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  Channel NewsAsia 25 Aug 06
Diesel, hybrid cars becoming attractive options for motorists
By Dominique Loh

SINGAPORE : With crude oil prices passing the US$70 per barrel mark, some motorists are considering cars powered by alternative fuels for their next purchase.

Nearly all passenger cars in Singapore are petrol-driven; according to the Land Transport Authority, only eight run on diesel.

But if diesel cars have not been attractive due to their emissions, newer technologies now promise better fuel economy and a higher range.

Audi claims its new TDI engine can run 1,000 kilometres on a single tank of diesel, nearly twice the distance of some petrol cars.

Said Michael Kruger, director of engineering at Robert Bosch GMBH, "There was significant progress made in the development of fuel injection equipment, exhaust gas recirculation technology and turbo charge technology as well. All these combined reduce the engine out emissions by more than 90 percent. In addition, due to the overall low fuel consumption, the diesel even contributes to the reduction of the green house effect."

TDI diesel cars make up about 50 percent of cars sold in Europe, but they are harder to sell in Singapore, primarily due to the high diesel fuel tax.

Another option is hybrid cars, which run on a new generation of engine - a petrol engine component works in harmony with an electric motor to stretch that litre of petrol even further.

A full tank may allow you to drive some 800 kilometres before your next fill-up, saving up to 40 percent in fuel.

Honda says that depending on your driving style you could save some S$1,800 at the pump per year. Kah Motor has already sold 65 hybrids this year; 62 others are in Honda's Diracc car-sharing fleet.

Said Vincent Ng, product manager at Kah Motor, "In 2006 January this year, the government has actually given a new incentive, so it has actually increased the green car rebate from 20 percent to 40 percent. There were also a few other favourable things this year - I would say the low COE, then of course reduced ARF, the weak yen."

Kah Motor expects sales of hybrid cars to pick up and plans to introduce a fuel-cell car next year. - CNA /ct

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