cooling system. For instance, modern-day coolants feature certain additive packages to prevent rusting and corrosion in the system, especially to foil cavitation in wet cylinder sleeves in diesels. Further, Therefore, a proper understanding of what coolant is being used in a vehicle and in what formulation (ratio of water mix), along with the awareness of when to replace the coolant is essential for any equipment owners and fleet managers. But truth be told, many truck and bus owners and drivers in India may have no idea of what goes on in their vehicle´s cooling system! Unlike engine oil and other lubricants, coolants hardly get maintenance attention it truly deserves.

Antifreeze cooland and Brake Fluid 2Maintenance

If that’s the case for coolants, then think about brake fluids that is also considered as a low-key affair in vehicle maintenance. Although not applicable in heavy-duty commercial vehicles, brake fluids are used notably in light commercial and passenger vehicles, and in cars, they are the norm. Present-day brake fluids are Glycol-ether based, therefore hygroscopic, meaning they absorb moisture from the air. This results in contamination of the fluid, especially in tropical climates like ours with high humidity. Further, they must have high boiling point and maintain constant viscosity across a range of extreme temperatures, while their anti-corrosion additives must stay intact for prescribed periods to protect vital components like wheel cylinders, master cylinders, calipers, and ABS control valves. Else, the leakages in fluid or pressure may occur, components may get damaged, resulting in brake failure. Although it is not common for a vehicle to suffer absolute hydraulic brake failure and related accidents are relatively rare, brake failure is still is notable factor for accidents that often goes unrealized.

Largest maker of Antifreeze coolant

“There is a dearth of awareness on regular coolant and brake fluid analysis among the users in their vehicles, as they fail to realize the essential link between these fluids and the vehicular life and safety” says Mr. S K Singh, Director of S-CCI India Pvt Ltd that is authorized licensee of `Golden Cruiser´ brand of antifreeze and brake fluids in India. We are trying to engender best maintenance practices and right perception of high-quality antifreeze coolants and brake fluids among the OEM dealers, independent workshops, and end users, so that incidences of overhead-induced engine failures and braking effeteness can be prevented, he adds.

S-CCI India is taking several initiatives in this regard. During the 4th UN Global Road Safety Week 2017 in May this year, the company ran a series of campaigns to support the use of high quality brake fluids and antifreeze in cars and commercial vehicles. S-CCI India is perhaps the largest manufacturer of automobile antifreeze coolant in India, also holding a substantial share in the country´s total production of high quality brake fluids. It is a joint venture with CCI Corporation of Japan that owns the `Golden Cruiser´ marque of engine antifreeze coolants, brake fluids and other specialty chemicals. The firm boasts two production units in India – Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) and Sitarganj (Uttarakhand), while export distribution networks are extended to Bangladesh and Nepal as well.

Antifreeze cooland and Brake Fluid Maintenance
Best maintenance practices and right perception of high-quality antifreeze coolants and brake fluid usage is the need of the hour.

In the OEM space, S-CCI Golden-Cruiser India is the supplier of antifreeze and brake fluids to various brands including Komatsu, MAN Trucks, Tata Motors, Force Motors, SML ISUZU, AMW, and TAFE in the CV segment among other passenger car makers. In the aftermarket, the company has over 150 distributors across the country, apart from tie-ups with various State Transport Undertakings (STUs) for antifreeze coolants. The company´s market share is pegged at over 70 percent collectively across all vehicle segments in India. “The OEM business contributes to over 80 percent of our revenue, as the dealer-oriented sales channels are vibrant in the recent times with more and more customers using authorized service stations” observes Mr. S K Singh. Acceptability of our products among automakers is tremendous, as we are the pioneers of antifreeze coolants in India and our constant technology and quality upgradation of ancillary products and consumables to the international levels is well recognized” he adds.

Also Read: Stretching A Litre Of Fuel – Car Mileage Tips

For instance, Golden Cruiser offers `Heavy Diesel´ anti-corrosion coolant recommended for trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles. The company claims it to be highly advanced, featuring slow-depleting organic acids that guarantee full anti-corrosion protection for longer periods even in harsh conditions. Quite recently, the company came up with `Extreme´ long life antifreeze coolant with unlimited mileage for over 3 year replacement period. “The technology is advancing towards longer service life and absolute protection from corrosion and cavitation as the engines are becoming more complex and sensitive” notes Mr. S K Singh, also adding that S-CCI India´s constant R&D and testing efforts goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of technology.

