Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Diesel, hybrid cars to take center stage

FUEL EFFICIENCY At today's car show opening, the battle will be on between firms pushing diesel models and those who are betting big that hybrid is the future

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Models yesterday promote cars to be featured at the 2006 Taipei International Auto Show, organized by the Taipei Automobile Distributors Association. The event will be open to the public from today through Jan. 1 at the Taipei World Trade Center.

PHOTO: CNA

With oil prices still running high, fuel-efficient diesel and hybrid car models are set to steal the limelight at the biennial 2006 Taipei International Auto Show, which opens today at Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall I.

Nan Yang Industries Co (南陽實業), which distributes cars made by South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co, is one of the vendors who is banking on diesel models at the show, along with Formosa Automobile Corp (台朔汽車) and Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車).

"We have seen a lot of momentum generated for diesel vehicles since the beginning of this year, and we expect the segment's growth to surpass [that of] gasoline models next year," said Chen Ming-hung (陳明宏), public relations manager at Nan Yang Industries.

According to Chen, the technology for diesel cars has matured and such models are well received in Europe.

Since there are still some technical issues to be resolved for hybrid cars, the company sees diesel models as the red-hot "transition vehicles" paving the way for fuel-cell cars in the future, he said.

In a bid to cater to the trend, Nan Yang Industries is considering converting the Tucson 2.0L cross-over utility vehicle, which currently runs on a gasoline engine, to a diesel model next year for the Taiwanese market.

Meanwhile, DaimlerChrysler Taiwan Ltd, which launched two diesel Mercedes Benz models this year, plans to introduce four more next year for local consumers.

These luxury models will be the B200, C320, E320 and the ML320.

"As hybrid models are quite expensive, diesel ones will be the best solution for now," said Jess Liu (劉秀盈), public affairs general manager at DaimlerChrysler.

However, some vendors are convinced that their hybrid vehicles, which save gasoline by switching between an electric motor and a gas engine, will be the mainstream trend even in the near term.

Last week, Ford Lio Ho Motor Co (福特六和) took the lead by introducing the first hybrid model, the Ford Escape.

This puts it ahead of Hotai Motor, which plans to introduce the Toyota Prius in the first quarter of next year.

The 2.3-liter Ford Escape hybrid sport-utility vehicle is priced at NT$1.88 million (US$56,500), which makes it Ford Lio Ho's most expensive model.

In addition to these environmentally-friendly vehicles, vendors are also showcasing their sports cars and concept cars at the event.

One example is Jaguar Taiwan, which will display its Jaguar XK Coupe sports car. Priced at around NT$5 million, the 4.2-liter Jaguar XK will hit the local market next year.

The nine-day auto show will have 29 auto vendors and distributors showcasing 38 brands with over 200 models. It is expected to attract over 200,000 visitors, said the organizer, the Taipei Automobile Distributors Association (台北市汽車代理商業同業公會).

The event is open to the public and runs from 10am to 6pm at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall I, with a NT$250 admission fee.

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