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VW Sales Drop In Q1, But They Were Actually Going Well Until…

Volkswagen’s sales are down 13% in March, but it hasn’t lost faith in its product because until March sales had been up nearly 10%.

The sales dip was predictable given the global pandemic and looks as though it will dip into Q2, as well. March sales, as a result of the coronavirus, are down 42%.

“Our performance through February was outstanding and reinforced our confidence in our strategy,” said Duncan Movassaghi, EVP of sales and marketing, in a statement.

And indeed, the Tiguan and Atlas’s sales increased sharply in January and February. Volkswagen’s SUV sales rose 15% in the first two months of 2020. The Tiguan and Atlas’s, by the end of the quarter, were down 17% and 11%, respectively.

Although VW’s product plan is still okay, the company now has to face the same reality as everyone else. Reduced sales, regardless of reason, and fewer people buying. For the time being, though, says it will focus on keeping things as stable as possible.

“The focus now is on establishing as much stability as possible for our customers, employees, and our dealer partners during this crisis,” said Movasagghi.

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It’s Getting Harder to Imagine Any Formula 1 Races before August

The only news in real racing these days continues to be postponements, cancellations and revised schedules that are difficult to take seriously.

No one—especially not racing series leaders—knows when the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic will finally lift and allow life to get back to some semblance of normality.

Being a global racing series, Formula 1 may face the biggest hurdles of all major racing series. Travel restrictions, government-mandated restrictions on social distancing and quarantines put racing in perspective.

Canadian Patrick Carpentier, a former IndyCar and NASCAR driver, is already pushing back any start date for Formula 1 beyond the current next race on what’s left of the 2020 race schedule, the Canadian Grand Prix. That race is scheduled for June 14 on the latest F1 schedule.

Carpentier, speaking to the French language Montreal media outlet La Presse, said he can’t see the Canadian Grand Prix happening in June. In the article, he gave the race a “10%” chance of happening.

Carpentier said that if F1 pulled the plug on the Australian Grand Prix because of a positive case of coronavirus, there’s no way F1 will conduct races that don’t include Ferrari—a team based in Europe’s hardest-hit country.

“Ferrari is an important part of F1, so if they canceled Melbourne because McLaren was affected by the coronavirus, they will not come to Montreal because Ferrari will not be there,” Carpentier said. “And right now, it would be very, very, very frowned upon for Ferrari to go racing while nearly 1,000 people are dying (in Italy) every day.”

Formula 1 organizers clearly are unsure of when or even if a 2020 season can take place. So far, eight of the 21 races have officially been postponed or canceled. F1 rules say a minimum of eight races must be contested to consider it a championship season.

The series this week even removed the 2020 schedule from its website, replacing the page with a statement saying in part, “As stated recently our intention is to start the 2020 season at some point this summer. … We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 championship season.”

In addition to Canada, other races that seem in line to be canceled or postponed any day now would appear to be the French Grand Prix (June 28), British Grand Prix (July 19) and Italian Grand Prix (Sept. 6).

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, France, as of April 2, is fourth in the world for number of deaths from the COVID-19, trailing only Italy, Spain and the United States. Sporting officials in the U.K. this past week canceled the world’s most famous tennis tournament at Wimbledon, England (originally scheduled for June 29 through July 12).

Should F1 lose Canada, France and the British GP, that would make Austria (July 5) the only race scheduled before August. But will all teams, with travel restrictions likely to still be in place, even be able to get to Austria just three months from now?

“While at present no one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve and when it does, we will be ready to go racing again,” F1 chief executive Chase Carey also said on the Formula 1 website. “We and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer.”

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Russia Claims A Grabber Arm Equipped Il-76 Will Launch And Recover Hypersonic Vehicles

Russia’s Gromov Flight Research Institute has revealed a concept for a system that it says will allow an Il-76 Candid airlifter to launch and recover hypersonic flight test vehicles using an extendable arm mounted in its main cargo bay. While similar in some respects the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Gremlins program, it’s not at all clear how the Russian system would actually work, especially when trying to grab super-fast-flying test vehicles straight out of mid-air.

Gromov, also known by its Russian language acronym LII, presented concept art for what it blandly titled a “universal system with a booster for high-speed UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] tests” at the biennial MAKS air show outside of Moscow. The show, which is going on at Zhukovsky International Airport, where Gromov is also based, formally opened on Aug. 27, 2019. There is no indication that there is an actual example of this system that is at all functional and available for use in any capacity. 

