20171117

Tesla revives the Roadster; It looks gorgeous and goes super fast.

Elon Musk, the man behind the ‘tech-tour-de-force-of-auto-industry’ Tesla, had tweeted earlier this week, “Tesla Semi Truck unveil will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension”. He couldn’t have been more spot on! 

Blew our mind clear off our skulls, it sure did. It’s just not the Semi Truck which did that. Instead, it was what came off the smoking truck towards the end of the event. 

With nary a hint running up to the event, Tesla dropped a bombshell in front of a shocked crowd that probably had expected a bunch of Model 3 sedans to come out of the just-unveiled Semi Truck. But what emerged was this, the successor to the Tesla Roadster. For those who do not know, the low-volume Roadster was the brand’s first car ever before the Model S came and made Tesla a household name.


Not much about the new car was revealed beyond the fact that it’s a two-door, four-seat convertible with a detachable hard top and some insane specs. Insane, for lack of a better word! 

This new roadster, Tesla claims, can go from 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in an earth-shattering 1.9 seconds.. covering a quarter-mile (0.4 km) in 8.9 seconds flat! With a claimed top speed in excess of 250 mph (402 km/h) and a hitherto-unheard-of "620-mile range" (>1,000 km), the Tesla Roadster will become the fastest road car ever built. Period. 

Do we see the engineers at Bugatti, Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari sweating already? 


Tesla’s newest baby has three motors, one in front and two in the rear, drawing power from a 200 KWh battery pack nestled somewhere on its floor, all-wheel drive and torque steering. 

Prices are expected to hover around $200,000 and production is expected to begin 2020. Knowing Tesla’s history in delaying on delivery commitments, you know when the first cars would arrive at customers. Be wary of that if you’re putting in your money ($50,000 is said to be the reservation amount) on this!


Sleek, sexy and gorgeous, the new Roadster is all Tesla needed to steer clear off the spate of negative publicity surrounding the brand’s failure to ramp up the production of Model 3 sedans. In one sheer stroke of genius, Elon Musk, by his own admission, delivered a hardcore smack-down to gasoline cars and all but ensured Tesla remains in the headlines for years to come.

Tesla unveils Semi Truck, its biggest 'electrifying' gamble yet

After building up hype through a series of tweets and a near-revealing teaser, Tesla finally showed the world it’s next big thing. And it’s really big - a Class 8, 18-wheeled, Semi truck that are dime a dozen on American freeways. Needless to say, it’s fully electric and powered by lithium-ion battery packs, like all things Tesla.


With a sleek, sophisticated and aerodynamic design, Tesla’s Semi is impressive the moment you set sights on it. The vertically-stacked LED lights, the smooth and rounded fascia without the ubiquitous grille, the wraparound windshield, the flush-fitting panels that form the cab and the enclosed rear wheels makes the Tesla Semi a truck unlike anything we’ve seen before. 


Access to the cab is through a pair of rear-hinged doors with flush-fitted handles. The absence of a diesel engine up front meant Tesla could drop the nose of the cab down vertically, let the driver sit right in the center of the cabin and allow for full standing room inside. What’s a Tesla without a touchscreen? The Semi gets two of them - 15 inches in size - on either side of the 3-spoke steering wheel and they control everything from navigation to blind spot monitoring to electronic data logging to connectivity to the operator’s fleet management system. These aside, a few cup holders, a solitary button for hazard lights and a jump seat are all that could be seen! 

Safety has been prioritized with the Tesla Semi getting features like a thermonuclear explosion proof windshield, a reinforced battery pack, onboard sensors to look for signs of jackknifing and adjust power to individual wheels to maintain stability, surround cameras and the brand’s popular ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ that makes the truck capable of driving itself on the highway, staying in its lane and maintaining a safe distance from neighboring vehicles.

Alright, let’s talk numbers now as that’s what these trucks are built for. Without a trailer, the Tesla Semi can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in an incredible 5 seconds, faster than many supposedly fast cars. Hauling a full 80,000-pound load, the same feat is achieved in 20 seconds, almost four times as much faster than a diesel truck. Notably, Tesla claims its Semi climbs 5% grades at a steady 65 mph whereas a diesel truck maxes out at 45 mph. Regenerative braking recovers 98% of the kinetic energy to the battery and the absence of gears and clutch ensure smooth build-up and shedding of speed. 

