South Korea Eyes Tax Breaks for Electric Cars

By dancurranjr On December 18th, 2010

South Korea is considering tax cuts on purchases of electric cars as part of its efforts to bolster the nation’s green industry, government sources said Thursday.

Discussion is underway to provide purchasers of electric cars with exemptions in consumption, acquisition and registration taxes which are being applied to other types of vehicles, officials at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said.

“After completing research and an additional internal review during the first half of next year, we plan to prepare the tax support plan for electric cars by September when the government is to revise the nation’s tax code,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Currently, buyers of eco-friendly hybrid cars are given reductions on consumption tax and other taxes. The government is also planning to offer the same or even higher tax benefits to buyers of electric vehicles, the official added.

The envisioned tax support could reduce the price tag of an electric car by up to 3.3 million won (US$2,837).

The move is part of the government’s efforts to bolster green business as the nation’s next generation growth engine. Such tax cuts are expected to draw customer attention and boost sales of vehicles based on eco-friendly technologies, observers say.

It also coincides with intensifying efforts by other countries to take the lead in the green business sector, they added.

The government, however, is not likely to provide tax benefits any time soon for other types of eco-friendly cars, such as plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles as it needs more time to analyze feasibility on the fledgling markets, an official said.

Demand For Hybrid Cars on the Rise in Arab World

By dancurranjr On December 23rd, 2009

Authorities said Tuesday there are currently no plans to levy more fees on hybrid cars as demand on such vehicles has surged recently, a trend attributed to concerns that extra charges are imminent.

According to figures by the Jordan Customs Department (JCD), a total of 4,796 cars have been cleared from the free zone since the beginning of 2009, with 859, or 18 per cent of the total number, entering the market between December 1 and 21.

The value of the environment-friendly cars, which are mostly imported from the US is JD102.5 million, the JCD indicated.

During the past month, people started to speed up clearance procedures for hybrid cars in the free zone, where over 2,850 hybrids were cleared between January and November, said Nabil Abu Rumman, president of the Jordan Free Zone Investors Association.

“There are rumours that the new government plans to impose more custom fees on hybrid cars early next year, but we have not received anything about such plans,” he added.

Current fees on green cars, which use both gasoline and electricity, range between JD1,000 and JD4,000 depending on the size of the engine, according to Abu Rumman.

Earlier this year, the Environment Ministry requested customs fees to be imposed on large-engine vehicles, saying that only hybrid vehicles under 2,000cc should be exempt from taxes and fees because they are more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly. But the Finance Ministry announced then that it had no plans to impose such fees.

JCD Director General Ghaleb Sarayreh told The Jordan Times on Tuesday that there are no plans to introduce more fees or taxes on hybrid cars, saying this issue has not been discussed by the new government.

“Even if a decision in this regard was taken, it will take into consideration the vehicles on display at the free zone,” the official noted.

Nadim Haddad, the marketing and sales manager at the Central Trade and Auto Company, a Toyota agent in Jordan, said that in addition to the availability of maintenance and spare parts for such cars at some dealerships, rumours about new custom fees were the main reason for the increasing demand.

Jordan is the largest importer of fuel-efficient cars in the region due to high fuel prices in addition to the fact that importing vehicles is not exclusive to agents, Haddad said.

According to Luay Shurafa, the regional manager of General Motors (GM) in the Levant area, said Jordan is the region’s first country with demand for hybrid models, expecting hybrid SUV sales to overtake conventional SUV sales in Jordan in the coming few years because buyers want to take advantage of low customs fees on hybrid models in addition to the element of fuel efficiency.

Haddad stated that maintenance and spare parts are available at agencies for hybrid cars, which are made to suit the topography and the climate of the Kingdom.

The battery costs between $4,000 and $5,000 while the price of the electric motor is $7,000, according to Haddad.

Abu Rumman explained that availability of green car maintenance and spare parts will increase in the coming year with more affordable prices because most manufacturing companies will focus on producing such types of cars.

SOURCE: Jordan Times

Cadillac Converj Hybrid Gets Green Light – Volt Spinoff in 2011

By dancurranjr On June 9th, 2009

cadillac-converjGeneral Motors offers an immense lineup of mainstream and performance-oriented models all across the globe. Cars like the Corvette, Camaro and CTS-V might make North American hearts go aflutter, but elsewhere VXR and SS V-Series stir the souls of young and old.

