The All New Maruti Wagon R Like Never Before

When was the last time you saw or heard a car manufacturer withdraw one of its most successful models that was well past its prime? Well, never we guess. In India, every time a successful car hits its prime, the makers are quick to re-launch it with a new nose, new graphics and an “all new” tag, just to keep the interest alive and cash registers ringing. Maruti Suzuki has successfully done this so far with almost all its models. But it has especially gone the whole hog with its blue-eyed hatchback and country’s first ever tall boy – the Wagon R. Ever since its launch way back in the year 1999, this entry-level hatch had been the hottest thing among the small car buyers. And the new and improved Wagon R just promises to take the success story forward. But will it be the same success for Maruti in India. Let’s find out.

Exterior

The new India-specific Wagon R is a far cry from its Japanese counterparts. Although, it still bears the tall boy design and the squared edges of its precursor, it certainly looks more modern and sporty. The front gets a more pronounced bonnet with a big bold grille and the blue-eyed boy actually gets blue eyes in the form of a tiny blue parking lamp cover in the redesigned headlamp cluster. The rear has also been freshened up with new bumper, redesigned tail lamps and a chunky chrome lid.

Interior

The tall boy design allows the best in class headroom, leg room and knee room. On the downside, it’s very narrow, so three people on the rear seat can be left cramped for space. The basic cabin of the erstwhile Wagon R has been upgraded with a new dash layout, up-market blue upholstery, and a whole host of add-ons like retractable cup holder, keyless entry and large space under the front passenger seat. There is also a brand new tilt adjustable steering wheel and an integrated in dash 4 speaker music system and front aux port.

Powertrain

The new Wagon R is powered by the 998cc and 3 cylinders K10 B engine that unleashes 67 bhp of power and 90 Nm of torque. So it’s quite a breeze to drive around in the city, yet planted enough for the highway. It has a highly fuel-efficient engine that gives it an ARAI certified mileage of 18.9 kmpl. The soft and notchy gearbox of the old Wagon R has been replaced by 5 cable linked gear box that feels slick and sure. Maruti has also made major changes to the Wagon R suspension as well. The steering isn’t feather light anymore and provides feedback when cornering. However, because of its tall boy stance, there is quite body roll, but it doesn’t deviate from its line. At slow speeds, on average city conditions, the ride is good and compliant. But as you pick up speed, the ride tends to get a bit more undulating and bumpy.

Car Sales Up 26.6% In March

Figures which have just been released show that new car sales were up by 26.6% in March. This rise in sales has been attributed to the amount of small-car sales, last-minute scrappage deals and the release of the new ?10? registration plate.

There was a total of 397,383 new cars registered during March which although is still below average for the month ? it?s a step in the right direction and shows that motorists are still looking to buy their vehicles from new.

The popularity of superminis has helped to increase the overall car sales. It seems as though motorists are becoming more and more conscious about a car?s environmental credentials and are looking to buy a more fuel efficient motor.
The top seller so far is the Ford Fiesta ? which sold 23,681 models during March. Coming closely behind in second place was the Ford Focus which sold 17,989 models and capped off a great month for Ford.
The other factor which contributed to the rise was the Scrappage Scheme ? it accounted for around 12.2% of the total sales ? but this was the last month of the scheme so we can?t except it to have as big an impact next month.
It?s expected that car sales will now decline throughout the rest of the year as Scrappage sales accounted for so many new sales.

March is traditionally a good month for car sales anyway ? along with September ? because of the introduction of the new plate ? so next month?s car sales data will be an interesting read indeed.

Jeep Launches New Interactive Online Ad For Jeep Patriot

Last February, Chrysler Group’s Jeep brand worked in conjunction with the popular Marvel Comics to create the “The Patriot Factor” online comic book. This unique and interactive marketing campaign for the Jeep Patriot allows the consumers to go online and create their own story.

This time, the Jeep brand wants to expand their online digital marketing campaign with the nationwide launch of their second interactive online advertisement for the all-new 2007 Jeep Patriot called the “The Way Beyond Trail”. The interactive campaign will be launched in the internet on March 15th, and will be accompanied by other marketing campaigns for the all-new 2007 Jeep Patriot that can be seen by customers through 30-second TV spots, print ads, online advertising, a Hispanic campaign, product integration, events, direct mail, and billboards. Jeep said they are targeting younger audiences with the new marketing campaign.

