Thursday, 31 May 2012

Bajaj Platina 100cc: The rising star of entry level segment.

Bajaj Auto never intends to pave into 100cc segment and this is the sole reason, we have seen at least 125cc version of each 100cc Bajaj motorcycle (125cc Platina, 150 cc Boxer). This is also the sole reason why company exited this segment in the year 2007. The company also discontinued some of its successful 100cc motorcycles. However, soon it realized that the era of 100cc segment is not going to end sooner. Today, the gap between Bajaj Auto and Hero Motocorp is more than 2,50,000 motorcycles each month which was 35,000 units in year 2006.
Hero Motocorp vs Bajaj Auto in 100cc segment
During these five years Hero Motocorp has increased its presence in 100cc segment as Bajaj Auto exited the same. It’s the first choice of buyers in the 100cc segment.  Although the share of 125cc motorcycle is increasing and it account for 34 motorcycles per 100 motorcycles (according to industry statistics), 100cc segment will further evolve itself with recent new launches in this segment.  So, where Bajaj Platina 100cc comes into picture?
Bajaj Platina 100cc was launched in the year 2006 and it became runaway success with selling five lakh motorcycles in just 8 months of its launch. Soon, Bajaj Auto decided to exit 100cc segment and launched 125cc Platina. However, the 125cc Platina failed to fetch significant sales as compared to Platina 100cc. The company further re-launched 125cc Platina but it also failed and finally the company discontinued 125cc Platina.
100cc Motorcycles: Low Cost, Low Maintenance and great fuel efficiency
The bottom line of the above three paragraphs is, entry level segment still wants 100cc motorcycle and does not want to upgrade to 125cc or higher. Currently this segment is ruled by Hero Motocorp’s CD-Dawn and CD-Delux. However, the current sales trend suggests that Platina 100cc is gaining wider acceptability in the entry level segment. Last year Bajaj Auto’s average monthly sales of Platina 100cc was 30,000 units which has now jumped to average monthly sales of 50,000 units this year. This is despite of negligible brand promotion and advertising expense.  All these incremental sales are coming due to mouth to mouth publicity.
Bajaj Platina has now established as low cost, low maintenance and high resale brand. Most of the buyers are happy on their decision to buy 100cc Platina. According to them, the motorcycle requires very less maintenance and returns fuel efficiency of 65-70 Kmpl even after five years of use. The motorcycle looks decent in the 100cc entry level segment as the original design comes from Kawasaki Bajaj Wind 125. Overall, it is a good package in 100cc entry level segment.
Despite the above fact, Bajaj Auto does not intend to further invest in Bajaj Platina 100cc as far as engine or marketing efforts are concerned. The company will produce this motorcycle as per the demand of the market. Last year it capped its production to 30,000 units but this year the company has to increase the production due to rising demand. The demand scenario is going to boost only due to rising fuel cost.
Morale of the story:
Indian consumers want proven successful engine, good looks and fuel efficiency. Such two wheeler brands do not require much push on marketing front as these brands have proven itself over a time period. Discontinuing such brands may work against the company.

Will Harley Davidson Assemble More Cruiser Bikes in India?

Harley Davidson seems to be completely impressed with the Indian market. As of now, the company is enjoying the monopoly status when it comes to cruiser bikes. Though every single Japanese player has a model in this segment, nothing equals a Harley, right? The company is also playing the right game when it comes to pricing and hence the rate at which the company is seeing a northward trend is really amazing and cool.
The company is now seriously considering assembling more models in its Haryana facility which is located at Bawal. The specialty of this plant makes it very unique. This is Harley Davidson’s second plant outside the United States. The first one being situated in Brazil and the second one being this. That’s the way the company sees the Indian market and the growth that we’ve all been observing out here for quite a few years.
The US bike maker’s current Indian portfolio includes a vast array of 15 models, out of which 5 are assembled in the Bawal plant.  The company is all set and ready to go ahead with this decision after studying the market and the customer’s feedback on this. Commenting on this, Mr Anoop Prakash, Managing Director, Harley – Davidson India said, “We are keen to start assembling more models at Bawal. But such a decision will depend on customer feedback. If there is demand for a particular model we might explore the option of assembling more models here in the country,”
Mr. Prakash had mentioned that assembling a few of the models locally would end up in cost reduction of the bike. In fact, this was the strategy adopted by the company in getting the price of one of its model – SuperLow which is the cheapest Harley in India as on date. Earlier, this bike was priced at a whooping 7 lakhs which was a lakh and a half higher than the current pricing.( Oh, my gosh! )
Harley Davidson Cruiser Bikes Sales in India
The company has managed to sell 1000 units in the Indian market so far since August 2009, when it first stepped into the Indian market. The response has been good and, in some places like Ahmedabad, we have sold more bikes than expected,” he added. The company does not reveal India figures or break-up of its region – wise sales. In 2012 alone, the company is targeting sales of nearly 1,000 units across the country. It has over 1,000 customers in the country. Market sources said that the above 800cc bike category was nearly 1,600 units in India.
Harley-Davidson Showroom in Goa?
The company has been firmly keen in opening up more dealerships along the length and breadth of the sub-continent. The company plans to open up two more dealerships in the cities of Kochi and Goa. “Typically, 30 per cent of our sales are from the smaller metros. And we will look to expand in other smaller metros soon,” Mr Prakash said. The one on the former city might see the inauguration by October this year and the latter by the last month.
Harley-Davidson currently has eight dealerships in India. Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh.
Now, will  the coming up of Triumph Motorcycles make the company recalibrate its whole strategy by putting itself more competitively? Let’s all wait and watch the fun game that’s all in the pace now.

Scoop: New TVS 125cc Bike Spy Pictures


TVS has been faltering a little in this race of a better volume seller. It was recently taken over by Honda in India. Taking stock of the situation the company seems to be working its way up now. Very recently TVS launched a cosmetic facelift of their Apache series of bikes, and now these spy pics pour in confirming a new feature rich 125cc bike from them.
New 125cc TVS Bike in 2012
If you remember TVS has displayed a smart looking 125cc Radeon bike at the Auto Expo hinting that there might be something on the same platform that they would be bringing in. From the spy pictures here, there are differences in the bike that is being tested and the Radeon displayed at the Auto Expo. There could be two things – either this is not the Radeon or these might be the production version changes on Radeon itself. Nonetheless, it must be understood that even Radeon was a replica of Jive with a green & white color and different badging.
We had also told you a few days back that TVS is planning to launch a 125cc bike to replace its Flame series which is not really a benchmark in terms of sales. From the spy pics, the test bike bears a little resemblance to the erstwhile successful Victor series of motorcycles. The black theme is followed all through the bike including the engine, swingarm, alloys etc. The biggest eyecatcher here are the petal disc brakes which we have seen in TVS’s Apache models and have been known to provide fantastic bite. We expect that TVS might launch this bike somewhere around August or September this year. Things will get clearer, along with its name soon as we try to dig in more.
Also, attached above is the picture of Radeon from the Auto Expo so that you can check out and compare the two bikes.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Bajaj Auto to increase its production capacity to 6.3 million units

