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  • ParkEasy smartphone app aims to ease parking hassle

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    Urban centres anywhere in the Klang Valley will more often than not be congested with motorists plying the roads, and eventually vying for the same limited number of parking spaces. To that end, a smartphone app endeavours to ease some of the hassle of parking – enter ParkEasy.

    “The inspiration for this app came from our common experiences wasting time looking for a parking space.” said Warren Chan, CEO of ParkEasy (above). The smartphone app started in August 2014 as Park ‘In, and operated for a year before rebranding to ParkEasy, coinciding with the app’s first commercial site, Sunway Pyramid.

    Initially, the parking lot installation included a digital board stating the vehicle registration of the Parkeasy user who had booked the lot using the app, but that was short-lived as other, mainly non-ParkEasy-using patrons at the shopping centre’s carpark were disapproving of the system’s implementation. If you frequent Sunway Pyramid, you may have noticed the temporary presence of these digital boards over a few selected parking lots.

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    This led to the revamp of the ParkEasy system to the one today, where the app does away with the location’s digital boards, and instead relies on in-app booking of the app users’ parking lots. There are two main functions; one for the parker, and one for the leaver.

    For parking, users select the mall and then the area of parking they prefer from the drop-down menu, fill in vehicle details for recognition, and then press the “Search for parking” button. Conversely for leavers, users select the location details of where they are parked, input vehicle details for recognition, and then press the “I’m leaving” button. Should users want to contact the corresponding parker or leaver, in-app calls can be placed via VOIP, with no phone numbers displayed for privacy.

    Every new app user is started off with 10 credits, and each use for parking will cost the user three credits, and each use for leaving a parking space will earn the user three credits. If it seems unneccessarily costly to pay an additional sum for a helping hand in finding spaces, the app user should effectively be charged nothing if he or she uses the app for both parking and leaving in equal frequency, said Eric Tan, chief technical officer of ParkEasy (pictured with phones, above).

    Should its users need more credit, topping up can be done in-app in denominations of 10, 20, 30, 50 or 100 credits at RM1 per credit, plus a transaction fee of RM2. Currently, ParkEasy runs in beta in order for its developers to test their system’s ability to handle mass exchanges. Coverage is limited at the moment, with parking lots of just two shopping centres listed in the app’s drop-down menu: Sunway Pyramid, and Mid Valley.

    This list is set to grow, however, and the team will also consider broadening the scope to cover outdoor public parking spaces in commercial areas, such as SS15 in Subang Jaya, as well as parking lots in other shopping centres. ParkEasy is available on both iOS and Android mobile operating systems, from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store respectively.

    Watch the videos below to see Parkeasy in action, in the roles of both the parker and the leaver.

     
  • VIDEO: Infiniti’s production-ready variable compression ratio 2.0L VC-Turbo engine explained

    We couldn’t have explained it better, really. The video above is Infiniti’s illustration of its new and groundbreaking VC-Turbo engine, which is the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. Twenty years in the making, apparently.

    The power of a sprinter and the efficiency of a long distance runner – the VC-Turbo combines both, Nissan’s premium brand says. Calling it one of the most advanced internal combustion engines ever created, Infiniti claims the power of a high-performance 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine with the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel powertrain, without the equivalent emissions.

    “The pioneering new VC-Turbo powertrain represents a leap forward for engine development. Vehicle engineers believe the breakthrough in internal combustion technology would come from mastering the variable compression ratio. Infiniti will be the first to bring this technology to the market in 2018. This new generation of powertrains will help our global growth and expansion of the Infiniti product portfolio,” said Roland Krueger, president of Infiniti.

    Watch the video above before you continue reading. Done? Here’s what it’s made of, in a nutshell. The VC-T tech allows the engine to raise or lower the height the pistons reach, allowing for the engine’s displacement of the engine to change, and the compression ratio to vary seamlessly between 8:1 (for high performance) and 14:1 (for high efficiency). Brilliantly illustrated by the stance of the sprinter and marathoner in the video.

