A Canton Fire Department fire engineer has been arrested and is accused of committing a felony statutory sex offense with a child.Robert “Scott” Trull, 46, was arrested Thursday and is being held under a $100,000 bond at the Haywood County Detention Center.According to the warrant for arrest, the date(s) of the alleged offense ran from Dec. 1, 2015 through Feb. 6., and the victim listed on the warrant was 11 at the time.Canton officials said Trull is no longer employed by the town.
Never mind the frivolous crowd, the winter chill and the tiresome walk. On a sunny Monday morning, Anurag Sahney, 29, a Gurgaon-based private sector executive, had figured out just the perfect way to begin his week.Wangling a business-hour pass from a friend, he bunked office, pulled out his bright red,Never mind the frivolous crowd, the winter chill and the tiresome walk. On a sunny Monday morning, Anurag Sahney, 29, a Gurgaon-based private sector executive, had figured out just the perfect way to begin his week.Wangling a business-hour pass from a friend, he bunked office, pulled out his bright red Alto and braved the peak-hour city traffic to head straight to the 8th Auto Expo at Pragati Maidan, Delhi to check out the beauties. “Both the two-legged and the four-wheeled ones,” he says.Amid blaring music and live performances, Sahney had a blast drooling over Skoda’s latest Yeti, updating himself on car gizmos and the latest technologies and promising himself an Octavia in the next two years. Aspirations that even big global automobile companies are beginning to take note of.The countdown has begun. And the just concluded Auto Expo is just a sneak preview. For car freaks, 2006 holds out exciting, though expensive, launch line-up. At least 25 new models are expected to make their debut in India this year.The list includes the priciest, the fanciest and the latest-from Aston Martin to the Ferrari F430, Chevrolet Aveo to Fiat Idea and Honda Civic to Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia. Rs 1 CRORE PLUSFerrari F430FERRARI F430 From the expensive and exclusive class of Ferrari, this is the cheapest oneENGINE: 4.3-LITRE V8 PETROL POWER: 490 BHP TORQUE: 47.4 KGM LIKELY PRICE: Rs 1.1 CROREAston Martin V8 VantageASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE To be launched soon in India the V8 Vantage is Aston’s Porsche 911 rivalENGINE: 4.3-LITRE V8 PETROL POWER: 380 BHP TORQUE: 41.75 KGM LIKELY PRICE: Rs 1 CRORE Lamborghini GallardoLAMBORGHINI GALLARDOLess outrageous and smaller than the Murcielago. But just as lethal a vehicleENGINE: 5-LITRE V10 PETROL POWER: 493 BHP TORQUE: 52 KGM LIKELY PRICE: Rs 1.5 CRORELamborghini MurcielagoLAMBORGHINI MURCIELAGOOutrageously powerful car with scissor action doors. 100 kph in sub 3-secondsENGINE: 6-LITRE V12 PETROL POWER: 572 BHP TORQUE: 66.3 KGM LIKELY PRICE: Rs 2.5 CROREThe biannual Auto Expo saw 1,000 exhibitors (300 from overseas), an impressive visitor turnout of over 9 lakh, an estimated 60 foreign delegations and business deals worth over $150 million, all new records.advertisementAnd this, despite the dropouts by four major car manufacturers: General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai Motors and Daimler Chrysler. “Besides unprecedented visitors’ interest, the 2006 Auto Expo also set a record in generating business deals for companies,” says Dilip Chenoy, director general, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association (SIAM).Companies unveiled the best, brought in the latest and announced ambitious plans for the Indian market. Honda paraded its hybrid sedan Insight, Suzuki flexed its muscles with the top-of-the-line single seater Formula Hayabusa racing car, Volkswagen group company Audi rolled out its luxury sedan A4 and the homegrown Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) showcased its concept Scorpio hybrid variant.”This expo has beefed up its profile. Many companies used it to show off their concept vehicles and not just their launch line-up,” says Pawan Goenka, president, automotive division, M&M. The company participated for the first time since 2000.SIAM estimates that the $32-billion (Rs 1,44,000 crore) automobile industry will invest close to Rs 25,000 crore in the next three to five years to set up new plants, almost treble passenger vehicles capacity to three million and see export growth. Auto components export, nudging $2-billion (Rs 9,000 crore) mark, is expected to surge to $20 billion (Rs 90,000 crore) by 2015.With upbeat companies and enormous growth potential, if India’s best ever six-day Auto Expo beat the ongoing big daddy, the two-week Detroit Auto Show, on any count it was the tone, tenor and the mood.Rs 50 Lakh – 1 Crore CarsClick here to EnlargeClearly, despite the low volumes- India’s one-million vs US’ 17 million cars every year-for global car manufacturers, India will gain prominence not for its volumes but its enormous growth potential. Just when the big mature markets like the US, Europe and Japan are logging flat sales, India is one of the few markets alongside China that holds promise.”We are riding a wave. When everything is a valley, you look like a mountain,” says V. Sumantran, an auto industry veteran. So much so that some prominent European design houses decided to give the ongoing Detroit show a miss and come to India.This interest is good news for Indian consumers and the automobile industry. And a lot of action on the Indian roads will henceforth be shaped by