According to news reported by Business Standard, country’s second largest two wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto is planning to increase its production capacity by more than 25%. The company has currently installed capacity of 5 million units (4.5 million two wheelers and 0.5 million three wheelers) which is not sufficient for next financial year 2013-14. The company aims to increase its production capacity to 6.3 million units (5.7 million two wheelers and 0.6 million three wheelers) to cope up with the increasing demand of its motorcycles worldwide. The company has set target of selling 5 million units worldwide during the financial year 2012-13.
Rajiv Bajaj, MD Bajaj Auto ltd. said, “For the current year, we have the capacity to produce and sell five million units. Investments have already been made at our plants. We are looking at increasing productivity to manufacture 6.3 million which will come on-stream next year. Our goal is only one. We have to become a bigger, better and stronger motorcycle manufacturer on a global basis. Our every move is aimed at going up the value chain. We want to increase our global market share while maintaining good profitability.”
The capacity expansion will take place across the company’s three plants, Waluj, Chakan and Pantnagar. The company will utilize its additional capacity for new global markets and new variants of Discover and Pulsar. Last year the company exported 1.27 million units of motorcycle across the world which is more than 33% of its total motorcycle sales.  The company aims to increase its export to 50% of its total production in the next few years. It is to be noted that the company’s export is increasing at 25-30% rate and it is adding new geography every year. Bajaj Auto has appointed new distributor in Mexico and it will start exporting to Argentina in the next six months.

Triumph Motorcycles to Set Up a Plant in Karnataka

It’s been quite some time since we discussed about Triumph Motorcycles, the iconic British brand. The bike maker launched its breed of bikes at the Indian Auto Expo early this year. Now, the company is all set to open up a new plant in the state of Karnataka at Kolar by pumping in a sum of INR 215 crores.
Triumph’s proposal has finally got approved by the Karnataka State High Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC), they have approved the allotment of 30 acres of land at the Narsapura Industrial Area in Kolar district.
Triumph has already revealed the ex-showroom prices for its motorcycles in India, which are provided below:
Bonneville – INR 5.50 Lakh
Street Triple – 675 INR 5.75 Lakh
Daytona 675 – INR 7.00 Lakh
Speed Triple – INR 8.00 Lakh
Tiger 800XC – INR 11.40 Lakh
Storm – INR 17.00 Lakh
Rocket III Roadster – INR 22.00 Lakh

The company has plans to both assemble few of its higher end bikes and to manufacture a few bikes depending on the mindset of the Indian bike market.
Business Line had quoted, ‘The SHLCC meet chaired by Chief Minister, Mr. D. V. Sadananda Gowda, who cleared the proposal, has offered incentives and concessions as applicable in the industrial policy of the State, and has instructed to give employment to family members of the land losers.’
KIADB has also been instructed to supply 1.92 lakh liters a day (LPD) water and BESCOM to service power requirement of 4000 kva that would be required by the company.
With the company coming up with its new factory out here in India, it would prove a direct threat to  Harley Davidson and let’s hope that the competition only gets intense, by which we, as part of global  biking community will have more things to think and write about.

Yamaha to Offer World’s Cheapest Bike Priced at ~ Rs. 27,500

According to news reported by Hindustan Times, Yamaha India will develop a motorcycle which will cost as low as $500 (around Rs. 27,500 as per the current conversion rate).  The company plans to export this motorcycle in the African market where demand for cheap motorcycle is growing at a robust pace. Beside this, the company also aims to cater the entry level segment in India by launching the cheapest motorcycle. Currently, the 110 cc Crux is the cheapest offering from Yamaha India which cost Rs. 38,365. Hero Motocorp’s CD-Dawn is the cheapest motorcycle in the India at a price of Rs. 36,300.
Yamaha Low Cost Motorcycle for India and Africa
Hiroyuki Suzuki, chief executive officer and managing director, India Yamaha Motor  said “Our product benchmark right now (on cost) is the YBR 110 and Crux, but we would like to develop a bike in the low-cost segment for markets like Africa. The target is to make a bike that will cost $500 (about Rs. 27,500). I think such a bike will have a lot of demand in Africa as well as in India.”
Why all the two wheeler manufactures focusing Africa?
According to an estimate, there are more than 4 million two wheelers sold in Africa each year. Nigeria accounts lion’s share in the African region with more than 1.5 million units of two wheelers sold each year. The two wheeler market in Africa has grown at around 30% rate and it has still potential to grow at this rate for the next decade. Beside this, the African market is largely under penetrated due to low per capita income. It is not surprising to know that motorcycles are used as a taxi in Africa due to low per capita income.
Africa’s four million plus two wheelers market is largely penetrated by Chinese and Indian manufacturers. Japanese manufacturers have very less presence in this market. Bajaj Auto’s Boxer is the largest selling motorcycle brand in the African region. Bajaj Auto exports 60,000 units of Boxer each month to Africa and it is surprising to know that Boxer entered in the African market only six years back in July 2006.
No doubt, if an Indian motorcycle manufacturer can sell 60,000 units a month why not a Japanese manufacturer. Yamaha sells around 40,000 units of motorcycle (including export) from its India operation. If, it will capture 50% of what Bajaj Auto sells, it will add additional 30,000 units. This is nothing but representing 75% on its current sales in volume terms.
Will it be easy to replicate success of Boxer?
Boxer is much dominant brand in Africa now. In fact, it’s most visible vehicle in the city of Lagos in Nigeria.  It is also surprising to know that Boxer sells on 50% premium compared to Chinese motorcycles and it is growing at the rate of 40% in the African market.  Keeping this in mind Honda Motor Corporation of Japan had purposely developed ACE CB125 ($600 motorcycle) for this market. It was launched in the September month last year. However, it has failed to make any large impact on Boxer’s sales.  Bajaj Auto also enjoys very good distribution channel in Africa which is key to penetrate this market.
Apart from Bajaj Auto, Honda and Chinese manufacturers, Yamaha will have to compete with Hero Motocorp too. Hero Motocorp has very ambitious plan as far as African region is concern. It is also planning to set up an assembly plant in this market. Hence, it will not be easy for Yamaha to get runaway success in the African market.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Bajaj Auto is now world’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer

Once known for its iconic scooter Chetak, Bajaj Auto has now transformed itself into a global motorcycle manufacturer.  In the financial year 2011-12 the company sold over 3.8 million units of motorcycles worldwide which makes it world’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer.  As far as motorcycles are concerned the company is only behind to global motorcycle leader Honda and India’s largest two wheeler company Hero Motocorp.  This isn’t enough, the company is also ranks amongst the world’s most profitable automobile manufacturer.
It’s truly remarkable for the company which was once known for its bad quality and operational inefficiency.  The company now owns strong brand portfolio of motorcycles across the world.  The brand Pulsar and Discover’s cumulative sales have already crossed five million units. Discover is estimated to be the second largest selling motorcycle brand in India.  It sold nearly 1.5 million units during the financial year 2011-2012. The company exported 1.27 million units of motorcycle worldwide during the financial year 2011-2012.  Boxer is the largest selling brand in Africa and Pulsar 135 LS ranks amongst the top selling motorcycle model in various Latin American markets.
It is to be noted that Boxer competes with several Japanese and Chinese motorcycle brand in the African market.  One of the examples is Honda ACE CB125 (Honda’s $600 motorcycle).  Pulsar competes in the Latin American and South Asian market where Japanese brands are ruling the market. The company enjoys leadership position in 12 countries out of 35 countries in which it exports. Beside this, the company owns 47% stake in KTM Power Sports AG of Austria.  The company currently enjoys 10% market share of global motorcycle market and it aims to increase it up to 30% mark. The company aims to sell 4.5 million motorcycles worldwide in the financial year 2012-2013.

