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Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Paris auto show to reflect China's rise, climate fears

DRIVING THE MARKET Chinese auto firms will be exhibiting at the show for the first time, and the industry will also be showcasing several new green technologies


The Paris Motor Show will roar into life next Saturday when international car makers converge on the French capital hoping to wow crowds with prototype models and woo critics with green technologies.

This year, the mix of exhibits is expected to underscore two key developments for the industry and the global economy, namely concern about global warming and the emergence of China as a world manufacturing force.

After being thrown on the defensive last week by a ground-breaking court case in California, the industry is ready to prove its environmental credentials by showcasing hybrid cars, biofuel technology and emission innovations.

California said last Wednesday it was suing six US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming, the first such legal fight in the US.

This year's Paris event show will be the first time Chinese manufacturers display their wares at the show in the French capital, underlining their ambition to compete with the leading sellers in Europe: Volkswagen of Germany, PSA Peugeot Citroen of France and Ford of the US.

The Chinese presence, which was established at the Frankfurt auto show last year, will be led by manufacturers Landwind and Great Wall Motor.

Over the course of the two-week show, which runs from next Saturday to Oct. 15, more than 65 new models are to be given their world premiere in front of the more than 1 million people who attend each year.

Alongside new green technology, manufacturers will also look to satisfy appetites for big, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and four-wheel-drives.

This has been one of the fastest growing segments of the car market in recent years, but a surge in gasoline prices has switched many consumers' attention to the importance of fuel efficiency.

This year's show also coincides with a period of talks between some of the biggest names in the industry, many of which are struggling with acute global competition and rising production costs.

Renault and Nissan are in talks with General Motors with a view to including the struggling US giant in their two-way alliance.

And Malaysia's loss-making national carmaker Proton said on Friday that the first round of talks on a possible pact with PSA Peugeot Citroen will begin this week.

The US trio of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are all struggling to adapt to demand for more fuel efficient vehicles instead of trucks and SUVs.

Volkswagen is in the midst of a giant cost-cutting program, French manufacturers Renault and PSA are facing falling market share in Europe while Italian group Fiat is still recovering after years of losses.

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