Incredibly, Tesla Semi has a claimed Drag Coefficient of 0.36 which is superior to Bugatti Chiron’s 0.38! 


Armed with four independent electric motors, two in each axle, and an undisclosed-but-higher-capacity battery pack, the Tesla Semi reportedly generates an equivalent of 1000 horsepower. Being an electric vehicle, all the torque should be available from standstill which is a boon for load-hauling trucks. Tesla’s claimed range is 500 miles, better than what was expected to be honest. As always, Tesla has come up with a buzzword with this unveiling. Welcome 'Megachargers', the solar-powered high-speed DC charging solution that adds up to 400 miles in 30 minutes and can be installed at origin or destination points or along heavily-trafficked routes. 

Crucially, Tesla claims superior reliability owing to fewer moving parts than a diesel truck and lower total cost of ownership with expected savings of over $200,000 over a million miles on fuel cost alone with its Semi.


Bookings for the Tesla Semi can be done with an advance payment of $5,000 and production is expected to start 2019. Add a couple of years buffer and you know the earliest date you'll have your Semi delivered. 

As much as Tesla tries to present its Semi as a tempting proposition for fleet operators, the challenge ahead is quite clear. Tesla isn't the first-mover in electric trucks and it's not going to be easy convincing the targeted clientele. At least, not as easy as convincing the hundreds of thousands of car-buyers that hopped onto the Tesla bandwagon.

20171109

Royal Enfield unveils the Interceptor 650 Twin and the Continental GT 650 Twin

An unmistakable identity, a brand following to die for, sky-rocketing sales and surging profits. With all these firmly in the bag, Royal Enfield has now embarked on a journey that promises to take them farther and higher up the global chain. 

Ending months of speculation, Royal Enfield finally unveiled their eagerly-awaited twin-cylinder motorcycles - the Continental GT 650 Twin and the Interceptor 650 Twin - at the EICMA Show in Milan, Italy. With the curtains off their back, these motorcycles signal the rebirth of the brand’s legendary parallel twin engine of the years gone by. Hardcore aficionados would have also taken note of the Interceptor nameplate making a comeback.


Both, the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650, look brilliant with their ‘retro modern’ styling but what piques our interest more is their source of power. 

Nestled in that solid, twin-cradle, tubular frame that the two motorcycles share is an all-new 648cc, twin parallel cylinder, oil-cooled, SOHC engine that generates 47 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 52 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. This fuel-injected motor gets a forged crankshaft with a 270-degree firing order for smoother power delivery and broader torque spread. Paired with it is a six-speed gearbox with a slip-assist clutch. Twin S&S silencers on either sides not just look great but have also been tuned for that right tone and burble, says Royal Enfield. All you thump and burble fans out there, relax! 

The chassis and frame have been developed from scratch by the Royal Enfield UK Tech Center and Harris Performance. Suspension duties are handled by conventional telescopic forks up front and gas-charged dual shocks with a piggyback reservoir at the rear. Both wheels are equipped with  disc brakes and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is standard on both motorcycles.

While the two motorcycles share the mechanicals, they look different and cater to different needs. 


The Interceptor is a retro roadster and draws inspiration from the namesake motorcycle of the past. Classic touches include circular headlight, twin-pod instrument cluster, teardrop-shaped fuel tank and a flat, quilted, single-piece seat with a slight hump at the rear. With an upright riding stance and back-set foot pegs, the motorcycle is intended for cruising on highways. 


The Continental GT, on the other hand, is a Café Racer intended to get you from Point A to Point B in the shortest possible time. Featuring a sportier stance, clip-on handlebars and a more angular tank, the motorcycle makes its intentions clear. Despite looking very similar to the Continental GT 535 on sale in India, there are apparently very few parts that are common to both. 