Hyosung GT250R India Tech Specs

It’s been quite a while since we have done a review here at BikeAdvice and this is to say that we are back. I’ve always been fascinated by the way the Kawasaki Ninja250 stands out in the Indian crowd. But, the bike has not so far seen a competitor on the Indian roads.  Though we’ve the CBR250 in the Indian market, it did not manage to eat up the Ninja’s sales just for the fact that the former houses a single cylinder engine and the latter a twin engine. Two is always better than one, right?
Now, here comes the final competitor to the Baby Ninja. The best part about Hyosung as a brand is the fact that it is the only competitor for both the Ninjas in India.
Technical specifications of the Hyosung GT250R.
Engine Type : V-Twin
Cylinders : 2
Engine Stroke : 4-Stroke
Cooling : Oil Cooled
Valves : 8
Valves Per Cylinder : 4
Valve Configuration : DOHC
Compression Ratio : 10.2:1
Starter : Electric
Transmission Type : Manual
Number Of gears : 5
Primary Drive : Chain
Front Tire : 110/70 R17 54H
Rear Tire : 150/70 R17 69H
Front Brake Type : Dual Hydraulic Disc
Rear Brake Type : Hydraulic Disc
Wheelbase : 1435.1mm
Fuel Capacity : 17 litres
Stay tuned till we get back to you with the full review of Hyosung GT250R.

Yamaha R15 Wins India Design Mark [I Mark] Award

Yamaha needs to be patted on the back for one best thing they did. I’m referring to their decision of bringing the R15 to India roughly about 4 years back. The bike set benchmarks in all aspects (including pricing!) and in fact this was the bike that proved the real potential of Indian motorcycle market. Today’s motorcycle enthusiast is spoilt for choices, but still demands more and more. One main reason for the huge success that the R15 has embarked is its styling and the physique which got even more sexier in the R15 V2.0 with styling cues borrowed from the R6.
Now, what makes me talk about this entire story? Here is the reason for having mentioned all this. The YZF-R15 has won the coveted India Design Mark (I Mark) award by the India Design Council.
The India Design Council is affiliated with India’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry and is made up of eminent people in academia, design and industry organizations. Its India Design Mark (I Mark) awards program was organized with the cooperation of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion, organizers of Japan’s Good Design Award (G Mark), and preparations began in 2010. Adopting the same high standards as its Japanese equivalent, the submissions and judging for the first edition of the India Design Mark Awards was completed recently and the winners announced. Of the 71 applicants, 31 were awarded the I Mark, and the Yamaha YZF-R15 was one of four products from three Japan-based companies to receive the coveted award.
Commenting on this achievement, Mr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, CEO & MD, India Yamaha Motor said, “I am very pleased with this recognition that our flagship bike YZF-R15 has received. The bike which was introduced in 2008 has witnessed tremendous fan following and the upgraded version launched in 2011 only added more to an already great performing bike. This award not just realizes our efforts but also motivates us to continue creating more new and innovative products.

In a recent press release, Yamaha claims that, ‘In the Indian market where motorcycles are viewed primarily as practical forms of transportation, the YZF-R15 was launched in 2008 under a unique product concept that proposed the “fun of riding” as a new priority of value in a motorcycle. Its subsequent success as the first full-fledged “supersport” model in its displacement class succeeded in boosting Yamaha brand value in the Indian market significantly. In the autumn of 2011 the YZF-R15 underwent a model change that gave it an even sportier design. The model stands out for its body design based directly on the Yamaha supersport YZF-R series models, and is highly regarded for its sporty performance, comfortable ride and ease of use in around – town riding. ‘
About the products of Japan-based companies awarded the I Mark: The four products from three Japan-based companies that won the I Mark award this time are all products manufactured in India, and although they are the products of foreign companies, they received the India Design Mark (I Mark) award because of the recognition they have won in the Indian market. The primary purpose of the I Mark award program is to increase design awareness and promote value of design in the industry and society, to raise the demand for good design from users and manufacturers and improve the overall quality of life by encouraging good design. The award recipients are recognized for outstanding design that meets these criteria.
Now this should probe other manufacturers to bet with the styling of the R15 and come up with better products. But, for a true Yamaha Maniac, his heart would always murmur, ‘Yes Yamaha!’

Thursday, 17 May 2012

INTERNSHIPS-gives you an edge when you start working on your first job.

Internships help you gain a good professional network, develop the right skills for your job, experiment different avenues before you find the area you are passionate about. Internships also help you in multiple ways when you start working fulltime.
Whether you work in the same company where you did your internship in, or work in a different organization after your internship – the skills you developed during your internship will definitely help you catapult your professional career. Read on to understand how an internship gives you an edge when you start working on your first job.
1. Sneak-peak into the professional world
The transition from college to corporate comes with a 180 degree change in the environment that you are used to in college. Being in the corporate environment as an intern and understanding its dynamics give you an edge during your first job. You will spend lesser time settling in and will start delivering much faster than the peers who join in fresh out of college. 

2. Learn importance of planning, time management, networking etc.
Internships give you real-time experience in planning your work, managing your time effectively, setting the right goals, asking the right questions and networking with professionals. Translating these experiences into your job will project you as a professional right from your early days in the company.
3. Honed communication skills
Having the right communication skills is very important to succeed in a professional environment and fresh graduates often lack the skills to live up to the expectation of the companies. With your prior experience as an intern, you would appear as a well-groomed employee and your communication skills and interpersonal skills will help you make a mark very early on in your job.
4. Hands on domain experience  
If your first job is relevant to the internship that you have done, you are at a great advantage. You have a fair understanding of the domain and would have networked with professionals in that field. Your hands on knowledge on the domain of your work will give you instant brownie points.
5. The ‘DO’er tag
 'When I was interning in this company.. ‘ could be an awesome conversation starter. Your colleagues would appreciate your drive to do an internship and gain prior experience before your job. Your will definitely be appreciated for having been the ‘DO’er in your team and get instant recognition from your colleagues.

Hero Motocorp is looking for creative partner for its brand Ignitor

Hero Motocorp is scouting for a creative partner for its upcoming launch of Ignitor. The company has identified four agencies for the same which includes JWT, Draft cb Ulka, Law & Kenneth and Percept/H. The company aims to spend Rs. 30 crore on brand building exercise of its upcoming launch Ignitor, as per the sources close to the deal.
The reason being the company is spending this much amount behind brand building exercise because, Ignitor is nothing but Honda CBF Stunner.  There are some minor changes but one can easily identify it as CBF Stunner at first instance. Hence it is necessary to create a separate identity by the way of branding and influencing the perception of people, to remain in competition.
This is called badge engineering concept in automobile which is very much prevalent in car segment and now it is catching up in motorcycle segment with Hero Motocop using Honda’s product. The first one is Hero Impulse which is copy of Honda NXR 150 Bros. Badge engineering is a concept where a single product is sold under so many brand names by different manufacturers in automobiles. This is sometime necessary to save the cost of developing entire new product. As we know that Hero Motocorp’s R&D is still in nascent stage and it will take time the company to come up with fully in house developed product, badge engineering is the best solution for the company.
Earlier the company has showcased three new products at Auto Expo 2012 in Delhi which includes Passion Xpro, Ignitor and Maestro. Hero Motocorp has already launched Maestro scooter at ex showroom price (Delhi) of Rs. 48,280 in March. It is interesting to see how Hero Motocorp will establish the brand Ignitor. It is also to be seen that at which price Hero Motocrop will launch this product, at premium to Honda, at discount to Honda or at par. Let’s wait and watch.

