20/11/2008 - 06:51

Emission-free electric car rolled out

20/11/2008 - 06:51

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An electric car that costs just $1.40 every 100 kilometres will be launched at the University of Western Australia in Perth today.

An electric car that costs just $1.40 every 100 kilometres will be launched at the University of Western Australia in Perth today.

The car is a Hyundai Getz that runs off a DC battery that lasts up to 100 kilometres before needing recharging.

UWA Professor Thomas Braunl says while electric cars are nothing new, their time will come.

He says the need to recharge batteries more often than refilling fuel has prevented the wider use of electric cars.

Professor Braunl said if people use a car for regular tasks like driving to work, at least the second family car could be an electric one.

However, today's rollout of the environmentally friendly vehicle comes at a time when new car sales in Australia are on the slide down and the federal government has been forced to reach into its purse to put the ailing automotive industry on its feet.

Australian Bureau of Statistics results this week showed Australian new motor vehicle sales fell 0.5 per cent, seasonally adjusted, to 80,366 units in October, from 80,762 units in September.

WA has also experienced a decline in new vehicle sales, with 99,952 sales in the year to October 2008, down from 101,031 new vehicles sales to the year ending October 2007.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's $6 billion stimulus package for the car industry has left some in the sector doubtful, claiming that the money will end up in the pockets of troubled car companies in the United States.

The former head of Mitsubishi Australia Graham Spurling cast doubts on the ability of Ford Motor Co and Holden's US companies to invest in developing Australia's car industry.

His comments came after embattled US automaker Ford said it will sell a 20 per cent stake in Japan's Mazda Motor Corp to raise badly needed cash.

The shares are expected to be bought by a group of trading houses and insurance firms, as well as auto parts supplier Denso Corp, the Nikkei business daily reported without naming its sources.

It said Mazda, Japan's fifth largest automaker, may also buy some of the shares being sold by Ford, which is currently the largest shareholder in the Japanese automaker with a 33.4 per cent stake.

A 20 per cent stake was worth about Y50 billion ($A798.21 million) based on Tuesday's share price.

Mazda spokesman Toyota Tanaka said he was unable to confirm the report.

Ford invested in Mazda for the first time in 1979 and raised its stake to 33.4 per cent in 1996 when the Japanese carmaker's business slumped.

The two companies have since profited from the joint development of compact cars, with Mazda recovering its financial health.

But in a turnaround of fortunes, Ford lost $US129 million ($A198.6 million) in the third quarter of this year, and is on course to cut 10 per cent of its jobs.

The US automaker is desperately seeking government aid to shore up its finances.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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