Sun, Oct 16, 2005 - Page 11 News List

DaimlerChrysler to launch diesel cars in gas-wary Japan


German firm DaimlerChrysler AG plans to start selling diesel-powered passenger vehicles in Japan next year amid concerns about rising gasoline prices in a country that imports nearly all its oil, a newspaper report said yesterday.

DaimlerChrysler stopped selling diesel models in Japan in 2002 but will resume sales in the fall of next year, possibly with versions of the Mercedes C- and E-Class luxury sedans, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported, without saying where it got its information.

The diesel vehicles will cost about 200,000 yen to 400,000 yen (US$1,750 to US$3,500) more than their respective gasoline-powered models, giving them a markup similar to that for hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, the report said.

Officials at DaimlerChrysler in Japan were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Diesel-powered cars are more economical than gasoline-powered ones but are less popular because they emit more particulate matter and other pollutants in their exhaust.

While sales of diesel cars are growing sharply in Europe, they accounted for only 0.1 percent of the passenger cars sold in Japan in 2002, the newspaper said.

The price of gasoline has skyrocketed in Japan in recent months.

The country is especially sensitive to overseas disruptions such as hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico because it imports nearly all its oil.

Several automakers, including DaimlerChrysler, have been working on measures to make diesel-powered cars more environmentally friendly.

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