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Retail auto sales improve in August on festival demand

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MUMBAI: Retail automobile sales recovered in August and narrowed the gap with levels a year earlier as demand improved during festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam, according to vehicle registration data.

Vehicle registrations in the country increased by 4% in August from July. They fell 27% from a year earlier, an improvement over July, when sales declined 36%.

“With the start of the festival season and the government’s continued efforts to open up India, the month of August saw good numbers when compared to previous months,” said Vinkesh Gulati, president of the Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Associations, a lobby of vehicle retailers.

“Apart from the rural market, which was showing revival signs until now, urban centres for the first time showed initial signs of demand pullback.”

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The sharpest recovery was in passenger vehicles, with sales dipping 7% to about 178,500 units from August 2019. Two-wheeler sales dropped 29% from a year ago, while three-wheeler and commercial vehicle sales declined 70% and 58%, respectively. Tractor sales were higher than a year earlier for the third straight month due to good monsoon rain and better rural sentiment.
FADA compiled the data from the road transport and highway ministry’s VAHAN platform, which captures vehicle registrations from 1,242 of the country’s 1,450 regional transport offices. Some states are yet to migrate to the platform.

The recovery momentum may break in September, Gulati said, because some communities consider the first 17 days of this month inauspicious. During this period, retailers will focus on following up customer leads and getting orders for October and November in anticipation of festivals like Navratri and Diwali. Automobile manufacturers plan record production for September-November, when they expect substantial demand recovery, ET reported earlier this month.

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Tencent and Chinese automaker Geely team up on smart car tech

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Logo of Chinese automaker Geely Auto.

Zhang Peng | Getty Images

China’s Tencent has teamed up with automaker Geely on various car technologies as traditional vehicle manufacturers continue to partner technology giants.

The deal will see the two work on areas “in the fields of digitalization, intelligent cockpits, autonomous drive, and low carbon development,” the companies said.

This will include making the development cycle of a car more digital, adding smart applications to the driver’s cockpit, and eventually exploring autonomous driving systems.

Tencent has a cloud computing division and develops artificial intelligence applications, which could be useful when it comes to the auto sector.

Geely has been looking to boost its tech prowess through partnering with major technology firms.

This month, Baidu created a standalone electric vehicle company with Geely as a minority shareholder that will be responsible for manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Apple iPhone supplier Foxconn and Geely created a joint venture aimed at selling manufacturing and services to the global auto industry.


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EV start-up Rivian raises $2.65 billion in new funding round led by T. Rowe Price

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Rivian, the electric vehicle start-up backed by Amazon and Ford Motor, on Tuesday said it closed on a $2.65 billion investment round led by T. Rowe Price funds as the company moves closer to production of an all-electric pickup and SUV.

The company has raised about about $8 billion since 2019. Rivian closed on a $2.5 billion investment round last year, also led by T. Rowe Price; a $1.3 billion funding round in December 2019; and had raised at least $1.5 billion before that.

Other participants in the round included Fidelity, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Coatue and D1 Capital Partners as well as several other existing and new investors, according tot he company.

Rivian is expected to be among the first, if not the first, to bring an all-electric pickup to market later this year.


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MG Hector vs Jeep Compass: 2021 Facelift showdown

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NEW DELHI: The 2021 MG Hector facelift was launched recently and its key rival, the 2021 Jeep Compass facelift was also unveiled parallelly. Both the SUVs have taken their duel to a different level right at the beginning of 2021. While both the SUVs avoided a plethora of changes in the new facelift, they do come with a couple of prominent changes to enhance their appeal.
TOI Auto takes a look at both the rivals to see which one comes out on top, at least on paper, and based on the new additions, which one actually deserves a spot in your garage.

Price
Starting off with the key factor, the 2021 MG Hector facelift is priced between Rs 12.89 lakh – Rs 18.32 lakh (ex-showroom). Keeping the current competition in mind, the Hector facelift has been priced very aggressively. The MG Hector facelift is available in 4 variants – Style, Super, Smart and the range-topping Sharp.
While the Jeep Compass facelift’s launch is awaited on January 27, it is expected to start somewhere around Rs 17 lakh (ex-showroom). The 2021 Jeep Compass facelift might be offered in 5 variants- Sports, Longitude, Limited, Limited (O) and a new S variant.
Engine
Both the SUVs were upgraded to meet BS6-compliance in 2020 and the engine options have been carried forward to the 2021 facelifts without any changes.
The MG Hector facelift comes with 1.5-litre turbo-petrol (normal and hybrid) engine and the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. The same goes for the 2021 Jeep Compass facelift as it carries over the previous 1.4-litre multi-air petrol engine and the 2.0-litre multi-jet diesel engine. The diesel engine are in fact shared between the two.

Changes: MG Hector facelift
Starting with the MG Hector, the facelift manages to retain its sporty yet urban character and the most prominent change comes in the form of its front fascia. Along with that, there are some minor improvements in terms of creature comforts, interior styling and the connected in-car tech.
The MG Hector retains its original silhouette but the new visual additions like the redesigned signature front grille, gunmetal skid plates, new 18-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, add to the bold character of the SUV. The Hector also comes with an enhanced rear-profile as the tailgate comes with a dark garnish adding to the aggressive styling of the SUV.

When it comes to tech, the Hector facelift gets the latest version of iSmart connected tech and features like Hinglish commands and external Wi-Fi connection ability are expected to strike chords with the audience. On the inside, the MG Hector facelift greets you with new dual-tone champagne and black colour scheme and the ventilated front seats, wireless charger and auto-dimming IRVM also improve the in-cabin experience.
Changes: Jeep Compass facelift
The changes in the 2021 Jeep Compass are much bigger in magnitude as the SUV comes with a completely refreshed exterior, interior and also comes with a few new features to enhance the in-cabin experience.
On the outside, the Compass facelift retains its silhouette but flaunts a completely redesigned front fascia. New reflectors with LED projectors, seven-slot front grille, trapezoidal wheel arches improve the overall image of the SUV.

Step inside the Compass and you’ll find a quite spacious interior compared to the previous model. The mid bolster piece with a metal brow, fluted shapes and clear lines add to the elegance of the cabin. The new dashboard design makes the SUV appear much more modern on the inside. The ventilated front seats, 10.1-inch screen, sunroof improve the in-cabin experience too. Keeping it at par with its rival, the Compass also enhances its Connected prowess with the new UConnect-5 system.


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