Go­ing to the Max

China-based Maxus is pulling out all the stops in mak­ing it­self a force to be reck­oned with in the lo­cal au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Spotlight - By THOMAS HUONG huong@thes­tar.com.my

WHILE Maxus is an au­to­mo­tive mar­que that is still rel­a­tively un­known in Malaysia, Shang­hai Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­try Corp (SAIC) has big plans to grow its self­owned com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle mar­que be­yond China’s mas­sive mar­ket.

To re­cap, in Malaysia, SAIC Mo­tor has a part­ner­ship with the West­star Group which has been sell­ing Maxus V80 vans for a few years, mainly to gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate en­ti­ties.

In April 2016, West­star Maxus stepped up its game by launch­ing the China-built G10, a 10-seater premium multi-pur­pose ve­hi­cle (MPV) priced at RM137,888 on-theroad.

The G10, billed as the ul­ti­mate peo­ple mover, is pow­ered by a 2.0litre petrol turbocharged engine.

Ac­cord­ing to a West­star Maxus spokesper­son, the Torino-de­signed G10 has been a hit with sales of over 600 units to date.

This is not re­ally sur­pris­ing as the G10 is in a niche mar­ket seg­ment where it eas­ily stands out with its com­pet­i­tive pric­ing and gen­er­ous kit level.

The G10 is presently lo­cally as­sem­bled in Klang, and sales are ex­pected to pick up fur­ther with the re­cent launch of a new SE vari­ant priced at RM157,888.

The G10 SE has more premium fea­tures such as twin pow­ered slid­ing doors with anti-squeeze safety func­tion, a twin-panel glass moon roof, leather sur­faces and wal­nut faux wood on the dash­board for a classy look, an en­hanced in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with a 15-inch touch­screen mated to a 360-de­gree sur­round view camera sys­tem, a ceil­ing-mounted 10.1inch LED screen and LED read­ing lights for rear oc­cu­pants.

This year, West­star Maxus also plans to launch an im­ported flag­ship G10 vari­ant priced at around RM180,000 with kit such as rear pow­ered tail­gate with kick-ac­ti­vated func­tion, sec­ond row Cap­tain seats with mas­sage func­tion and fold-out ot­tomans, and ZF Sachs-sourced Nivo­mat self-lev­el­ing rear dampers for im­proved driv­ing com­fort and safety.

West­star is also look­ing at in­tro­duc­ing the Maxus T60 pick up truck, which has a 2.8-litre VGT (Vari­able Ge­om­e­try Tur­bocharger) engine and 6-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

The T60’s 2.8-litre VGT engine out­puts 148hp at 3,400rpm and 360Nm of torque at 1,600 to 2,800rpm.

Fuel con­sump­tion is rated at 8.1 litre per 100km, and the T60 has a wheel­base of 3,155mm.

De­pend­ing on vari­ant, the T60 can be spec­i­fied with LED lights, Adap­tive Front Light­ing Sys­tem, Around View Mon­i­tor, Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing, and Driver Fa­tigue Mon­i­tor, Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Pro­gramme (ESP), and six airbags.

As for sales and af­ter-sales sup­port, West­star Maxus has a main show­room and ser­vice cen­tre in Jalan Tun Razak, and 3S cen­tres in Glen­marie, Shah Alam as well as Jo­hor Baru, and sales, ser­vice and spare part out­lets in Alor Se­tar to sup­port 14 na­tion­wide deal­ers.

An­other Maxus 3S cen­tre is due to open soon in Prai, Penang.

Ex­pand­ing be­yond China

SAIC Mo­tor Corp Ltd is the lead­ing au­tomaker in China, thanks to its joint ven­tures with Volk­swa­gen and Gen­eral Mo­tors.

Last year, SAIC Mo­tor sold a stag­ger­ing 6.49 mil­lion ve­hi­cles.

It should be noted its self-owned auto brands, namely pas­sen­ger mar­ques Roewe and MG, and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle mar­que Maxus contributed only 5.67 per­cent of 2016 sales.

How­ever, the group is highly en­cour­aged by grow­ing ac­cep­tance among Chi­nese con­sumers for its self-owned brands.

The group is also boost­ing ve­hi­cle sales in the Asean re­gion, with joint ven­tures and part­ner­ships in Thai­land, In­done­sia and Malaysia.

In Thai­land, the group has a joint ven­ture with con­glom­er­ate Charoen Pokp­hand (CP) Group to as­sem­ble and dis­trib­ute MG ve­hi­cles.

In In­done­sia, a Wul­ing MPV from a joint ven­ture is due to be launched in the third quar­ter of 2017.

SAIC Mo­tor Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre in Ant­ing

On a re­cent me­dia fa­mil­iari­sa­tion trip, jour­paid nal­ists a visit to SAIC Mo­tor’s Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre in Ant­ing, Shang­hai.

The mas­sive site in­cludes fa­cil­i­ties for au­to­mo­tive de­sign, pro­to­type tripower-train al-man­u­fac­tur­ing and lab­o­ra­to­ries for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy ve­hi­cles such as fuel cell and hy­brids.

Jour­nal­ists were shown sim­u­la­tors for safety sys­tems such as Au­to­matic Emer­gency Brak­ing (AEB) and For­ward Col­li­sion Warn­ing (FCW).

This was fol­lowed by a visit to a huge hangar-like build­ing, where crash tests are done for Roewe, MG and Maxus ve­hi­cles be­fore the new mod­els are sent for New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gramme (NCAP) safety test­ing.

It was akin to a movie set with a re­cre­ation of a typ­i­cal ur­ban street scene, com­plete with in­flat­able replica cars and life-size card­board cutouts of trees and pedes­tri­ans, shop­pers, street sweep­ers and even a po­lice­woman.

An­other im­pres­sive fa­cil­ity was the ther­mal wind tun­nel, where ve­hi­cles are tested un­der ex­treme con­di­tions.

Here, tem­per­a­tures can reach a bone-freez­ing mi­nus 40 de­grees Cel­sius or even up to a scorch­ing 60 de­grees Cel­sius, and air speeds of up to 300kph.

“We can sim­u­late snow and rain con­di­tions, and test for var­i­ous hu­mid­ity lev­els. We reg­u­larly do tests sim­u­lat­ing high tem­per­a­tures in the Mid­dle East mar­ket, and ex­tremely cold tem­per­a­tures in North China,” said a SAIC Mo­tor spokesper­son.

An­other build­ing houses the group’s test fa­cil­i­ties for NVH (noise, vi­bra­tion, harsh­ness), acous­tics, chas­sis, ve­hi­cle in­su­la­tion, brake and steer­ing sys­tems.

Jour­nal­ists were shown mas­sive rigs and vi­brat­ing test equip­ment on which dampers and sus­pen­sion sys­tems are put through ex­treme dura­bil­ity test­ing, un­der a range of op­er­a­tional con­di­tions.

We also vis­ited acous­tic con­trol cen­tres de­signed by IAC Acous­tics, a world leader in the field of sound con­trol.

“We do thou­sands of tests just to ob­tain the right “slam door” noise, as cus­tomers believe this in­di­cates ve­hi­cle qual­ity,” said a SAIC Mo­tor tech­ni­cian.

In the pip e c a a ays .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.