Royal Enfield has designed an extensive suite of genuine accessories for the new pair of motorcycles ranging from engine guards, pannier mounts and fly screens to seat cowls, alloy wheels and mirrors. 

Wait, don’t think of owning one in India yet. Both these motorcycles would first go on sale in Europe in the first half of 2018. After accounting for the demand overseas and production ramp up, an India launch is likely towards the end of next year. Until then, continue drooling!

20171108

Chevrolet celebrates 100 years of making pick-up trucks

Chevrolet has been in existence since 1911 but not until 1918 did they build their first pick-up truck. Inspired by workers who modified vehicles to lug things around the factory, the One-Ton truck was born. Little did the folks at Chevrolet knew they would be making these trucks in hundreds of thousands a whole century later. 

From 1918 till date in 2017, a staggering 85 million trucks have rolled out wearing the iconic ‘bowtie’ badge. With the 2018 Model Year, Chevrolet Trucks are stepping into their 100th year. As one would expect, Chevrolet is in celebratory mood and kicked off a series of commemorative events at the State Fair of Texas late September.

Special ‘Centennial Edition’ Trucks

Car-makers usually celebrate milestones like these by doling out special editions of their popular models. Chevrolet isn't averse to it and duly rolled out special ‘Centennial Editions’ of its best-selling Silverado and Colorado trucks.


While the Silverado Centennial Edition is based on the LTZ Z71 trim in Crew Cab configuration, the Colorado Centennial Edition is based on the Z71 trim and available in Crew Cab and Extended Cab configurations.



Wearing distinctive ‘Centennial Blue’ paint job, exclusive heritage bowtie emblems in places you would expect and more, 100 year badges proudly stuck onto the front doors, chrome embellishments and bigger wheels, these special editions are said to be inspired by the colours and design cues found on early Chevrolet Trucks. As you would have noticed, all changes are purely cosmetic with the mechanicals remaining untouched.

A one-off, customized, Classic Truck

The Centennial Editions are good alright but what set our heart beats racing is something different. And old! Yes, this one-off, customized, classic C/10 Concept that Chevrolet showcased at the 2017 SEMA Show as part of the Centennial Celebrations is the kind of stuff our dreams are made of. 

Before we get to this one-off stunner, let’s go back to 1960. That was the year Chevrolet introduced the C/K Series of trucks, widely considered as the beginning of the modern era of pick-ups. The 1967 C/10 that Chevrolet chose to customize belongs to the advanced, second-generation C/K Series that debuted in 1967.


This particular truck started its life as a long-bed model with a big cab window, a rarity in its day. Chevrolet Performance came in, shortened the frame, chopped off a portion of the bed, lowered the suspension, slapped on a set of 20-inch wheels and voila, we have what you see here. 


If you are impressed just by those classic lines and that perfect stance, wait until you know what’s under the hood. The crazy folks at Chevrolet Performance have crammed in a ZZ6 small-block crate engine in there, good for a whopping 405 horsepower and a staggering 583 Nm of torque. Mated to it is a 4-speed automatic transmission from Chevrolet Performance’s lineup of factory-matched powertrain systems. 


Visually, the C/10 Concept gets the same heritage bowtie emblems and the Centennial Blue paint job that the special edition Silverado and Colorado come with. Forged wheels, upgraded brakes, wider tires, LED exterior and interior lighting, brushed-finish panels and rounded, smoothened bumpers complete the package. The result is, in one word, stunning.

You’re sold, right? Unfortunately, this is a one-off show car and you can’t buy one even if you want to. Too bad, Chevy. Too bad.

And some more…

Ongoing celebrations, in addition to the aforementioned special editions, include the expansion of hitherto-Texas-only “Truck Legends” program across the United States of America. The program recognizes customers who own a Chevy Truck with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer or those who have purchased or leased more than one new Chevy Truck in their lifetime. A wide range of branded accessories and merchandise are also available.

The 100-day celebration will conclude with a Chevy Trucks Centennial Celebration event on 16th of December at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Arch-rival Ford concluded centenary celebrations of its own earlier this year and with Chevrolet joining suit, expect the long-standing and legendary tussle to truck supremacy spill over to a second century.