Jay Kuhnie, Director of Jeep Communications commented:
“‘The Way Beyond Trail’ and ‘The Patriot Factor’ combine the timeless magic of story-telling with the power and reach of the Internet. Both applications allow us to engage prospective customers of the Jeep Patriot in an environment that is interactive and entertaining, which resonates well with them. Ultimately, the campaign theme takes its cue from the 2007 Jeep Patriot. That’s because the all-new vehicle delivers the fun, freedom, utility and best-in-class Jeep 4×4 capability that allows anyone to “choose your adventure.”

?Our target here is young, from 22 to 30, with income between $25,000 and $40,000, a little more male than female, and just entering a new phase of their life,? he said. ?They are just out of school maybe in their first job, moving out and trying to become adults. And they don?t mind being marketed to as long as you do it in an interesting way.? he added.

Meanwhile, John Plecha, Director of Jeep Marketing and Global Communications commented:
“The Jeep Patriot is targeted at young, active men and women who always wanted a Jeep but couldn’t afford one. Now, these consumers can choose their adventure in a Jeep Patriot because it delivers the Jeep experience at an affordable starting price – $14,985.”

Here are the details of Jeep’s “The Way Beyond Trail” interactive online marketing campaign:

The story has four main characters named Gary, Srini, Jodi, and the last character is the online participant. The setting takes place at a backwoods camping trip, where the participant will answer the challenges in 44 scenes. Every scene shows off some of the features of the all-new 2007 Jeep Patriot including flip-down speakers, Jeep Fender Flare, and the iPod holder in the center console. Participants can also go back to the previous scenes or skip the next scenes to complete the story. But doing this makes the interactive game less challenging.

Joint Statement Of Ford, Gm, Chrysler On Meeting With Pres. Bush

The Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of America’s leading Detroit-based automakers including Richard Wagoner of General Motors, Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Company, and Tom LaSorda of Chrysler Group has recently conducted a meeting with President George W. Bush to help improve the development of alternative fuel (e.g. ethanol and biodiesel fuel). The three automakers also aim to reduce the country’s dependence on petroleum based products and reduce consumption of gas.

After the meeting with President Bush, the three CEOs went outside the White House with the President and US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to discuss some ways on how to improve the consumer’s access to alternative fuels.

Here is what the three CEOs said in a join statement regarding the meeting:

“We briefed the President about the more than 6 million FFVs on the road today and we will add over a million FFV cars and trucks in 2007 alone. We explained to the President that if all these vehicles were running on E85, they would displace more than 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline a year. And even more compelling, if all the E85 capable vehicles on the road today — along with those that GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler have already committed to produce over the next 10 years — were to run on E85, we could displace 22 billion gallons of gasoline annually. Also, if all manufacturers made a comparable commitment to make half their annual production capable of running on biofuels, we could increase the savings to 37 billion gallons of gasoline annually in 2017.
Furthermore, we pointed out the benefits of clean diesel technology and that if all diesel vehicles today were fueled with B5 (five percent biodiesel) we could displace 1.85 billion gallons of petroleum per year; and 7.4 billion gallons per year if B20 (20 percent biodiesel) were utilized.

In order to achieve these levels of petroleum savings, we asked the President to help provide Americans with reasonable access to these fuels at a price that is competitive with gasoline. Right now there are approximately 1,100 E85 pumps in the U.S. and 1,000 biodiesel pumps, out of 170,000 gas stations. We expressed to the President that we are willing to lead the way, but we need government and fuel providers to increase infrastructure before we can make a meaningful impact.

In addition, we discussed with the President that as part of an overall national strategy to fully tap the potential of biofuels to displace petroleum, vehicle production increases must be accompanied by continuing the incentives that encourage the manufacture, distribution, and availability of biofuels and the production of flexible fuel vehicles.

We updated the President on our wide range of advanced vehicle technologies that run on alternative fuels such as E85, biodiesel, electricity and hydrogen. Plug-in hybrid vehicles can play a significant role in our transportation future. Increased funding for domestic battery research and development can help accelerate bringing these vehicles to market.

Overall, we were pleased with the exchange that we had with the President and all parties came away with an understanding of the significant, positive impact that biofuels can make on the environment and in reducing our nation’s reliance on oil.

We welcome the opportunity to continue working with President Bush, his Administration, and the Congress in a bipartisan manner and to move forward on solutions to these issues while continuing to do our part to ensure America’s long-standing leadership in manufacturing and innovation.”

This statement emphasizes that GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler will develop and produce vehicles with E85 capability in the next 10 years. So expect to see a Mercedes-Benz luxury super car model running on ethanol fuel pumping out on its Mercedes engine parts.