Yamaha All Set To Open Its New Motorcycle Production Facility in Tamilnadu

Tamilnadu has been the paradise for all car manufacturers but not many two wheeler manufacturers were having presence there. Though, TVS and Royal Enfield have their plants, there wasn’t any other two wheeler company that was planning its production unit in the state. Now, the latest company to open its new two wheeler production facility in the outskirts of Chennai is Yamaha.
India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Company, Japan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of Tamil Nadu today approving the construction and operation of a new two-wheeler factory in the state.
The new facility will join the currently operating factories of India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd. (IYM) at Surajpur (in Uttar Pradesh) and Faridabad (in Haryana) to meet the rising demand for two – wheelers in India. The new factory is to be constructed on a 440,000 square meter area in an industrial park in Vallam Vadagal on the outskirts of the city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Construction of a factory facility with a total floor space of approx. 114,000 sq. meter is scheduled to begin in September 2012, with completion and start of operations scheduled for January 2014. According to plans, the new factory will employ 1,800 people and have an annual two-wheeler production rate of 400,000 units at the start of operations. Production capacity will then be increased in stages to a level of 1.8 million units annually by 2018, at which time employment is expected to reach 6,500 people.
The forecast for the total investment in the new factory and facilities is approx. Rupees 1,500 Crores over the period of next five years.
Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, CEO & Managing Director, India Yamaha Motor said, “We are very pleased with this development as this is in line with YMC’s medium-term management plans of enhancing local production levels to meet the demand growth in emerging markets such as India and their export markets. The Indian two-wheeler industry has witnessed much growth in the last few years, attributable to increased disposable income levels among a rapidly expanding middle class. We expect the industry to attain 20 million units level by 2016 when we are targeting to sell 2 million units and achieve 10% market share.”
“We would also like to thank all the concerned Tamil Nadu government departments, especially Guidance Bureau which had extended its complete support to this project by facilitating as a true single window body”, he added.
The new factory will employ a “theoretical-value-based production” concept that operates on a system of completely synchronized manufacturing of parts and assembly of complete two-wheelers. Furthermore, the new Chennai Factory will be the first in the Yamaha Motor group to have a “vendor park” in its nearby vicinity that will bring together the production operations of main external parts suppliers, thus enabling complete synchronization of external supplier parts production as well. This system will reduce losses in the areas of production management and distribution to extremely low levels in the overall engineering, manufacturing and marketing process, and make the new production base a highly efficient and profitable plant.
The Indian two-wheeler market has continued to grow year by year thanks to factors such as the country’s stable political and economic conditions. In 2011, two-wheeler demand in India exceeded 13 million units, making it the world’s second largest market. For India Yamaha Motor as well, aggressive introduction of new models in the 150cc+ deluxe & premium motorcycle segments have contributed to a strong growth in domestic sales and exports. Total units sold grew from 380,000 in 2010 to 520,000 in 2011, and 23% year-on-year growth to 640,000 units (Domestic: 450,000, Exports: 190,000) is projected for 2012. Forecasts for the next medium-term management plan beginning in 2013 see annual sales of Yamaha two-wheelers exceeding the one million unit mark.
To keep pace with this current growth in demand, plans have been implemented to boost the existing factory’s annual production capacity of 600,000 units to One Million units on an investment of approx. Rupees 750 crores in 2012. However, another major leap in production capacity will be needed to meet the projected growth in demand. With the completion and start of operations at the new Chennai Factory and the increased production capacity of the existing IYM production bases (Surajpur, Uttar Pradesh/Faridabad, Haryana), India Yamaha Motor will have a combined two-wheeler production capacity of 2.8 million units by 2018.
Here is the overview of the India Yamaha Motor “Chennai Factory” as released by the company.
Location : Vallam – Vadagal Industrial Park, Tamil Nadu, India
Investment Value : Approx. Rupees 1,500 Crores
Site Area : 440,000 m2
Factory Floor Space : 114,000 m2
Start of Operations : January 2014
Business : Manufacture of Two-Wheelers Production
Capability : 400,000 units (at start of operations in Jan. 2014)/ 1.8 Million units (2018 Plan)
Employees : Approx. 1,800 (at start of operations in Jan. 2014) / Approx. 6,500 (2018 Plan)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

MotoGP India: World championship of Motorcycle racing comes to India – Begins March 2013

Buddh Circuit
Jorge Lorenzo at Buddh Int. Circuit Earlier, Image Credit: Yamaha
India is all set to witness the MotoGP, the premier Motorcycle Racing World Championship beginning March 2013, the news has been confirmed by various sources and it appears that India will play host to the opening round of the MotoGP Racing championship at the Buddh International Circuit, earlier the same circuit created history by organizing the first ever F1 Grand Prix Race in India, now with MotoGP, it will bring the 63 year old sports event to India.
Indian MotoGP 2013
Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), the federation which manages MotoGP Events has officially declared that India will play host to the inaugural race of the MotoGP 2013 season at the 5.141km racetrack in Greater Noida, Delhi NCR.
Last year Lorenzo became the first MotoGP rider to lap Buddh International Circuit(BIC) in Greater Noida, “It’s been great to visit the Buddh International circuit today,” said Lorenzo, “the track is very modern and wide. I think it is quite prepared and ready to be on the calendar [MotoGP].”
In 2011, Mahindra became the first Indian manufacturer to enter the MotoGP championship with the new Mahindra Racing team.
In another related news Buddh Int. Circuit Managers are also in talks to hold the WSB Series Event (World Superbike Championship) in 2013, exciting times ahead for the Bike Racing Fans in India.

Bajaj India hikes Pulsar and Platina Prices by 1% [Bajaj Bikes Prices 2012]

Country’s second largest two wheeler, Bajaj has hiked its flagship motorcycle Pulsar and entry level motorcycle Platina prices by 1% all over India.  The price hike has been taken in response of rising input prices from past couple of months. Due to increase competition Bajaj Auto was not able to increase prices for a very long time though the Input cost has increased.  Bajaj Auto has not hiked the price of Discover as there are many new launches lined up by competitors in this month.
Earlier, country’s largest two wheeler manufacturer Hero Motocorp. announced price hike of Rs. 500-1,000 among its key products. It is fact that input cost has gone high in past couple of months but due to sluggishness in the demand and increased competition two wheeler companies are hesitating to increase the price. It is also to be noted that the price hike is more prevalent in Entry level segment and premium segment.
Bajaj Auto has increased only Pulsar and Platina prices because they are strong brands in their segment. Platina now has established as low cost, low maintenance and high resale value. In fact Bajaj Auto has seen significant jump in the demand of Platina in past one year. The shipping volume has jumped from the 30,000 per month to 50,000 a month average. This is a sign that a good product is always appreciated in the Indian two wheeler market.  Pulsar is a leading brand in premium segment and price hike does not affect that much.
There is a competition heating up in Rs. 40,000 (ex-showroom) segment where most of the motorcycle sold in Indian two wheeler market. Hence, we may not not see any price hike in this segment in near future. It is interesting to see that how new products from Honda and Suzuki perform.  At the end of the day consumers are going to benefit with better products at low prices.

