Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maruti, Hyundai and GM to hike car prices

NEW DELHI: The new year will begin on a costly note for car buyers with major players, including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motors and General Motors, planning to increase prices of the vehicles by as much as Rs 12,000.

The companies are citing higher costs of raw materials such as lead and aluminium, besides rising freight charges as well as petroleum products, among the reasons for increasing the vehicle prices.

According to dealer sources, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd has told its distributors to gear up for an increase in prices across all models by up to Rs 12,000. The price hike would be applicable on dispatches of vehicles from the date of announcement of the hike in January. When contacted, officials of the country's biggest carmaker declined to comment.

Sources said Maruti has also written to its dealers that it will shut down production facilities for maintenance activities during December 24-31 and the dealers should plan their bookings accordingly.

Maruti's nearest rival Hyundai Motors India Ltd is also planning a price hike of up to two per cent across different models by December-end or January next year. Hyundai's lowest price car is the Santro non-AC which comes for Rs 2.72 lakh, while the high-end Sonata Embera is priced Rs 15.71 lakh.

Sources said HMIL may also revise the price of its recently introduced global car 'i10', which has been priced at Rs 3.39 lakh onward.

While Hyundai officials declined to comment, General Motors India (GMI) confirmed it will be revising prices.

"We will be hiking prices of our products between 1-2 per cent across all models by January," GMI Vice-President Marketing and Sales Ankush Arora told reporters.

He said increase in diesel prices along with input costs have made it necessary to hike the car prices.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OnStar Plays God with Your Car

How much would it tick off a car thief if all of a sudden, during the getaway, the engine started to lose power and the vehicle began to decelerate? Quite a bit, I imagine. OnStar is well on its way to god status by introducing Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, a new technology that is capable of transmitting a signal to a vehicle and corresponding with its powertrain system to reduce fuel flow to the engine and eventually decrease the speed of the car. The slowdown would happen at a safe and gradual level, so that coppers could safely follow and apprehend the thieves. (No more Dukes of Hazzard type chases.)

The tech, which is set to debut in 1.6 million 2009 model GM cars, works in conjunction with OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Location service (needed initially to pinpoint the whereabouts of the car). A direct line of sight is required in order to activate the tech, and according to the site, "Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the correct vehicle is slowed down." Uh, let's hope so. That sure would suck to be the clueless guy driving behind.