Thursday, 2 July 2009


HYUNDAI SAYS: Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea’s largest automaker, posted a 9.6% rise in June global sales compared to a year earlier, aided by the Korean government’s Scrappage Program, which boosted local demand.

Domestic sales rose 54.6% to 74 685 units in June from 48 301 units a year earlier. This can be attributed to the tax benefits offered by the Korean government to consumers who exchange their vehicles older than 10 years for new ones. This program was initiated in May, as part of efforts to support the struggling auto industry.

However, total overseas sales (South Africa sales included), including both exports from Korea and sales from overseas plants, fell slightly by 0.9% to 203 800 units in June, down from 205 722 units a year earlier.

Exports from Korea fell 18.4% to 83 702 units for the month compared to a year earlier, while sales from overseas plants rose 16.4% to 120 098 units.


RENAULT SAYS: Renault South Africa stabilised its market share at 2.2% during June. An achievement similar to the previous month, it reflected a one third increase compared to June 2008.

Renault sales rose by 17% compared to June 2008, whilst new vehicle sales reported by NAAMSA showed a 24% decline in the market year-on-year. Compared to May 2009, Renault’s unit sales for June 2009 climbed by 15%.

“With the first six months of 2009 now behind us, we are extremely satisfied with Renault’s improving performance within a declining market,” says Régis Fricotte, Vice President of Marketing at Renault South Africa.

While the industry’s strong level of sales volumes to the car rental sector was largely unanticipated (in excess of 3 000 units and an increase of approximately 32% on June 2008), the retail market remained extremely depressed.

While the fundamentals that prevent a market recovery have not yet clearly evolved, consumer access to credit remains a key issue.


IGNITION SAYS: South Africa’s only dedicated TV motoring platform, IGNITION, will kick it up a gear this weekend, 4 July 2009, when it moves to its own channel on DStv 265.

With the move comes four new hours of programming every weekend including some of the best motoring content from around the globe. Since its launch on 11 October last year, IGNITION has offered car fanatics a two hour loop of viewing every Saturday and Sunday on DStv 412.

“MultiChoice is committed to providing our very diverse customers with high quality and entertaining programmes. South Africans are passionate about their motoring shows on the DStv platform and it was a clear indication of a need for more content of this nature. /GNITION took this gap and its programmes proved to be very popular. We are confident that the extension of the programme hours will give petrol heads another reason to look forward to the weekend,” said Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice’s General Manager - Content.

The one hour car magazine programme hosted by Marius Roberts will become known as IGNITION GT, and will continue to offer petrol heads a good dose of what’s new on the South African vehicle market. More local motoring comes in the form of Great Treks, a half hour programme hosted by Morgan Naidu that shows viewers the gentle and not-so-gentle side of 4x4’ing.

Our local content has been well received by viewers and the industry alike,” says Executive Producer of IGNITION, Lindsay Vine, “We’ve gained quite a following in the short nine months we’ve been on air and with the new programmes we’ve added to our line-up there’s really something to appeal to everyone – not just the hard core motoring nuts!”

Classic car buffs will want to tune in to Great Cars, a series which tracks some of the legendary marques of the 21st century. Those with a particular penchant for Ferrari will not want to miss Ferrari Legends and Passions, which sees some of the most iconic cars from the prancing horse stable being sold on auction at the home of the brand in Maranello.

For tuners and pimpers, there’s War of the Wheels, a popular reality show that pits two teams against each other in a bid to makeover vehicles ranging from Golf GTi’s to Mustangs and Chevy’s – even a 1969 Pontiac Firebird gets the full treatment. On the Edge provides something for the motorsport fans – like they’ve never seen before. Figure 8 racing, the Tournament of Destruction and Harley Davidson Drag Racing are just some of the off-the-wall events that provide a whole new viewing experience.

The final cog in the new IGNITION wheel is Carbon Black Millionaires Club – an adrenalin filled look at the lives of the fast and filthy rich. Part of a week long trip which sees 80 millionaires rally their supercars through Eastern Europe, the series profiles eight of these success stories, how they made their dosh and how they spend it. The Carbon Black support girls provide solid competition to the flash cars in the eye candy stakes as they party up a storm to keep the millionaires’ spirits up.

“We’ve got big plans for IGNITION. South Africans are car crazy and we’re taking the gap. Our aim is a 24/7 channel which captures the dreams and imagination of every driver,” says Vernon Matzopoulos, head of channel.

IGNITION will begin broadcasting on DStv Channel 265 from 4 July. Programming runs in a six hour loop from 6am on Saturday until midnight on Sunday.

Monday, 29 June 2009


In case you haven’t heard, Mercedes-Benz has dropped the CLK in favour of the E-Class Coupé. That is to say, there will be no cars called CLK in the new shape anymore. One might wonder why such a successful badge was replaced. The move is part of Mercedes-Benz’s realignment of its image. Soon enough we will not hear of the CL Coupé either but of an S-Class Coupé. Do you see the pattern?

The Benz is aligning its coupés with its flagship cars and doing away with the letter C. Why you might ask? Marketing of course. A top Mercedes-Benz executive in America explained it best when he said people are more willing to pay top dollar for a car called E-Class Coupé than for one called CLK because the C in CLK reminds them of the smaller C-Class. The same argument will apply when the S-Class Coupé debuts in a couple of years’ time. And now that the CLK is gone, does that mean there’s space for a new C-Class Coupé? You bet!