    The switching is accomplished via a mechanical actuator arm that is connected to the piston’s conrods through a slot in the side of the engine block, which is controlled by the engine’s control logic that determines the optimum ratio to be applied depending on the driving demands.

    The actuator arm is operated by an electric motor fitted on the outside of the engine block, and pushes a lever-type link that joins the conrods, which themselves are made in two halves. This effectively changes the length of the conrods, where a higher compression ratio is achieved with a longer length, and vice versa.

    Infiniti VC-T tech diagram

    Click to enlarge

    There’s more. The VC-Turbo engine has two parallel fuel injection systems, one direct and one into the intake manifold, and can switch between the standard combustion and fuel-saving Atkinson combustion cycles. The engine can benefit from hybridisation for an estimated further 10% improvement in fuel economy.

    The development target power output is around 272 PS (200 kW) and 390 Nm torque. This is good enough to send the 3.5 litre V6 petrol currently used by Nissan and Infiniti into retirement, as the four-cylinder VC-Turbo’s efficiency will be on a different plane altogether. It will be better in NVH terms compared to the V6. Lighter, too.

    The 2.0 litre VC-Turbo engine is tipped to power Infiniti’s upcoming QX50 SUV – previewed by the QX Sport Inspiration concept that was revealed earlier this year – before going into the rest of the range. Interesting.

     
  • REVIEW: 2015 Yamaha MT-09 – more is always better?

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    Triples occupy that delicate balance between power, weight and handling. Combining the torque of a twin, with the power of a four-cylinder, three-cylinder motorcycles are unique in the biking world.

    There is a lot to be said for using a triple in a motorcycle, especially a universal machine that is meant to be a general purpose machine. Seeing this is pretty much a niche design, with many riders accustomed to twos or fours, Yamaha took the plunge with the MT-09 and its three-cylinder engine.

    The first MT-09s were well received by the market, catering to the need for public road hooliganism and spending more time on the rear wheel than the front. But somewhere under that hard-edged exterior, lay a somewhat capable universal Japanese machine, or UJM.

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    Now, UJMs were something riders from the 70s and 80s are familiar with, and they seem to be making something of a comeback, albeit with rather more specialised styling, as opposed to the days when one design was made to do everything.

    So, Yamaha, with its MT-series bikes, now have the MT-09 triple to complement the two-cylinder MT-07 – which we recently reviewed here – and the four-cylinder MT-10, which Malaysians don’t get. But why does Yamaha need a 847 cc machine to slot into a sandwich between the 689 cc MT-07 and the 998 cc MT-10?

    Find out why after the jump.

     
  • Mitsubishi Triton Extra Hardcore roadshow starts tomorrow – free taxi rides with Leona Chin available

    Leona Chin Difts the Triton

    Behind the rugged and powerful TRITON is our very own Malaysia Motorsport Athlete Leona Chin! Bring your camera and friends to meet Leona Chin during these roadshows:

    1. Setia City Convention Centre: Oct 1 & 2
    2. Juru Auto City: Oct 8 & 9
    3. Plaza Angsana: Oct 15 & 16

    The first 50 fans to get on the thrill ride will stand a chance to win a lucky draw gift.

    Find out more: bit.ly/Triton-Extra-Hardcore-Roadshow.

    Posted by Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia – Official on Friday, 23 September 2016

    The Mitsubishi Triton Extra Hardcore roadshow kicks off tomorrow at the Setia City Convention Centre (outdoor car park), where visitors will be able to go on a thrill ride with Malaysian motorsport athlete Leona Chin and rally champion Kenneth Koh. They will also get to experience the updated Triton, which now packs the more powerful, and economical, 2.4 litre MIVEC VGT turbodiesel engine.

    If that isn’t enough, the first 50 individuals that sign up for the thrill ride will even stand a chance to win a lucky draw gift. However, for those who opt out of going on the exciting test ride, there will be meet and greet sessions so fans of Leona Chin can still get to see the popular motorsport personality.

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    Furthermore, test drives are available, and for those who book a Mitsubishi vehicle, there’s even a gift in store. There are also lots of activities catering not just to kids, but the whole family as well. Interested?