Bajaj 2012 Pulsar Price in India
Pulsar 150cc DTSi old price: Rs. 62,100 approx.
Pulsar 150cc DTSi New 2012 Price: Rs. 62,720. approx.
Bajaj 2012 Platina Price
Platina 125 old price: Rs. 38,000 approx.
Platina 125 New 2012 Price: Rs. 38,380 approx

Piaggio VESPA India Review

  Vespa Scooter 2012 Review
Vespa, an iconic brand in scooter segment, a 66 year old brand in the history of automobile.  It has made its mark in more than 200 Hollywood movies. Vespa was also used by French army in the war of 1956. Is it enough to define Vespa brand? We can write an essay on the history attached with the brand Vespa. Definitely, the Vespa brand and its manufacturer are not new to India
Vespa Scooter side
As we know that the first Vespa was launched in India by Bajaj Auto in 1960. The license agreement between Bajaj Auto and Piaggio was ended in 1971. Piaggio reentered in India in 1983 partnering with LML Motors which lasted till 1999. This is the third time Piaggio and Vespa are entering in Indian market. However, this time Piaggio has made solo entry and it is aiming to cater India’s lifestyle oriented people.

Vespa Scooter front

With the launch of Hero Honda CD100 in 1984 and Hero Honda Splendor in 1994, the era of motorcycle begun in the India. The change was so strong that top two scooter manufacturer Bajaj Auto and LML were out of business of scooters. While, Bajaj Auto has transformed itself in motorcycle manufacture, LML is doing geared scooter on very limited basis today. Though the era of geared scooter has ended, gearless scooter demand is growing at brisk pack. Last year demand for gearless scooter segment has grown in excess of 30% and it is expected to grow continuously at higher rate due to its utility, increased woman participation in work and household use.

Vespa Scooter 2012 red

With the increasing share of gearless scooter in total two wheeler sales, there is now need of stylish and life style oriented gearless scooter. Piaggio has sensed the market opportunity and it is the sole reason of entering in India at this point of time. So what has been offered by Piaggio in terms of Vespa brand to this new segment? Let’s have a look.
Engine and Transmission

Vespa Scooter 2012

Vespa is powered by 125cc, 4 stroke, 3 valve, single cylinder, air cooled engine. The engine can generate maximum power of 10 bhp @ 7,500 rpm and maximum torque of 10.6Nm @ 6,000 rpm.  The power and torque figure are highest among the scooters available in India. The transmission is handled by CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission).  The engine has equipped with modern technologies such as Variable Spark timing management, MAP (Manifold  Absolute Pressure) sensing.   Apart from this, it has high efficiency media air intake filters for clean air to engine.  The engine has high compression ratio of 10.6 for increased power and torque.  The engine is powerful yet fuel efficient. Vespa’s engine sound is unique and it feels like a geared scooter engine sound. 
Vespa Performance, Fuel Efficiency and Top Speed:
The engine feels punchy while initial acceleration. It’s a quick scooter which takes around 8-9 seconds for 0-60 run and achieves top speed of 100KM/hour.  Vespa has ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 62 KMPL. However, the showroom guy intended a fuel efficiency of 45- 50KMPL in city ride conditions and around 55-60 KMPL fuel efficiency in highway ride conditions. This is something which has impressed me. The scooter is not lacking on the fuel efficiency front despite of excellent performance figures for gearless scooter.
What is so special about the Vespa’s chassis. Vespa has monocoque full steel body construction.  It is something which we saw on old age geared scooter. The entire chassis is a single piece steel body which is unique now a day. It also has been a signature feature on the Vespa since 1946. The monocoque chassis provides great strength and rigidity.
Apart from this the link spring mechanism between the engine and frame provides adequate balance and high speed stability. Vespa has designed this scooter chassis adequately which gives confident sharp turn.  The scooter weighs just 114 Kg and weight distribution is adequate so that you can easily stand it up. It also has auto return stand feature (optional) which automatically return the side stand in case you forgot to do so.
Vespa has got bigger brakes for effective braking. The front has got 150mm drum brake and the rear has got 140mm drum brake.  Vespa has designed the shear point on the brake handle’s end portion in order to keep handles intact in case of fall.  Braking is effective and adequate. However while riding it feels that you need to press the brake lever hard to activate braking. The braking is adequate however it is not that much good like we see on Honda Activa. What missing is a disc brake on front which Vespa has in other countries (possibly stored for future upgrade)
Vespa Suspension:
The front has got single sided trailing arm front suspension which comes with antidive characteristics. The rear has got dual effect hydraulic shock absorber. Suspensions are working fine and offers jerk free riding.
Vespa Tyres:
Vespa comes with nylogrip tyres.. It has 3 spoke, stain finish alloy wheels with the rim size of 90/100-10. The road grip of tyres is firm and makes the scooter stable in the wet conditions.
Electricals and instrument panel:
Vespa Scooter India
Vespa comes with 12V, 5Ah low maintenance battery (Now a day’s standard for gearless scooter). The front headlight is powered by 35 watt halogen with multi focal view.  The headlight offers adequate visibility in night. The instrument panel has electric clock along with speedometer, fuel gauge, side indicators and high beam indicators. The switchgears are top notch quality but finishing is average.  The horn sound is good enough to catch your ears.
Vespa is most stylish scooter available in India. It has got stylish headlamp, tail lamp and LED indicators. Apart from this it’s sleek body design and color scheme catches eye of anyone. The chrome element is visible everywhere starting from the signature Vespa chrome grill to tail light chrome appliqué.  Moreover Vespa also offers unique accessories which can further enhance the style factor of the scooter. Apart from this it has its own brand heritage history which provides enough brand value to this scooter.
Vespa Ride and Handling:
The riding quality of Vespa is entirely different then what you feel on other scooter like Activa and Access 125. It feels like powerful geared scooter. The scooter has width of 690mm (20 mm less than Honda Activa) which is very suitable for Indian conditions. It makes the judgment factor much better especially for girls. It has wheelbase of 1290mm which is mostly highest in scooter and ensures stability while cornering. Handling is good enough. However, I am not that much impressed with the handling quality of Vespa.
Vespa Storage Capacity:
Vespa Scooter under seat space
Vespa offers adequate under seat storage capacity of 15 Kg (16.5 liters) which is good enough for a full size helmet and other stuffs.  You can also remove the under seat dickey and do some regular maintenance of engine. The front also offers good amount of storage for small things. You don’t need to pay extra for front glove box as it comes standard. You can open all the storage with just a single key and key lock which is now becoming standard.
Vespa Scooter space
Other features in Piaggio Vespa:
The leather seat has enough padding but looks like semi-finished. I feel that a leather seat cover requires for its final finishing touch.  The footrest for pillion has been integrated in middle panel itself (a side ladies footrest comes optional). Paint quality is of top notch quality and it impressed me. There are six color options available in Vespa  Monte Bianco, Nero Volcano, Giallo Lime, Rosso Dragon, Rosso Chianti and Midnight Blue. There are other optional accessories like met, helmet and side guards.
Vespa Scooter Price and availability in India 
Vespa has been priced in a premium scooter segment. In fact Vespa is pioneering premium scooter segment in India. The scooter has been priced Rs. 66,661 in Pune. In Ahmedabad it has ex-showroom price of around 72,000 and on road price cost Rs. 77,000 without accessories. The scooter on rider price with other accessories is around Rs. 80,000 in Ahmedabad. The delivery has already started in Ahmedabad and it commands around 15 days to 30 days waiting now.
Vespa has been purposefully priced in premium segment to discourage fuel efficient and cost effective buyer. It is made for lifestyle oriented youth and people. The good thing about the scooter is its performance, fuel efficiency and style factor. On the other hand the handling qualities and braking department has scope of improvement (What we hope in next upgrade). It has been priced at a very high premium to other gearless scooter available in India, but that is not a concern considering the target buyers.
Overall, a very good gearless scooter from Vespa in premium segment and it will surely have a good number of buyers in the absence of competition.
Vespa 2012 Technical Specifications
  • Displacement: 125cc
  • Engine: 125cc, 4 Stroke
  • Maximum Power: 10.06 Bhp @ 7500 rpm
  • Maximum Torque: 10.6 Nm @ 6000 rpm
  • Cooling Type: Air Cooling
  • Chassis Type: Monocoque steel high rigidity structure
  • Length: 1770.00 mm
  • Width: 690.00 mm
  • Height: 1140.00 mm
  • Weight: 114.00 kg
  • Fuel Tank: 8.00 ltrs
  • Wheelbase: 1290.00 mm
  • Headlamp: Multi-focal with 35w halogen
  • Battery Type: Low Maintenance
  • Battery Voltage: 12V
  • Battery Capacity: 5ah
  • Horn: Dual
  • Wheel Type: Alloys
  • Wheel Size: 90/100-10 53J mm
  • Colors: Red, Orange, Blue, Silver, Yellow
More Vespa Scooter 2012 Images: Vespa Black
Vespa Scooter India1

