Green motoring in the spotlight

Some of the world's leading motoring companies are hopeful they will be able to offset the impact of rising fuel costs by investments in green technologies.

Civil unrest in some of the oil producing Middle Eastern countries has already pushed fuel costs up and, according to Opel chief Nick Reilly, if they go any higher things will become "clearly more difficult".

Fears have been raised that the price of crude oil could hit $150 a barrel, which would be a "very heavy" burden, says Daimler's Dieter Zetsche.

The new launches at the Geneva Motor Show this year indicates that carmakers are taking the concerns into account, with a range of new electric and hybrid as well as conventional engines with greater efficiency on offer.

It also signalled renewed confidence following the economic crisis that bottomed out sales and put a freeze on new models.

Stephen Odell, the chief of Ford Europe, said: "I remember the auto show of two years ago. Pretty grim. I think we are in a better place."

But General Motors chief executive Dan Akerson thought it was too early for optimism as oil prices continue to rise.

"I don't think the industry learned a lot of lessons from 2008. They will this time around," he said.

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