    Well, the Setia City Convention Centre outdoor car park is where you need to be this weekend (October 1-2). Don’t worry if you live up north or south, as the roadshow will make its way to Juru Auto City (car park), Penang on October 8-9, and Plaza Angsana (car park) on October 15-16. The event will run from 10am to 8pm at all three locations. For a more information, head on over to Mitsubishi’s official webpage, here.

     
  • Gov’t requested to exempt child seats from tax, GST

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    The transport ministry says it will ask the government to exempt child car seats from being taxed with import duties and GST. The tax exemption request is among Budget 2017 wishlist items drawn up by the ministry that will be submitted to the finance ministry before the tabling of the budget next month, The Sun reports.

    Deputy transport minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said he hoped the ministry’s proposal will be accepted by the government. “We want to make child car seats affordable to parents, as we realise that cost is part of the reason why they are reluctant to purchase and install it in their vehicle,” he told the publication.

    Currently, child car seats are categorised as a car accessory and imposed with an import tax duty of up to 30% as well as GST. Road Safety Department of Malaysia (JKJR) director-general Datuk Arifin Che Mat said most ECE R44-certified child seats available locally are imported items. He said that the deparment has been in contact with local distributors and car manufacturers over the past few months to find out how prices of child car seats can be reduced.

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    However, not all imported child seats are taxed heavily. A local supplier told the publication that it a child car seat is sourced from China, there will be no import tax duty on it because of the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement. “But if it’s a non-ACFTA deal, it is 30% tax duty,” he explained.

    Last year, it was reported that the main obstacle to increased usage of child car seats was their relatively steep prices, at least for those that comply with ECE R44 Child Safety Standards. Cheaper alternatives exist, of course, but do not comply with the basic safety requirements as set out in the European safety standard. In any case, from our own research, we’ve found that proper ECE R44-certified child seats can be had for around RM400.

    The transport ministry has said it is aiming to make the use of child car seats compulsory beginning from 2019. It plans to embark on a year-long safety campaign beginning from the end of November to encourage parents to use child car seats ahead of the plan for regulation by 2019.

     
  • BMW i8 and i3 CrossFade concepts debut in Paris

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    For this year’s Paris Motor Show, BMW’s i division decided to revive its collaboration with Garage Italia Customs to create these two CrossFade concepts you see before you today. Based on the i3 and i8, both preview special edition models that will be available at the beginning of 2017.

    The CrossFade concepts were inspired by optical colour mixing, a technique already used in Pointillism of the 19th century, in which small, distinct dots of colour are applied in patterns to form an image.

    “BMW i automobiles provide our designers with ideal opportunities for an artistic exploration of the future of mobility. The CrossFade project was a great opportunity to create something beyond the traditional idea of car painting, generating amazing effects with a unique geometrical pattern,” said Lapo Elkann, chairman and founder of Garage Italia Customs.

    On the i8, the hybrid sports car’s front end is painted Protonic Dark Silver, which smoothly transitions to the Protonic Blue rear via a meticulous application of triangular-shaped dashes of paint. The process involves using a stencil on a car finished in Protonic Blue to create the desired geometrical pattern, before the Protonic Dark Silver paint is applied.

    The interior of the i8 Garage Italia CrossFade follows the exterior design, with printed Alcantara textile covering the centre tunnel, side panels and the headliner, and made to offer the same dark silver-blue shift.

    As for the i3, the effect happens vertically rather than horizontally on the i8, with Protonic Blue covering the lower portion of the car’s body, and black on top. Similarly, the interior echoes the same colour design as the exterior, with coloured textile and Alcantara surfaces.

     
  • Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration updated for Paris reveal

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    Infiniti has brought an updated version of its QX Sport Inspiration concept for this year’s Paris Motor Show, which we first saw at the Beijing Auto Show earlier this year. As before, the concept serves as a preview of a rival to the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and Lexus NX.

    So, what’s new here? Well, the QX Sport Inspiration has been repainted dark grey, and the SUV now rides on 22-inch wheels (with 285/45 tyres) compared to the Beijing concept’s 21-inchers. They also get a bronze finish here, while the brake calipers have been painted in the same colour to match.

