Staff writer

TAIPEI -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Sept. 11 that its affiliate in Taiwan has launched a new sport-utility vehicle in that market.

China Motors Corp., MMC's affiliated local production and sales company, joins moves by Japanese automakers to introduce new vehicles designed for the Asian market.

The semi-bonnet-type, multipurpose wagon is named Freeca and has an engine displacement of 2,000cc. MMC plans to introduce the Freeca in the Philippines and Indonesia next year. The vehicle will be manufactured locally and the three countries will share in parts production.

Speaking at an unveiling ceremony here, MMC President Takemune Kimura said: "We designed this car as a world car with high quality. We hope this car will be loved by people in every country, not only in Taiwan."

Following similar booms in the United States and Japan, sport-utility vehicles have just begun gaining popularity in Taiwan. MMC and its Taiwan affiliate hope to encourage that market segment with the model's introduction.

The Freeca is priced between 420,000 and 590,000 Taiwan dollars, or about 1.68 million yen to 2.36 million yen.