I was thinking about all this while driving the new E-Class Coupé over the flowing hills of KwaZulu Natal. By the way, while the car has E-Class badges all over it, it’s actually based on the smaller C-Class platform, which makes things even more curious. Anyway, Merc can call it what they like, it’s their car.

I call it “quite good actually”. The shorter wheelbase makes driving it that much more enjoyable. As a true two-door coupé it offers retractable side windows with no B pillars and four seats. The front seats are fitted with electronically adjustable seats which can be optionally fitted with active ventilation.

Only two engines and models will be available at this point. At the base there’s an E350 Coupé with a 3.5-litre V6 engine underneath it. It’s naturally aspirated, unlike the upcoming 3.5-litre V6 twin turbo that will make around 350kW. At 200kW the E350 Coupé cannot be accused of being a slouch. Couple that with its 350Nm made between 2400rpm and 5000rpm and you have a capable coupé with grunt to match.

The flagship E500 Coupé has a 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8. It produces 285kW and 530Nm within a narrow band of between 2800rpm and 4800rpm. Both models come standard with the AGILITY Pack which automatically adjusts the suspension to match prevailing road conditions.

Other safety goodies include ATTENTION ASSIST and PRE-SAFE which were explained with the E-Class sedan last week. Scooter over there to refresh if you are lost. The Adaptive High beams with bi-xenon lights are said to increase visibility by up to 300 metres. Mercedes-Benz South Africa is, for the first time, giving customers the option of LED lights which up to now have been mainly the domain of Audi and to a lesser extent BMW and Porsche.

“The safety equipment of the new E-Class Coupé goes far beyond the demands of any legal requirements. The newest technologies for the best active and passive safety are available – including nearly all of the drive assistance systems that we have introduced in the sedan,” says Eckart Mayer, Divisional Manager, Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa.

To this end the car has seven air bags for example, crumple zones, ABS with EBD and other safety measures. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloy types with 235/40 R 18 front tyres and 255/35 R 18 rear tyres.

Higher levels of comfort can be attained from interior equipment such as the CD player, satellite navigation and the Music Register which can take up to about 1000 MP3 songs.

Sadly Merc is not planning an AMG version of the E-Class Coupé, save an AMG styling package that gives the look but not the engine. No one will say why this decision but I can certainly speculate. There basically will not be space for an E-Class Coupé AMG because Merc already has the four-seater CLS 63 AMG (new one coming in two years) and the E 63 AMG. Plus I think we will soon see a C-Class Coupé AMG which will sit alongside the C 63 AMG sedan and Estate. At least next year we’ll be able to see a convertible version.

Mercedes has done very well with this car in terms of design and package. Younger people may not quite “feel it” as it seems more geared towards the older set. But the latter will definitely love it.

E-Class Coupé pricing

E 350 Coupé R670 000

E 500 Coupé R820 000


The Auby family – father and two sons - made motor sport history at Kyalami on Saturday in the WesBank V8 Supercar Championship racing by winning both events and finishing in the top three positions on the championship points table.
Driving sensation, 17-year-old Brandon Auby (ELT International Jaguar) won pole position on the official starting grid from his championship-leading brother, Marc. He set up a new fastest lap at Kyalami of 1 minute 39.434 seconds. On the second row was 3-times WesBank V8 Champion Hennie Groenewald (Team Timken Holden) and his team-mate Richard Pinard (Team Timken Jaguar) both lapping in the low 1 minute 40’s.
In the first race Brandon Auby led off the starting line, set up the fastest lap and won by 4.1 seconds from Groenewald, who is now making a serious attempt to win his fourth championship in a row. With just eight races to go, he now needs a lot of luck to make up the 40 points he is in arrears. He now lies in fourth spot overall on the points table.
The two Team Timken cars of Groenewald and Pinard finished second and third to show that they are back with a vengeance. Newcomer and the third team member and team manager, Carel Pienaar, who builds the V8 racing cars for them, finished his maiden race in tenth place in the 15-car field.
Father Deon Auby (ELT International Lumina) moved from 7th on the staring grid to finish 4th, with veteran Franco di Matteo (Varta Batteries Jaguar) moving up to 5th a few seconds ahead of Steve Smith (Cool Catz Jaguar). Marc Auby with problems slid back to 11th after holding 2nd position for half the race until a safety car was deployed.
Using the reverse grid for Race 2 to his advantage, Terry Wilford (Fuchs Titan Jaguar) passed Claire Vale (Gatorback/RAM Mustang) who has amassed a valuable 24 points this year, and tore away to lead for eight of the ten laps. Then Deon Auby passed him with 8 kilometres to go to record his second win in ten races. Danie Correia (LiquiMoly Corvette) from Welkom drove the race of his life after his elder brother, Jaco, went off on the Goodyear sweep. Marc Auby from 7th worked his way through the field. He got into 3rd on the last lap with a photo-finish ahead of di Matteo.
Larry Wilford (Fuchs Titan Lubricants Mustang) was back on form after a long lay-off with some quick laps and took 5th spot from the first lady of WesBank Racing, Claire Vale.
1. B. Auby. 2. H. Groenewald. 3. R. Pinard. 4. D. Auby. 5. F. di Matteo. 6. S. Smith
1. D.Auby 2. D. Correia. 3. M Auby. 4. F di Matteo. 5. L. Wilford 6. C. Vale
1. Marc Auby (108) 2. Brandon Auby (89) 3. Deon Auby (77) 4. Hennie Groenewald (68) 5. Danie Correia (67) 6. Franco di Matteo (63) 7.Jaco Correia (58) 8.Richard Pinard (49)
9. Wade van Zummeren (42) 10. Mackie Adlem (38)