By James Wells in Paris

PARIS: At a press conference held in Paris last night, LG Electronics Australia announced it will launch the world’s first steam washing machine in June as part of the company’s new premium positioning in the global whitegoods market.

The front-loading steam washing machine features over 150 design patents and is the world’s first to use steam to help remove stains and brighten clothes, reduce energy and water consumption, sterilise clothes and remove wrinkles from materials during washing.

The direct drive washing machine also features a ‘steam refresh’ setting which can revive clothes by removing wrinkles and odours without undertaking an entire wash cycle. The setting is designed to replace the ironing of clothes, which LG discovered through its research to be one of the most hated household chores.

The steam washing machine also comes with a Remote Monitoring System which wirelessly relays information about the cycle to the user in real time anywhere within the house while they complete other tasks.

LG claims its new washing machine utilises steam to maintain a consistent temperature within the washing machine to improve cleaning while reducing energy consumption by 21 per cent and reduce water usage by 19 per cent compared to conventional 8kg front loading washing machines.

LG will launch three front loading models with 8kg, 9kg and 10kg capacities in a range of seven colours including white, ivory, black, red and blue. The top end 10kg model, which is expected to only be available in black, is expected to retail around for $3,000.

“After three years of development, LG has successfully incorporated the environmentally friendly steam technology for the first time in the world,”

said LG Electronics Australia general manager – marketing, Paul Jenkins, during a keynote speech at the launch in Paris last night.

The launch of the steam washing machine is designed to increase LG’s sales in the global washing machine category above the $US2 billion achieved in 2005 and improve its global ranking of third behind Whirlpool and Electrolux.

The spectacular eight-hour European and Australian launch event of the steam washing machine in Paris ended with a gala dinner at the Palace of Versailles which included the performance of operatic arias and a 10-minute fireworks display.

The steam washing machine was launched successfully in Korea as well as in North America and Canada last year.