The core of the system itself is a modular “universal booster,” or UB, which can accommodate either a high- or low-thrust rocket motor, depending on the test parameters. “The system is designed for flight research and tests on a universal flying test-bed of objects with a hypersonic ramjet engine (scramjet),” the placard at MAKS explained.

The display shows three sizes of scramjet-powered vehicles that can fit on the UB, but it is possible that it could support other hypersonic flight testing, as well. The printed description says that the booster can accommodate flight test articles weighing up to three tons and just shy of 20 feet long. With the larger rocket motor in place, the UB should be able to propel any such object to at least Mach 3 or 4, at which point, if it is powered by a scramjet, the engine would be able to take over.

Then there’s the modified Il-76 testbed. It “provides an air start, towing in the airflow, reboarding of flight test objects, [that are] different in purpose and mass-dimensional characteristics, including objects with a scramjet,” the displays read.

The graphic shows a cutaway of the Il-76 with a crane-like arm that is affixed to the floor in the center of the cargo bay. It then extends out through the Il-76 Candid’s rear clamshell doors and folds down into the slipstream below the aircraft. Based on the description from Gromov, the aircraft could simply fly with it in that position to gather basic aerodynamic data or release it for a full flight test. 

Gromov has a small number of Il-76LL testbed aircraft that it could modify in the hypersonic launch and recovery aircraft. One of them is seen here during a test of the Aviadvigatel PD-14 turbofan engine in 2015.

However, there are absolutely no details on how the aircraft would go about rendezvousing with a test vehicle after a flight or recovering it. There a number of historical examples of how one might go about doing this, typically involving extendable grabbier-like arms.

During the 1950s, the U.S. Air Force experimented extensively with deploying and retrieving fighter and reconnaissance aircraft from modified bombers to extend the smaller aircraft’s range. There were also tests of tiny “parasite” escort fighter, the XF-85A Goblin, which the service hoped might offer bombers an organic fighter defense during long-range missions.

In the 1970s, Boeing revived the concept of an Airborne Aircraft Carrier (AAC), which would have used a modified 747 airliner to launch and recover 10 “microfighters.” It would have also had a boom in order to refuel them in mid-air.

Concept art showing Boeing’s 747 AAC.

The unmanned aircraft that Dynetics is developing now for DARPA’s Gremlins program have a probe that locks into a towed drogue. The recovering aircraft – presently a specially configured C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft – then reels into position so that a grabber arm can pull it inside.

But recovering subsonic manned or unmanned aircraft is worlds different from trying to snatch a hypersonic vehicle, which, by definition is designed to fly at speeds of Mach 5 or more, out of the air. It would have to dramatically decelerate for the Il-76 to even have a chance at retrieving it. It’s not even clear if a hypersonic vehicle would be able to remain stable and airborne at such a low speed.

If Gromov can make the arrangement work, the Russians might gain some extra flexibility when it comes to flight testing hypersonic unmanned aircraft and weapons. The U.S. Air Force has similarly begun buying air-launched Generation Orbit X-60A hypersonic test vehicles specifically in order to help with the rapid testing of systems and materials at hypersonic speeds. However, these are expendable and need a specially configured launching aircraft.

If it turns out the arm is only capable of deploying test articles into the slipstream or releasing them, that still might be useful enough to justify the expense of developing and installing the conversion. It is also possible that Gromov could adapt it to work with subsonic unmanned aircraft, along the lines of America’s Gremlins, or some other kind of optionally expendable cruise missile-like drones. The extra standoff range that hypersonic systems offer make them particularly well suited to employment from non-stealthy platforms, such as a modified Candid, in general, since it means they can stay relatively far away from enemy air defenses during launch and recover.

Even so, modifying Il-76s with the grabber arm system would seem far more complicated and risky than simply integrating various hypersonic weapons onto existing platforms, including Russia’s strategic Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and shorter-range Tu-22M Backfire bomber. The Russians have already modified a number of MiG-31 heavy interceptors to carry the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile.

It will be certainly interesting to see if the Il-76 hypersonic air-launch and recovery testbed ever actually emerges and what its capabilities might be if it does. 

Author’s note: A big thank you to Michael Jerdev for providing the photos of the display from MAKS. Make sure to follow him on Twitter at @Muxelaero.

