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Sun, sea and the Honda HR-V

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There’s nothing like a quick getaway right in your own backyard. It is so easy these days to just hop on a plane and take a break from the fast paced concrete city of Kuala Lumpur to an island seaside resort surrounded by pristine beaches and lush nature. And that’s exactly what all of us did: members of the local motoring media flew down to Langkawi to spend a few days on the sun-soaked island courtesy of Honda Malaysia. We weren’t on holiday by any means. We were sent there to spend a bit of time with Honda’s latest…

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Cars that are not rusting in peace

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Letting go, for some, can be the hardest thing in the world. Many of us are all too keen to snap up a new model at the car showroom the moment it arrives, trading in our old jalopies for newer, sexier, more expensive models. The Malaysian Automotive Association figures for the number of cars sold in 2014 seem to lend credence to this point of view. Last year, a total of 588,341 passenger cars were snapped up compared to 576,657 cars sold in 2013. And yet, there are still some of us who find it hard to let go of…

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Tale of two Indias: City auto buyers go upscale, no-frills minis rule villages

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As India’s auto industry matures, manufacturers are facing up to a new reality – from Mumbai to the provinces, they now have two different markets to serve, with costs to shoulder and a challenge to sales and profits. In big cities, rising incomes and aspirations mean buyers want compact models with features absent from the bare-boned minis that first bridged the gap from two-wheeled motorbike transport to four-wheeled cars. Automatic transmission, extra luggage space and daring colours are objects of desire. Across a sluggish rural economy, meanwhile, incomes are often informal, access to bank loans is tougher, and customers favour…

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Taiwan trade fair showcases competitive innovations

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Taiwan is known for innovating and manufacturing high-quality automotive parts and accessories at competitive prices. The annual Taipei AMPA (international auto parts and accessories) trade fair is touted as the world’s leading automotive trade fair for those looking to buy products and parts on motorised wheels. Organised by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (Taitra), the four-day trade fair was held early last month. Taiwan has a thriving motorcycle manufacturing industry, with Kymco and SYM being the dominant domestic brands to compete with Japan’s Yamaha Motor. To put this into perspective, according to 2013 statistics, there were slightly over 15…

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Toyota City: Symbol of Japan’s auto rise

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Toyota City stands as a testament to the meteoric rise of its namesake, now the world’s biggest carmaker with record profits and sales of more than 10 million cars globally last year. But this sprawling city of 422,000 people, just east of the industrial centre Nagoya, was once a struggling textiles town called Koromo whose inhabitants depended on silk production to make a living. Times got tough for the little community as the sector began to decline from the end of World War I, and it was further shaken by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which took 140,000 lives across…

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Takata and Japan automakers stuck in uneasy reliance as recalls mount

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Air bag maker Takata Corp  and Japanese carmakers including Honda Motor Co  are locked in the commercial equivalent of a bad marriage; not entirely happy in each other’s company but unable to break apart and wary of potentially costly court battles. Honda on Friday unveiled a new model with an unusual sales pitch – fuel efficient, lots of cargo space and, by the way, no air bag inflators made by Takata, the Japanese supplier at the centre of a global safety crisis that has rocked both companies. Over the past five years, recalls have ballooned to include 36 million vehicles…

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Nvidia wants to leap from video games to self-driving cars

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It took Silicon Valley chipmaker Nvidia Corp the better part of a decade to gain acceptance as a global automotive supplier, a lesson for other technology firms hoping to make a similar transition from consumer electronics to car components. Nvidia had a thriving business in supplying powerful graphics processors for video game consoles and laptop computers when representatives of Volkswagen AG asked if it could adapt the same realistic, three-dimensional displays for the dashboards of Audi luxury cars. That was 10 years ago – several lifetimes in Silicon Valley terms, but just a couple of model changes ago for the…

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Top 10 jobs of the future that will drive exciting technologies

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As smartphones get more sophisticated, watches connect us to the world and our homes grow more automated, cars will advance in ways customers cannot imagine. Already, people are developing and bringing products to the mainstream that we don’t even know we want. What will be the jobs that bring the technology that improves our lives to market? “In the automotive industry we have the opportunity to make our technologies impact real change,” said Gary Smyth, executive director, global research and development at General Motors. “Not many other industries can embrace the future so holistically: We have battery chemists, electrical engineers,…

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Renault confident of F1 success again

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Thomas Huong talks to Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul about the French engine manufacturer’s relationship with Red Bull Racing and its future in Formula 1. Despite a disappointing season-opening at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne, Renault Sport F1 has good reason to be optimistic after all four Renault-powered cars scored points at the recent Sepang race. Q: Can you talk about the present state of your relationship with Red Bull Racing? Abiteboul: It is complex – they are a great team, and pure racers. They want to be winners. Right now, they are not in a…

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TomTom CEO sees maps destined for use in self-driving cars

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Dutch navigation company TomTom  aims to become a main provider of technology for self-driving cars as it charts its way back to success after seven lean years, chief executive Harold Goddijn said. Goddijn said an overhaul of TomTom’s digital mapping architecture lies behind a renaissance that has seen its automotive division win big contracts in recent months, prompting analyst upgrades and a 40 percent surge in its shares. He said carmakers are now betting on TomTom as one of the few companies besides Google capable of providing location data good enough and fast enough to meet the safety requirements for…

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