*An edited version of this article has been published in the November & December 2017 (combined) edition of MotorIndia Magazine.

2019 Fiat Cronos (X6S) Sedan (Linea Successor) Revealed

2019 Fiat Cronos

Longer wheelbase than Fiat Argo hatchback; likely to go on sale in Brazil by early next year.

For all those die-hard fans of Fiat cars, the all-new Cronos sedan that has just broken cover is of immense importance. Previously code-named as X6S, the Argo-based sedan is set to replace the aging Grand Siena and Linea models in the emerging markets. Although the new car is specific to the South American markets, FCA may extend the car to other similar markets including India in the upcoming years. The company has christened the next-generation budget sedan “Cronos”, the youngest leader of the first generation of Titans, the divine beings.

Also Read: Fiat´s Mid-Size SUV (Jeep Compass Rival) Rendered

On the face of it, the Fiat Cronos maintains the personality and attributes of the Argo hatchback. It is neither sublime as the Tipo 4-door sedan, nor regrettably naive as a entry-level budget car. The front fascia is differentiated by its distinctive grille with a fine chrome louver and mesh backdrop. The wedge-shaped fog lamp cluster and chrome applique in the lower bumper adds to the enhanced impression, as against its hatchback sibling. The character lines on the hood and LED DRLs in the headlamps are borrowed from the hatch.

2019 Fiat Cronos
Fiat Cronos sedan will closely rival Chevrolet Prisma, Hyundai HB20S, and Ford Ka + in the Brazilian market.

A high waist line and wheel arch creases augment the rear quarter panel design, while darkened B-pillar and nicely carved silhouette presents a respectable impression. Elongated wheelbase in comparison to the Argo is also evident. Over the rear, the `short back´ styled boot and high-held lid is one of the best designs in the segment. The tail lamp and LED graphics follow Argo´s approach, while the black underside patch on the lower bumper gives a muscular appeal to the sedan. The sedan, which stands on 10-spoke alloy wheels, also appears way taller than it actually is.

Also Read: Fiat Toro-based SUV (7 Seater) back on FCA´s Agenda

The Cronos will be offered in two trims – Drive and Precision. The Drive variants are powered by 1.3-litre Firefly petrol engine generating 101 hp power at 6,000 rpm and 13.7 kg.m torque at 3,250. The same unit makes 109 hp and 14.2 kgfm torque for the ethanol fuel. The Precision variants, on the other hand, boast 1.8-litre E.torQ petrol that can deliver 135 hp at 5,750 rpm and 18.8 kg.m at 3,750 rpm, with a boost of 4 hp for ethanol. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard for both the trims, but a 6-speed auto option is limited only to the Precision variants.

The new Fiat Cronos will be assembled at FCA´s facility in Argentina. The car will lock horns with Chevrolet Prisma, Hyundai HB20S, and Ford Ka + in the Brazilian market. The newly launched Volkswagen VirtusChevrolet Cobalt, and Honda City are also distant rivals for the car.

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2019 Fiat Cronos – Image Gallery

2018 Mahindra Scorpio (Facelift): Too many “Minor” Changes

2018 Mahindra Scorpio Facelift_WagenClub(1)

The 2.2-litre mHawk engine now delivers 140 bhp power in S7 and S11 trims.

Mahindra has launched the updated MY 2018 Scorpio with a plethora of minor improvisations. This is the first mid-term facelift to the car´s third-generation model that is on sale since 2014. Apart from exterior and interior styling revisions, the engine has been tweaked to offer additional power and torque. Prices of the new Scorpio range start from INR 9.97 lakhs on wards, ex-showroom Delhi.

Also Read: 2018 Mahindra Scorpio `Pik Up´ (Next-Gen) Looks Assuring

On the outside, the new Scorpio boasts the `toothed´ grille with chrome, which seems like inspired from that of Jeep Compass. The fog lamp housing and air intakes on the front bumper stands redesigned too. Other key changes include LED turn indicators in OVRMs, red lens LED tail lamps and redesigned number plate area with chrome garnish over the rear, tweaked skid plate, and the muscular-looking alloy wheels.

