<a href="http://gmagazine.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

Green car futures

Toyota prius

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More auto makers are embracing green technology. The question is whether there will be enough demand at the right prices to save the global auto industry. And whether it can be done without the industry being on the drip of taxpayer-funded assistance.

Holden this week announced the release of two new fuel efficient V6 engines. Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss seemed to suggest it was the way of the future.

Meanwhile, Nissan has unveiled a new battery-powered electric car called the Leaf, seating five adults, with a top speed of about 90 miles per hour (or about 145 km). The car comes with a battery which recharges over eight hours on a power socket. Just plug it in overnight and off you go.

And Ford has decided to focus on building more fuel efficient versions of its Sedan and Territory off-roader. And then of course, there is the industry pioneer, the Toyota Prius, which according to news reports is helping Toyota keep a lid on its losses. Orders for the new Prius are running way ahead of expectations.

There is no doubt green cars sales will boom over the next few years because of pressure to reduce carbon emissions and volatile oil prices. According to this analyst’s report, Toyota and Honda are leading the way but other car makers are queuing up. The report says the industry will have a compound annual growth rate of 20 per cent during 2009-2012.

That said, concerns are being raised about the extensive level of government required to bankroll the production of green cars. The Australian argues that the Rudd Government’s $1.3 billion green car innovation fund will do nothing and is just propping up an industry.

Does the car actually have much of a future in today’s market? People are driving less and they’re certainly not rushing out to buy new cars, green or otherwise, with the latest figures showing that auto sales dropped 10 per cent in July.