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Electric motorbike dealers share mixed opinions on fuel price hikes

2012/04/14 18:52:45

Taipei, April 14 (CNA) Electric motorbike dealers expressed mixed views Saturday on whether the latest domestic fuel price hikes can boost sales of the environmentally friendly vehicles.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs announced April 1 the removal of a mechanism to partially freeze domestic fuel prices, boosting local gasoline prices by between 7 and 11 percent, the highest one-time jump since 2008.

"The recent fuel price hikes have definitely influenced people's mindsets to think of as many ways as they can to save money," Lai Kun-feng, an electric motorbike dealer from New Taipei told CNA on the sidelines of the Taiwan International Electric Vehicle Show.

"People need to calculate their finances more carefully and budget more strictly as the price of everything is going up, except salaries," he said.

Acknowledging price hikes were a factor, Lai, however, attributed increased sales of his electric motorbikes mainly to recent government incentives.

"Incentives provided by both central and local governments seem to be a bigger influence at the moment," he said.

The New Taipei City government announced April 2 that it had raised its subsidy for those who buy electric scooters from NT$10,000 (US$339) to NT$12,000, while allowing 1,250 people, 250 people more than last year, to apply for the program.

Meanwhile, Zhuang Jia-cheng, manager of Kwang Yang Motor Co.'s public relations department, told CNA by phone that Taiwan's electric motorbike market is not mature enough and thus the fuel price hikes have not influenced sales of his company's electric vehicles.

"It is a matter of your commuting habit," Zhuang said. "If it's practical, you will buy one no matter how high or low the fuel price is."

While expressing optimism toward the market in the long run, Zhuang said that most riders in Taiwan "are still not used to the ideaof electric motorbikes" at the moment, as they are not as convenient as fuel-operated ones.

Some large-sized electric motorbikes take between three and eight hours to get fully charged, while getting a full tank of fuel only takes a couple of minutes, he said.

Plus, there are not enough battery exchange stations where riders can exchange batteries for their electric motorbikes, he added.

(By James Lee)