2018 Mahindra Scorpio Facelift_WagenClub(6)
2018 Mahindra Scorpio delivers 140 hp power and 320 Nm of torque, along with 6-speed gearbox, in select S7 and S11 trims.

Inside the cabin, new additions for the 2018 Scorpio include faux leather wrapped seats, steering wheel and gear lever, roof mounted sunglass holder, and a mobile holder slot. The 6-inch infotainment system remains untouched, but for the Reverse parking camera feature with dynamic assist. Other new features are 1-touch lane change indicator and auto window roll-up.

Also Read: Mahindra XUV700 (New SsangYong Rexton) Getting Ready?

The 2.2-litre mHawk diesel engine under the hood has now been spruced-up to offer extra 20 hp power and 40 Nm torque over the previous model, making the output of 140 bhp and 320 Nm. This, along with the 6-speed gearbox, is available in the high-end S7 and S11 trims only. The Shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system is available only in the top-spec S11 variant. The Scorpio range is already available with micro-hybrid system, dual airbags, ABS, and panic brake indication.

Next, would you like to read more on Mahindra Scorpio, or SUVs in general?

2018 Mahindra Scorpio (Facelift) – Image Gallery

2018 Renault Duster (Next-Gen): Robust Looks, New Interiors

2018 Renault DUSTER

Major revamp since Duster´s launch seven years ago; Indian launch likely next year.

Since its launch in 2010, Renault Duster has gained huge popularity in many global markets across Europe and Asia, with more than a million units sold. In India too, it is one of the earliest entrant in the compact SUV segment, gave quite a boost to the Renault brand. The company has now revealed the second-generation Duster SUV for global markets, with all-new exterior and interior styling, added equipment, and enhanced safety.

Also Read: 2017 Renault Duster Facelift (Indian Spec)

Design wise, the new Renault Duster now looks aggressive and robust visually. The styling is quite similar to the new Dacia Duster unveiled a couple of months ago, but certain unique aspects keep the cars apart. This includes the Renault´s distinctive Alaskan grille and large brand logo, emphasized hood, and well-integrated headlamps with C-shaped LED DRLs. Although the body shell still remains largely unchanged, the stance of the SUV is enhanced and the stability impression heightened.

2018 Renault DUSTER
Although the body shell remains the same as before, the Duster´s SUV stance is enhanced and stability impression heightened.

The side profile is, again, largely carried over from the outgoing car, except for the black plastic trim on the front fender. Over the rear, changes are quite intense, especially the squared tail lamp scheme and nicely-carved number plate housing. The prominent skid plates up front and rear and the 17-inch alloys are also appealing.

Also Read: 2017 Renault Captur (based on Duster platform)

On the inside, the new Duster boasts a quite balanced and suave layout. The sophisticated multi-functional 3-spoke steering wheel, rectangular aircon vents, and MediaNav Evolution touchscreen infotainment system are the highlights. The instrumentation cluster is reworked, the dials are trendy. There seems an improvement in cabin ergonomics and the quality of materials used inside. Key equipment additions includes multi-camera view with the centre-console screen, Blind Spot Warning, a 4×4 monitor, automatic climate control, automatic headlight activation, key-less entry and remote engine start.

2018 Renault Duster
New Renault Duster boasts revised interiors, especially the trendy-looking 3-spoke multi-func steering wheel and instrumentation cluster.

The Renault Duster internationally gets two petrol and a diesel engine option, and their technical specs and power outputs remains unchanged. This includes a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre 16V 145 PS petrol engine, and the 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, mated either to 5-speed, 6-speed manuals, AMT, or CVT auto gearboxes. In India, the new Duster will continue to be powered by the same 1.5-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines (85 and 110 PS), with existing gearbox options.

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2018 Renault Duster – Image Gallery

Tata Hexa `Downtown´ Urban Edition: 15 New Features

Tata Hexa Downtown Edition_Wagenclub (1)

The limited edition “Downtown” range of starts from INR 12.18 lakhs on wards (for XE variant) , ex-showroom, Delhi.

Tata Motors has spruced-up its flagship offering Hexa crossover SUV range with an exclusive edition to impress tech-savvy and convenience-favouring urban folks. The Downtown edition amps the luxuriousness of the Hexa, trying to suit the needs of those who combine work and leisure, claims the company. The urban edition is now available at the brand´s showrooms across the country in limited numbers, in two packages – Absolute pack and the Indulge pack.