Contact the author: [email protected]

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Toyota Etios range & Corolla Altis discontinued in India

Toyota has discontinued the Etios, Etios Liva, Etios Cross and Corolla Altis in India. The cars are no longer listed on the company’s official website.

Toyota will not be updating its 1.4-litre diesel engine to comply with BS6 emission norms and has therefore been phased out. This engine was offered in the Etios range and the Corolla Altis.

In the Etios range, the 1.4-litre diesel engine was tuned to develop 67 BHP @ 3,800 rpm and 170 Nm @ 1,800-2,400 rpm, while in the Corolla Altis is made 87 BHP @ 3,800 rpm and 205 Nm @ 1,800-2,800 rpm.

It has also been reported that the market for the Corolla Altis had shrunk to around 500-600 units per month, which is believed to be one of the reasons why the car has been discontinued. However, media reports suggest that a hybrid variant of the car could be launched in the future.

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Found for Sale: Flyin' Miata-Built, LS3-Swapped 2016 Mazda MX-5 With Only 2,000 Miles

Are you of the mind that the sub-200 horsepower that comes from Mazda’s factory isn’t nearly enough grunt for the magical MX-5? Well, spotted for sale on Bring a Trailer is a barely-used, LS-swapped ND Miata seemingly made just for you. 

According to its listing, this white 2016 MX-5 is the first customer car to get the V-8 “Habu” conversion from the tuners at Palisade, Colorado’s Flyin’ Miata. The swap consists of a Lingenfelter-built, 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 out of a C6 Corvette paired to a Tremec T56 six-speed manual and a GM differential. 

The LS3-swapped Miata is said to produce 525 horsepower and weigh just 2,600 pounds.

For maximum peace-of-mind, the car is being sold by Flyin’ Miata themselves on behalf of the owner and includes a clean Carfax and Virginia title, all the factory and conversion literature and documents, and—most notably, perhaps—just a little over 2,000 miles on the odometer. The thing’s barely broken in. 

It isn’t just the engine, transmission, and diff that’s been replaced, though. Dual, center-exit exhausts and a new rear diffuser give the Mazda roadster more visual punch, as do the black 17-inch Advanti Storm wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R tires. Behind those reside Wilwood brake calipers, specially-tuned Fox Racing coilovers, beefier anti-roll bars, and extra chassis bracing.

I’m not usually the biggest fan of modified cars but I gotta say, this thing looks really cool particularly from the rear three-quarter view. 

The auction ends on Wednesday and is currently sitting at $55,000, or pretty much double the price of a new, soft-top 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata. 

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The Gilmore Museum Is Holding a Virtual Car Show, and You\u2019re Invited

The Gilmore Car Museum is really worth a visit if you’re anywhere near western Michigan. Its 90-acre campus, in charmingly named Hickory Corner, Mich., actually contains a number of independent museums, including facilities devoted to the Ford Model A, Pierce-Arrow and more. There’s even a vintage diner on the premises.

And on any given weekend in the driving season, the Gilmore usually hosts some sort of car show—there are 18 to 20 of them per year, featuring everything from British cars to hot rods.

Of course, this year is a little—OK, a lot—different. The museum is currently closed to the public by state order. But rather than throwing in the towel, it’s working to keep enthusiasts active and engaged until this pandemic blows over. As part of that effort, it’s holding what it’s calling its first virtual car show on April 11.

The virtual car show is exactly what it sounds like. Jay Follis, the Gilmore’s director of marketing, came up with the concept after seeing people share pictures of their rides informally in car Facebook groups.

“Pulling into work one morning I thought: Wait a minute, we could do a car show. People don’t actually have to come to the campus and drive their cars and walk around. We can do it where we build it up, and do preregistration, and have categories and all that kind of stuff. … Rather than getting out and walking around, you can stay at home and social-distance but still say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that car’ or ‘Wow, that’s my favorite.’”

So far as we know, the Gilmore is the first organization to try this in a formalized manner, but in this climate it wouldn’t be surprising if it was the start of a trend. To enter, all you have to do is take a picture of your car and send it, along with your name, where you’re from, the year, make and model and a note about anything that makes it special, to [email protected] You’ve got to do it by April 9.

The show will start at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 11, when entrants will be posted on a dedicated page on the Gilmore’s website.