Bajaj Launches Discover 125 ST [Sports Tourer]

Bajaj has refreshed the Discover completely with a new Discover 125 cc Sports Tourer which has been specifically designed for the commuter segment, it is powered by the DTS-Twin Spark technology which has been introduced for the first time in this category of bikes, according to the press release the new 2012 Bajaj Discover 125 ST delivers 13PS  of power which is highest in the 125cc category without compromising on fuel efficiency.
Bajaj 125 ST Features:
  • Five speed gear box
  • Sporty styling
  • Chiseled muscular fuel tank
  • Aggressive fairing with sharp edged headlamp
  • Allow wheels
  • Monoshock suspension for comfort
  • Anti Vibration frame for enjoyable rides
  • Petal disc brake for enhanced safety
Photos of the new Discover ST 2012:
Discover 125 ST India

Discover125ST launch
Full Tech Specs for Discover 125 ST
Engine: 4 Valve Twin Spark Air Cooled
Engine Displacement : 124.6cc
Max.Net Power: 13 Ps @ 9000 rpm Torque: 1.1 kgm @ 7000 rpm
Ignition System: Digital CDI
Carburetor: CV type
Starting: Self + kick start
Transmission: 5 Speed Constant mesh
Frame : Semi Double cradle
Front Suspension: Telescopic Fork with Anti-friction DU Bush
Rear Suspension: Nitrox  Monoshock with gas canister
Front Brake: Petal Disc 200 mm
Rear Brake: Drum 130 mm
Front wheel / tyre: New design alloy / 2.75 X 17” 41P Tubed
Rear wheel / tyre: New design alloy / 3.00 X 17” 50P Tubed
Fuel Tank: 10 L
Wheelbase: 1305 mm
Seat Height: 800 mm
Turning Circle Radius: 2100 mm
Ground Clearance: 170 mm
Kerb Weight: 124.5 kg
Max Speed: 105 kmph
System: DC Ignition
Battery: 12V 5AH

Honda Motorcyles launches Dream Yuga Priced at Rs. 44,642 Ex-showroom

New Bike - Honda Dream Yuga Price: INR 44,642
HMSI (Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India ltd.) has launched today its mass market motorcycle Dream Yuga. Dream Yuga has been priced at Rs. 44,642 Ex-showroom Delhi for base version which is bit higher than what market was expecting. Dream Yuga has been positioned slightly below the CB Twister motorcycle which is available at Rs. 45,140 Ex-showroom Delhi.  HMSI aims to sell 3,00,000 units of Dream Yuga in the current financial year.  As reported earlier Honda has also announced Akshay Kumar as its brand ambassador for India.
Honda Dream Yuga is powered by 4-stroke, air cooled, 109cc engine which generates maximum power of 9 bhp@8,000 rpm and maximum torque of 9Nm @ 6000 rpm. It comes with 4 speed transmission and self start as an option. The motorcycle offers 72 KMPL in actual riding conditions as per Honda. It has segment first tubeless tyres.  Apart from this, it has maintenance free battery and vicious air filter similar to Honda CB Twister. The motorcycle looks sober and decent.  The motorcycle will come in three variants. The base version of the bike is priced at Rs. 44,642, the mid version is priced at Rs. 46,134 and the top end variant is priced at Rs. 48,125 (All prices Ex-showroom Delhi)
On the launch event HMSI’s President and CEO Keita Muramatsu said “Honda retained the brand Dream as part of a global strategy that was first launched in 1949. This new bike is very economical with better mileage.
Yadvinder Singh Guleria, operating head for sales and marketing at Honda Motorcycle & Scooter said “We want to sincerely increase our market share in India. We need mass-market products to do that. Our ambition is to be number one in market share by 2020.”
HMSI aims to sell 27.5 lakh units in the financial year 2012-13 compared to 21.07 lakhs unit in the last financial year. Dream Yuga is going to play an important role in the ramping up production beside Honda Activa. Dream Yuga’s pricing suggest that Honda wants to take premium of its brand name.  The motorcycle has been priced 10% higher than what we were expecting. The lower price might have done wonder for Honda but let’s see how Dream Yuga will perform in Indian two wheeler market.

KTM Duke Submerged in Water, Will it ride through?

KTM Duke Exhaust Submerged in knee depth water
When we first time saw the KTM Duke underbelly exhaust, everybody doubted about its performance in rainy reason. I was also surprised that would it be able to perform well in India, where you have to ride your motorcycle in knee deep water in a rainy season. However, the below video can show you the power of KTM Duke’s Underbelly Exhaust. Pulsar 200NS also has the same exhaust so we can assume that it will be as powerful as KTM Duke’s Exhaust.