    The exterior design continues to be striking, with a bold face that features the company’s signature grille design, flanked by slender headlamps. Strong lines can be found on the hood, as well as along the side of the vehicle’s body, extending toward the gently-sloping roof.

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    As for the interior, there’s some new leather in a lighter tone, additional trim on the top of the dashboard, and the cabin lighting has changes slightly. The same futuristic look and driver-focused “cocoon” continues to be a strong feature here as well.

    In terms of dimensions, the concept remains unchanged, measuring 4,600 mm long, 1,900 mm wide and 1,650 mm tall, with a 2,800 mm-long wheelbase. The 230 mm of ground clearance, useful when going off-road, is retained as well.

    Infiniti still hasn’t shared any details about the QX Sport Inspiration’s powertrain, but it is suggested that the final production model (said to be called to QX50), will be the first to get the company’s new VC-T engine. As a refresher, the mill is the world’s first, production-ready variable compression ratio unit, according to Infiniti.

     
  • Hyundai RN30 Concept – i30 N with 380 hp 2.0L turbo

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    Hyundai is taking a more sporting direction with its models, with an N performance version of the i30 spied testing ahead of its anticipated 2017 launch.

    At the heart of the RN30 concept is a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 380 PS and 451 Nm of torque, transmitted to all four wheels via a dual-clutch gearbox, in contrast to front-wheel-drive used by the new i30 the concept car is based on. Further aiding the RN30’s traction is an electronic limited slip differential, which also aims at improving stability in high-speed corners.

    Instead of the common race car construction practice of using carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP), Hyundai enlisted help from chemicals producer BASF for the innovation of all-new, high performance platic materials which Hyundai says are light, highly durable and evironmentally friendly, while achieving the same goals of weight reduction as traditionally used materials for better handling and acceleration.

    A lower, wider stance has been applied to the silhouette of the latest i30, which also contributes to greater stability during high speed driving. the RN30’s width is increased by 30 mm over the standard, road-going i30’s to 1,950 mm, while its height has been lowered by a considerable 84 mm compared to the series-production road car.

    Up in front, the RN30 sports the Korean automaker’s latest signature cascading grille with futuristic headlamps, which incorporate daytime running lights. Airflow is directed through the grille and air intake, both doing double duty for improved cooling and increased downforce over the front axle.

    At the rear, a large rear spoiler visually extends the RN30’s roofline while generating downforce for more grip at high speeds, while a large rear diffuser is set above a pair of centrall-mounted ceramic exhaust pipes. Large 19-inch wheels round off the RN30’s aesthetic at its four corners.

    To further improve agility, the car’s centre of gravity has been further lowered by positioning the seats lower and further back in the chassis. Inside, the RN30 features a bucket seat for the driver and an integrated roll cage for increased body strength and improved driver protection.

    Additionally, image-stabilising gimbal cameras are mounted inside each A-pillar, while an external camera is mounted on the central fin on the roof, which will allow the RN30’s driver to record footage and replay them for later viewing.

    The i30 N will be the first car from the N sub-brand, and is expected to debut next year in two versions, a standard N model and one with a performance pack, similar to the current Volkswagen Golf GTI. N alludes to the car’s birthplace in Namyang, South Korea, as well as its development at the Nürburgring.

     
  • Renault Trezor concept revealed – two-seat sports EV

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    No, it’s not the abbreviation of the name of Nine Inch Nails’ frontman – the Renault Trezor is instead the French carmaker’s latest concept, a two-seat sports car that exhibits a matured version of the company’s latest design language.

    Sitting wide and low, the Trezor measures 4,700 mm long, a staggering 2,180 mm wide and just 1,080 mm tall. This broad stance is accentuated still further by the slim headlights with C-shaped signature lighting, framing the air intakes. The bonnet vents, which move to provide variable intake geometry, are arranged in a honeycomb pattern – this motif is repeated in the multifaceted front bumper and rear bodywork.