The goal here is, as Follis says, to make this feel as much like a real car show as possible. To that end, entrants will be broken into the following categories, with a prize for first-place winners in each class and bragging rights for second- and third-place vehicles:

Additionally, there will be awards in the following categories:

In case you were wondering, that “farthest” award will work like it would at a real in-the-metal car show: Whoever posts from the locale farthest away from Hickory Corners wins. “We’re thinking, if you’re outside the country—I mean, if you’re from Australia, you’re never going to bring a car to one of our shows—why not? This is the perfect opportunity,” Follis says. Collector(s) in Fiji, it’s your time to shine.

Follis, for the record, will be entering a handful of his and his wife’s vehicles: a 1917 Ford Model T, a 1947 International pickup and a 1974 Ford Gran Torino in Starsky & Hutch livery (though he’s quick to note that obviously, he won’t be eligible for any awards.) “We’re encouraging people, if they want to put in three or four cars—the more, the merrier,” he says.

Response so far has been encouraging, according to Follis. “As soon as we posted it we started getting submissions—it’s been pretty exciting.”

I’m sure more than a few readers are skeptical about the value of this sort of exercise. Like watching a bunch of professional race car drivers play video games, there’s no way a virtual car show can compare with the real thing, right?

I get it. I’m right there with you when it comes to hating virtual meetings or video hangouts with friends. But what’s the alternative? Wallowing in frustration and self-pity? If nothing else, the Gilmore’s virtual show is a great excuse to get your car looking good. You’ll feel better once you get out in the garage and start working on it. I guarantee it.

Don’t forget to enter by April 9. I’ll be there, virtually, on the 11th. So if you see my ’51 Packard, wave—you know, digitally, or whatever.

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Honda Rebel 500 Bobber Supreme Edition Revealed

H2C, which is Honda Thailand’s official custom and accessories brand, has unveiled the new Honda Rebel 500 Bobber Supreme Edition. Only 100 units will be manufactured, which means it is a limited edition model. The price starts at 235,000 baht or ₹ 5.45 lakh. The standard Honda Rebel 500 is priced at ₹ 5.16 lakh approximately, in Thailand. Basically it is the regular Rebel 500 but fitted with a bunch of accessories. The motorcycle now gets a round shaped cowl for the LED headlamp, a new Aluminium guard for the radiator and a new engine guard too. Plus, the seats are now brown and get cross stitching for that premium appeal. The handlebar is now flatter, offering a slightly more committed riding position and has been blacked out.

(The round LED headlamp gets a cowl on the Bobber Supreme edition)

The company paid attention to tiny details as well. The Rebel 500 Bobber Supreme edition also gets a new brake fluid reservoir cap, new fork gaiters and new caps for the tyre valves. There is an integrated helmet lock and new footboards too. Plus, one can also get other custom bits added such as a tail luggage rack, soft panniers and other touring accessories. H2C is offering other accessories for the Rebel 500 Bobber Supreme edition as well.

(The bike gets a 471 cc parallel-twin motor which makes 45 bhp and 44.6 Nm. The engine is paired to a 6-speed gearbox.)

As far as technical specifications are concerned, nothing changes on the motorcycle. The limited edition model gets the same 471 cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin motor from the regular Rebel 500. The engine makes 45 bhp at 8,500 rpm and the peak torque output is rated at 44.6 Nm at 6,000 rpm. There is a six-speed gearbox and the motorcycle also gets twin-channel ABS too. The bike is suspended on twin shock absorbers at the rear telescopic forks up front.

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) had announced earlier in the year that it will bring in new performance motorcycles in India. We suspect that the Honda Rebel 500 does seem to be a part of this plan as well. If it is launched, it will be going up against the likes of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 along with the Benelli Leoncino 500.

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Skoda-VW India pledges Rs. 1 crore for Covid-19 relief

Skoda Auto Volkswagen India has pledged Rs. 1 crore to setup a dedicated Covid-19 facility with 1,100 beds with Sassoon General Hospital in Pune. The donation will be used for essential medical consumables and critical care equipment for the medical team and patients.

The carmaker will donate over 35,000 sanitizers to hospitals in Pune, Aurangabad and Mumbai. It will also distribute over 50,000 food packets in the Aurangabad region.

Skoda Auto Volkswagen India is also producing reusable face shields at its Chakan factory. These will be distributed to healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients.

According to the company, the face shields have been designed to prevent fogging. The lightweight shields are movement friendly and allow healthcare workers to communicate freely. The transparent sheet that forms the shield can be sanitized after 6-8 hours before reuse.

