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Green technology, Chinese cars will be Paris highlights
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September 24, 2006

By Adam Plowright

Paris, France - The Paris auto show will roar into life on September 30 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: concern about global warming and the emergence of China as a world manufacturing force.

The industry is ready to prove its environmental credentials by showcasing hybrid cars, biofuel technology and emission innovations after being thrown on the defensive last week by a ground-breaking court case in California
More than 65 new models will be given their world premieres during the two-week show

The state is suing six US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming, the first such legal fight in the United States.

More than 65 new models will be given their world premieres during the two-week show, which will be open to the public from September 30 to October 15, with more than a million visitors expected to attend.

Chinese manufacturers will display their vehicles at the Paris auto show for the first time in 2006, underlining their ambition to compete with Europe's leading sellers. The Chinese presence, which was established at the Frankfurt auto show last year, will be led by manufacturers Landwind and Great Wall Motor.

Automakers will also look to satisfy appetites for big, thirsty sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and all-wheel-drives
More than a million visitors are expected to attend
This has been one of the fastest growing segments of the car market, but a recent surge in fuel prices has switched many consumers' attention to the importance of fuel efficiency.

The 2006 show also coincides with talks between some of the biggest names in the industry, many struggling with 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 will soon begin talks on a possible pact with PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The US Big Three 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 and Fiat is still recovering after years of losses.

Meanwhile Japan's Toyota continues to expand; it has itself the goal selling 9.8-million vehicles worldwide in 2008 in its quest to overtake General Motors as the world's biggest automaker. - AFP
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