Also Read: Tata Hexa (INR 11.99 – 17.49 Lakhs): Should You Buy Or Not?

The new Hexa Downtown will stand out among the crowd with its exclusive `urban bronze´ paint colour. The car is embolden by adding some chrome accessories and special edition badges to the body, making it more fashionable in an urbane manner. The fresh diamond-cut 16-inch alloy wheel pattern, on the other hand, reinforces the crossover´s off-road personality. Thus, the Downtown edition tries to make a balance in the exterior impression, but is also minimally distinctive from the regular Hexa.

Tata Hexa Downtown Edition_Wagenclub (2)
Tata Hexa Downtown Urban Edition packs in 15 new features, both inside and out!

However, the class-defining features of the urban edition are inside the cabin. This includes posh-feeling tan leather seat covers and carpet set, wireless charger, 10.1-inch Blaupunkt Rear Seat Entertainment (RSE) system for second-row passengers, LED heads-up display for speed alters, battery voltage indication, and Tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Overall, a total of 15 new features is on the list of the Downtown edition.

Also Read: Tata Hexa `TUFF´ Edition (from 2016 Auto Expo)

The engine and the other technical specification of the car are untouched. Both the Absolute and Indulge packages are available in all Hexa XE, XM, XMA, XT, and XTA variants. The Downtown urban edition is likely to owe those buyers in the segment who appreciate a mix of both lifestyles – tight schedules city life and weekend leisure.

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Tata Hexa `Downtown´ Edition – Image Gallery

2018 Jeep Wrangler Unveiled: “King” of Off-Road World

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

The next-generation Wrangler will be formally premiered at Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.

Jeep Wrangler, perhaps, enjoys the most unassailable cult status in the off-road world like no other cars. It´s like you my even end up cross-shopping an Audi A8 for a Mercedes S-Class, because similar range, similar feel. But for a Wrangler, this can never happen. We do have other busty off-roaders in the market, but nothing delivers the character and power of a Jeep Wrangler, traditionally since ages with a taste of old-school emotion, good or bad!

Also Read: 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (Indian Spec)

The good news is that the all-new, next-generation 2018 Jeep Wrangler is almost ready. This will be the fourth-generation model, the out-going `JK´ version is over a decade old now. The new SUV is expected to come out more modern, especially with the alluminium bodywork and other light weighting attention in pursuit for extra fuel-efficiency. Yet, the Wrangler will still be body-on-frame SUV as ever, the company will never compromise on its toughness and off-roading capabilities.

As per the official photo, the new Wrangler is absolutely stunning, better than what I had in mind. The quintessential 7-slat grille is quite curvy, flanked by round head lamps with LED outer strip and DRL strips on the fender. The fog-lamp cluster gets some detailing now, while the hood line exhibits some suavity and the windscreen less upright than the outgoing model.

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: Two and 4-door variants, along with hard- and soft-top choices will be available in the Wrangler range.

The side profile does incorporate a slew of minor changes, while every other styling tweaks are aimed at improving aerodynamic efficiency and reduce drag. Do note the traditional external clips for the hood and the jutting out door hinges – hey, its Wrangler! The roof design also seems refreshed. On the inside, Jeep must have made the dashboard and cabin features way more exciting than before, including an advanced infortainment system with top-class functionalities. The company will be offering 2 and 4-door variants, along with hard- and soft-top choices in the Wrangler range. And an end-less list of Mopar accessories will be available too – anything you name it!

Also Read: Jeep Compass And ‘Wow’ Pricing: Should You Buy It?

Authentic details on the engine and technical updates is yet to come, but the word is that the new Wrangler may get a four-pot turbocharged petrol engine along with a turbo-diesel engine. The existing 3.9-litre V6 will be spruced-up. An electrified or hybrid powertrain option is quite a possibility too!

The production of Jeep Wrangler will commence this month, and will go on sale in North America in a couple of months.  As far as Indian market is concerned, FCA will take some time to bring the new version, naturally. After all it is a CBU, is highly over-priced, and the brand´s focus is now solely on the new Jeep Compass.

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2018 Jeep Wrangler – Image Gallery

Photos Credit: Jeep