Schroeder concerned at fuel prices, urges action

14th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 September 2005, FRANKFURT - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Tuesday voiced concern at the spiralling cost of petrol and diesel fuel in Europe and urged action to stop the oil price being driven up by speculators.

14 September 2005

FRANKFURT - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Tuesday voiced concern at the spiralling cost of petrol and diesel fuel in Europe and urged action to stop the oil price being driven up by speculators.

"We must get much more involved in how these prices are put together," said Schroeder who toured the Frankfurt Car Show on Tuesday to underscore the importance of the country's key industry showcase.

Failure to eliminate the purely speculative component of rising oil prices meant "we will always be plagued with prices which are too high", said Schroeder who is up for re-election on September 18.

The chancellor called for a redoubling of efforts to reduce Germany's dependence on fossil fuels such as oil, stressing the importance of domestic renewable energy sources. "We are no longer talking about a utopian vision", said Schroeder.

Japanese carmakers have a head-start on the German industry when it comes to frugal hybrid cars but Schroeder said he was convinced that domestic carmakers would be able to catch up swiftly.

The chancellor officially opened the car show ahead of three days reserved for trade visitors. The exhibition throws open its doors to the general public from Saturday and runs through to September 25.

More than 80 new models are making their world debut in the city on the River Main, with around 1,000 car and component manufacturers from 44 countries displaying.

China is represented for the first time and organisers expect around one million visitors to attend the exhibition - about the same number as journeyed to Frankfurt for the event in 2003.

Critics have pointed to the emphasis on high-performance and luxury models at the 61st Frankfurt show at a time when many drivers are more interested in economical models utilising the latest green technology.

On Tuesday the focus switched to western European makers and the Japanese, with previews from Renault, Peugeot, Volvo, Jaguar along with Nissan, Honda and Toyota.

Monday had seen the wraps come off important new German-made models including the powerful Audi Q7 offroader, the new Volkswagen Eos convertible and the luxury executive Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine.

Embattled Italian carmaker Fiat is putting on a brave face in Frankfurt and company president Luca di Montezemelo told journalists that the marque, was on the road to recovery.

Experts believe the future of the Turin-based firm depends on a favourable reception for the new Grande Punto saloon which made its debut Tuesday. Fiat hopes to sell 320,000 Puntos annually. In its heyday Fiat sold nearly twice as many a year of previous Punto incarnations.

Japanese maker Toyota says it plans to double sales in Europe of its successful Prius hybrid. Toyota's European manager Thierry Dombreval expects Prius sales to leap from 8,200 in 2004 to more than 20,000 this year. The company aims to sell 180,000 of the car worldwide.

The Prius hybrid with its petrol-driven engine augmented by an high-performance electric motor has proved a hit in the United States, gaining cult status in emission-conscious California. Honda also unveiled a hybrid version of the best-selling Civic saloon.

DaimlerChrysler showed a hybrid version of the S-Class at its stand of Tuesday but neither the petrol or diesel version is ready to go into production. Audi says a hybrid option for the Q7 will be built if demand suffices.

Despite spiralling prices at the fuel pumps the mood in Frankfurt is optimistic and German manufacturers are citing an upsurge in European sales after several years of sluggish performance.

According to Germany's car manufacturers' federation, the VDA, new registrations in western Europe this year went up by nearly eight per cent on the same period in 2004 to stand at 838,000 units.


Subject: German news

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