Hero Motocorp’s Performance During the FY’2012

Hero MotoCorp Ltd. (HMCL) has reported record results for the Financial Year 2012 – the first complete financial year since embarking on its solo journey. Solo as the company decided the break the tie up which existed with its erstwhile Japanese competitor – Honda.
Fueled by its landmark sales of over 62,35,205 units in this fiscal, the company registered a total  turnover (Net Sales & Other Operating income) of Rs 23579 crores, as compared to Rs.19,397 crores reported for the last fiscal. The company reported profit after tax (PAT) of Rs 2378.13 crores and an operating margin of 10.69 per cent, in the fiscal. The company’s PAT in the previous year (2010-11) was Rs 1927.90 crores.
Riding on its highest ever quarterly sales of 15,72,027 units of two – wheeler, the company’s total turnover (Net Sales & other Operating Income) in the Q4 of FY’12 grew to Rs. 6035 crores, a growth of 11.95 per cent over Rs. 5391 crores, recorded in the corresponding quarter in last fiscal. EBIDTA margin for the quarter stood at a healthy 15.33 per cent.  The strength of the operations and the resultant strong financial position translates into a dividend payout of Rs. 45 per share.
Regarding this performance, Dr. Brijmohan Lall, Chairman, Hero MotoCorp Ltd, said, “The financial year 2011 – 12 has been a phenomenal and exciting year for us. This was our first full year since we began our solo journey and we have created a record by selling more than six million two – wheelers during this period. It amply reiterates the kind of trust our customers repose in us and our products. We are committed to keep bringing such innovative products for the customers across segments and provide them the best of after-sales service.”
Mr. Pawan Munjal, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., said “FY’12 was a year when we demonstrated not just our intent and vision for the future, but also our ability to consistently deliver. Even as we successfully made the transition to a new brand identity, and created an anthem for the country’s youth with the “Hum Main Hai Hero” campaign, we went on setting new industry benchmarks. It gives me sense of satisfaction to see that we are successfully playing our small role in the progress of our country. Even as the rest of the world was talking about an economic slowdown, we added over 62 lakh new two-wheelers on the country’s roads in just 12 months.
Foraying into the Exports
As we, at  BikeAdvice has been reporting for a long time, HMC is very seriously considering the idea of foraying into the export market. Here is what Mr. Munjal had to say about this. “We are, however, not going to rest on our laurels. We are raising the bar to bring in technologically-advanced two-wheelers with value-added features. We are actively looking at new markets in Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world to expand our global footprint. Our exports to some of these markets will commence in the first half of this fiscal. And to be able to meet growing demand for our products, we are also adding capacity at our three existing plants. We will also be soon announcing the details of a Parts Centre to cater to our rising volumes. And while all these initiatives take shape, we will also be adding about 400 more touch points this year to our already large distribution network. Undoubtedly, FY’13 is certainly going to be yet another action-packed year for us at Hero.”
During this year, the company also managed to get into few alliances for the development of new vehicles and for the existing line – up as well. Hero MotoCorp forged alliances with the US – based Erik Buell Racing (EBR) and Austria – based AVL to quickly scale-up and supplement its own in-house R&D capabilities and engine technologies. Through the strategic partnership with EBR, Hero MotoCorp also made its debut in the exciting world of international motorcycle racing, by participating at the AMA Pro Racing National Guard Superbikes Championship in the US.
In order to partially off-set the rising input costs, Hero MotoCorp has raised prices on most of its products in the range of Rs 500/- to Rs 1000/-. This new pricing has been in effect from 2nd of May.
Talking about the new product front, Hero MotoCorp launched two new models in addition to few refreshes during the year. “Impulse” which is the first Hero branded bike introduced an entirely new segment in the Indian two-wheeler market, the “off-road on-road” segment. The company also launched a new 110cc scooter “Maestro”, further strengthening its steadily growing presence in the gearless scooter segment.
During the Auto Expo in Delhi in January early this year, Hero MotoCorp showcased a concept Hybrid scooter – “Leap”. It also unveiled a 110cc Passion X Pro and a thrilling new 125cc bike, Ignitor – to be launched in the domestic market over the next few months.
Taking forward its association with sports, Hero MotoCorp sponsored the men’s and women’s hockey qualifying events for the London Olympics 2012. The event, titled “Hero FIH Road to London” and held in Delhi in February, saw the Indian men’s hockey team qualify for the London Olympics.
Adding to its illustrious list of young achievers as brand ambassadors, Hero MotoCorp brought on board current heartthrob of Hindi cinema Ranbir Kapoor during the year.
Hero MotoCorp received a slew of awards for its performance and products during the year. “Impulse”, the first Hero-branded motorcycle and the country’s first on-road-off-road bike, was adjudged the “Bike of the Year” at the ET Zigwheels Awards and BS Motoring Awards 2012. The trans-roader also won the “Motorcycle of the Year (up to 150 cc)” at the NDTV Car & Bike Awards 2012, at the ET Zigwheels Awards, and also at the Car India & Bike India Awards.
Hero MotoCorp also received accolades for its highly-innovative rebranding initiative. This initiative won the CNBC Awaaz-Storyboard special commendation for “Effective Rebranding of a New Corporate Entity” at the CNBC Awaaz Consumer Awards 2011. The company also won the “Most Recommended Two-Wheeler Brand of the Year” award at the same awards.
Let’s wait and watch the way the company would perform in the coming financial year where it has got bunches of new plans to go ahead with.

Friday, 11 May 2012

S-in motion' project accents AHSS

Image: S-in motion.jpg
Approximately 36% of the baseline vehicle's BIW is made of PHS and AHSS. In the optimized S-in motion solution, PHS and AHSS equate to 54% of the BIW weight. Although the AHSS amount remains nearly identical, the PHS amount in the S-in motion is 25% vs. the baseline's 6%.
The world's largest steel producer recently unveiled a portfolio of weight-saving designs for front, side, and rear body panels as well as for the chassis, doors, and other hang-on parts to spur increased usage of advanced high-strength steels (AHSS).
"Any of these independent component or submodule solutions can be integrated into a system. The intent is to show what can be done and also reinforce that we are a capable partner to assist in providing effective solutions," Dr. Blake Zuidema, Director of Automotive Product Applications for ArcelorMittal Global R&D in East Chicago, told AEI at a January press briefing showcasing the results of the "S-in motion" demonstration project.
The lightest S-in motion solution reduces body-in-white (BIW) and closures weight by 57 kg (126 lb), while the lightest chassis offering nets 16 kg (35 lb) in weight savings compared to a baseline C segment vehicle.
According to Dr. Greg Ludkovsky, ArcelorMittal's Vice President of Global R&D, the baseline model "incorporates all of the state-of-the-art solutions that ArcelorMittal developed at the beginning of the [two-year] S-in motion program."
Production processes were evaluated in tandem with lightweight metals, including dual phase, complex phase, trip 780, martensitic, and other AHSS as well as press-hardened steel (PHS). Multiple versions of the same parts, modules, and closures were produced to illustrate various lightweight strategies.
Explained Zuidema, "ArcelorMittal's commercially available Usibor 1500P with a 1500-MPa tensile strength and Ductibor 500P—a product just entering commercial production—were used for the front and rear rails and the B-pillars in a North American market-targeted design approach focused primarily on hot stampings. Another design approach primarily focused on cold stampings using dual phase and trip dual steels."
One of three front door designs represents a novel departure from a laser-welded blank door inner.
"The monolithic mild-steel door inner uses a hot stamp reinforcement to form a tube, which is essentially a thin-walled, closed structure beam element that provides stiffness. In the beltline reinforcement area, an AHSS grade transfers energy from the front structure to the rear.
"The upper waistline reinforcement and the forward hinge area form a very strong tube section, which along with the diagonal door beam equates to an extremely stiff structure. An intermediate reinforcement that spans between the waistline reinforcement and the door beam provides support for the door outer, which enabled further gauge reduction without compromising stiffness," Zuidema explained.
S-in motion's innovative door ring concept strays from the conventional approach of using a one-piece cold stamping.
"Although much of the side structure needs high strength for intrusion resistance, not every part in the door ring requires the same stiffness. Some areas need greater stiffness and a higher gauge, and some areas don't require that.
"For example, the junction between the lower part of the B-pillar and the rocker panel needs high ductility in order to withstand substantial deformation during a side impact. Because we incorporated different gauges and different grades, we were able to achieve different thicknesses as well as different mechanical properties after hot stamping," said Zuidema.
The two-year S-in motion project is the culmination of nearly a decade of product design analysis by ArcelorMittal researchers and engineers. Beyond the concepts that S-in motion demonstrated, additional weight savings of 29 kg (64 lb) will be realized with the creation of new alloys and the development of other scientific concepts. Said Ludkovsky, "We intend to pursue this quite aggressively in the next couple of years."
ArcelorMittal's current market-available products include stainless steels for body structure applications such as B-pillars and lower A-pillars. According to Zuidema, the 17-7 (17% chrome, 7% nickel) stainless steel grade's formability provides an alternative to hot stamping. "This stainless steel is not currently in a production vehicle application, but it is used for the S-in motion project's body-in-white," said Zuidema.
The BIW and other S-in motion modules were verified in-house through crash and stiffness assessments as well as forming and assembly feasibility studies that meet European and North American requirements.
S-in motion's worldwide show-and-tell tour for ArcelorMittal customers continues for the next several months. "Simply put: We used a design-materials-manufacturing interaction to come up with solutions," said Zuidema.

