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A greener motor show in Melbourne

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Technology

Honda Insight 2

The Honda Insight 2, unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show.

Credit: Graham Reeks

Mistsubishi i-miev

The Mistsubishi i miev unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show.

Credit: Graham Reeks

Subaru-Stella

The Subaru Stella unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show. It's available in Japan later in 2009 and in Australia in the coming years.

Toyota 1/X

The odd-looking Toyota 1/X concept car, previewed at the Melbourne International Motor Show. It weighs in at 1/3 that of the Prius.

Hyundai i10-blue

The Hyundai i10 blue, previewed at the Melbourne International Motor Show.

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Manufacturers have unveiled new greener offerings to the Australian market at the opening of the Melbourne International Motor Show.

In a change from standard practice almost all car companies concentrated on the frugality of their machines - boasting about fuel efficiency and low emissions, rather than power or acceleration.

Mirroring the global trend of car shows in the past year, many manufacturers failed to show, citing tough times in the industry and the financial downturn.

Those attending the event were keen to hype their green credentials with the buzz words being 'electric', 'hybrid', 'low emissions' and 'lightweight'.

High Voltage

The most exciting announcements were two electric cars that use large-capacity lithium-ion battery systems - essentially bigger versions of the batteries that power mobile phones. They can be charged by simply plugging into a household socket.

Mitsubishi's four-seater i MiEV, (which stands for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) is currently being tested around the world and is due for release in Japan later this year. Its batteries power a high-output electric motor with a range of about 140-160 kilometres and it can be fully recharged in seven hours. Running costs could be less than one-third of a similar sized petrol car.

The Subaru Stella is also due on the Japanese market in 2009 and could be available here in a few years' time. Using similar technology to the Mitsubishi, the Subaru's range is reckoned to be 80 kilometres.

Nick Senior, the Managing Director of Subaru Australia commented "it costs less to run than some household appliances".

French automaker, Renault, expects to have electric vehicles available by 2011, although they had nothing to show the Australian public yet.

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