this premise. Here are some of the key trends that will be wooing the customer and driving the industry in the future:Drive the world’s latestAuto Expo is just the trailer. Going forward, Indian customers will increasingly get wooed by contemporary vehicles launched by MNCs from their global stable. Simultaneous global launch of vehicles has already begun to happen-Ford Fiesta and Maruti Suzuki’s Swift saw its global launch happening here. Bill Ford, the chairman and CEO, Ford Motor, said on his recent trip to India: “The market (India) is critical to our plans for building a Ford Motor company for 21st century.”Jagdish Khattar”With India emerging as a small car hub, buyers will get the best and the latest” Jagdish Khattar, Managing Director, Maruti Udyog LtdOther car manufacturers endorse Ford’s statement. Over the last one year, new global car companies who had earlier shied away from India have announced their India plans. From the top-of-the-line Bentley, Porsche BMW, Nissan to Renault and Citroen, there’s hardly a global major who isn’t considering an India launch. advertisementSays Jurgen Klaschka, head of product marketing (A4/S4), Audi: “Volumes are small but the Indian market is growing fast.” The premium car market has trebled in the last three years. “We have big expectations from this market,” he adds.If new players are getting excited, the old ones are ramping up their product portfolio to cater to a growing customer segment. From General Motors, Ford Motors to now even Honda, car companies who debuted in the Indian car market as premium segment players are steadily moving down the price band. Some companies like Ford (Ikon) are allocating resources to work on India specific models.Rs 21 – 50 Lakh CarsClick here to EnlargeMost multinationals realise their biggest handicap in the Indian market: not being able to address the extremely price sensitive segment of compact cars which comprise over 70 per cent of passenger car sales in India. “Despite enormous interest, the cutthroat competition and price sensitivity has been a entry barrier for car MNCs,” says Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India. This has primarily been the reason why companies like Toyota, Honda, General Motors have all talked about entering the small car segment but few have done so. This also explains the launch line-up for 2006 where, barring GM’s Aveo, there is virtually no new launch in this segment.As a result, most of them are trying to woo consumers with their high-end cars creating new niches from crossovers, multi-utility vehicles, premium hatchbacks, among others.Upgraded your car? Now refresh its lookFor the fickle, impulsive, young car buyers who lay huge premium on exclusivity and style, companies have the answer: churn model line-up and launch multiple variants.Rajive Saharia”Young, discerning, upgrading car buyers have completely redefined our outlook on India” Rajive Saharia, GM Marketing, Honda Siel LtdBut car life is just too long for young customers to sustain their excitement. So get a new look with exciting sunroof, colourful spoilers, a new set of bumpers, whacky car sticker or stylish spinners on the wheels.If technology is what matters then get a cellphone edge. With up to Rs 20,000 one-time cost and a monthly expenditure of Rs 300 you can install a security system that will help identify the car’s physical location, switch on/off its engine, regulate usage of AC, lock/unlock the vehicle.From high-end R&D companies like Micro Technologies to simple car sticker firms, they are doing all they can to excite car owners and help them upgrade their cars. “Indian R&D firms are moving up the value chain and soon should be able to churn out affordable and relevant tech-products for cars in India,” says P. Sekhar, chairman, Micro Technologies. The company has already got an order of 4,00,000 cellphone-enabled security kits from both domestic as well overseas customers.Even small add-ons are in big demand. Autopsyche, founded by US-returned young entrepreneur Arush Vohra, can give your car a complete makeover-from performance upgrade to a brand new look, and it could cost you Rs 1 lakh to Rs 15 lakh. With a presence in Delhi and Bangalore, he already has close to 20 clients and hopes to get at least 50 this year.Rs 8 – 10 and 11 – 20 Lakh CarsClick here to EnlargeSpotting a growing market many companies like NTF and Webasto, who have been catering to car manufacturers, are foraying into the retail market. NTF promises to make Suzuki Swift doors open like gull wings for Rs 56,000 give car bumpers a brand new look for Rs 37,000. advertisementNow, with a design centre and a tie-up with 200 dealers, it plans to cater to individual customers. “The response from customers has been overwhelming,” says Rajat Jain, AGM, NTF India.The company received over 1,000 serious enquiries a day at the Auto Expo.Webasto, which supplies to companies like Daimler Chrysler, offers a range of car sunroofs, including a fancy fabric folding half sunroof, ranging from Rs 9,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.Neowheels is selling spinners that rotate when the car is stationery and they come for a cool Rs 36,000. Says Dilip Chhabria of DC Design: “The demand for customising cars is growing. They are not just the very rich and famous in big cities, even those from Kolhapur want to get it done.”All this is understandable because the average age of car buyers has come down from 40 to 32 years