How Trelleborg keeps the vibes under control

Image: Trelleborg02-11Suspension Strut 2.jpg
The chassis is a particular focus of Trelleborg's anti-vibration R&D.
In the world of automotive engineering, there is (almost) no such thing as good vibrations; they are invariably bad. One of the very few exceptions is the use of vibration as a driver warning aid (typically via the steering wheel rim) of incipient danger, such as the inadvertent crossing of a lane marker.
But generally, vibration and quality do not mix and from the earliest days of motor vehicles, anti-vibration solutions (AVS) have been an essential part of the formula for commercial success: providing end users with the safest, smoothest, and quietest ride while meeting all safety, environmental, and associated legislative requirements, including a contribution to reduction of CO2 emissions levels via weight-saving programs.
Developing effective AVS is a never-ending task, not only because quality targets and expectations of manufacturers/customers rise inexorably, but because evolving designs and technologies bring fresh challenges. Electric vehicles (EVs) may be quieter and smoother than IC engine-powered vehicles, but they change the whole basis on which a car’s overall technology is formulated. The picture is also complicated by the use of alternative materials necessary to achieve weight and cost savings.
A comprehensive range of AVS are used throughout modern vehicles, from the engine and exhaust mounts to the chassis and suspension; the shock absorber’s efficiency and performance are heavily dependent on a number of AVS.
Trelleborg Automotive has developed an extensive portfolio of polymer-based AVS solutions to satisfy specific design challenges. Said the company’s European Engineering Manager Alain Guillaume: “In order to meet the needs of the manufacturer, changing industry requirements and the wide range of environmental and climatic conditions that anti-vibration solutions are exposed to, constant material development and design is critical.
“Improvements in AVS durability, temperature resistance, stiffness, creep, and noise reduction are heavily dependent on compound and polymer design and selection.”
A number of environmental factors must be considered in AVS design to ensure optimal performance in any condition, he explained: “AVS must withstand extreme climatic conditions, ranging from temperatures of -40°C to over +120°C. Vehicles are exposed to a variety of elements: heavy rain, water, snow, and sand, as well as rough terrain. And AVS and the vehicle chassis, in general, must of course withstand constant movement throughout a vehicle’s lifetime, which is generally considered to be at least 10 years.”
Weight reduction—or even keeping it steady as equipment specifications rise—is an enduring problem for all component and OE companies. This need is linked to increased metal prices, so OEMs are looking to source alternative materials and solutions for both reasons.
“Even a small weight reduction can enable significant savings to be made during production, so we are seeing an increasing move from steel to aluminum parts, with growing demand for more plastic components,” said Guillaume.
The use of plastic also allows greater design freedom for inserts supporting elastomer-based parts, an efficient way to increase vehicle durability as plastic components are not susceptible to rust, do not require painting, and are easier to recycle.
As the 2015 deadline for the European Union’s 95% recycling rate for end-of-life vehicles approaches, automakers are looking for more easily recyclable components. New material developments, such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) -based PU (polyurethane), rather than the less environmental NDI (naphthalene diisocyanate) -based materials, have been developed to help OEMs reach these targets.
Environmental and climatic conditions vary dramatically between countries, but it is important for a manufacturer to be able to sell the same vehicle platform right across the globe without incurring the cost of redesigning various components to meet different conditions. It is therefore essential that AVS designs are flexible and robust and that the components can be easily sourced.
“As car technology evolves and we see the increase of more refined and quieter vehicles, especially with the emergence of EVs, anti-vibration solutions must work harder to optimize noise dampening performance,” said Guillaume. “Trelleborg’s top strut mount is designed to prevent sudden excitation of the car body through road input, bumps, obstacles, and potholes. Due to the forces it absorbs, the mount needs to be soft in the axial direction but hard in the radial direction. As well as performing a damping function, the strut mount can also help to isolate tire and spring induced noise and vibration.”
A key driver for innovations in top strut and spring seat technology is the recent pedestrian shock legislation. The legislation requires the reduction in height of the shock-absorber mounts to create increased clearance between the hood and the strut to provide a crumple zone to absorb pedestrian energy in the event of impact and to reduce the possibility of serious injury.
To achieve this, Trelleborg has developed compact strut mounting solutions and retuned surrounding components, such as the bearing, spring seat, spring, bumper, and dust cover.
Guillaume said that the strength of Trelleborg’s bump stop lay in its damping abilities, absorbing and isolating extreme shock, noise, and vibration. The company uses PU materials for bushing and bump-stop applications.
He added that PU elastomers are a useful and cost-effective alternative to rubber in several applications. Elastomeric properties are determined by the material mix, and PU can offer strength, rigidity, softness, and flexibility. “It can also outperform rubber in terms of abrasion resistance, and the injection molding process makes the component easier to shape,” Guillaume said.
Although natural rubber has been—and continues to be—used successfully in a range of AVS, new materials need to be developed to ensure that manufacturers have the optimal solution to their specific requirements. Trelleborg runs an extensive R&D program into the utilization of advanced polymer-based materials in its AVS design, such as thermoplastics, silicon, biomaterials, fiber-reinforced composites, and foams.
“The importance of material development to the industry can be demonstrated through innovations such as the Trelleborg Noise-Free Rubber,” said Guillaume. A self-lubricated, low-friction rubber formulation, it overcomes noise from AVS components such as suspension bushings, engine mounts, and anti-roll bar isolators while the vehicle is in motion. In addition, the material has been engineered to meet stringent fatigue requirements, resulting in an increased durability of some 50%.
Added Guillaume: “Vehicle design has greatly evolved in recent years, yet from the outside it’s easy to forget that the finished product is dependent on the pioneering new design and material developments of integral components, such as AVS, which are critical to the safety, comfort, and durability of the entire vehicle.
“Continued and collaborative design across all vehicle components is essential to meet the evolving needs of the industry, the environment, and the end user.”