But a new day has dawned, when even young enthusiasts are more interested in a vehicles’ impact on the planet than they are about zero to sixty times, slalom speeds or skid pad results, which has resulted in a bevy of low and even zero-emissions vehicles that target an entirely different kind of performance enthusiast. GM is at the forefront of this new wave of performance, with vehicles like its new Chevy Volt, Opel Ampera and, now that it’s official, Converj.

According to Motor Trend magazine, the upscale Cadillac Converj, a spinoff of the Volt, will be built in 2011, a year after the four-door Chevy bows. Will the production Cadillac look the same, or change as much as the Volt did from concept to reality? The Volt, initially shown in concept form with two doors and a very different overall shape, got a thorough redesign that included a more practical four-door configuration. Most applauded GM’s decision, and most like the looks of the new car. Such a move, especially considering Cadillac will bring the CTS Coupe to market the year prior, would be smart.

Whatever Cadillac finally shows for production, the Converj will ride on the same Voltec architecture as the Volt and Ampera, which is also a smart move by GM as it will need to recoup as much research and development costs from its unique plug-in series hybrid chassis as possible, and there’s no better way to do that than via a higher end, pricier model. It is also possible that, while the shared powertrain will be identical, it may be calibrated to offer a little more performance in the premium Cadillac offering.

While Cadillac may be celebrating this news, there is still the hurdle of funding the operation. Volt will be built, says GM’s executive team, which is currently lobbying the US Treasury and Energy Departments to allow access to ATVM loans and will no doubt drop another project in order to fund the series hybrid if necessary, but if money is tight it’s possible the Converj could be delayed. It would be unlikely to get cancelled altogether, however, as the money for Volt will have been spent and GM will need to take advantage of the economies of scale possible by a Cadillac version.


Toyota Prius 2010: Better Mileage, Bottoming Sales?

By dancurranjr On March 6th, 2009

prius-flamesPrius owners what their average miles per gallon is and the answer you’re likely to get is “50.” Rounding is commonplace. The math can be fuzzy. But the 2010 model Prius makes the figure official.

The 2010 gas/electric hybrid’s combined EPA estimated fuel economy rating is 50 mpg, putting the third-generation Prius at the top of the retail vehicle mpg heap, Toyota announced Monday.

The 2010 Prius will be the highest-mileage retail vehicle in the United States — 9% more fuel efficient than the current model’s 46 mpg rating and 22% better than the first-generation engine (41 mpg).

What’s really interesting is that this car sports a bigger engine than its predecessor. The old 1.5-liter engine has been replaced with a 1.8-liter engine. Or as the comment I saw on a gearhead blog this morning put it: “1.8L of fury vs. 1.5L for the current model. This equates to 17% more fury.”

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, the larger engine actually helps improve highway mileage. By making more torque, the new engine can run at lower average rpm on the highway. When operating at lower rpm, the new engine uses less fuel. Mileage is especially improved in cold-start conditions and at higher speeds,” explains Toyota in a statement.

It’s not that the first two generations of the Prius can’t or haven’t achieved miles per gallon of 50 and even beyond. My husband drives a 2007 Prius and has clocked 50+ mpg many times without resorting to any extreme hypermiling techniques. But conditions have to be just so (dry roads, tires properly inflated) and so on. The truth is, his long-term mpg hovers around 46 or 47, just as the sticker promised.

The new Prius hits showrooms in April or May and Toyota has optimistically announced it expects to sell 100,000 of them in the remaining months of 2009, a company executive told the Detroit News Monday.

The big question for Toyota is whether 50 mpg is enough to get customers to pony up for a new car in 2010. With paychecks disappearing and auto sales consequently tanking, the question might be moot. If there’s no money in the family budget for a car payment, even 200 mpg isn’t going to turn shoppers into buyers.

How bad are sales right now? “December’s Prius sales were down almost 50% from July, when both gas prices and demand for hybrids were soaring,” according to Toyota car sales in general were down 29% from January 2008 to January 2009, according to Motor Intelligence. And the automaker has told suppliers it will trim overall production in 2009 by 12% to address flagging demand.

It’s really discouraging when technology and markets are out of sync.

SOURCE: Information Week

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