in the last 10 years whereas average period of car ownership has come down from five to three years since 2000. “And mind you the younger they are, the more adventurous they get,” says Anang Dev Jena, head, Synovate Motoresearch India.Driving comfort and horsepower will remain key factors even as exclusivity, latest technology, styling and look and feel of the product gain importance. Customisation of cars will become important for car buyers in India. The youth-focused bike market may show the way where minor changes in style, look or simply an innovative paint has given a new lease of life to bikes like Hero Honda’s Passion.The future of Brand India carsThe days of alliances and joint ventures are back it seems. Tatas are getting into an alliance with Fiat Motors under which Tatas will sell Fiat cars from March while Fiat will give Tata access to technology and marketing support services overseas. Mahindra & Mahindra has set up a joint venture with the global major Renault. The company has also got into an equity partnerships with Gaz in Russia and DRB HiCom in Malaysia.V. Sumantran”It’s not market size but growth potential that’s drawing auto MNCs to India.” V. Sumantran, Former Executive Director, Tata MotorsFor car buyers this will be good news. It will expand the product offerings in the Indian market. Companies like Fiat Motors with great cars in their stable but poor sales network and shaky future, will piggyback Tata Motor’s reach and help multiply choices for Indian customers.But didn’t we hear about these joint ventures in the 1990s? Unfortunately, most of them fell apart as MNCs muscled their way into the Indian market buying out their Indian partners.Rs 7 Lakh CarsClick here to EnlargeSo what’s driving the latest alliance? For Indian auto majors these alliances serve twin purpose-exploring new markets through their network and beef up their limited product offering in the Indian market by sourcing cars from the global majors.For MNCs, India is small yet a promising future market that they no longer want to ignore. So companies with limited resources or facing financial stress are taking the alliance route to get a toehold in the Indian market.The basis of alliances have also changed. Says Pawan Goenka, president, automotive division, M&M: “Things have changed.” The last time M&M had a joint venture with Ford, it was just an investor. Today, it also has the management control. “We are an equal partner, smaller but not necessarily weaker,” says Goenka.Pawan Goenka”Indians have always been big on customisation. It will only grow in future.” Pawan Goenka, President, Automotive Division, M&MThe growing ambitions of Indian companies like Tatas and M&M far beyond the Indian borders, and rising interest of MNCs in the Indian market is currently fuelling the joint venture frenzy. But this time it is not mere opportunism driving these JVs. Indian companies, well aware of their strengths, confident about their role are tying up with global majors. “Our USP is low cost,” says Goenka.Indian automobile companies are well aware that globally there are price sensitive markets like South Africa, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and in future may be even China where the low-cost USP will hold good and make their products relevant.Homegrown companies will continue to be relevant as long as they can guard their turf in future. But industry veterans warn that “Indian companies are at crossroads. They can either go the Korean way and get big or just fizzle out”. By focusing on churning out price-competitive yet contemporary cars Korean auto major Hyundai Motors has muscled its way into the most competitive US market. Tie-ups are sustainable as long as the core of the company does not get dependent on overseas help. Wait and watch.Going beyond petrolDespite the fuel price difference between diesel and petrol, India largely remains a petrol market as far as passenger vehicles are concerned, with only 16 per cent diesel vehicles at present. But that may change soon.More than ever before carmakers are now betting on non-petrol vehicles. At the Auto Expo, hybrids, though still at the concept stage, made a debut at the Honda and M&M pavilions.New Technology For Your CarClick here to EnlargeMaruti showcased factory-fitted LPG-run Omni and Swift. Diesel is getting a thumbs up from manufacturers, including Hyundai, and now Ford, Maruti and Tata Motors are launching cars with efficient CRDi engines.The reasons vary: surging petrol prices and the growing price gap between petrol-diesel. But companies making available contemporary CRDi engines are also catalysing the shift. Experts expect diesel cars and nonpetrol vehicles to grow to 30 per cent of the total in the next couple of years.Hybrids may still be years away. Showcasing hybrids at the Auto Expo was just a brand-building and flaunting exercise for the companies who have seen the hybrids creating a buzz in the mature international markets.”Indian consumers aren’t yet thinking of environment. But if pushed by companies and mandated by the government, environment-friendly fuels may gain popularity,” says Arindam Bhattacharya, vice-president and director, Boston Consulting Group India.For the present, the exciting line-up for 2006 gives Indian consumers global options, from high-end sports cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, to luxury line-up and highly rated sedans like Honda’s Civic. Get ready for the ride of your life.