20171107

Renault launches the Captur in India between ₹9.99 and ₹13.88 Lakhs

Crossovers might be the ‘in-thing’ in India now but it was Renault that kicked off this storm way back in 2010 with the Duster. That was when the term ‘crossover’ was relatively unheard of and SUVs meant heavy, body-on-frame vehicles like the Tata Safari and Mahindra Scorpio. It’s quite ironic then the Duster has been left trailing behind by newer and modern rivals like the Hyundai Creta and Maruti-Suzuki S-Cross. Renault is now playing catch up and it hopes to do so with this, the Captur.


Launched in New Delhi yesterday, the Captur is available in three petrol and four diesel variants. While the RXE, RXL and RXT are common to both engines, the Platine Edition, a world debut, is exclusively available with the diesel engine. The petrol variants retail between INR 9.99 and 11.69 Lakhs while the diesel variants are priced from INR 11.39 Lakhs and go upto INR 13.88 Lakhs.

Under the hood are two engines that aren't new to us. The diesel is the tried-and-tested 1.5-liter K9K mill in the 109 horsepower tune that's seen in the higher variants of the Duster. The petrol option is the 1.5-liter H4K unit churning out 105 horsepower and 142 Nm of torque. The former gets a 6-speed manual transmission while the latter is paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox. Automatic transmission is not on offer at the moment.


Despite sharing the nameplate and styling elements, the Captur we get is not the same Captur on sale in Europe. The Indian Captur is based on Duster’s low-cost ‘M0’ platform that also underpinned the Lodgy and Logan to name a few. As a result, the Indian Captur is bigger and potentially more abuse-friendly than the smaller but much-advanced Clio-based European Captur.

The naming confusion aside, the Captur looks every bit French and unmistakably Renault. The fascia is dominated by a V-shaped grille that houses a rather large ‘lozenge’ logo at the center. Subtle chrome highlights, along with sleek LED headlights and unique C-shaped LED DRLs lends the Captur a touch of class. The floating indicators, available on the flagship ‘Platine’ variant, looks pretty cool. The muscular profile is characterized by flared wheel arches and steeply-raked window line. The soft and rounded rear gives the Captur more of a crossover look than a SUV, just like its arch-rival from Maruti-Suzuki, the S-Cross. 


Renault is offering a host of customization options over and above the usual dual-tone colours with the Captur, a trend that’s fast catching up in the Indian market. 

Unlike some of its rivals, even the base variant of the Captur is well loaded. Don't believe us? Get this. All variants of the Captur get ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, driver and passenger airbag, impact-sensing door unlock, speed-sensing auto door lock, automatic climate control, rear cooling vents, Smart Access Card for keyless entry, push button start, steering-mounted audio and phone controls, integrated 2-DIN audio system with USB, Aux and BlueTooth functionality, roof spoiler, projector headlamps and LED DRLs. 


While the ‘feature spread’ increases as we move up the variant ladder, the much-hyped ‘Platine’ variant gets exclusive goodies like side airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, cornering lamps, gold accents in the cabin, illuminated vanity mirrors and glove box and full leather upholstery. 

The interiors, though similar in appearance to the European model, isn’t the best of designs out there. Build quality, fit and finish are expected to be a notch above the Duster, given the premium positioning of the Captur. One of Duster’s strong points is the space on offer for five adults and the Captur should be no different, given that the platform underneath is the same. That would also mean the Captur is endowed with the Duster’s revered ride and handling characteristics. Add to that the 210 mm ground clearance and the Captur should have no problems navigating our roads. The absence of an All Wheel Drive option is inexplicable, considering the cheaper Duster offers it.


With style, space, features and exceptional ride by its side, the Captur sure is a competent crossover. But, the pricing isn't what we would call competitive. Sure, the Captur would bring in additional volumes for Renault but will it become a smash hit like the Duster did when it was launched?

Will the Indian public overlook the Creta and the S-Cross despite their cheaper price tags and stronger brand pull? Sounds tough, no? That's what the folks at Renault India have gotten themselves into. Let’s wait and watch how this plays out.