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National Security Council calls out MCO Phase 2 summonses WhatsApp viral message as fake news


TAK PASTI JANGAN [email protected][email protected]@[email protected]@KKMPutrajaya @kkmm_gov @KKMPutrajaya


The National Security Council (NSC, or Majlis Keselamatan Negara) has called out a viral WhatsApp/SMS warning on the type of summonses issued during the movement control order (MCO) phase two as fake news.

The viral message warns that in phase two of the MCO, which started yesterday and will go on till April 14, motorists will face various type of summonses by the authorities, with no room for negotiation.

Three offences are listed in the message: having more than one person in the vehicle (attracts a RM300 saman), not wearing a face mask when outdoors (RM200 saman) and being caught outdoors past 10pm at night (RM150 saman). These are all incorrect, the NSC says.

However, those who go against the MCO can indeed be issued a compound, after the government gazetted the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (compounding of offences) (amended) Regulations 2020 on March 27. Those given the power to issue a compound are health ministry officers, police officers with a rank of inspector, and local council officers.

The new gazette limits one’s travel for necessities to 10 km, reiterates the one-person-per-vehicle rule that authorities began to enforce last week, with an exception only given if it is “reasonably necessary” for someone to accompany the driver, or if said driver is seeking healthcare or medical services.

Those on official duty or facilitating any essential services, meanwhile, will be required to produce an authorisation letter from their employer, if requested by an officer. Individuals who need to leave their house for any other “special and particular reason” will need to obtain prior written permission from a police officer at a station nearest to their residence.

The gazette also reduces the number of approved essential services to just 10, including food, water, energy, communications and internet, security and defence, waste and public cleansing management, banking and finance, e-commerce and logistics confined to the provision of the essential services listed.

Note that while the 10 km radius rule seems quite loose (enough in fact for this writer to reach Lot 10 for beef noodles), the gazette also states that we’re are only allowed to go to essential places closest to their residence, so even if you’re headed somewhere within the radius, the cops still have every right to turn you around. Essentially, what it means is stick to your neighbourhood (two more weeks, beef noodles).

In MCO Phase 2, supermarkets, grocers, restaurants providing takeaways and petrol stations are all limited to 8am-8pm operating hours, and the same goes for food delivery services. Public transport operation hours are now from 6am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm daily, while taxis and ride-hailing cars will be permitted to operate from 6am to 10pm.

The NSC is an agency under the PM’s department responsible for managing and co-ordinating the implementation of policies related to the security of the country. On it are the PM, related ministers and the heads of the army and police force.

Tags: COVID-19

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Tata-JTP has been shut down in March 2020

Thanks to the Team-BHP fan (he prefers to remain anonymous) who sent this information in. Heartfelt gratitude for sharing it with other enthusiasts via this page!

Tata-JTP has officially been shut down with effect from March 4, 2020.

I was a part of the JTSV team. Many of us don’t know much about the Tata-Jayem joint venture, which has been permanently shut down with effect from 4th March 2020. Customers of JTP are kept in the dark about this recent development and some were still hopeful of buying extended warranty for their JTP cars which unfortunately they cannot avail at any cost.

Customers of JTP don’t know how difficult it will be to maintain this car as approximately 150 parts are entirely different from the regular Tiago and Tigor. Shockingly, there has been no official announcement from JTSV or Tata Motors yet.

The following email was sent to JTSV employees. We have seen a copy of it.

Dear Colleagues

At the outset let me wish you all and your families a happy festive season of Holi, Gudi Padva in the coming days!

The business environment, particularly in Automobiles has been very challenging and taking its toll on all of us. We had met on 4th December 2019 in town hall communication at our Pune office and communicated the JTSV board decision to shut down JTSV operations with immediate effect and completion of all winding down of material assets and manpower by 4th March 2020. We had informed you that anyone who wished to separate in the period between 4th December 2019 and 4th March 2020 would be paid full salary and performance pay as per compensation structure for that employee. Some of you have availed this facility and taken benefit of the offer. Since today will be the last working day for all of us in JTSV, we would be contacting you individually with the final Settlement and formalities for the separation. Please handover your IT Assets to locational in charge (xxxxxxxx for Pune & Delhi, xxxxxxxxx for Sanand). Some unfinished activities for material assets disposal may require extension of some persons on need basis. For such cases the additional days of working would be considered in the separation package.

I wish to thank you all for bringing so much Joy and Power to this company and the many happy customers of the JTP brand. Once again wishing you all the very best.

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