    Elsewhere, there’s an analogue gauge where a fuel filler is on a regular car, to monitor the vehicle’s charge level, while the tail lights feature fibre optics and laser technology. The wheels are massive 21-inch items at the front and 22-inch at the rear, shod with custom Continental tyres – these get a portion of their tread dedicated to clearing surface water, while the rest is entirely smooth to maximise grip.

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    The wraparound windscreen has red glazing to add warmth to the cabin, and the entire upper front bodywork – including the bonnet and roof – opens up like a jewellery box to provide access to the interior. Automatically reclining headrests ease entry and egress, and red leather trim on the high sills invites occupants to straddle them as they climb into the cockpit.

    Once inside, they are ensconced in deep red leather buckets, with the minimalist driver-focused dashboard made from red wood – a collaboration with French wooden cycle frame manufacturer KEIM Cycles. It features thin superimposed strips of ash and is said to be just as strong as modern composite materials.

    That instrument panel also houses dedicated luggage compartments at the front of the vehicle, with custom-designed cases held in place using leather straps. A large, curved, L-shaped OLED touchscreen with Gorilla Glass sits ahead of the driver, combining the dashboard controls and the infotainment system. Ahead of that display is a rectangular Formula 1-style steering wheel, which itself has three screens – one in the centre featuring the brand logo, the smaller touch-operated ones flanking it, replacing traditional stalk controls.

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    Powering the Trezor is an electric motor that delivers 350 hp and 380 Nm of torque to the rear wheels, enabling the show car to go from 0-100 km/h in under four seconds. Two separate batteries are located at the front and rear of the vehicle to improve weight distribution, and there’s also brake-operated energy recovery courtesy of the Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) developed for Formula E racing.

    Weight has been pared down through the use of a central carbon cell, mated to tubular steel frames at the front and rear of the car; the monocoque and the access hatch are also made from carbon. As a result, despite the batteries and the electric powertrain, the Trezor tips the scales of 1,600 kg.

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    Renault’s Multi-Sense system in the Trezor provides three driving modes – neutral, sport and autonomous. The car offers up ideas on how to make autonomous driving safer and more enjoyable, such as a change in exterior lighting to indicate to other road users that driving has been delegated. The steering wheel also becomes wider in this mode, giving the driver a panoramic view of the dashboard.

    Outfitting autonomous driving technology in the Trezor symbolises Renault’s goal to make fully hands/eyes-off autonomous driving available in its mainstream vehicles beyond 2020, at an affordable price.

     
  • SsangYong LIV-2 Concept – next-gen Rexton is ready

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    As teased earlier, the SsangYong LIV-2 Concept has been unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. A concept it may officially be, but the LIV-2 is production ready – just remove the obvious showcar bits such as the fancy lights and tyres, visualise the cabin in black and we’re good to go.

    The Limitless Interface Vehicle-2 (previously known as the development project Y400) is a large premium SUV that’s an evolution of the original LIV-1 Concept showcased at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show. With ‘Dignified Motion’ as the theme and ‘Robust, Specialty, Premium’ as the development philosophy, the LIV-2 comes off as tough and masculine.

    The production car will be introduced in 2017, SsangYong says, and it will be a ‘key strategic model’ for the company that will drive future growth. The 4×4 will have body-on-frame construction. This showcar comes with SsangYong’s own 2.2 litre Euro 6 engine with 420 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm.

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    The engine features electronic VGT and measures to reduce friction such as a variable oil pump and a low tension piston ring pack. Low pressure exhaust gas recirculation reduces NOx emissions under higher rpm and torque load. The engine will be paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox from Mercedes-Benz. There will also be a 2.0 litre GDi petrol turbo engine.

    The design brief for the cabin is a contemporary executive lounge within a chauffeur driven limousine, with ample space to work or relax and advanced communication technologies. Two individual rear seats are divided by a centre console. The seats have massage functions and there’s adjustable mood lighting above. Expect a conventional seat layout for the production car

    An integrated communication system with three displays – a 9.2-inch monitor in the centre stack and 10.1-inch screens in each headrest – includes WiFi, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and ‘premium entertainment quality’. All can be controlled from the second row centre console.

    Would the Indian-owned Korean brand use its established Rexton name for the production LIV next year?

     
 

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